By John Schroyer
In its transition to a new licensing agreement – which drove off several dozen former chapter chairs – Women Grow’s leadership believes it’s establishing new business practices that will help put the company on more solid footing, both financially and for brand uniformity at events across the country.
For instance, the company has increased its vetting of newly hired chapter chairs, or “market leaders” as they’re now called, as opposed to its early practice of simply allowing chapters to sprout up on their own.
That will allow Women Grow to get a better sense of which chapters will be predictably organizing networking events on a monthly basis, CEO Kristina Neoushoff said.
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In other words, though Women Grow did peak at 44 chapters at the end of 2015, Neoushoff said, it wasn’t as though that many chapters held networking events every month on a regular basis.
“While (that’s) a fantastic number and a great marketing tool, if you look at the consistency of events and the tenure of market leaders at that point in time, we had market leaders that would join, and we’d announce that we had a new market open, and they never held an event over three months,” Neoushoff explained. “Then they’d shut down.”
The new licensing deal was developed over two of Women Grow’s three years of existence through trial and error with dozens of chapters across the country, she said.
“One of the first things I ran into in 2015 is, we need to put together some guiding steps,” Neoushoff said. “Make sure that you have signs that tell you where the bathroom is, or put where parking is near your location on the ticket site. Very basic stuff like that, not everybody remembers or knows how to do.”
Starting a new Women Grow market, Neoushoff said, is not nearly as easy as it was a couple of years ago.
“There’s a more robust application process. We check references, we have interviews,” she said. “I’m going to look to make sure you’re a reputable business person and that you don’t have some sort of trickiness in your past, and I’m also going to check to make sure you’re established in the community enough in the market to host events. Because being a market leader is not a simple job. None of that vetting process existed in 2014 or 2015. That’s all new.”
With all of that in place, Neoushoff said she’s confident Women Grow is better positioned than ever to find the right local partners for the national corporation so it can avoid a lot of the pitfalls it encountered in its first few years of operations.
John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]