Franchisee Lifecycle: Four Years with Caroline Robinson, Sandler Training Cambridge
For Caroline Robinson, a long-held desire to run her own business was fulfilled when she started her Sandler Training Cambridge franchise – and within just three years she’d been named the network’s Franchisee of the Year!
Here Caroline reflects on her first four years in the business: overcoming challenges, scaring herself silly – and becoming an alchemist!
I started with Sandler in April 2012. Previously I was a strategy consultant to the pharmaceutical industry and I was looking for a new challenge. I wanted to develop further expertise, particularly in business development, and I wanted to run my own company. Sandler offered me the opportunity to bring all of that together.
I was attracted primarily by what Sandler stood for; the opportunity to continuously learn and grow myself within a supportive culture, as part of an established brand and network of like-minded business people. I was also looking for a quick ramp-up in my business and I felt that a franchise offered that to me in a way that was less likely by starting up on my own.
When it came to my expectations, I wanted the highest quality in terms of the calibre of training, the client experience and the returns on investment for my clients. I had very specific goals and a vision to work towards when I started out.
Business Growth: (%, not turnover figures)
Milestones: (a word or two on major happenings over the year if possible?!)
The first 18 months in the business were challenging, but thanks to the collaborative approach of the Sandler network, both in the UK and US, and my mentoring from Anneli, the Oxford franchisee, I am now firmly on track.
The level of support, coaching and the frequency of it that I get from head office has exceeded my expectation. I talk to my fellow Sandler franchisees regularly and to a certain extent they’re mentoring and coaching me as well. I was constantly amazed by their generosity, what they’re willing to share and how they’ll help you in any way they can.
That’s a very genuine sentiment I’ve got from everybody in the network. It bowled me over, I didn’t expect that level of support and collaboration between franchisees. I’m very impressed by the calibre of people within the network as well.
This year I was named Sandler’s Franchisee of the Year! I was very surprised but really pleased. It’s been a great endorsement of how far both I and the business have come since 2012. I’ve grown a good client base and they’ve been getting great results, so the award felt like a testament to all that hard work.
The fundamental cornerstone within Sandler is something called the ‘Success Triangle’ which is that to be more successful in growing sales – in fact, with any aspect of life – there are three things to work on: attitude, behaviours, and techniques. If I look at my growth since 2012 those are the three areas I’ve really focused on and developed personally as well as with my clients to help them get the success they want to achieve. The award is a great endorsement that the philosophy really does work on an individual and company level.
Over the last 12-18 months I’ve become much better at setting my work/life balance. I’ve discovered that I must have two goals at any one time: one of those goals is always a revenue goal for the business; to balance that, I have to have an exercise goal, something that frankly scares the living daylights out of me!
I love running and last year I signed up for a quadrathlon. I’d never done anything like it before and fitting in the training with everything else I was juggling was a challenge. But with Sandler we teach the principles of setting yourself ‘stretch goals’ and how to work towards them, so I was delighted and proud of my achievement as I crossed the finish line!
The Alchemy Group within Sandler in the UK was a group formed to help us take our businesses to the next level – essentially, practicing what we preach with our clients. For me this was the next stepping stone. I’ve got big ambitious plans for where I want to take the business in the future and the Alchemy Group was a way of helping me to get really specific on questions like ‘What is the plan, the strategy and the actions that I need to be implementing in the next year, and subsequent years, to get to that level?’
The Sandler UK and US conferences helps new and established, franchisees take their businesses to the next level. Many solo consultants hit a plateau once they clear their initial target of billing £100,000 a year – and then require further training to scale up their operation without impacting profitability.
After two days of learning, many of the major steps forward come from sitting down with other members of the network and having discussions with people ahead of you in the business. There are three core questions relating to sustainable business growth:
More – Shall I do more of what I already do? Better – Shall I do it better? Different – What do I need to change?
Added to this there is a Client Summit in Orlando each spring and it's a real buzz to take your own clients and meet clients from around the world.
The outcomes of these sessions helping to create a clear roadmap for everyone’s success, Sandler continues to be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone involved.