The Fruit Tree – 5 years on.
It’s hard to believe that almost 5 years ago a bunch of Doncaster business owners sat down to listen to a presentation on how the Fruit Tree will help them in their quest for business success. Today the group is still going strong with several members now entering their fifth year of membership and many more experiencing its unique structure of Connect, Learn and Grow.
It seems the success of the Fruit Tree can be traced down to two reasons.
Firstly, the culture of ‘helping each other’ is strong. It’s all about building authentic relationships with fellow members. Brian Butcher, founder of the Fruit Tree, explains “This is not a ‘let’s try and sell each other our services within the first 5 minutes of meeting each other’ meeting. This is a ‘let’s sit down, have something to eat and get to know about each other’. This is a ‘let’s find out what you are trying to achieve, who your ideal customer is and how can we spot them for you’. This is a ‘let’s explore how, by working together, we can help each other succeed quicker and easier – once we trust each other’ culture.
Martin Abonyi, Creative Director of Sugarcane Web and Design in Doncaster say’s “prior to joining the Fruit Tree I wasn’t a keen networker. I initially joined another networking group but I left after 3 months as I didn’t feel it was right for me. I’ve been here 4 years now and love it. The members usually become friends and we have a good laugh together whilst, at the same time, helping each other to grow ”
The easiest way to describe the Fruit Tree is that it’s a team. A team of people all pulling in the same direction, lifting each other up, showing each other the way and opening doors for each other where possible. Brian say’s “sometimes we get people coming along who don’t get what we do.
They think the purpose of the meeting is to hand out their business card to everyone in the room and deliver their elevator pitch. That doesn’t work in our group. We sense that their purpose is to take from us, not add value to us so we can add value to them. Guests who come along to our meetings with this intention don’t get invited back.”
The second reason for the Fruit Tree success is the training program – the Learn sessions as they’re called.
Each year at the Fruit Tree there is a theme for the training curriculum. Last year the theme was ‘Increasing the PACE of your success’, with PACE being an acronym for:-
PLAN your strategy for the year
ATTRACT the right clients with an effective marketing plan
CONVERT the new enquiries into customers by improving your sales skills
ENGAGE your new customers to be loyal to and advocates of your business by building a great customer service culture.
Coaches with specialisms and expertise in these fields are then sourced and paid to coach the business club members. The results have been fantastic, so much so, that we often have members standing up in our referral sessions saying that they’re not looking for any new business as they can’t cope with the amount of new business they’re now generating!
Brian Butcher explains “This year the training theme at the Fruit Tree is Growing the YOU in YOUR Business. The premise being that the bigger and better your skills, attitude and mind-set for success are then the bigger your capacity will be to handle a growing business.
So far we’ve covered areas such as how to focus, time management, building a success mind-set, how to talk to yourself positively, networking and team work skills, plus many others.
In the second half of the year we will be covering Confidence & Assertiveness, Building character and dealing with challenges, leadership (both personal and corporate) and we are also talking to one or two coaches at the moment to bring them in to talk about other success principles that we’re excited about”.
The feedback from the training over the last 2 years has been fantastic and our members are benefiting tremendously. Darren Wagstaff from Aeon Insurance Services said “The Fruit Tree has been invaluable to me in my business. I now think and act in a totally different way to what I would have done without this training.”
Steve Uttley of Steve Uttley PR said “I got my money’s worth for the year in my first meeting. Just having the opportunity to share ideas and receive advice from people on the same journey has made me make some adjustments to my business – which has paid dividends immediately”
We also include peer mentoring in our meetings. Every 10 weeks (or 5th session as we meet fortnightly) our members meet in groups of 3-5 and discuss their challenges and their successes, holding each other accountable for their goals and action plans.
Rob Hughes of RH Printing Services testified to how being accountable to someone in his group made him go the extra mile one week which then resulted in a substantial amount of business. He says “Without my team member reminding me of what I promised to do at our last peer mentoring session I would probably have never taken the action I did and therefore I would not have reaped the rewards”.
Finally, the ‘cream on the cake’ at the Fruit Tree is that members also refer each other when and where possible. There is a 30 minute referral section at the end of each meeting where members listen to what other members need in terms of connections, referrals or just general assistance and then look to open doors for each other and act in each other’s best interests.
There’s no pressure, no targets, just the old fashioned value of ‘it’s good to help each other’. It’s also very fruitful too as many of our longstanding members are reporting substantial returns on their £60 per month membership fee.
Tony Henshaw of Henshaw Pratt Solicitors has reported returns close to £100,000, Brian Butcher has generated over £10,000 of new business profit, just in the last 6 months for his business Ideal Financial Management Ltd and claims “The Fruit Tree has without doubt been the biggest and most influential catalyst for my business success over the last 4 years”.
Jon Lister of Enterprise accountants reports his return on investment from new clients referred is now in the tens of thousands per year – and this doesn’t even include the benefits from the training and coaching!
If you are a local business owner and feel that you would benefit by working with other local business owners then get in touch at enquiries@thefruittree to see if they have room for your profession. You can visit our website as well for more information.
The Fruit Tree meet every 2 weeks at the Earl of Doncaster on a Thursday evening from 5.30pm-7.30pm. As a small business owner can you get 2 hours of business training or personal development each month , a meal at each meeting and 20-30 other local businesses helping and referring you for an all-inclusive membership fee of £60 per month.
Guests can attend 2 sessions for £15 each but membership is restricted to one person per profession so please contact us to see if there is room for you.
We hope to see you soon