THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

A change in audience

Monday evening and Tuesday morning were spent with a group of franchise owners from one of Britain’s biggest industrial contract cleaning businesses. That’s quite a change from dentists so the first point of interest is how I came to be there. Before dentists became my core business in 1998, my definition of a client was any small business owner that would listen to me and, way back then, I developed a strategic alliance with a leading firm of financial planners who asked my to deliver the “more profit in less time” programme to a group of their clients. Thus in the 90’s I found myself coaching one of the franchise holders from last night – a relationship that developed into 1:1 coaching as I watched him grow his business to lead the UK franchise group. His distinguishing characteristics were an inquisitive mind, careful planning and the willingness to do ALL of the homework that I requested. Our business relationship ended over 2 years ago but we developed mutual trust and a good friendship along the way. as an aside, during our farewell dinner at the excellent Hart’s Restaurant in Nottingham, I asked what had been the biggest benefit of our coaching relationship. I expected a description of enhanced profits, more holidays and a bigger, better business. His reply was “I can never thank you enough for convincing me to employ a driver for my daily commute to and from the workplace.” Some years ago I introduced my client to Ashley Latter, the sales coach, with a big recommend to attend Ash’s sales training course. He did, enjoyed it and introduced Ash to the rest of the franchise company. For the last 2 years, Ash has been facilitating a mastermind group of 20 top franchise holders, meeting quarterly for super-sales training and a chance to share ideas. Having exhausted his “material” with the group, Ash had the vision to bring me in as a guest speaker after dinner last night and after breakfast this morning. And so we have come full circle. I may be hired to facilitate their 2007 mastermind meetings – whether or not that happens it was good to meet with my former client again and also to make some new friends. So how different from UK dentists were UK franchised contract cleaners? No different at all. Leadership – they lack individual direction and lack the ability to direct their teams. Relationship – they feel individually isolated and lack the skill to make their key relationships (team/clients/head office) feel appreciated and involved. Creativity – they lack the time to learn, to change and to innovate. No time to think, none to plan. For dental drill read mop and brush. For messy mouth read dirty office. For bewildered team read bewildered team! I had fun speaking with them last night over an increasingly liquid dinner. Today was serious stuff and some home truths. They need to raise their game and see a bigger future for themselves. Proof again that: 1. business is business and 2. word of mouth marketing and recommendation are wonderful.

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