One way executives resolve tough business problems and learn about best practices is to establish an unofficial board of directors. This unofficial board of directors usually consists of managers and owners of unrelated and non-competitive businesses so that each member can speak candidly about their businesses without concern that the information could be used by a competitor.
These executive peer boards often meet as a group for a half day each month to discuss their thorniest problems and share successful strategies, and a half day each month individually with the group’s professional facilitator. One MANA member recently shared with me that each member of his eight-person executive peer board pays $7,200 in annual dues and that the benefits to his business have returned his investment many times over.
Those eight members invest a total of $57,600 per year and consider the investment in third-party input on their business operations to be money very well spent. And yet many manufacturers who sell through rep networks miss out on an opportunity to get much more specific advice about their business operations from a group that is already intimately familiar with their businesses because they have not formed a rep council.
Manufacturers should consider a rep council to be “Executive Peer Group 2.0” for a number of reasons:
• Unlike members of traditional executive peer groups, members of your rep council are not strangers to your business, so your rep council can bypass the prologue where each member explains to the others what their business does and the environment of their industry, and instead get right to work.
• Each member of your rep council has a direct financial interest in your company’s growth, giving them extra incentive to work with laser focus on your company’s success.
• In an eight-member executive peer group, each member gets one eighth (12.5%) of the group’s time. In a rep council, your company is the only focus and gets 100% of the group’s time.
• A six-person rep council is a real bargain compared with the executive networking group. Your typical total cost is around $5,200 for six $400 plane tickets, twelve $150 hotel nights, and $1,000 in meals.
After reading about rep councils in this issue of Agency Sales magazine, you can learn even more about rep councils from MANA’s online resources at www.manaonline.org. We encourage MANA manufacturer members to get the best and most cost-effective advice available by establishing rep councils and to contact MANA for any help needed to launch a productive rep council.