Ian Christelow is the UK Co-Founder of ActionCOACH, the world’s number one business coaching franchise, with more than 1,000 offices in 40 countries. ActionCOACH’s business model was created in Australia and is based on tried and tested systems established since 1993 by Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH’s founder. In this interview Ian reveals the initial challenges he faced when establishing ActionCOACH in the UK 10 years ago and why he is so passionate about helping business owners.
FranchiseExpo: In your opinion, why do you think that an ActionCOACH franchise would be a great opportunity for someone?
Ian Christelow: Making a meaningful difference to someone’s life and hearing and receiving a “thank you” is probably the most rewarding thing you can do. Our business owner clients say things like, “I love my coach” … when was the last time you heard that about a banker, lawyer or accountant? Whilst the biggest winners are our clients, the financial returns are pretty good and guaranteed too – as long as you get the marketing work done in your business and use our systems of course! On top of that, you’ve got two huge intangibles – firstly the team around you, our coaches enjoy helping people as do our support team, and they’re fun people to be around; secondly, the learning opportunity with ActionCOACH is second-to-none … just the first 10 days of training surpassed my Henley Management College MBA course (and Henley are one of the best!).
FE: What are the qualities you look for in your ideal franchisee?
Ian: They’ve got to have had a track record of success (we’ll only recruit someone if we believe they’ll strengthen our team), they’ve got to be committed to lifelong learning and have a genuine interest in business and a passion for helping people succeed. Oh! And one last thing, the directors of the franchise have got to like them … we’re building a team that gets on with each other and we want to enjoy the company of all of our franchise partners.
FE: What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise and how have you overcome them?
Ian: Initially, it was just explaining what a business coach was – nobody I spoke to about ActionCOACH in my first 12 months knew! Secondly, it was finding one or two visionary pioneers to prove this worked in the UK … everywhere, we went people said that might work in The States or Australia, but it won’t work here! Ten years on, our top performing UK franchise partners are billing over £40k per month and the results of ActionCOACH’s clients are even more incredible. ?
FE: Do you feel that franchising is a great way for individuals who wish to start their own business?
Ian: Yes, Michael Gerber was spot on in his book “The E-Myth revisited” ... only about 20% of all businesses survive the first five years, whereas 75% of franchised businesses do. The latest NatWest/bfa survey revealed that 90% of franchised businesses they surveyed were profitable. You just can’t ignore the numbers and fact that building a successful business is hard, so why wouldn’t you want to do it with a proven business model to give you the best chance of success? I believe the two most expensive things in business are buying customers and trial and error – a good franchise should cut out the trial and error and give you tried and tested processes for getting customers.
FE: What are your franchisees saying about the business?
- “I am still amazed at the level of support and the many ideas and strategies that are 'handed on a plate' to us all. I feel spoon fed!!! After years of having to do everything myself, this is a dream”, says Pam Featherstone
- “My purpose as a business coach is to help my clients increase profit and build high performance teams. I have embraced these concepts in my own business and have achieved tangible results by doing what I teach and teaching what I do,” says Marco Soares.
- “Would I go back and make the decision to join ActionCOACH again? I would definitely do it again. For me it has been absolutely ideal,” says Vanda Hollinshead-Rowell
FE: Any success stories you’d like to share with us?
Ian: Shweta Jhajharia banking over £48k in October 2012 and smashed through the £50k per month mark in November 2012 – not even 4 years into her first business and has to juggle being a mum to a lively 6 year-old boy.
FE: Do you belong to any associations or networking groups?
Ian: I am a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and, of course, we are a member of the British Franchise Association (bfa).
FE: What do you do in your spare time?
Ian: My daughters Cara 4, in January, and Ellen 2 – need I say more? I enjoy seeing more of the world with Julie, my life partner. I also play tennis for Risbygate Tennis Club, cricket for Horringer Cricket Club and golf occasionally.
FE: As a franchise executive, who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ian: Brad Sugars – founded the business
coaching profession at 21 years of age.
Vic Ciuffetelli – brilliant business man and every bit as passionate about saving business owners from the stress and grief their business can cause.
Shweta Jhajharia, Ben Fewtrell & Gavin Bassett – our franchise partners showing what’s possible with ActionCOACH.