Local association shapes its own business model

By From page A13 | February 17, 2013

A group of Davis business leaders is proving that commitment to individual ambition and trusting collaboration are not mutually exclusive.

Instead, The Business Alliance’s main purpose is to grow the businesses of others, while each member cultivates his or her own. It’s a concept that inspires continued participation from Andrew Dowling, a local broker associate at Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold Real Estate.

Dowling has been a Business Alliance chapter member since 2005, when it was still under the umbrella of BNI, an international business networking association. Shortly after joining, there was a consensus shift  a redesign that laid out the aforementioned mission.

“There was a bit of a mutiny, if you will,” Dowling said with a laugh. “We didn’t like some of the rules, one being that you had to meet at least once a week. So we changed it, and became our own group.

“It has worked out well for us. We meet twice a month, the first and third Wednesday of each month. … The whole idea is you build up others’ businesses, and yours as you do so.”

While the now not-so-strict membership commonly fluctuates, Dowling added, at the last meeting there were approximately nine members of the freshly branded Business Alliance.

During regularly scheduled meetings, members speak — in rotation — about what has worked for their respective careers. The discussions, which did not exist pre-BNI break, allow reflection on the rights and wrongs in conducting business.

The meetings also provide members time to connect with each other on potential client referrals. Often, their customers  ones in the market for other services  are referred to affiliates who can fulfill those needs.

Having a credible network of business professionals on the ready for this, Dowling said, is essential.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this sort of thing if it weren’t with people I knew were competent,” he explained.

Dowling recited the most recent example of how the referral system works, beginning with a client approaching Marc Thompson, a Davis mortgage broker and Alliance member.

Thompson assisted in pre-qualifying a loan before making a referral to Dowling, who sold the client’s home. Dowling passed the client along to another member, a knowledgeable insurance person, who then introduced another member, a contractor. 

“There were four of us that received business just from that one person,” Dowling said. “We all know and trust each other, so we feel comfortable giving referrals like this.”

However, the group is not solely focused on its referral aspect. Dowling, the business-minded individual he is, said he wouldn’t be so invested in the Alliance if it weren’t for it being “rewarding on many levels.”

Over the course of his nearly eight years with the group, he has found kinship among like-minded entrepreneurs. For him, part of the incentive of attending is purely enjoyment.

“At least once a year, we’ll have get-togethers with friends and family included,” he said. “Last month, we had a holiday party at a member’s home, and it was a blast. It’s always great seeing other members outside of a business environment.”

To learn more about The Business Alliance, go to www.TBADavis.com or call Dowling at 530-902-3999.

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Brett Johnson

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