Leading a Professional Services Firm to
Achieve Revenue Growth
It’s rare that you come across standout talent like Mike. I had the pleasure of being Mike's colleague collaborating as teammates. Mike is a dedicated, ambitious, result driven leader and thoughtful individual. If you ever need someone to deliver under pressure, no slip-ups, just results, Mike is your man! He is great in dealing with difficult situations and a fantastic problem solver. I recommend him to anyone looking for a doer.
Sales Manager, at EBSCO
Our client is a local franchisee. The franchisor has been for decades improving personal and business performance around the world through in-person and live online courses from leadership to public speaking training. They are a global leader in sales, customer service, leadership, presentation and soft skills training counting 400 of the Fortune 500 as clients such as WalMart, Indeed and more.
The franchisee was in their regional location now for eleven years as owner. The problem was that even after a decade of ownership the franchise had no revenue growth, or repeat sales or consistent cash flow. And now that the franchisor was under new management, the franchisee was asked to meet a minimum set of performance benchmarks or a $1M a annual revenues.
Behind the franchisor were tens of thousands of small to mid-size companies through to global enterprises around the world who relied on them for breakthrough programs around leadership, sales, powerful presentation skills, high-performing teams, and cultures that encourage teamwork, diversity and respect. The franchisor was traditionally classroom-focused, offering courses either in a public setting or in client’s offices. These achieve world-class VOC and NPS scores. Now with the new franchisor management, they also had an expanding live, instructor-led online programs, which can be offered almost anywhere – with certified, highly-experienced trainers across the world who know the local language and culture in 32 languages and in 86 countries. And more options were coming from the franchisor.
The franchisee, in contrast was achieving less than $500K annually with no on-going small to mid-size business clients or brand name enterprise clients. The bulk of their revenues were based on sales with individuals seeking face-to-face personal development solutions. When they had enough individual interest, they delivered a particular program with multi sessions at a local hotel. Basically one program a month. The related operational processes and costs were inefficient. While the administration was haphazard at best, for example in following standard accounting practices. As people business they were also experiencing high staff turnover higher than normal for similar size and type of business. Part of the reasons for this is low pay despite their high commitment. More importantly, there was very little profit to speak of.
The franchisee had their backs to the wall.
They needed a strategy to change their fortunes around, as well as someone to lead to expected outcomes (or minimum performance benchmark). It needed to be someone who could engage both staff and customers, particularly B2B (Business to Business) customers. Meantime they needed someone to streamline their operational processes and ensure the right technology tools were in place to support operations and eventual success. So, they hired our team.
For the first month, we simply accepted that we would sell the various programs succeeding to date to individuals just to get going on the project.
While the usual efforts were encouraged, we began to put the following steps into action:
- Begin market research by analyzing past performance in contrast to market facts
- Assessed existing staff roles, responsibilities, performance. While we asked them individually and as a team what might the problems and possible answers
- Reviewed existing processes and related decisions and asked why it was done this way
- Reviewed existing functional performance: marketing, sales, operations, accounting and training delivery
- Reviewed technology tools in use
- Combined the above in a unique and compelling strategy draft.
Initial market research outlined how the franchisee’s industry in the region and nationally had experienced a 46th percent drop in market potential in the last decade. Basically individuals and companies cut back the need for soft skills training. Or what is now in high demand since before the pandemic of 2020. From this premise we put together a strategic plan for the franchise given there was none.
Key samples of the market research, for example, confirmed that even if the franchisee stayed the course selling personal/professional development to individuals. The market demographics or 4 million population outlined that 2/10th were Allo phone and 7/10 were Franco phone. The franchisee was principally marketing and selling to just 1/10th of the market potential or English speakers.
Staff assessment was simple, the front office (marketing and sales) was young, inexperienced, underpaid turning over a lot. The back office staff (operations and training) were seasoned veterans, dedicated and underpaid. And booth groups had great ideas for improving the franchise, which we factored into a collaborative and evolving strategic plan.
Bottom line on the back office, the accounting was badly done, for instance different journal entries for the same expense. There was no normal structure to it. These inefficiencies spilled over to operations and training processes. Training may have followed the strict discipline outlined by the franchisor, however the data capture was haphazard and so on. There was an evident need to streamline and employ technologies to support.
Technology tools were in place from the franchisor but it was ill understood or used leading to an low or non existent investment of time to put them to good use. Evolving strategic plan considered local version of these tools integrated to provide a better picture of the franchise’s eventual succeess.
In less than nine month, we help direct a turnaround, a transformation, of the local franchise in terms of marketing, sales through to operations and training. As we began, we had less than half of the staff involved from the year before. While there was no active marketing or no prior, or recurring, or any new sales coming in when we began leading the franchise.
Our strategic plan was initially simple, or begin to market to the rest of the B2C or individual market with multi-lingual (Allo-phone known locally) and Franco-phone seeking personal or professional development.
We directed, motivated and delegate the all team members to identify, develop and close interest and opportunities in our offer. Meantime we solicited their insightful observations as to where we can streamline and enable operations and training.
After thorough research we uncovered a major and complementary technology solutions which will support our marketing, sales, events, projects and training delivery functions. We began testing trial version to iron out the kinks.
Going forward, we led the team to execute other elements of our strategic plan where we:
- Hired a marketing coordinator to expand from our email campaign, to social media and webinars
- Led and coached sales to expand our target focus from B2C to B2B or corporate opportunities based on prior data analyst of past sales and more.
- Ask operational team to manually streamline its processes around training delivery including translation of materials for our new target market
- Ensured training was supported to maintain and exceed its training delivery performance.
This led to notable milestones achievements:
- Franchise gain a Top 30 ranking, out of 298
- One of our sales reps also achieved Top 30 ranking
- The foundation for this achievement was the work of our marketing coordinator who grew incoming leads to 2,900%
- Similarly the work of the operations and training team resulted in 15% increase in operating margin due to streamlined operating processes and a 9.2 NPS (Net Promoter Score).
- Marketing, through to resulting NPS, everyone on the team asking for referrals (sales through to trainers) enabled sales to achieve further gains including repeat sales, cross sale and even larger corporate deals. Where we won large or annual recurring contracts with small to enterprise customers.
- By nine months, we had in cash a 36% growth and a healthy opportunities pipeline with a $1M forecast to end the fiscal year.
The above result sits on top of a revenue growth methodology where agreed upon strategy by everyone involved was executed daily as well as improved upon. It really exemplified the statement: the ability to execute a strategy so well conceived, understood and embraced by all that it almost guarantees a successful outcome, even against the odds” by Eric Beaudan, author of book Creative Execution
bEffective’s competencies in sales, as well as strategic planning, people engagement, process optimization through to technology know-how help put together the above case study.
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