Vernon Morning Star

Okanagan referral group boosts business connection

Keith Johnston, owner of True North, a leadership development company, gives a presentation at a Business Okanagan Referral Group meeting. - Photo Submitted
Keith Johnston, owner of True North, a leadership development company, gives a presentation at a Business Okanagan Referral Group meeting.
— image credit: Photo Submitted

Vernon’s Bruce Mol knows his home-based multimedia company inside and out.

He also knows the inner workings of dozens of other local businesses, and is happy to send people their way if their service matches a need. It’s what makes the Business Okanagan Referral Group (BORG) tick.

Created in 2008 by Brian Langner, of White House Mortgages, and Greg Kalyniuk, of Vernon Re/Max, BORG started with eight original members and has expanded to roughly 30 since. Members meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 7 a.m. at The Pantry Restaurant (3908 32nd Street).

Mol, who joined BORG four years ago after learning about it through a Business After 5 event, says the network’s success relies on knowing what other members are about.

“We take the time to know each other so we can refer each other,” said Mol, who specializes in video documentary and education.

“If someone comes into town, or if someone we’re doing business with wants something, then we can say without a doubt ‘here’s somebody we know is good.’”

BORG features a wide array of companies offering professional services and products – investment specialist, bookkeeper, chartered accountant, cabinet maker, landscaper, hairstylist, marketing, contracting and multimedia. Generally, somewhere between 40 and 60 referrals are generated between the businesses involved in the group every two weeks.

A typical meeting starts with an informal meet-and-greet, after which members take turns introducing their businesses in a quick “infomercial.” One member then to gives a more in-depth, 15-minute presentation of their business.

Mol says member feedback is an important component of this process, as businesses can then tweak their delivery to market themselves more effectively.

Accountability is equally important.

“We try to make sure we keep the focus on the referral part,” said Mol. “It’s great to join and have fun, but you’ve got to remember you have to report how you’ve been helping the other people in the group. “We don’t pay for it in fees; we pay for it in time.”

Because Mol works from home, having a network like BORG keeps him in touch with the business community.

“This is an opportunity to network and get to know what’s going on,” he said.

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