Business owners have the right to expect that their business will deliver for them what they want from life.
For nearly 30 years The Alternative Board (TAB) has worked with thousands of forward-thinking business owners and helped them grow their businesses, increase profitability and improve their lives by participating in monthly business advisory boards and one-to-one sessions, and taking advantage of TAB’s great business tools and services.
TAB has 40 facilitators around the UK who are running powerful and profitable businesses that help entrepreneurs to overcome business barriers and capitalise on fantastic ideas and opportunities.
We operate in 20 countries and are adding to our existing international franchisee community all the time.
TAB has helped over 13,000 business owners address hundreds of thousands of opportunities and challenges. We have built a robust, proven and very successful business model for our franchisees.
Our training programme is designed to enable you to launch and develop a profitable and rewarding business – making the most of your existing skills and experience while helping to develop even more to support your personal and company vision. You will have an initial five days of training at our Harrogate head office, followed by two weeks of ‘in the field’ support before you head back to Harrogate for another three days of training. There is also extensive ongoing training and development opportunities so you’ll have all the support you need to succeed.
With a TAB business you work with your members to build the business you want. You will prepare and facilitate monthly advisory peer board meetings. You will develop a deep interaction with your members through one-to-one meetings and development programmes. You’ll be busy building relationships and cementing your business in the local community. With TAB you never stop learning.
This franchisee’s particular expertise is within sales and marketing; from establishing the right frameworks, to delivering outstanding results at the top and bottom line. Having run multi-discipline sales teams of up to 300 people, as well as teams of less than 10 in SMEs, his understanding of what needs doing, how and by whom, is second to none.
He has helped turn around a number of companies’ sales strategies by ensuring everyone is focused on doing the right things – often easier said than done. While one size does not fit all, there are certain disciplines which just work, irrespective of sector. His real passion is helping businesses get more focused and aligned on what’s important to them and their customers, and his role with The Alternative Board allows him to do exactly that.
He launched his TAB franchise from a standing start with no existing network of contacts in his territory. He has followed the TAB marketing and sales processes closely and has built his membership through a combination of selective networking and telemarketing to secure attendees at regular ‘taster board meetings’ around his territory. He has built good relationships with a small number of existing and respected businesses in the area, including a solicitors practice, a PR group and a bank, which have all hosted meetings for him and lent their name to the TAB proposition.
Initially, monthly membership incomes included several members paying a reduced amount for the first 6 months. Their fees increased during the second half of the year, generating additional monthly income.
This franchisee also generated their first consultancy assignment from their board in month 6 – a significant milestone (and additional income) from which to grow the consultancy side of the business.
His target membership for the end of his first year is to have 4 boards, with 22 members – and he’s well on the way to achieving this. At this point he will start to look for a suitable contract facilitator to join his business to ensure it continues to grow, and meets his business goals and his personal objectives.
This franchisee has 20 years business experience in various industry sectors. He has previously worked at director level for two of the UK's largest FMCG Plcs; he has worked in the public and private sectors and has been instrumental in establishing various small venture backed businesses. He believes that TAB membership offers an unrivalled chance to help businesses realise their true potential.
This franchisee launched his business using his existing database and network of contacts in the business sector of his territory. He has not needed to use telemarketing to secure attendees at his ‘taster board meetings’ – he has invited them himself either at networking events, by picking up the phone, or through email campaigns. Most of his meetings have been held in a new hotel in his territory which has been happy to provide accommodation and refreshments in return for a steady stream of business owners being introduced to their new facilities!
Initially, the franchise was based on a strategy to achieve critical mass quickly. This included several members who were paying a reduced fee for coaching only membership – an option he has developed to prepare smaller businesses for the opportunity to join one of his boards. This complements his existing consultancy business which has also benefited from working with TAB members.
His target for the end of his first year is to have recruited two contract facilitators, keeping his own membership to 2 boards, to enable him to focus on business development – recruiting members for boards which his contract facilitators will run and coach.
As contract facilitators are typically paid a percentage of the fees of the members they support, his model means he can grow his business without the constraints of fixed employment costs or significant increases in other overheads. He is ambitious and plans to develop his TAB business to be the number one coaching and peer advisory organisation in his territory – and he’s got off to a flying start!
This franchisee’s particular expertise lies in sales and marketing, operations and strategic planning. He has specialist knowledge of the B2B distribution sector, and the food and chemical industries in particular.
He has been a director/managing director of two privately owned family businesses and CEO of a VC-backed technology business. It was in this role that he experienced the full benefits and value of a board of talented non executive directors and fuelled his passion to help business owners focus on key strategic issues, plan the way ahead and deliver on their targets to drive even greater value and success. His role running an Alternative Board franchise allows him to do just that.
This franchisee did not have a network of business contacts in his territory, but did have a number of friends and acquaintances from sources as diverse as fathers of members of his son’s rugby team, to the people who fitted his new kitchen! He used a mixture of these, together with very active ‘formal’ business networking and telemarketing to populate taster board meetings, following the TAB model closely at each stage.
Within six months he had 12 members sitting on 2two boards. Included in this number is a member who pays a nominal monthly fee whom he is coaching to help them get their businesses to a stage where they will get maximum benefit from full membership. He also secured his first consultancy assignment in month 6 – using the TAB tools with teams in his members business – his first ever consultancy assignment!
His target for the end of his first year is to have three boards, including one board of larger businesses. He is focusing his current marketing activity on building relationships with those business owners, and is targeting the launch of his 4th board in his 5th quarter of operation.
David McCartney: TAB (Leeds North)
Franchisee since: 2009
David’s particular expertise lies in sales and marketing, operations and strategic planning. He has specialist knowledge of the B2B distribution sector, and the food and chemical industries in particular. He has been a director/managing director of two privately-owned family businesses and CEO of a VC-backed technology business. It was in this role that he experienced the full benefits and value of a board of talented non-executive directors and fuelled a passion to help business owners focus on key strategic issues, plan the way ahead and deliver on their targets, to drive even greater value and success. His role as an Alternative Board franchisee allows him to do just that.
David says: “Looking back it was a calculated, but risky, decision as I was one of the first TAB UK franchisees and at the height of the recession I invested £50k into the venture, a mix of bank loan and my own money. However I fully believed in the UK franchisor team, the business model and my own abilities to build a successful business without the constraints of corporate life and the politics that can come with that.”
Launching his business
David didn’t have a network of business contacts in his territory, but did have a number of friends and acquaintances from sources as diverse as fathers of members of his son’s rugby team, to the people who fitted his new kitchen! He used a mixture of these, together with very active ‘formal’ business networking and telemarketing to populate his marketing events, following the TAB model closely at each stage.
Six months after launching his TAB business David had 12 members across two boards, rising weekly. He secured his first consultancy assignment in month 6 which was using the TAB tools with teams in his members’ businesses.
In his second year he focused his marketing activity on building relationships with owners of larger business.
Business success so far
David has grown his membership, income and profitability every year since he first launched in January 2010 and now has 27 members across four boards with a combined business turnover in excess of £100m. He is on track to launch a 5th board later this year and take his membership up to 32. At that stage he would be near full capacity as he wants to be absolutely sure that every member continues to receive full value and support.
In his own words...
“Four and a half years later I am still so pleased that I made this decision. The value of what we do has completely blown me away.
“As well as helping members to make better decisions and run more profitable, growing businesses, we genuinely make a real difference to people’s lives. I have seen people fall in love with their businesses again, regain hope for the future and seen many members’ personal lives change in a positive way. Without a doubt, this has been beyond my wildest expectations and fills me with the utmost pride.”
Contributing to the TAB community
David enjoys being part of a caring and supportive franchise and is regarded as one of the most active contributors to the ongoing success of the community. He serves on two of TAB’s global and national committees and is a regular speaker and contributor at TAB UK and US conferences and at the UK training events to help to improve the skills of the franchise community.
Paul Winterbottom has been a franchisee with The Alternative Board (TAB) since April 2014. When offered voluntary redundancy, Paul left his position at NatWest which he had held for more than 30 years in order to pursue a new career and his dream of being a business owner.
He says: “When I left the bank I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next so I explored a few potential avenues. I had known about franchising for a long time because I worked with clients at the bank who ran their own franchises.
“I found TAB by working with a company that matches potential franchisees with franchisors. They evaluate you in terms of skills, experience and interests etc. and then come back to you with options to choose from. They suggested a few franchises to me including a consultancy franchise, a care franchise and TAB. I investigated the other options but didn’t really do anything with them because it was TAB that really stood out.”
Whilst at Natwest, Paul held various roles but for the last 20 years had specialised in working with small and medium sized businesses on business development and growth. He was confident that this experience meant he would have the skills and knowledge necessary to run a successful TAB franchise.
“Whilst researching the opportunity with TAB I did a lot of due diligence. I researched on the internet but I also spoke to around 10 existing franchisees before making my decision. I visited a couple of TAB boards to get a taste for the business and I spent a couple of days at head office in Harrogate.
“Once I’d made the decision to join TAB, I attended the UK conference because I wanted to meet the rest of the franchise network. The conferences are educational, social, helpful and instructive and they help you to build essential relationships with existing franchisees early on in your business.”
The TAB training programme ensures new franchisees are confident and capable both in recruiting members to establish their TAB boards and in providing the full range of TAB services to retain those members for the long term. Initial training is followed by three further days spent at head office fine-tuning and preparing for launch, as well as nine days in-field support helping to translate theory into practice and kick-starting the launch of the business.
“I spent nine days training in Harrogate, it was great and I had two people coaching me. Everything I needed to know about how to run the business was covered at my own pace and it wasn’t rushed through at all. TAB’s programme of telemarketing also kicks in before you hold your first board meeting in order to generate you initial appointments. You have appointments lined up to go and see as soon as you’ve finished your training so that you can get members signed up to your boards and really hit the ground running.
“I had plenty of support when I ran my first board, an existing franchisee came and supported me which made a big difference. With TAB there’s a strong community ethos and I haven’t come across anyone who won’t try and help you, they’re a great bunch of people. TAB franchisees are actively encouraged to create a supportive environment.
“As additional support, TAB also hold meetings for franchisees across the UK. The methods we use for our members are also used by head office to support us. We all take an issue, problem or business opportunity we’re dealing with and put it to the franchisee board in order to get advice for our own businesses. What could be better?!
“I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. It’s extremely rewarding and I’m getting really good feedback from my members. It’s hard work but the board meetings are definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the business.
“My advice to anyone looking at getting into franchising would be to speak to as many franchisees as possible including those who may not be doing so well and those who have given it up. Do your homework and find out what will happen if things don’t go well for you. Find a franchisor who will offer you additional support if you are struggling. With TAB, I think you have to see how the business works before you join. Attend one of the boards as a guest; they’re not just a mental exercise, it’s an experience you should have to get a flavour of the business you’ll be joining.”
In a little under six months, Paul saw a steep uptake in board members and the demand for his services. With eyes firmly set on expansion and growth, he seems set for a long and successful career.
He says: “My future plans are to continue to make a success of my business! I launched my first board in June 2014 with one member attending and another two people attending as guests. That board then met in October 2014 for the fourth time with six members. I also launched my second board in October on a similar basis but for larger businesses. That board had three people who are not yet members but are interested in TAB. My immediate plan is to sign up more people for my second board and launch my third and fourth boards. Onward and upwards!”