Last Updated: 15-June-2020

Interview with MD of The Alternative Board, Ed Reid

Name:           Ed Reid

Position:       Managing Director

Location:      Harrogate

Franchise:    The Alternative Board (TAB) UK

What was your career background before franchising (including what your job / career was immediately before)

My role immediately before TAB (where I started as a franchisee before I became the franchisor) was Sales & Marketing Director for an SME printing business. I’d done this for 18 months having left the corporate world (I’d worked for Nestle and Diageo for about 10 years in sales, marketing and strategy roles, including running a team of circa 300 in sales). My work/life balance at the printing business, who were great, was completely out of kilter; my kids were young, and I was never at home (at useful times!), so something had to change.

When you started your business did you know that you would be going the franchise route?

Yes – we set up in the UK as the first international Master Franchisee for TAB International (who had been operating in just North America since 1990)

Were you, effectively, the first franchisee (pilot franchisee)?

I personally was the 3rd UK franchisee, joining only a few months after the initial pilot franchisee, so in effect, I was one of the pilots. This was in 2009, and we look back on those days very fondly; depending on how you want to frame it, we were either pioneering, or flying by the seat of our pants! We’ve learnt masses in the decade since, and those lessons are now distilled into helping new franchisees have the best possible businesses.

Before franchising your business did you have any other pilot franchisees?

Yes, there were about 5 of us who all started within the first 6 months

How did you discover franchising as a means of growing your business? (When & where)

TAB was already a massively successful franchise in North America, so it was the obvious business format for its international expansion.

Why did you choose franchising over opening company owned outlets?

We knew that our clients (owners and MDs of SMEs) would value the fact we (our franchisees) were also business owners. We wanted to grow through shared risk and reward.

How did you raise the finances required to franchise your business?

I bought the business (along with my business partner, Mags Fuller) from having been a TAB franchisee, so it was a fully operating business already. We raised the funds through traditional bank loans.

How long have you been franchising your business?

11 years in the UK, 30 years internationally

What challenges have you faced since franchising your business?

Finding great new franchisees who share our values, our work ethic, our culture. Launching the UK business in a recession. Weathering the storm of COVID-19 (we’ve actually grown our client numbers since March 2020).

What ‘highs’ have you experienced since franchising your business?

We change the lives of our clients (business owners) for the better, helping them run better businesses, with more control, and better work/life balances. It’s unbelievably fulfilling to help them on their journey, and we’ve no helped 1000’s of business owners do this.

How many franchisees do you currently have?      

31

How many franchisees would see you at full capacity?     

100                 

What initial & on-going training and support do you offer to your franchisees?

There is some very intensive initial training; starting with 7 webinars, followed by 5 days of classroom training (currently virtual), in field training (9 days), and then a follow-up 3 days of classroom training. We then run quarterly 2-day “advanced training” for all franchisees. In addition, every franchisee meets with circa 6 other franchisees every month, in a meeting facilitated by the franchisor. At every meeting, each franchisee gets help with their most pressing issue/opportunity at that point.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of buying a franchise?

Know that it’s hard work, particularly the first year, just like setting up any business. But you’re doing it surrounded by a (hopefully!) incredibly supportive community, using processes that have been honed over years by everyone before you. If you get the right franchise for you, it should be incredibly fulfilling (on all levels). You get out of it what you put in.

To learn more about franchise opportunities with The Alternative Board (TAB) UK, click here!

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