By Dan Ratner, Senior Director, Member Services, FMI

share group store tour

Since kindergarten we’ve all learned the value of sharing with others. It’s reassuring and even heart-warming to hear and gain an understanding of what others have experienced in their lives. In business, it is a way to foresee issues ahead, strategize and change direction based on information gathered from colleagues in similar situations that have “been there, done that.”

Collaboration is at the core of the FMI membership value proposition. Through FMI communities like committees, forums, and councils, members have the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals (and maybe even some that have different points of view) to learn more about important issues and challenges that face their company and the industry. One of the most effective collaboration mediums FMI offers members is share groups.

FMI share groups are formed by bringing leaders of companies with similar traits together to engage in discussions about specific issues related to their operations. Share group members provide detailed breakdowns of their business operations that may include marketing plans, financials, workforce benefits and compensation. These groups meet on a regular schedule, virtually and sometimes in-person usually once or twice a year.

Privacy and security are paramount to the success of these groups and their meetings. All shared information is kept confidential. Meetings are not recorded, and no minutes are taken.

In-person meetings are usually hosted by one of the share group participants and it offers an opportunity for members of the group to tour stores and provide feedback and perspectives with the hosting company and their teams on what the share group members observed and where improvements can be made. Usually, share group members touring the stores come away with more ideas and innovative tactics to apply to their own business when they return home.

The camaraderie and trust built among share group members over time provides a strong and enduring support through the best and worst of times. Many of FMI share groups were meeting frequently at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and a few even weekly to stay ahead of the changes in the marketplace and society.

In addition to the store tours and tours of other facilities, share group members meet to share what is happening within their companies and provide progress reports on initiatives they have undertaken. These “shares” include a “show and tell” of their latest promotions, top-selling products, employee recruitment and retention activities, community activities, and business statistics and indicators.

Many of FMI’s share groups have been around for years and even decades. In working closely with these share groups and hearing their stories and experiences within the share group it’s clear that “sharing is caring.” In between the discussions and tours many of them provide updates on what’s going on in their personal lives and celebrate many of the milestones of life with their fellow group members.

Contact the FMI membership team at if you’re interested in learning more about FMI share groups.