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From franchisor to franchisee – via the Royal Yacht

18 July 2017

‘To know that you’re representing a global leader is special…it keeps us years ahead of the market, and clients know it.’

It’s been quite a journey for Berkeley Harris from decorated Royal Marine to his Sandler franchise, taking in time aboard the Royal Yacht and over a decade as a franchisor – including a stint as deputy chairman of the British Franchise Association.

“I spent 10 years in the Royal Marines, which was good fun!” says Berkeley. “I collected a few medals along the way. I also spent two years on the Royal Yacht Britannia looking after security for the Queen and Royal family, before I began my career in franchising.”

He joined B2B private medical insurance firm WPA, becoming franchise director during a 12-year stay. And it was there that he witnessed the impact of Sandler’s techniques first-hand.

“We had a lot of requests from sales trainers and the like at WPA,” says Berkeley. “I agreed to see someone from Sandler. The guy, who has since retired, was phenomenal and the approach fitted what we did superbly. We’d been growing at a steady rate, 2-3%, but after using some of the Sandler techniques we jumped to 10% growth and the retention rate went from 89% to 93%. The consultative approach had a major impact. We thought we were doing it well before, but this was another level.

“That got me closer to Shaun and Fiona [Sandler’s directors] and they said, ‘Why don’t you come and join us as a franchisee?’. I said no thanks, I get paid rather well! But OK, let’s talk. I asked them to show me more. I had many options and some interesting conversations with other franchisors when I left WPA, but I knew Sandler was the right choice. It didn’t take me long to decide, right, let’s do it.”

From moving mindset to soaring sales

Berkeley’s not afraid to talk about the transition from leading a team of 90 staff and nearly 100 franchisees, to being out on his own, quite literally.

“From having a management team and a support team helping manage my diary and commitments, you’ve suddenly got to do it yourself – you’re chief tea boy as well as running the business! Getting back to that grass roots level was a bit of a struggle, I don’t mind admitting. It’s a case of ‘So who’s going to do that then?’ You do. ‘What about this?’ You do. It’s a completely different place and mindset going back to being on your own.

“When I got started, I wanted to be all entrepreneurial and thought I could do things better! It took a while before I thought, OK, I will follow the model by the letter – and no surprise, the results soon followed. The system is there for a reason!”

Since then, Berkeley’s taken his business to ever-greater heights. “It’s been a great uplift in revenue. From year 1 to year 2 I had 100% increase in turnover. I’m on course for around another 70% increase in year 3. It’s really adding up and has put me in a great place. I’m feeling very, very good about the future.

“It’s been amazing. Once you build your sales mastery group and your management group, and getting clients who you can see are making good use of what you’re training them in, and referring you to other people too, that’s really the point where you think ‘here we go’. You have more to show people, it gives you a big boost in your own confidence and abilities.

“And larger companies become interested in you to train their teams. That’s what it’s all about.”

Truly global support

When it comes to the advantages he’s enjoyed in his franchise, Berkeley cites the brand’s heritage, global network of peers, and mass of cutting-edge content as unrivalled.

He says: “To know that you’re representing a global leader in sales development and leadership and management is special. People ask me why I didn’t do this on my own, and I could have done. But I’d have run out of content within about 10 minutes. The fact Sandler is a global leader, and always ahead of the game on anything, makes such a difference. It keeps us as franchisees ahead of the game, gives us things to shout about.

“Sandler Online exaggerates even more our position at the head of the market. For people to have their own dashboard wherever they are is a game-changer, the implementation of training goes 10 times better with it. It’s years ahead of the market, and clients know it.

“I get introduced at conferences as representing a global leader; having that kind of size and stature and bringing it to a local level is so incredibly powerful when I’m talking with people.”

But best of all?

“The collaboration. You can pick up the phone or email anybody, anytime. If there are 20 people around the world that are at the top of their game in training, leadership and management, I’d say Sandler’s got about a dozen of them. You mention the likes of Bill Bartlett, John Rosso and people say ‘I follow him on Twitter, he’s amazing’. And you say, ‘Yes, I talk to him at Sandler conferences’.

“These are people coaching some of the most exclusive people in the world, and they will take your call every time. Even the very top guys take so much time to talk with you, because they see the global network as the strength of the brand. They’re always available to us as franchisees, and they’re genuine world-leaders at what they do and superstars in the industry.” 

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