Hostile meetings: You will have them! Five tips to survive them

If you are starting a Business Improvement District, renewing one, or seeking any form of public approval, you are likely to meet with hostile crowds. This, I’m afraid, is part of the deal.

Having been there on more than one occasion, here are a few tips that will serve you well:

  1. Rally your supporters. It is absolutely critical that supporters of your message attend public meetings. If the only people defending a position are at the front of the room, the mob mentality quickly takes over. Us against them will fail.
  2. Make sure your supporters are vocal. It’s one thing to have them there. It’s another to have them speak. “I like this idea because…” is extremely important when it comes from members of the crowd.
  3. Convince your city representative to say less, not more. Whether it’s a government rep or employee of the city, don’t let them run the show. A BID is not a tax and the quickest way to make it mistakenly look like one is to have a member of government delivering the message. Their remarks should be short, sweet and encouraging.
  4. Talk about the area. Spend some time talking about graffiti, bike lanes, parking, security, planters etc. Talk about the issues that your members are having and how they have not been addressed.  They will quickly realize that the power could shift back into their hands.
  5. Minimize the number. In most cases the best way to present a proposed BIA budget is to present it in terms of what the median business will be paying. Larger properties will pay more than that, but the median is usually a lower number and truthfully, half of businesses will pay less, and half will pay more.

About Darryl Kaplan

Darryl Kaplan is a public speaker, author and advocate who believes that the BIG IDEA will save Main Street and create a new revolution in local living. An entrepreneur with a passion for small business and retail, Kaplan founded the Baby Point Gates Business Improvement Area in Toronto, and currently sits as its Chair. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas - an organization that represents 81 BIAs and 35,000 small businesses. A multiple award winner in communications, magazine writing and editing, Kaplan has had hundreds of columns and editorials published nationally.


  1. BIA or BID,they do work. Im the executive director at West Queen West in Toronto an area that just the other day Vogue declared WQW the 2nd coolest neighborhood in the world!

    BIAs bring an identity and vitality to a main street!

  2. Rob, thanks for the comment and congratulations on this incredible, and deserving recognition! I know the West Queen West area well. You’ve done a fantastic job there! Hope that we can all spread the message about BIAs and how well they do work.

    For anyone interested in reading about the incredible work being done by Rob Sysak and the West Queen West BIA, in Toronto, here’s a link to an interview with Rob from earlier this year:

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