Mark operates his business coaching franchise with ActionCOACH in the Central Midlands region and works with small and mid-sized companies, helping them in the areas of profitability, sales and marketing, systemization of their business, teamwork, and time management.
Is running a franchise as you expected it to be?
It is actually better than I expected. ActionCOACH is a very well supported franchise, with lots of support from the Master Licensee office and very much a 'community' feel to the business. This is great as I was expecting to be more 'on my own', but the level of contact and support from ActionCOACH and other coaches in our network through webinars, training programmes or conferences is great.
How does it differ from being an employee?
I'm running the business! It’s my own money and during start up I’m 'it'. I would have considered myself a loyal employee but the level of 'think time' when running your own business is way higher. I guess you are always on the lookout for opportunities or thinking about the next 'important' thing that needs to be done. There are fewer people around to bounce ideas off, but the support of my coach or other coaches in the network is very good.
Did it take long to get it up and running, or was it a quick start?
It took me about six months to get my revenues on plan, getting to grips with areas outside my comfort zone i.e. marketing and sales took some time. I was way more comfortable with the actual coaching than the selling. However, practicing what I preach with regards to setting goals, planning accordingly and taking action helped me to achieve 'gold' level within 18 months of going live.
How often do you talk with your franchisor?
3 times a week with my accountability coach.
It has been said that running a franchise takes a lot of extra time and hard work. Do you agree?
I don't think I spend any more time or effort than I did as an operations director for a major blue chip company. It’s different in as much that in corporate businesses the pressures came from outside or beyond my control, whereas with my business it’s down to me to keep the pace going and determine strategies, direction etc. So same but different!
Describe a typical day for you.
I usually get up around 06:30. (Work from home on Mondays.) Wed - Thursday are most typical. Wed, up at 06:00 for networking at 06:45. Finish 08:45. Stop at clients on way back to office for coaching 09:00 - 10:30. To office for client at 11:00 - 13:00, fortnightly client at 14:00 - 15:30 and then final 'weekly' client 16:00 - 17:30. Mails and end of day review and plan tomorrow. Dinner with family and some form of exercise: Yoga, Squash or cycle. Last glimpse at mails and read 'education' book.
What advice would you give to other franchisees just starting out?
Have a clear plan: financial, marketing etc. Get to grips with why you are doing what you’re doing. Dream big. Make sure your business plan delivers your personal wants. Know who you need to surround yourself with; the positive people (radiators), not the negative (drains). Make sure you have a coach to hold you to account and keep you focused. If you are a people person then get networking. Make sure your diary is filled with the right activity. As soon as you can, get others to help sweat the small stuff.
Mark Jennings was a professional, senior general manager who had successfully started, led, and managed a variety of large scale and complex warehouse and distribution businesses prior to joining ActionCOACH in 2011. He is happily married to Katarina and they have a beautiful daughter Frankie. Mark also has an older son Tom. Tom was born with the genetic condition Cystic Fibrosis and it is for this cause that Mark has taken on many significant challenges to raise money. His most recent exploits include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and cycling the highest peaks in the French Alps.