October 31st, 2017
What is TRBA?
Reflecting on the origins of The Regulars Business Alliance. How it came about, what it stands for, and why we consider it to be a vital arm of The Regulars
The Borderlands Books storefront in the Mission, San Francisco
We created The Regulars Business Alliance (TRBA) because we believe in the magnetic power of mutualism. Local business owners and other independent professionals, like artists and freelancers, can thrive financially by banding together strategically.

In early 2015, The Regulars had the goal of helping local business establishments make new forms of predictable, up-front revenue that could at least offset their astronomically high fixed costs, like rent. By analyzing cash register data, consumer behavior, and a variety of other factors, we saw Pareto's 80/20 Rule in full effect: 20% of a business' customers almost always drive 80% of the revenue. These 20% are regular, repeat customers (commonly referred to as "Regulars").

Instead of investing time and money into acquiring new customers through traditional advertising, why couldn't business owners focus more heavily on converting their Regulars into an extremely loyal marketing engine? If their Regulars, who already account for 80% of sales, were to make purchases 3X more often, and bring friends & family with them more regularly, it was mathematically possible for revenue to double or triple rather quickly. But in reality, few business owners had the bandwidth to strategize, much less experiment, with this kind of plan. That's where TRBA steps in. After working side-by-side with thousands of local businesses, we have good data on the incentives and programs needed to effectively mobilize your Regulars.

We were initially inspired by the story of Borderlands books. A longtime fixture in SF's Mission District, Borderlands has the alluring musky scent of wood, books, and freshly brewed coffee. For decades, locals and tourists have come to Borderlands not just to read and relax, but also to relish in the history of one of the district's landmarks.

Like so many local establishments in SF in early 2015 however, the place had been struggling to make ends meet. Then, adding salt to the wound, the City of San Francisco imposed a $15/hour minimum wage law, which could easily have sounded the death knell for Borderlands Books. But Alan Beatts, the owner, decided to write an impassioned letter to the community, asking for help.

In order to continue operating the bookstore, Beatts wrote, Borderlands would need to find at least 300 sponsors willing to contribute $100/year. The logic was: "If there aren't 300 members every year, it's time for us to pack it in." In exchange for the membership fee, sponsors would receive VIP access to events, priority seating for author discussions and booksignings, and other perks. Unexpectedly, a whopping 800 people came through, many of them ushered in by Borderlands' Regulars. The following month (February, 2015) brought in the most sales in the history of Borderlands. And year later, over 600 people renewed their memberships!

Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books
Nurture your Regulars. Incentivize them. Empower them. Send them out into the broader community. Regularly!
Borderlands teaches us an important lesson about the power of community. If you're a business owner, the nucleus of your community consists of your regular customers (i.e. 80% of your revenue). Nurture your Regulars. Incentivize them. Empower them. Send them out into the broader community. Regularly! And if possible, collaborate with other businesses and their Regulars. That's the key to building long-term stability.

TRBA is the community marketing arm of The Regulars. TRBA maximizes the financial prosperity of local businesses by helping them cultivate a forcefield of ongoing community support. TRBA helps businesses train, incentivize, and empower their staff, as well as their regular customers, so they can become a formidable marketing engine. We also pair up businesses for intensive cross-promotional "sprints." TRBA is also a business consortium; all members benefit from special pricing and benefits (think: Costco™ Club for small business).

We've found that local businesses wield immense power from within. TRBA helps them tap into that power, harness it, and wield it gloriously.

Join us in bringing economic vibrancy back to Main Street and beyond!
Let's propose this...
You become our Regular, and we'll help you get Regulars!
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