Providing the perfect environment to help businesses grow

With its first franchise owners up and running, The Business Club is looking to replicate nationwide its successful formula which has seen its first club exceed 500 member companies and continue to grow

Of the 2.16 million businesses registered in the UK (through VAT or PAYE), larger business account for just 0.4 per cent - the rest being the main target market for The Business Club - providing an environment for go-ahead business people (from sole traders to corporates) to access what they need in order to make their business thrive and grow, The Business Club is seeking to replicate its successful formula nationwide by granting franchises to ambitious and enthuisastic business people with strong people skills.

The Business Club membership opens the door to a range of valuable business building activities, including doing business with other member companies, discovering new ideas to develop and grow, accessing new suppliers and business methods, sharing successes (and failures), learning from top quality speakers and tapping into extensive business advice. Membership even includes a web-based business management software package providing customer relationship management (CRM) intranet and remote working.

"Founded in Peterborough in 1992, The Business Club was developed to meet a very real need of local business owners," says CEO and co-founder of The Business Club Brian Soanes. "There were local agencies offering business support but they were ineffective - nobody was providing practical support, guidance, advice and networking in a self help environment. It's no different today as evidenced by the ever growing number of members in our developing franchise network.

"We chose franchising as the growth model for The Business Club because its proven ability to attract and keep members is replicable (our retention rate is 82.4 per cent annually). Our challenge is to find franchise owners who can sell and get a kick out of helping others to succeed. For the right person this is a truly unique opportunity to develop and run a business, which is profitable and provide genuine fulfilment in every sense of the word."

The Business Club's first franchise owner Mike Willis explains why he bought into the concept: "I'd been a member of The Business Club in Peterborough for two years and I'd done so much business with other members that I always said it was one of the best decisions I'd made in 40 years in business. I also knew there were a lot of others like me, so when the franchise owner opportunity came up I grabbed it with both hands. We went through a process to make sure we were right for each other and the support I've received has been more than I could hope for!

"I felt well prepared for starting the busness and had head office salespeople working with me in my area to bring members in. They provided me with top class speakers, giving members and guests alike really practical answers to tough business issues. Now, two years down the road, my club continues to expand. In fact membership has reached the point where we are looking at doubling the number of meetings we hold from two evenings per month to four so that we can fit everyone in.

"Like any venture worth undertaking it's been hard work, but very satisfying - there's nothing I'd rather be doing. Many of our members are now friends. Imagine spending your working life with a bunch of friends who all have the same common goals: business growth, doing business together and sharing ideas.

"Apart from helping me establish The Business Club locally the franchisor provides all the 'back office' administration. This leaves me free to do the interesting end of business: selling memberships, running meetings, supporting and caring for my members."

Brian adds: "Right from the start we've worked hard to ensure our franchise owners are well matched to the culture and ethos of The Business Club. This is good for the franchise, its members and for us. It's not just the case of having the money to invest, you need to be good with people and enjoy helping them succeed. In Peterborough the original Business Club has 550 member companies. We are continually developing and implementing new ideas, many suggested by franchise owners, which once proven in Peterborough are incorporated into the franchise network.

"For the person who enjoys helping people and is able to organise meetings, explain the benefits of The Club to prospective members and has a business background, this is a great opportunity to be in charge of your own business with support, training and guidance from those that have already made the model a success. It's a great lifestyle business, with the opportunity to become a local business leader - not a follower.

Matthew Bullock, The Business Club's former Franchise Director, has put his money where his mouth is: he was so excited by the concept that he decided to purchase the Cambridge franchise for himself. "Having seen this opportunity from almost every angle and being steeped in the ethos of The Business Club it just seemed to be the perfect way forward for me," he enthuses. "As a Director of The Business Club I was meeting large numbers of enthusiastic business people, all of whom were looking to grow and improve their business from the smallest to the largest company. They all told me that one of the best returns they get from their membership fee is the feeling of belonging - running a business can be a lonely place!

"I was so inspired, I knew I had to make the transition from franchisor to franchise owner. It's the lifestyle as much as the money-making opportunity that appealed to me. There's no upper limit on the number of members and with thousands of existing businesses in Cambridge and new ones opening at a phenomenal rate - even in today's economy - my Business Club Franchise is assured of success. I fully anticipate achieving far more in turnover than the initial goal of £100,000 in the first year. Having been part of the team involved in getting new franchise owners started by helping them to bring in new members, giving them support and working 'hands on' with them to grow their own successful businesses, I knew what to expect from the franchisor. I was confident with the head office's help and support I could build a profitable, satisfying and fun business. I haven't been disappointed.

"The Business Club is a truly unique opportunity to build a rewarding business based on helping other businesses to become more profitable and work with each other to achieve real success."