- The Conference Collective
- My Place Housing
- Innova Engineering
- Powerful Healing
- Great Grades Tuition
- Phi Strategy
- The Pantry at Southwood Golf Course
- The Wellbeing Farm
- Luxury House Share
- Stator Electrical Solutions
- Madame Wax
- Kaleidoscope Property Consulting
- Magical Maths
- Bumpalicious Maternity
- No Brain No Gain
- Baldwin Harris
- Finder Monkey
- PhoneCoach limited
- Website Success
- Melt Design
- Clearsky IT
- Tuition Brentwood
- James Neale Photography
- Elite Tents
- Buckingham Ford
- Not Before Tea
- Progressive Sports
- Mirus Media
- Divine Legs
- WingroveTailored Ltd
- KMA Accountancy
- Windsor and Rose Estate Agents
- Watford bathrooms and kitchens
- Terptree Ltd
- Cashmere and Cotton
- Ace Car Care Ltd
- Academy of Physical Medicine Ltd
- JP Hay Sales & Lettings
- Humphreys of Henley
- Chilli Restaurant
- Perfect Blend
- The Work Bees
- Anita's Beauty Centre
- Carylls Country House
- Internal Alignment
- My Advocate Mentor
- The Car Network
- Elite Driving School
- Nexus Globalnet
- Fineline Printing & Stationery
- Simply Garden Maintenance
- Ticking Trout
- MJF Accountancy
- Rock and Rapid Adventures
- Personal Protection Training
- NKD Waxing
- Bluebell Physiotherapy
- Medical Mavericks
- The Procurement Co
- Espace Europe
- Ecocleen Services
- Aveling Adventure
- Guilford Accounting
- Mi Spa
- Verbatim Call Centres
- Millennium Cargo Services
- Shwe Tan
- D-Coded Insights
- Business Video Experts
- Tiger Computing
- Thomas Cleaning
- Abacus Party Cover
- Mark Swinford Photography
- All In One Business Services
- Worlds energy
- Felbrigg Lodge Hotel
- Accountancy Learning
- The Root Of It
- Norman Bookkeeping & Payroll
- Richardson and Paige
- One Eyed Cat Online Marketing
- Your Business Angels
- Ambiente Tapas
- Val Hever Blinds Ltd
- CEN Group Ltd
- Rethinking Business
- Inge Dowden Coaching
- My Coaching Education Ltd
- Prompt PC
- 48 Hour Launch
- The Results People Ltd
- Need Financial Planning
- Rhymes with Orange
- Pure Brides
Jacinta Scannel from The Conference Collective – Member since April 2013
Adam Croft – My Place Housing
Andrew Thomson – Innova Engineering
Andy Solomon – Yomdel
Ann Boone – Powerful Healing
Austin Booth – Great Grades Tuition
Benedicte Philippon – Phi Strategy
Blossom Blackwell – The Pantry at Southwood Golf Course
Celia Gaze – The Wellbeing Farm
Christian Goldbrough – Luxury House Share
Carl Firmstone – Stator Electrical Solutions
Adele Sweet – Madame Wax
Alan Rawlins – Kaleidoscope Property Consulting
Colin Bradford – Magical Maths
Amanda Rees – Bumpalicious Maternity
Andy Gibney – No Brain No Gain
Tim Baldwin – Baldwin Harris
Michael Shane – Quasar
John Arko – Finder Monkey
Mandy Stephens – PhoneCoach limited
Nick Fenmor Collins – Website Success
Neil O’Brien – Accentis
Matt Eldridge – Melt Design
Lee Chappell – Clearsky IT
Jana Meyer – Tuition Brentwood
James Neale – James Neale Photography
Jacqui Hale – Elite Tents
Ian Redding – Buckingham Ford
Henry Patterson – Not Before Tea
Eddie Ray- Progressive Sports
Deborah Fielding – Mirus Media
Aarif Merali – D2rCrossMedia
Ashley Marshall – Jumpworks
Christine Nicholson – Divine Legs
Helen Sanders – WingroveTailored Ltd
Kim Marlor – KMA Accountancy
Robert Dodd – Windsor and Rose Estate Agents
Gary Fullwood – Watford bathrooms and kitchens
Victoria Williams – Terptree Ltd
Tracy Farrow – Cashmere and Cotton
Stuart Williams – Ace Car Care Ltd
Steven Markham – VFloorplan
Steven Bruce – Academy of Physical Medicine Ltd
Samantha Hay – JP Hay Sales & Lettings
Sam Evans – Humphreys of Henley
Jaz Boparai – Chilli Restaurant
Robin Adams – Perfect Blend
Rachel Willer – The Work Bees
Raj Deokar – Anita’s Beauty Centre
Mo Jhurry – Carylls Country House
Peter Anderton – Internal Alignment
Martin Norbury – My Advocate Mentor
Lesley Howes – The Car Network
Kev Goldthorpe – Elite Driving School
Wil Currie – Nexus Globalnet
Alec Sharples – Fineline Printing & Stationery
Andrea Peck – Simply Garden Maintenance
Emma Mills – MiPA
Darren Joiner – Dazbus
Jon Newlyn – Ticking Trout
Jonathan Davies – MJF Accountancy
Keith Crockford – Rock and Rapid Adventures
Kelly Harper – Personal Protection Training
Nick Hayward – Beautology
Paul Gadsby – IndependentInsuranceBureau
Rebecca Dowdeswell – NKD Waxing
Melanie Poynter – Bluebell Physiotherapy
Tom Warrender – Medical Mavericks
Shakeel Sadiq – Exantia
Simon Unger – The Procurement Co
Tony Shally – Espace Europe
Sean Taylor – Ecocleen Services
Jenna Hynd – Aveling Adventure
Noel Guilford – Guilford Accounting
Ian McDonald – Mi Spa
Hilary Carden – Cardens
Graham Hill – Verbatim Call Centres
Chadd Blunt – Millennium Cargo Services
Sarah Aherne – Shwe Tan
Adrianne Carter – D-Coded Insights
Adam Cliff – Business Video Experts
Keith Edmunds – Tiger Computing
Laurence Thomas – Thomas Cleaning
Mark Hammond – Abacus Party Cover
Mark Swinford – Mark Swinford Photography
Paul Thompson – All In One Business Services
Paul Freeman – Worlds energy
Philip Lomax – Felbrigg Lodge Hotel
Prue Deane – Accountancy Learning
Richard Curtis – The Root Of It
Rob Burnell – Norman Bookkeeping & Payroll
Robbie Richardson – Richardson and Paige
Sara Jones – One Eyed Cat Online Marketing
Laura Moxham – Your Business Angels
Tim Sinclair – Ambiente Tapas
Val Hever – Val Hever Blinds Ltd
Geoff Cross – CEN Group Ltd
Damian Smyth – Rethinking Business
Inge Dowden – Inge Dowden Coaching
James Welsh – My Coaching Education Ltd
Jean and Andrew Eardley – Prompt PC
Pieter De Villiers – 48 Hour Launch
Alan Marriott – The Results People Ltd
Alex Mercer – OBCODI
Colin Brown – Need Financial Planning
Brent Milburn – Rhymes With Orange
Anna Hare – Pure Brides
John Thompson, who runs mortgage business Your Next Mortgage, had tried to generate leads by running events but he was massively disappointed with the results. But not one to be knocked down, John and his team set to work on how they could improve things next time around.
Having sought some ideas and input from the EC community and tried again.
From his experience at past events, John knew that asking for details at the event wouldn’t get him the results he wanted.
Instead, he sent a duel-branded invitation on postcards and everyone who RSVP’d received a letter – sent from the swimming club – detailing Your Next Mortgage’s event offer.
Attendees were given the chance to win a Kindle, with the catch that they had to be there during the draw to win – a great way to make sure prospects stuck around.
So, how did the second event perform for John and the team following the changes he implemented?
From 128 attendees, 56 people handed over their details – not just contact details, but meaningful information on which his team can base a discussion.
This was 10 times the response from the event before. John is now well into his follow-ups, and has started booking appointments…
If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Laura Moxham of, it’s being complacent. Laura’s IT support business was flying, but that wasn’t enough for Laura: after looking at how she had built such a successful business she decided to start another!
“I was adding thousands to my turnover and sales, without even breaking a sweat,” Laura says. “And then it hit me – I was using Google AdWords to bring in hot leads and make sales for our existing business, so why not offer my AdWords services to clients and help them generate similar results?”
And so Your Business Angels was born. Laura started the business with the intention of attracting one new client per month. However, news of Laura’s new services spread amongst her existing clients and demand was high; Laura had brought nine new customers on board in her first five weeks of business.
“The results that have followed month-on-month have been mind-boggling, and since launching I’ve now gained over 39 clients,” Laura tells us. However, Your Business Angels has accelerated in success for Laura each time she implemented something that she had learned during her time with EC.
First things first – getting the clients. Laura started implementing a new marketing method, using the power of personalisation. “One thing that’s always stuck in my mind is when Nigel talks about identifying your dream customers, making a list and then focusing your marketing efforts just at them,” Laura says, and so she devised a campaign that took this advice to the next level. Laura sought out companies whose Google Ads were performing poorly. She then filmed a personalised video, featuring an image of the offending advert, with Laura explaining why their ad was doing so badly, complete with an offer to help them fix the huge errors. She then followed up with an email campaign driving them to this video landing page and offering an audit of their Adwords account to show them how she could help grow their business. “We’ve had a cracking start,” Laura tells us.
Then Laura started following up. “Till they buy or till they die” is another Nigel nugget that Laura got serious about implementing this year.
“Previously, we sent a few lousy follow-up emails and then that was it. Nothing,” Laura tells us. “Now, I have built a follow-up campaign that mixes emails and phone calls. Since being more serious with our follow-up and keeping in touch with prospects we are now closing more customers and winning new business,” Laura says.
Once a client is brought on board, Laura’s philosophy for the business, “get them shit hot results” is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With one client, Laura saved them £26,681 in annual ad spend by simply tweaking the account settings. “It was absolutely game-changing for the client,” she says. Laura also helped a new client win 52 new sales generating them £1,048 from a £59.69 spend; an ROI of 1,655% just by being different to their competitors and standing out.
Marking yourself as being different from the rest is also a tactic that Laura has implemented within her own business, as she recognized that tracking results properly was something that many other paid traffic services neglected to do.
“We’ve found that in our industry, the water is slightly muddy,” Laura tells us. “Considering it’s a results-based business, most of our competitors are not transparent and purposely make it difficult for the client to evaluate their results.” This approach didn’t sit well with Laura, and so she set up processes that would track all of the vital metrics. “We even track exactly what keywords have made the phone ring. Without this, AdWords advertisers are flying blind,” says Laura.
As part of their customer-focused service, Laura also holds monthly catch-up calls with all of her clients. “As EC taught me – it’s all about relationships! We discuss their results and methods to increase the conversions and generate a bigger bang for their buck. Our clients love this!”
One of Laura’s newest clients is a UK brand working with a big London agency.“Having audited their account, I found so many fundamentals that the agency just weren’t doing right, as well as the higher-level strategic ideas they’d not thought of,” Laura tells us. “So, they hopped on board and joined us straight away.”
Laura’s dedication to implementation and her acquisition of customers has transformed her life.
“A year ago I had been in business as a copywriter for a couple of months and had just bought MySMB. I’d been using social media for years but it was Nigel’s MySMB training that brought the first of many of my light bulb moments where I realised that social media could be a business – my business! Then I joined the EC and studied all the content that EC delivered to me and began what seems to have been a huge learning curve on how to market my business effectively and grow it to where I want to be!
We were featured on ITV1…
“Nige talks a lot about stories and so when I got married I saw an opportunity to create a social media story by live tweeting the whole day and sharing the tweets with all our guests on a large screen. News of what we were doing piqued a lot of interest and we were featured on ITV1 Daybreak programme on the morning of the wedding after I told the show’s producer on Twitter the night before.
“We received hundreds of messages including some from celebrities such as Duncan Bannatyne and Al Murray and made front page of Surrey Mirror Midweek!
“I was one of six people chosen by Theo Paphitis as his favourite small business in his weekly Twitter competition – Small Business Sunday (#SBS) which was brilliant as it gave me another Twitter story and some more social media credibility too. I had won SBS based on the way I use Twitter after all!
“Since I the age of 12 I have had rheumatoid arthritis which affects most joints in my body and has got progressively worse since my twenties. It limits my mobility and means I have to wake up a minimum of 2 hours before going out so the painkillers have time to take effect – hence a 3.50am alarm each week to get to BNI at 6am! I also have retinitis pigmentosa which affects my eyesight and my hearing and means I’m disqualified from driving (I like telling people I’m a disqualified driver without quantifying the reasons why – never fails to get a reaction! LOL) and two years ago I discovered I have Aspergers Syndrome too.
I had a ‘light bulb’ moment…
“All of these impact my day to day life and to be honest, there are enough reasons why I can’t or shouldn’t do anything with my life beyond being a ‘sicknote’. But very rarely do I even talk about what’s wrong and it certainly doesn’t mean the world owes me any favours either. I can’t control what life has dealt me but I can control how I deal with it all and the one thing I’ve always had is determination. If I want to achieve anything in life it’s down to me to make it happen or at least to create the opportunities.
“I had another ‘light bulb moment’ when I realised that having Aspergers means I notice the minor details that others often overlook and I started realising that I interpreted the interactions on social media differently to other people. This led me to my new training offering which teaches business owners how by understanding how people think on social media; they are able to use this information to find their targeted prospects and make more sales. It’s a process I’ve unconsciously been practising with my clients and it is pretty powerful stuff!
“ I run a FB page for the Reigate area where business and charities can post what they are up to and I share their post with others who have liked the page – it’s free promotion for the businesses and helps them get more exposure. Longer term, once it has legs I plan to offer sponsorship opportunities for local business owners to be the ‘Face of Reigate Local’ for a month. For now it is all about goodwill and building networks.
Three local newspapers turned up…
“I am one of the organisers of local Tweetups – in October I organised it alone, in a pub which had recently joined Twitter and 40 people turned up including journalists from three local newspapers/magazines who asked me if they could come along.
People will buy premium…
“I started building a mailing list in the summer and send regular email newsletters. I sold over half the stands to members of my mailing list! I offered two packages for exhibitors – gold and silver. The difference between the two was that the silver stand was two thirds the size of the gold – the difference in cost was the same – 33%. 75% of the stands sold were gold packages – as Nigel says, offer premium and people will buy premium.The email newsletter went out on Sunday afternoon with two time-limited bonuses very visual in the copy – first nine gold packages booked would be featured on the reverse of the promotional flyers and also exhibitors will be able to choose their stands based on the order of bookings – first come first served! By Sunday evening three people had bought and paid. The ninth gold stand was sold at 11am on Monday and I had to close to new bookings at 4pm on Wednesday after selling 28 stands! I have a long waiting list now and am in the process of talking to the venue about whether we can take more space to fit them all in!
You can’t do everything yourself…
“Another big lesson I got from EC is that I implemented is that if you want to be super successful you can’t do everything yourself. I have a call answering service who answers all my calls so I can schedule call backs when it suits me. Other events are co-ordinated by my virtual assistant – a free VoIP number means that calls about the events go to her and I receive a spreadsheet every day summarising what she has done for the event that day.
“On the topic of growing the business, I manage social media for ten clients right now and run training sessions at least weekly for others. I work with another person to whom I outsource some of the management work to so they get more clients and I get more time – so we can take on even more clients while still delivering a high standard of expertise. I oversee the work and prepare the campaign strategy so I’m still massively involved with every client we work with – but the outsourcer takes care of the physical posts to my standards.
A dream come true…
“I recently achieved a dream I’ve held for as long as I can remember – I’ve become a newspaper columnist – in Surrey Mirror! I pitched for it and because the editor was aware of whom I am and had heard of my skills, she accepted me as their monthly social media columnist – each column includes a paragraph on who I am and what my business offers – with a link to my website! It’s a free gig and a couple of people have poured scorn on me working for free. However, I see the value in the promotion because it is like a monthly advert for my business which would cost me £££s. It takes me half an hour maximum to write it too, so no effort but it increases my profile. The way I see it is that one can criticise or one can do; which is more effective?
“I’m being asked to speak at events now and I went along to a Mastermind group of trainers and coaches to talk to them for 90 minutes about social media. The client was so impressed with my knowledge that he has asked me to get involved with managing the social media for some of his projects now, too.
The three best kept secrets…
“I now receive loads of new enquiries every week and have delivered training all over the UK, Australia and New Zealand via Skype.
“I launched an eBook sharing some of the secrets of generating more business from Twitter. It’s a free download to build my mailing list further and the copy secrets webinar was the inspiration for the power title I chose for the book “Unlock The 3 Best Kept Secrets and Skyrocket Your Sales From Twitter”. I was told the headline is “too Nigel Botterill” by someone so I figured I got it right! Another EC tip – I had the eBook cover designed on Fiverr.com and had the formatting done on Fiverr.com too! Total cost = £6.60!
“My car is branded and I never go out anywhere for work without wearing one of my branded t shirts either – being incognito is a waste of promotion time.”
“When you’re trying to grow a business, staying focused when a thousand distractions come your way is one of the hardest challenges of all. Two things are always in short supply – time and cash.
So the last thing I felt like doing was spending some cash and giving some time to something called the Entrepreneurs Circle.
Money you could spend on more advertising, even though you don’t know which ads are working and which aren’t.
Time you could spend cold calling, even though your conversion rate is bad and getting worse.
Down to earth…
I felt the same way when I first went to one of the events. But I soon realised it was so different to what I expected and unlike anything else out there. It’s completely down-to-earth in its focus. The Events are packed with solid content that you can roll out in your business straight away and they’re backed up with the monthly magazine and loads of online support and resources in The Vault.
Let me get specific. In January this year Nigel did a session on newsletter marketing. By March I had my own alternative investments newsletter, Wealth Watch, written, designed, printed and sent out to 500 people in my database.
I’ve just sent out the sixth issue in August, and so far I’ve averaged a 700% ROI on each issue. I now have over 1,000 readers, and last week I landed an investment of £117,200 from someone who got to know me through Wealth Watch.
It’s also opening doors for me in gaining access to investment gurus, raising my own profile by association and bringing more and more companies knocking on my door to promote their investments.
That was one idea from one meeting.
I typically come away with a list of 15-20 specifics to implement in the days and weeks after each event.
Basic membership is about two quid a day. If only all my investment decisions were this easy….
One of Gary’s customers recently described his enthusiasm as being infectious and a major part of the reason she chose to spend thousands of pounds on a new bathroom with him… and that really sums Gary up. He is one of those people who have a positive influence on all those around him. Add this to the wisdom he has learned within the EC and you have a man who still refers to himself as an apprentice entrepreneur but whose achievement declares that he is a fully qualified success.
Here’s Gary’s story…
Since joining EC he has added laser-focused discipline, brilliant marketing strategies and even a ruthless efficiency to the great natural qualities which make him an all-round top bloke. And the results of this extra edge are evident in the fact that has seen his turnover increase by 47% and (far more importantly) his profit increase by 32%. He attributes this success almost entirely to having implemented the EC message and that it has given him the boldness to take massive action within his business.
As a 16-year-old school leaver Gary took a job in a bathroom shop warehouse. From here he became a sales assistant and through hard work, enthusiasm and a cheeky personality he took over as the showroom manager. Then Gary’s boss decided to close the shop; so with a little bit of trepidation, Gary purchased the business and stepped into the breach
After a while, with the shop barely ticking over and totally reliant on footfall and returning customers, Gary joined his local BNI networking group in an effort to generate some new business. It slowly dawned on him that he was supposed to be a businessman, not a shop owner, and that he could actually make a difference to his fortunes by his own actions. It was also here that he met his future Business Growth Advisor (Martin Gladdish) who introduced him to the EC and the rest is history.
Gary became active on Twitter and Facebook; then he started giving his website developer grief by telling him how to do his job properly. This led to the collection of written testimonials and within six months the company’s YouTube channel was full of video testimonials; in addition the wheels had been set in motion for various data-capture mechanisms, on and off-line. Gary wrote new sales and follow-up letters and put in place a process to ensure that each enquiry and lead was followed up properly. The result of all this activity is that Watford Bathrooms and Kitchens is very much on the physical map in the minds of local residents, as well as within range of Google.
More importantly, however, Gary’s own profile has been massively enhanced in the local community; as the face of his business and as a successful, enthusiastic and ‘switched on’ business man who is always willing to share wisdom and passion.
Here are some other nuggets Gary has implemented in his business and made part of his lifestyle:
Swopped some ‘long-term pain’ members of staff for efficient, reliable and enthusiastic staff with ‘getting stuff done’ responsibilities
Overhauled the website, in line with ECs wisdom
Created a data capture facility on the website
Started a YouTube channel and his own WBK TV channel on the website
Setup a Facebook fan page with ads and campaigns
Started charging for drawings of new kitchens and bathrooms (very few of his competitors do this and this simple, bold change has seen a huge boost in conversions)
Set up an accounts department
Introduced offers to attract new customers
Actively involved in LinkedIn conversations and running his own “the power of helping” group
Became an active influencer within his local EC meetings
Helped support other businesses with social media, strategy and advice
Joined EC’s Mastermind group
Taken EC’s PPC course – and implemented Adwords.
Delegated most of his duties to other staff through systemised processes
Alongside the financial growth and profitability that his company has achieved, the most important result of Gary’s commitment to growing his business by implementing smart strategies is that he has almost removed the need for him to be in his showroom at all. He estimates that he now spends just 20% of his time working in the business and 80% working on it or doing things to further enhance his and the company’s profile.
And the success story is likely to grow and carry on because, having freed up most of his time, Gary can continue to do all the things which he is still learning within the EC to make sure that Watford Bathrooms and Kitchens will continue to grow for many years to come.
Over the last year I have done things I never would have dreamed of a few years ago! My journey has been incredible and I couldn’t have done it without the Entrepreneurs Circle, The Mastermind and the help and support of Nigel Botterill.
I took an idea and created something solid in an exciting and fast changing industry . I got so far our of my comfort zone, I can’t remember what being in my comfort zone feels like!
- I set massive goals
- I set out to change people’s lives
The VoiceOver Network started in July 2013; I went for a drink with 3 other voiceover
artists. We had a lovely evening talking about the industry, swapping notes and talking about all things voiceover. I realised that this was incredibly useful as I’d seen that in the States they were being very proactive in the voiceover industry and there were lots of events, networking and workshops etc. over there. However there seemed to be noth- ing happening here in the UK. So I decided to run another voiceover meet up, then another and another.
These grew very quickly and I soon saw there was a need for them. It is a very isolated profession with people spending a lot of time working on their own, talking into a micro- phone in a studio. I gave it the name The VoiceOver Network in January 2014 and set about running monthly networking events which were very popular. I wasn’t content in letting them plod along and I cranked things up by organising a big Summer Party in June 2014, at a top London studio. I knew that if we could provide food, drinks and entertainment we could get agents and producers to come and this would mean that those attending would be able to get brilliant networking opportunities. This was a massive success! Then I started introducing speakers and the events started selling out! Our Oc- tober event sold out in less than 90 minutes! By November 2014 I realised I had an incredible opportunity to take The VoiceOver Network to amazing heights.
In November 2014 I decided to join The Mastermind which was a step well outside my comfort zone. I then set about putting plans together to re-launch The VoiceOver Net- work as a membership organisation in January 2015!
“I was made redundant at the end of January 2012. It was something I just didn’t see coming so it completely knocked me for six for quite a while. Having licked my wounds for a bit, I decided to try and set up my own company doing what I love – helping people with business administration.
I joined the Entrepreneur’s Circle as soon as my company was set up – and I have learnt so much!
I had no idea about social media, marketing, PR or pricing for profit.
I used one of the tutorials to create a marketing plan that really honed in on my USP to the point that I completely re-wrote my website and altered a lot of the emphasis in my advertising. I learnt about the importance of keywords to the point that my business is now on page 1 of Google. Brilliant.
My LinkedIn Profile is also, now, 100% complete which is quite an achievement. You name it, I’ve had to learn it but I now have a solid business, more contacts than I could ever have imagined and a business offering that I never thought possible. Oh, and I tweet!!
EC has given me the confidence to persevere and that confidence has delivered contracts (one in particular, a scoping study for an ISO Accreditation) that I would never have thought myself capable of.
I relish small successes as well as big ones and I know that what I want is achievable and with the resources available to me through the EC I have the support to make them happen.
I’ve also learnt to enjoy networking, which was an element of setting up on my own that seriously fazed me in the beginning: The EC taught me that it’s all about ‘making friends’, that’s all and then seeing what comes out of that connection.
The other thing I’ve learnt? Oh yes, if it all goes wrong, it’s my fault!
Thank you EC”
“When I started my business, I had no idea how to actually run a business. Before joining the EC, I thought that a lot of my success was due to luck. When I first bought a franchise of Kip McGrath centres I didn’t have any business training and made it all up as I went along. We grew very quickly and it was a boom time for us. But when recession hit, tuition was seen as a luxury that the parents of Neath couldn’t afford and things became really difficult. It was at this time that the EC was recommended to me by a friend.
“My first few months with the EC were an absolute frenzy of activity – I’d waited years for this kind of guidance. In the first six weeks I drew up lists of past customers and sent them gift certificates. I outsourced my calls to Verbatim call answering service, I re-wrote copy, wrote an EBook and I made more lists. I got up (still do!) at 6am to do my 90 minutes, absolutely focused on what would make my phone ring. When I started with EC I had around 65 pupils a week attending tuition. I set myself a target of 100 pupils by Christmas. I hit that target by October and by Christmas I had 150 pupils – I was pretty amazed!
“I’ve also been really focused on strengthening my marketing pillars and we have run successful telephone Output campaigns. I handed a list of 100 previous pupils to the guys at Graham Hill’s Verbatim Call Answering Service and asked them to call each of the mums, offering them an invite to a ‘Free Assessment Day’ for their child as we hadn’t seen them in a while. I had 30 past customers re-sign for tuition as a result!
“Sending out ‘lumpy mail’ has also worked really well for us. Another huge impact on my business has been reading all the brilliant books that Nige recommends. The E Myth bowled me over and as a result I created lists of all our systems for every member of staff. I’ve listed every single part of their role and what I expect of them. Now, I know this sounds very control freakish but let me tell you – they love it! There’s no second guessing. They know exactly what’s expected of them and we review the lists regularly and add or amend tasks. The whole Kip Neath experience flows so much more smoothly now I know where I’m heading. I share all my thoughts with them and I’ve been overwhelmed by their response.
“I’ve also been focussed on my numbers: I know exactly what each desk will bring in. I’ve been measuring my figures month on month, year on year, comparing them with student numbers from before I joined the EC and they’re staggering. The figures confirmed that I had definitely done the right thing joining the EC. There’s no way I could have had such a fantastic rise in my customer numbers without its advice and support.
“Since joining the EC my whole mindset has changed and I really do think that this has made the biggest difference to my business. I no longer sit around and wait for the phone to ring – instead, I positively construct an opportunity for people to phone me and have found this to be a really powerful thing to do.
“Importantly, I’ve shifted from thinking like a teacher to thinking like a business owner. I think that one of the biggest differences in my business for me is shifting from a teacher’s mindset to a business person’s mindset. I’ve always been surrounded by teachers who think that ‘selling’ tuition is a dark art, that education belongs to the state, and that teachers are on some moral crusade.
Absolute tosh! Our kids deserve brilliant teachers!”
“Hi Ho, Hi Ho its off to work we go!!!!!!!”
Do you remember the song from the seven dwarfs from Snow White and one was called Grumpy ? Well that is how we felt in March this year and we certainly did not feel like singing .
Then in April we were introduced to the Entrepreneurs Circle and I must say we have been singing ever since .
Nigel Botterill and his team have shown us the light . It is literally like being reborn – hearing a new exciting sound that resonates enabling you to deploy in your business the endless nuggets of insights and useful information provided on a weekly and monthly basis. It’s brilliant. It really is.
You see, we’ve been running a successful, profitable, business since 1989; surviving two recessions whilst maintaining a customer base with little or no attrition.
But we had no real direction and certainly no marketing strategy in place.
That all changed when i was invited to a business presentation at Bath University where I witnessed this bloke from Yorkshire in a great shirt telling the assembled audience what he thought about UK businesses and how he could help them grow and prosper. That bloke was Nigel Botterill and what an impact he made.
I have been to many presentations and business seminars over the years and I can tell you he is the most motivational , inspirational and informative speaker I have ever seen or heard. By a long way. He makes the presentations fun and interesting with a no nonsense straight talking message that is utterly compelling
The bigger picture…
Since joining I have attended a number of great national events, workshops and training courses. In addition I have had one to one sessions with the EC team which has culminated in us putting in place and implementing a real marketing strategy!!
They’re not blinkered at the EC so they don’t only focus on marketing but they have a rounded view of the bigger broader picture .of business which makes membership even more valuable.
I have to tell you that I am extremely proud and happy to be part of the EC and the wider EC community which is so helpful. It’s breathed new life and energy into all of us at Triform .
If you would welcome a step change in the performance of your business then the Entrepreneurs Circle is the right place for you.
Be in no doubt you will gain such a lot as a member. I GUARANTEE you will not be disappointed – because EC definitely works!
“When I joined the EC I became aware that I needed to raise both my personal and my business profile in my local town, Market Harborough. Whilst I grew up in South Leicestershire, I moved away in the mid 1990s and only returned when I set up my business consultancy. I needed to let people know who I was.
I raised my profile
“An opportunity along similar lines soon presented itself. I had the opportunity to change the name of my town and massively raise my profile at the same time. ‘Compare the Market’ have a character that we all know (love him or hate him), Alexsandr the Meerkat. Alexsandr has a fictional home of Meerkovo and was looking for a twin town in the UK. Market (or should I say) Meerkat Harborough, seemed an ideal candidate! I decided I would get behind this campaign and use it to raise my profile in the town. I quickly created www.meerkatharborough.com and we got visitors from as far away as Australia and Spain (I know this from both comments left and Google Analytics).
2,000 likes on Facebook
“A Facebook page was created to raise awareness of the campaign and we attracted over 2000 likes (1/4 of the population of the town).I gave radio interviews with local and regional radio and made an appearance on Gem 106’s Breakfast show with Sam and Amy. I was also interviewed by the BBC. When we were shortlisted to the final five towns and the campaign went to a public Facebook vote, we went into overdrive and created a viral video (in which I starred as a corrupt mayor) based in 1911. We persuaded our local mayor to appear in the video and gained huge publicity from this.
We even changed road signs
“Eventually we won with 70% of the National Vote. The local council were persuaded to let us change the road signs in the town from Market Harborough to Meerkat Harborough. We raised £5,000 for local charitable causes and I am now affectionately greeted by complete strangers who call me “Mr Meerkat”. It has raised my profile immensely. I was humbled to be awarded a Pride in Harborough award at a prestigious black tie dinner for “Raising the profile of the Town”
“In addition to all of this I have been busy implementing an amazing amount of things in my business and here’s just a few of them:
- I’ve implemented a long form copy sales letter which is generating a 10% response rate. I give away free iPods with Ts&Cs and these come branded with my website address and loaded with a podcast introducing my other services and driving traffic to my website;
- I have completely changed my website www.tlcconsulting.co.uk to a Kajabi-based free membership site. Visitors are greeted by a squeeze page with basic contact information and a video introducing myself and my business, explaining briefly the benefits of using my business and inviting visitors to access my free video based site packed with tools, downloads and video guides designed to benefit their business. This forces visitors to give me their contact details which helps populate my email marketing list. On the site I have webinars, tutorials and even TLC TV (wonder where I got that idea from?!) – Whenever a new video is uploaded subscribers are emailed to drive them back to the site.
- I have had extensive success with a number of consultancy clients – I act for a greetings card publisher and have drafted deals recently with Funky Pigeon (getting my client loads of free TV publicity) and presently acting on a deal with the brother of a rather famous lady who married a Prince.”
It was during 2013 that I realised I had to do something.
My business, which provides support to Linux users across the UK, had been running for more than ten years, but I wasn’t happy. We’d always been profitable, but we were also stagnant.
I was frustrated: how was it that other businesses that started after mine were now bigger than me? What were they doing that I wasn’t?
Sometimes asking for help is the smart thing to do, and the EC’s Mastermind was an obvious choice – but not cheap. A little due diligence was called for. I cornered a few members that I knew were in Mastermind and asked their opinion. Had it helped? Would they recommend it? What was the downside?
Most were positive; one was neutral and one negative. Not so different from Amazon reviews, then, and if the majority give it five stars then it’s probably worth it. I joined Mastermind.
Merely joining Mastermind, however, will not achieve anything. For one of the first meetings, I took along the ideas we had for restructuring our IT support offerings. Lots of feedback, lots of ideas, lots of work to do – but from April 2014, we had three well-defined, clearly priced support offerings implemented, and a very effective way of presenting those options to clients.
One challenge we faced was providing 24hr support. We needed to offer it, but the problem was funding it: until a critical mass of clients signed up for it, it would be very expensive to pay staff to be on call. We had a staff meeting, we explained what we wanted to achieve and why it was important to the business, and we asked for their help. They gave it.
We recognised the value of staff reviews, but lacked a consistent and useful framework within which to conduct and measure them. More discussion at Mastermind, more ideas, more implementation. At each review now, the member of staff and their manager independently assess the employee in around 15 different areas, marking them from 1 to 6 on a clearly-defined scale. We saw a very good correlation between the manager’s and the employee’s assessment, making it much easier to discuss areas that need focus and providing support to the employees as required.
We find it very, very hard to recruit staff of the quality we want, and candidates often have unrealistic salary expectations. We introduced a technical self-assessment form that interviewees have to fill in, rating their skills in a number of key areas, both technical and non-technical, from 0 to 3. We give examples of the knowledge or experience required at each level. This has transformed our recruitment interviews: a candidate with a page full of zeros and ones realises that their value is lower than they might like. It also makes the interview easier to conduct as it’s clear which areas should be discussed.
We were growing; our processes were improving week on week (thank you EC and the 90 Minutes), but we wanted more growth.
There are moments in Mastermind when one’s comfort zone quietly slips out of the door, leaving one (metaphorically) naked in the room. I experienced one of those moments when it was suggested that we should employ a sales person. Quite why the idea of a business employing a sales-person should be so scary isn’t clear now, but I remember it very distinctly .
We took on a telesales/telemarketing person, and we all learnt a lot in the first couple of months. Our avatar was ripped apart and redefined; our target markets were scrutinised; the best approach to engaging with prospects was discussed at length. One of the issues we face as a business is identifying prospects.
We are looking for businesses that use Linux, a free operating system used by, for example, Wikipedia, Amazon and Google, but there’s no defined process for buying the software: anyone can legally download it for free. For us to be effective in selling top notch support and consultancy services to companies that use Linux, we needed to find a way of identifying them. With help from the EC, we worked out a way of doing that, and for the first time in the company’s history we now have a ‘Dream List’ of over 100 ideal prospects.
In October 2014, my wife and I went away for a planning weekend, as recommended by Nigel. To be honest, we weren’t sure how valuable it would be, but it was one of the most powerful things we have ever done for the business. We came back with a clarity that we had never previously had, both for our personal and business lives.
As a result, we set a target for the number of servers we wanted to have on support contracts by the end of 2015. The number was scary, and more than once I suspected I had set the wrong number. In a way I was right: by the end of August, we had exceeded it.
Clearly the number had been too low! We’d explained the target to our staff, and we put a big picture of the Eiffel Tower on the wall with the number of servers supported running up one side of the picture, and a big red arrow that slowly moved up as the year went on. As a result of the arrow now being stuck to the ceiling, the whole company is going to Paris for a long weekend in April, with partners, all expenses paid.
And the result?
For the business, a five-fold increase in rolling 12-month net profit from where we were two years ago.
For us, 2015 brought two, big holidays including one at Disney World, Florida; much nicer cars for my wife and me; and we’ve started down the road to knock down and rebuild our house. The business paid for all of it.
We’ve just returned from our second planning weekend with another, even scarier, number for 2016, and we can’t wait to get started. There’s been frustration, fear, even tears, but I wouldn’t change it.
It should be illegal to have this much fun.
The Tickling Trout is the combined work of Jon Newlyn, his wife Sandy and business partner David Hopkins. Although they were sceptical when they joined the EC, they soon changed their minds after attending the infamous EC ’24 Hours of Marketing Madness’ event in Bolton.
The results speak for themselves, with their profits up by 440% and year on year revenues up 217%. Further to that they’ve diversified their customer base to make them less reliant on one or two big clients and in the process brought much more stability to the company.
Here’s Jon to tell you the story…
“If anyone ever tells you that alcohol is bad for you, point them in my direction! We couldn’t think of a name for our company until a group of us agreed to go to the local hostelry and not return without a name. It was deep into the night and the second bottle of Bombay Gin, that we came up with the name Tickling Trout: we give our prospects a little tickle!
“David, Sandy and I started the business, like most people do, in the conservatory. But we grew and I joined the EC. I was ‘consciously cynical’ at first; the monthly amounts were significant for us, so the process had to work or I was outta here!
“But the process did work. I attended my first national meeting in Bolton and it blew me away. My cynicism had faded and the advice, such as ‘It’s all my fault’ and ‘You can either make money or makes excuses, but you can’t do both’ resonated long and hard. But it was the 90 minutes that gave us structure although David and I work together for 60 minutes, rather than 90, in the morning. We felt that rather than flying blind we were starting to take control.
“One of Nigel’s mantras is ‘know your numbers’ and with this in mind, I saw a problem. 91% of our business was from our top ten customers with 40% from one customer who subsequently moved away. So that was the start of some deep focus: starting with upgrading to EC club status as we needed all help we could get. The 60 minute sessions were now part and parcel of the day’s activities and through this we introduced three new services, reduced our dependency on our top ten customers whilst at the same time increasing our number of customers by 69%.
And, although the EC is not a networking organisation, it was because of the EC that we were able to set up a partnership with another member to help us provide additional services and we have since become their largest partner.
“The processes we have implemented include our 60 minute sessions, although I still think we are little too strategic in our thinking; we look a little too far ahead. We segmented our database, enabling us to send out different messages to different prospects and customers. And we had the guts to sack a big customer, because of our DDWW policy.
“Are we there yet? Not yet; David and I are still ‘doers’ too much and not enough ‘marketeers’, so now we need to grow our company and offload some of the delivery.
I can empathise with Nigel because I always feel I can do something better than anyone else, but I have to let go and accept that good is good enough.”
“When I joined the EC, my business, TI Payroll and Accounting, was at a crossroads. Although my mum was working part time for the business, it was mainly dependent on me. At this point, I recognised that I was always being torn between running my business day-to-day and getting out there to meet new clients and grow.
The biggest nugget I got out of my first EC meeting was the fact that if I didn’t have an assistant, I was one! I hired Zoe within 10 days and it was the best thing I ever did for my business. With Zoe on board, my business has flourished. In fact we doubled our turnover (and gross profit) . It feels like a totally different business.
Implementing Nigel’s advice has made a huge difference…
“We’ve recently moved to bigger premises and taken on another member of staff to concentrate on the admin side of the business. Once again, this leaves me free to work more on my business than in it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss bookkeeping, and now and again I’ve “dabbled” in it when we get a new client to understand the client’s company a little better. But implementing the advice Nigel has given me has made a huge difference personally and to my company. As we are an accountancy company, January is our busiest month of the year. Normally in January, I am pulled every which way by panicking clients, but since being with EC I am able to leave my staff in charge, knowing that they aremore than capable of taking care of everything.
“I now use tracking numbers on my website and all my marketing material. I now have direct mail campaigns on the go in recognition of the fact that ”it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it”. Previously, I had always tried to be everything to everyone, with zero results. I had thought networking was the only avenue that could bring more sales in. Now I send things out to a specific target market and although I never get my ideal return (we all want 110%, right??), but we are finding it does work.
And I’ve won an award…
“I received recognition for my work by winning an Eva Award in Financial Services. The Evas (Enterprise Vision Awards) celebrate women who are championing entrepreneurial growth in the North West. They recognise the efforts women have made to start and develop businesses, whilst facing challenges along the way. I feel that this is a massive achievement and the award has taken pride of place in our offices.
“One very important part of Nigel’s advice that I have struggled to implement is my 90 minutes. As we work in an open office, doing my 90 minutes first thing was proving to be impossible. With the commitments of dog walking and car sharing with my partner who works nights, I could never get to the office early enough. Once my staff came into work, my time was never my own. So I tried doing them in the evening once everyone else had gone home, but again personal commitments and the fact that my brain had already worked hard for nine hours meant it wasn’t always easy. But after attending a National Event, it became apparent that I needed to get serious about my 90 minutes if I wanted my business to be as successful as I wanted it to be. I now do my 90 minutes from my the tranquillity of my home office in the morning before I go into our work office while my three miniature schnauzers are sleeping under the desk.
Everything has come together…
“I started my business as a single parent and always felt pressure in the back of my mind that if I took a business risk, I wasn’t just risking the roof over my head but also the roof over my daughter’s. Being part of the EC has helped me to make decisions and implement the right things…
From humble beginnings, Thomas Cleaning Franchise is going from strength to strength, and the future is looking even better. Laurence Thomas, CEO, says, “Our franchise business ran along quietly beside our core cleaning business with just four franchisees who were staff members from our core business. We knew that the franchise was working well them, so we wanted to push it more to the general public. Our aim was to create a really compelling franchise package and bring on a further 12 franchisees. We estimated a marketing budget of £3,000.”
As a proactive EC member, he knew that the only way he was going to secure 12 franchises in 12 months was through one thing: implementation.
Laurence says, “I made the most of my Training and Event Pass, and attended courses that I thought would help in selling franchises. A great course was on goal setting, which gave me real clarity. I started planning the following day before the current day was over, which gave me real focus on what I needed to achieved each and every day to get me to my target. Things started happening when I created a Discovery Day, where potential franchisees could learn about the franchise. We were overbooked; it turned out to be so popular!”
“We knew that selling the first franchise was going to be tough and at one point we thought it wasn’t going to happen. But I kept implementing and then had a breakthrough. Two weeks after the first Discovery Day, I sold the first Thomas Cleaning Franchise and what followed was a snowball effect. Because of the numbers we were generating to our Discovery Days we knew we needed a bigger office, so we took on the neighbouring office and knocked through. This helped us to create a dedicated room to hold Discovery Days and Franchisee Training, and through this we exceeded our targets. And the cost of recruiting franchisees was only a third of what we estimated.”
Laurence has since capitalised on his success, including employing staff, organising his first ever franchise conference and creating and automating new support systems. He says, “I like to keep the momentum going so we’re always thinking of what’s new and how we can support our franchisees even more. We’re exhibiting, and always taking on new people. Our superfast progress was made possible through EC.”
“Everything in the EC world has been new to me.
But I buckled in and got on with it.
“My ‘Pub Mentor’ business has grown in sales by a whopping 3000% since joining the EC and we have completely rebranded that side of my business. It’s also been the financial driver to develop ‘CaterCost’ , a revolutionary food profit calculator app for independent caterers that’s causing quite a stir
“But originally I had no clear vision. I could only be described as bumbling along with my business, working part-time, doing bits and bobs. I had just sacked my biggest client and was lacking any direction, with no clear vision of where to go next.
A chance encounter with Nigel through Explosive Marketing roused my curiosity enough to take a trial membership and attend an Induction Day, turning my inertia to new found enthusiasm. I finally had the courage to take action and actually develop an idea that I’d had rattling around my head for years.
Deciding to productise my business has been the single biggest step towards living the lifestyle I sought. I had to learn a lot about a world which I knew virtually nothing of. I devoured the Botty Rules, every nugget in The Vault, the Circulars, Business Success Blueprints, Copy Secrets and Social Media Blueprints. I learnt how to use Ttwitter to grow my business and regularly gain new clients via this route – something I never thought I would learn!
“Taking a new product to market has been a rollercoaster ride and we invested heavily to launch at the Restaurant Show at Earls Court only to find out three weeks before that the developers weren’t going to deliver on time! I took the decision to go ahead still and after three days we had 250 red hot leads and even modifications and improvements to the app. We also developed a relationship with the UK’s biggest wholesaler to my target market. It’s amazing what can happen when you open your eyes!
“Focussing on building the business in 90 minute chunks (often shared with my daughter Katy) truly are the most creative and often most fun times of the day and have really helped me get through to where we are today.
“I’ve turned my business round. I now have a whole new level of thinking and consciousness – before, I genuinely just did what everybody else did without a second thought. To summarise I have leaped out of my comfort zone and turned my core business around; turnover has been 300% more than the previous two years put together!”
Trevor joined the EC way back, but admits he thought he’d heard it all before. So, he didn’t go to any of the meetings or get involved. This lead to Trevor cancelling his membership prior to the expiry of the free trial and going it alone thinking that he knew better. Almost a year went by before Trevor rediscovered the EC and by this time he was much more open to how it could help.
Trevor says:“When I heard that Nigel was speaking in Northampton, only a few miles from me, I went along. I decided to give the EC another go, but this time committed to attending at least one national meeting and two local meetings before making my mind up. The first meeting I went to was Bolton – the 24hr marketing session. This blew me away. I came away with countless notes and actions to apply to my business and to find out more about. Since then, I’ve attended every national meeting and every local meeting. I’ve picked up so much more knowledge and learnt many new skills which I’m applying, and moving my business forward.
Trevor is a dedicated “90 minute’er” and has got so much done in those uninterrupted sessions including a Wallet Marketing Campaign which consisted of a four step direct mail campaign to get new customers, which gave Trevor a 450% ROI.
He’s also systemised his marketing campaigns using InfusionSoft so now every new prospect gets a series of marketing with minimal effort from the business – all Trevor has to do is concentrate on filling the funnel.
Trevor’s big-impact activities included:
1. Developing a customer re-activation campaign to get old customers coming back.
2. Creating a Case study marketing campaign as well as other lumpy mail sales letters.
3. Producing, printing and distributing his first newsletter
4. Providing content for his blog which is driving traffic and enquiries
5. Sorting out his AdWords campaigns and started banner retargeting
6. Developing his Facebook page and tweeting more often
7. Working on his copywriting
8. Putting six new lead magnets on his website which is building his database –he now has over 3000 on his list and he’s communicating with them on a regular basis, building his relationship and making sales.
9. Putting all his franchisee documentation for The Leaflet Delivery Company franchise online on a private members site.
‘i don’t think nay of this would have happened without EC” says Trevor.
One of Trevor’s biggest achievements is launching his franchise system and website which all happened quickly. Better still, he sold the first franchise on the back of a leaflet Nige critiqued for him!
What Trevor is most pleased about is the phenomenal growth: The Leaflet Distribution Company has seen – £270k turnover with a 400% increase in net profit.
Trevor says: “The growth has been down to an increased focus on learning and implementation.”
What Trevor has shown is that he’s completely committed to learning and implementing, which he says is the reason for his increase in profits. He’s not afraid to take time out of the business and work on his marketing. Becoming a 90 minute devotee has led to lots of new stuff happening in his business which wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t got out of the day to day activities.
We’d never really done any proper marketing before – we’d done cold calls but that was all.
Since joining EC though we’ve made more money and been a lot more focussed on the business and getting one thing at a time done. The business has benefitted hugely from that.
We’re having more holidays now and have more time to spend with the family and ultimately for us that’s what it’s all about. We work really hard but we want to play hard as well.
Our life has changed amazingly thanks to the EC. We know now that anything we want we can go and get it, that’s been the biggest thing.
“I started my first business, Matt Davis Media, in November 2012. I was very unhappy in a previous job and through a very happy accident had got wind of Nigel’s original MYSMB social media training.
I decided to take the plunge and it’s a decision that totally changed my life. Following the excellent training programme, I was introduced to the benefits of the Entrepreneur’s Circle and I joined straight away.
Exactly what you need…
As an entrepreneur doing all of this for the first time it’s impossible to think of everything and so to be receiving regular advice from someone who has been there and done it is incredibly helpful. It gives you a pat on the back when you’re doing things right and a kick up the arse when you’re not.
The advice is also often very blunt which is exactly what you need to hear as it’s easy to get into bad habits or become complacent.
Doubled our turnover…
In April 2013 I formed The Bright Click Ltd and there are now three of us in the team covering all aspects of online marketing with over 20 clients on recurring revenue packages.
Since incorporating the business I have virtually doubled our turnover and I attribute a fair chunk of this to implementing techniques I have learned from the EC.
I would recommend membership to anybody starting a business as essential.
Victoria Williams from Terptree, “The place for deaf services”, including sign language interpretation and communication support, has had an amazing few months since she started to use her TEAP to full effect. Her vision is to ‘change the world for deaf people’and since joining the EC, she’s really got stuck into “EC life” having implemented a number of key learns from the courses she’s attended.
It seems Victoria’s proactive approach has really paid off, as, after undertaking a lapsed prospect campaign, which consisted of a series of emails, sales letters and a consultation call with Victoria herself, she’s managed to get some big steps closer to bagging her dream client: Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Yes Victoria!!
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Terpree, as there’s huge scope to explore some innovative ideas in how to make the theatre experience more accessible for hard of hearing and deaf people.
Working with the Shakespeare’s Globe will fit snuggly alongside Victoria’s work with The British Museum and Science Museum.
What does taking a business “to the next level” actually mean?
Derek had big plans for his business, but knew that in order to achieve them he would need help. The process of educating himself as a business owner had always been important to Derek, a structural engineer, and was one of the key motivations behind his joining the EC. His first step towards his target was sign up to the EC’s ‘Will To Act’ course.
“I persuaded my wife, Janet, a busy IT manager, to join me on the course,” Derek tells us. “By the end of the session she had decided that she had enough of her job and that she was going join me to drive the business forward. She started as my practice manager.”
Attracting the right kinds of clients featured heavily in Derek’s plans for growth, and a successful lumpy mail campaign proved to be the perfect way to grab their attention. Derek selected the architects that he wanted to work with and sent them the components of a miniature wooden house to assemble. Derek sent out the campaign twice, with the first mailing giving an ROI of 1,700% and the second an ROI of 18,120%.
In order to find more lucrative types of work, Derek decided to develop the niche area of his business; forensic engineering – the process used to investigate when something goes wrong with a building or construction project. When Derek was contacted and asked to assist in such a case, he realised that his skills and experience were critical to achieving success for his potential client, and so he raised his price per hour by 250%. The client agreed to the offer straight away and the project earned Derek over £25,000. “It just goes to show that if you’re confident in your abilities and explain the value of your skills and experience to your client then you can increase your rates and be paid what you’re worth,” Derek tells us.
Knowing his numbers has proved to be extremely useful for Derek during his period of growth and analysing which projects brought in the most income has given Derek clear direction for his marketing efforts. Derek targeted his marketing towards obtaining these types of projects. “It’s paid dividends, as we won a lot of work in these areas and became well known for this type of work,” Derek says.
His commitment to constant learning coupled with his dedication to implementation has provided the perfect conditions for his business to grow, as well as providing a valuable lesson in how learning will only take you so far – acting on what you’ve learned is key.
There was a time when Carl Firmstone was arriving at his office early and leaving late – a familiar story for all business owners. However, Carl decided that something needed to change. His business, Stator Electrical Solutions, was doing okay – Carl had enough work to keep busy and everything was ticking along.
Then Carl joined the EC and his attitude towards his role as a business owner began to change. “I made a conscious decision to spend less time working on site and to become more involved in the marketing,” he tells us.
Carl worked hard viewing the business from the outside in order to get a feel for how the business was perceived by customers and prospects. It contributed to a steady and methodical implementation of the marketing pillars that Carl had dabbled in previously.
Before diving into new projects, or re-starting older ones, Carl decided to get to grips with the numbers of his business, and gained a clearer understanding of the financial side of things.
“I encouraged my accountant to be much more proactive and forthcoming in terms of pointing out where the business could grow,” Carl says.“I also made it clear that I was looking to pour money back into marketing, rather than take a bigger profit.”
As a result, Carl had a much clearer picture of what was working and what wasn’t and this helped to shape his marketing plan. “A great example of this was that I’d been paying for a contract for 18 months, but when I actually looked at the numbers, I realised that I wasn’t even breaking even on it. I quickly ended it so that I could invest that money into something else,” Carl tells us.
First on Carl’s marketing list was to send out more emails. Despite signing up to an email marketing tool and writing a year’s worth of emails , Carl never actually hit the button and got them out there.
“I rarely used to ask customers for their email address,” Carl says. “We’d made the assumption that, as many of our customers were from an older generation, they wouldn’t be using email and so there was no point in even asking.”
That’s all changed. Now, Carl has a contact database simply because he asks for his customer’s details. Sending emails to remind people of his business has led to an increase in the amount of past customers looking to work with Carl again.
“We’re also getting testimonials simply because we’re asking for them, as well as referrals. I’m really surprised at the results” says Carl. “Because I’ve realised how important it is to get in touch with past customers regularly, I’m now looking into setting up a newsletter, as well as focusing on a follow up process, as I know that this is an area in which we could improve.”
Once Carl had made email campaigns work for him, he moved on to AdWords. “I opened an AdWords account and had a play around with it but was under the impression that the results you got were a direct result of how much you spent,” Carl tells us “but I decided to give AdWords a real go.”
He quickly understood the importance of relevance with AdWords and so decided to set up two websites for the business; a B2B site and a B2C site, so that prospects who clicked through would land on a site most relevant to them. Carl also set up different landing pages for different geographical areas.
“I’m now rarely on site,” Carl says. “ I’m either working on the marketing, or out visiting clients. I’ve changed my habits to fit in my 90 minutes every day, and now I never listen to the radio in the car – it’s always the Botcast. I use time as productively as possible.”
Because of the changes he has made, Carl’s turnover increased by 150% and the team has doubled in size. “It’s enabled us to do more marketing and I now also feel more confident accepting larger contracts,” he says.
“ I used to get into the office early and leave late because I had to; When I do it now it’s because I want to and because I enjoying marketing the business”.
“My EC membership has been brilliant so far and has led to me making some big changes. Most importantly I look at my business in a much more strategic way now.
So far my big wins (in no particular order) have been:
Added testimonials to my web site – so easy and powerful why didn’t I do this before?
Signed up to Google Places.
Started Twitter – a very long way to go on doing this properly, but it has already led to a meeting with a local accountant, so not all bad.
Signed up to Adwords, which is fantastic. Still needs honing, but is generating some really great leads, and is providing to be a brilliant return on my investment.
Implemented a premium pricing product which is going well.
Re-worked my budgets based on what I want next year and have broken these down to weekly monthly and quarterly targets – scary, but achievable and definite motivation for getting everything else right!
I have set up a call answering service to free up my time and give clients a better service.
New member of staff has been hired.
I am currently looking at my residual income options. My main focus is to finish writing a guide to business lending. This will be a download from my website and includes 1 hour consultancy. It is aimed at people that want to raise finance themselves, but need a few pointers as to how to approach banks to maximise their chances of success.
I’ve moved forward so much. EC has been a great investment and is a MUST for anyone that’s serious about growing their business.”
WordPress wizard Dan Harrison has been firing on all cylinders with a little help from the EC and local BGA Tim Savage. Dan’s business ‘WordPress Doctors’ is doubling Dan’s profits and his base hourly rate is rocketing by a massive 85% . He’s expanding rapidly including taking on his first member of staff so he can scale the business and concentrate his own time on the really important stuff.
Here’s Dan to explain his success in his own words…
“I’d been a member of the EC but I really didn’t ‘get it’ back then. Having tried to grow my business without any real success, I knew I had to change something. It was something along the lines of the definition of insanity (doing the same things, expecting different results). But now I’m serious about it and, as a result, WordPress Doctors is growing very nicely. Before EC, I was fighting to earn a £18k wage for myself. Now I’m earning much more and well on track for a 6-figure salary.
“Beyond the development services, I’m using my skills in training to massively expand what WordPress Doctors can offer. My focus has change to implementing tasks that make the business money; outsourcing everything where possible so that I can spend time on my core WordPress skills; scaling my business with great products; differentiating my business.
“Since being serious with EC, I’ve:
Increased my base hourly rate by 85% (which is used for the basis of quoting for projects). I wouldn’t have thought this possible a year or so ago.
Stopped quoting by the hour, and now quoting fixed prices. This has stopped potential clients comparing my hourly rate to other developers (where I’m typically more expensive).
Used testimonials extensively to promote new projects – like Nige says “ what other people say about you is ten times more important that what you say about yourself”
Releasing brand new and unique products
Hired my first ever staff member who is taking on my workload.
Started an automated email campaign from my website, which is growing very nicely.
Using my CRM system (Capsule CRM) and using it to send very targeted emails. One email in particular I sent out made £400 in sales. I’m now addicted to this, hence the new products I can offer to do this more often. When you start to bring in sales every time you send an email it’s an amazing thing. I know this will only get better as I target the growth of my database.
Moved to a new serviced office (away from home), which is helping me be considerably more productive due to less distractions and background noise.
Set up a landline telephone number using VoIP, which is answered by a call answering service. This is my gatekeeper, so all calls I have are when I make them (at mutually convenient times).
Outsource HR, payroll, call answering, graphic design, proof reading, data entry and some of my research. At home, I now outsource the gardening and cleaning, too!
Had branded WP Doctors T-Shirts printed, with “Grabbing the balls of WordPress and making it cough ” on the back. It has been responsible for a large number of discussions at EC events and other business events. “
“The Entrepreneur’s Circle is quite simply the best, most up to the minute, stimulating business mentoring partnership in the UK.
I say partnership because it needs you to apply all the information that is supplied into your business. You do have to think how you can adapt the information into your business. It has made a huge difference to my business, especially in the way I now do things on my business and not in my business.
Invigorating, helpful, friendly…
Probably the best way to describe the EC impact is to show how I now make products and processes which can then be sold out through affiliates so that I can earn whilst not actually doing the work. The EC helped me to understand how to market my business and make it appetizing to other providers within my sector on top of the usual clients that need a friendly compliance partner.
If I could sum up what I found within the EC during the past two years you only need the words, refreshing, invigorating, friendly, helpful, innovative, open, tenacious, clear and knowledgeable people who really want you to succeed.
Profits up 30%…
I now employ three people and am looking to employ a fourth, we also have two affiliates who use our products and have two large organizations where we are their trusted outsourced provider, all through going and breathing in the EC ether. My profits are up by 30% this year following 24% last year, thanks to Nigel and the EC Team.”
“I came into the business last year after a leap of faith from a nicely paid corporate job. I’d tried and failed with previous start-up businesses (personal training and a car valet idea) but in hindsight I didn’t have the EC to call upon and help me.
By opening a few doors for my good friend and now co-owner of Source Supplies, I was able to make an impact on the company without being officially part of it. The opportunity to turn this into my job and passion presented itself: the lure of fulfilling my entrepreneurial streak was too much.
“When I arrived the business had no sales pipeline, no database, no strategy, no active website, a weak brand identity and ultimately no direction.
Dave, my business partner, and I sat down and worked out what I needed to bring in to make it work. I lived on £500 a month (living in Canary Wharf!) for the first six months as a trial period, for both parties. Without an ounce of industry experience I started from scratch with a phone and Google and built up an Excel spreadsheet of leads signing 17 new customers in 17 weeks. We still have all of those customers and they order every month, without fail.
“Joining the EC came at the perfect time for me as I was desperate for new sales and marketing ideas, guidance, support and inspiration. Pearls of wisdom from Nige were the foundations that propped up my confidence in myself and in our business and EC gave me the kick-up-the-backside needed to ensure I remain on the ball.
Develop a brand…
“My objective wasn’t just to grow the business but to rebrand it and establish our core competencies. We found two chaps who were in their final year of a marketing and branding degree who worked for beer money and even entered our remit as part of their finals coursework. They helped us create our strong logo but also develop a brand that reflected our personality and commitment to customer service. This was also reflected in our new website, social media and marketing tools.
“Sales were increasing week on week as a result of consistently introducing ourselves to contract cleaners within a specific radius of our warehouse. We knew that our conversation rates of face to face meetings were around 90% so this was the objective of all the leads I had collated. We had a fruitful run of securing the business of 19 contract cleaners in 19 weeks and we’re pleased to say that all of those customers are still using Source Supplies.
“This enabled us to increase our turnover from circa £17.5k per month to £44.5k in ten months.
Importantly, our margins also improved from 24% to 28%. This growth enabled us to purchase two more vans, hiring another full time driver and moving into our own warehouse with two offices, leaving our humble shipping containers and my bedroom/office behind (I also relocated from London to Hampshire to be nearer the business).
“As a direct result of the EC I launched our social media activity which immediately resulted in several new customers with whom we have very strong bonds as we’re constantly in touch via Twitter or Facebook. I knew a CRM system was essential so I uploaded all our leads which has enabled me to communicate to our customers regularly and easily.
Absorbing as much advice from Nigel and the team as possible, we gradually ticked off a long list of things to do. Gathering testimonials has become standard procedure; we have a file full of professional photos and our website includes many of Nigel’s recommended features. We also now work to deadlines which have massively improved productivity.
Local business awards…
“We invested all our profits in stock and infrastructure. We’re now in a position to double our turnover without having to invest in any other fixed costs which will help us in our quest towards a million pound a year business.
“We’ve also entered local business awards, instigated joint venture and partnership opportunities, started a localised small networking group, employed two new staff, launched a VIP service and developed a new division that will create residual income.Also, as a result of Nigel’s recommended reading list, I have enjoyed several books that have directly helped with our business strategy and have inspired me to write one of my own.”
Jamie has raised himself through the EC membership levels, each time learning and absorbing everything available to him. He‘s become a true student of marketing and implementation and made some very good friends along the way. He loves to test email campaigns, web pages, lading pages, Google ads and anything else that could bring him a better conversion rate, ultimately resulting more of the right customers.
But it’s not been easy.
Jamie has faced many challenges and worked hard to remove himself from ‘the doing’ in his business to becoming the marketer of his business. It’s not an easy transition and one that many members struggle with on a daily basis. But he’s persisted and he continues to grow and develop.
Here’s Jamie’s story…
“Since joining the EC we have quadrupled our turnover from £50k to over £200k with our Singing Waiters show.
We got serious with Adwords by using conversion tracking and analytics to target what works best for us and added over 6800 negative keywords to out campaigns. We have almost become the EC’s best stalker with the dark art of re-marketing.
“We set up an auto responder campaign which spans over eight months and typically for the beginning part of the campaign has open rates of over 40%, using Mailchimp. It’s such an important part to drive new customers and one that takes the pressure off when new enquiries come in; you know that the information customers need is already being sent and that includes special offers and deadlines to entice them in. It’s a fundamental part of our business and it’s all on autopilot. If you are yet to set up an auto responder campaign then I strongly urge you to use your 90 minute sessions to sit down and commit to doing this.
“We also launched Wedding Entertainment UK, gaining over 60 enquiries in the first month.
“I set up a separate CRM system which I use with my virtual assistant to complete tasks at both locations easily and efficiently –and got a VA of course to help with tasks just like this that took up far too much of my time beforehand. It’s funny some tasks like this seem easy to do yourself but when you add up the minutes here and there it’s a big drain on the time you could/should be spending marketing and getting customers!
“I’ve taken on a full time sales person which was not a decision taken lightly, but I couldn’t take a leap forward without getting more help. We’ve also just taken on premises overlooking the Wigan canal close to the famous Wigan Pier to give us a new working environment and more room.
“Apart from the help I receive from the EC, I’ve developed myself through courses and books and improved my confidence, knowledge and my general wellbeing by continuing my learning and taking advantage of all the tried and tested knowledge that is out there.
“Amazing how time flies – it was five years ago, that I eventually decided to click the opt-in button on an Entrepreneurs’ Circle ad and pay the princely sum of £4.95 to “cover postage and packing” for a one-month trial of the EC” says David Browne. “I never thought, for one minute, how that click would not only change our business but the lives of our entire family so dramatically and massively for the better.”
“Back then our marketing consisted of spending fortunes on Yellow Pages (we were in every book in Scotland), newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio advertising and we even had a deal with Scotland’s largest Sunday paper “Scotland on Sunday” for full colour, double-page spreads. Ads which, looking back now, are embarrassing to say the least. They were brand awareness ads that Coke and Nike would be proud of with no call-to-action in sight.
Back then I didn’t even know what AdWords was. Now, well that’s a whole story in itself. Facebook was something kids played with and I would never have thought that five years on it would be a licence to print money.
Oh, and the concept of autoresponders and lumpy mail had not even crossed my mind and we only used funnels when syphoning fuel.
Who would ever have thought that sending lots of mail to prospective clients in coloured envelopes with a proper stamp and a hand written address would make money, and who in their right mind would hand-address over 2,000 envelopes anyway?
Five years ago it didn’t even occur to me that compelling offers with deadlines would also make the cash register ring especially in the last few minutes before the deadline expired.
But not only that, five years ago, I’d never heard of Nigel Botterill, not to mention Terry Gormley, Martin Norbury, Aynsley Damery, Hazel & Tim Edwards and, of course, the amazing Pieter De Villiers – all amazing members of EC who have played such a part in the transformation of our business and change our lives way beyond anything they could ever comprehend.
I also didn’t have a book shelf with over 200 books (I have read every one) on how to do stuff, to say nothing of the massive manuals like the Six Pack. I’d never heard of ‘The One Thing’ – now I live by it.
Five years ago, our business had never been nominated for an award, let alone won one. Since then, The Scottish Shutter Company has been voted Scottish Family Business of the Year and won or been nominated for many more awards. We didn’t enter awards before we joined the EC.
Five years ago I didn’t spend 90 minutes each day working on my business instead of in it – the thought just never occurred to me but what a difference it makes.
Five years ago, I’d never hear of Infusionsoft., our CRM system. We didn’t have a database of clients just bits of paper everywhere with their names addresses and, sometimes their phone number on. Five years on and our Infusionsoft database of existing and prospective clients is our most important asset and its updated automatically at every interaction with a prospect or client. Infusionsoft also now provides an instant and accurate picture of the key performance indicators for the business.
Five years ago it never crossed my mind to think “what would the best in the world do?’ – why – because I thought we were so far removed from the best in the world that it was pointless even thinking about it. Now we concentrate on becoming the best in the world at what we do.
Five years ago, I was the hub of everything that happened in the business. Everything depended on me. I did everything – including the book-keeping and the CAD drawings. I believed, like many small business owners, that I was the only person capable of doing these things. In addition, I was measuring, quoting, buying, installing, fitting, collecting the cash and accounting for it. Now, we outsource everything we can, to experts in their field, leaving us to get on with the bits we’re awesome at.
Five years on, and the business is run by our Infusionsoft system and our staff (four more than we had five years ago) who operate the system.
Just like Ray Croc did at McDonalds, there are now written processes for every part of our operation. Judith & David (the next generation1) can get on with driving the business forward.
And for me, I now work on a whole myriad of new and exciting projects from the comfort of my home office. I rarely go into the business any more because it runs brilliantly without me!
I’m reminded of a guy I met at the very first EC National Event. He was introduced to me as he too had a shutter business, just like ours. His product came from the same supplier and his customer demographic was pretty much the same as ours except he was in middle England somewhere. I never saw him again and about a year later I enquired of his whereabouts only to find that he’d left the EC as he ‘couldn’t see any value in it for his shutter business’. Bonkers!
It’s all about your attitude and how you interpret things. I’ve learned that we all see the same thing in different ways. From different perspectives. Some see opportunities and some see the obstacles.
The opportunities and learnings we’ve had from EC have been life-changing for all of us.”
Life has changed beyond all recognition for Keith Crockford of Rock and Rapid Adventures.
Before joining the EC, Keith had no idea what a Negative Keyword was. Now, his Google AdWords account is filled with more than he can count. Before he became a member of EC, Rock and Rapid Adventures had no solid direction. Now, Keith has a clear plan for the future of his business and is working every day to move it forwards.
Keith says,” Since joining EC my business has changed massively. I look at my business completely differently too; being an EC member has changed my business and my mind-set. Since I joined, I’ve focussed on gaining the right employees who share my vision. I’ve launched a new website, written eBooks, got a handle on my marketing, and made the most of my Team TEAP. I’m learning the theory behind growing Rock and Rapid Adventures and transforming my business.”
But there’s more to Keith’s success than improving marketing knowledge. Keith has recently been working with fellow EC member Martin Norbury to outline a clear future for Rock and Rapid Adventures. Using Launchpad, Keith and the team now have crystal clear visibility over everything from bookings to takings.
Not only that, but Launchpad has enabled Keith to monitor the marketing activities and specific campaigns that drive his bookings and takings. So much so, he can review weekly and make changes that will help him to achieve his goals. And, thanks to this new clarity and clear plan, the sky really is the limit for Keith and his team.
“The way I look at my business is completely different now,” says Keith. “I’ve been working with Martin on his S.C.A.L.E. programme, and we now have a clear three-year-plan for where and how we’ll move the business forwards. We’ve a plan that is going to use my sales letter for free teachers’ expeditions to take us to the next level. To help me do this, we have created a dashboard that gives us up to date figures on every aspect of the day-to-day running of the business.”
Using ideas gained from EC thinking as a springboard, Keith set up The Bucket List Company, which had bookings only three days after launch.” We’re excited to see the campaigns for The Bucket List Company creating a lot of interest; we had 108 opt-ins for trip information within 8 days of launch, and are currently getting four new opt-ins a day,” says Keith.
Not content with running two super-successful businesses, Keith recently added a third to his repertoire. Following a conversation with Nige, he made the decision to purchase a third business. He says, “We’ve acquired a Costa Blanca-based adventure company that already has contracts in place to offer excursions with industry big boys Thomas Cook, Thompsons and the TUI Group. It’s a challenge I’m relishing. The business needed a complete marketing overhaul, and I’m doing this with all of the knowledge I’ve gained from being part of the EC.
With both his personal and professional life changing beyond recognition since he joined the EC, Keith shows no signs of slowing down. He says, “I am now fortunate to have a team that allows me to work on my business on a daily basis, which is helping me to move the business forward in the direction it needed to go. I am still able to get out and teach the activities I love, but I can choose when I want to do it, and I do it because I want to, not because I have to.”
“We met up with one of the EC at the O2 at the Business Show and were given a copy of Nigels book, ‘Bottys Rules’. The book lay in our house untouched for a few months and one day I opened it. It was one of the best reads I have ever had about Business. I could relate Nigel’s experiences to mine.
About 30 months ago after building a kitchen, we got rid of a few extras by sticking them on eBay and within a day they had sold. I started experimenting with selling on eBay and eventually fell into the Cosmetics niche.
I was made redundant by an Engineering firm when the government had one of its now regular cut backs about 2 years ago. I spent 3 months learning about eBay and web sites and getting a business going. It took a lot of effort to get the infrastructure put in place to make our business work. We made loads of mistakes and learnt from every one of them. It was a fascinating time. We found suppliers and started exporting worldwide and importing from the USA.
I went back to work for 10 months as a contractor, came home every night and packed cosmetics for posting the next day. I became an expert at eBay. I knew how to make things sell. We were asked so many questions about eBay that we started teaching people how to sell on eBay. Next I wrote a book on eBay which we self-published.
After reading Nigel’s book and joining the Entrepreneur’s Circle I found out about Hoot Suite, Twitter and Facebook.
We now send out ten tweets per day and the sales and visitors to our web site have greatly increased. We work ON the business for at least an hour a day plus we have scheduled other tasks that we did in a hap hazard way and now our lives are far better structured and we have more time to ourselves.
The support from the EC has been great. They have helped with my book and I love meeting the other members at the EC events.”
“I launched my ‘My Mag’ magazine business, Red Rose Directories, many years ago. Initially, I intended to run just one magazine in my village, Bromley Cross in Bolton, as I already had an established retail business in the area. But, within the first couple of months, it was pretty evident that the model was working well so I sold the retail business and put all my efforts into expanding the magazine business.
Long story short, we launched a second magazine within the first two months, then another and another. Each time we said, ‘This is the last one’ but here we are today with 26 separate magazines working hard for local businesses across the North West.
It’s a much bigger business than I ever imagined in the beginning and I couldn’t be more delighted.
“I became a member of the EC as soon as it launched and it has definitely contributed in a big way to my success.
Botty Rule no. 14 is: ‘You’re either growing or shrinking, there’s no status quo’ I knew the best place to start was to spend time with the right people and immerse myself in the EC:
Botty Rule no. 2 – Who you hang around with matters. I took the EC’s ‘Million Pound Masterplan’ Course and thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me the kickstart needed to get things moving. I picked up loads of good stuff and just implementing a fraction of it has made a big difference to my bottom line. Here are some things that especially helped:
Does it make the boat go faster?
“When Nigel enlightened us all with this one I loved it! I’m a real stickler for my business numbers (a bit obsessive if the truth be known) and this has really helped ensure that every idea I’ve implemented is well worth doing. If it doesn’t ‘Make the boat go faster’ I simply toss it aside and move on. I made myself a ‘DIMTBGF’ poster and positioned it so it’s the first thing I see when I look up from my screen. It keeps me in check.
Do more with less
“Over the years I’ve had to be really conscious of my time – to run 26 magazines takes organising and I’ve developed a software system to manage this. It’s been a never ending development process really, with new stuff being built into it every time I think of something that can help automate the process.
Nigel once gave me a book ‘Delivering Happiness’ by Tony Hsieh the founder of Zappos, a billion pound online retail business. It’s one of the best business books I’ve read. One of the core values of the Zappos culture is ‘Do more with less’ and this is something I work on continually. How can I do this better, faster, more efficiently?
Educate, educate, educate…..
“I’ve seen for myself there’s a massive difference between the business owners who commit to learning and the ones that don’t. It’s essential to educate yourself to achieve any kind of success and I see the EC as one of the best ways to do this. I’ll be honest here, my biggest outgoing is my printing bill, as you can probably imagine. Second to that is the amount I spend with Nigel! I get a massive ROI on this – remember, I track everything so I know this for sure. The great thing is that, even though I’ve been a member since the EC began, I’m still learning and, in many cases, at a faster rate than previous years.
We’re all able to tap into the teams’ own commitment to learning…
I was one of the 300 people who listened to Nige’s now famous webinar in early 2010 when he launched EC.
It was like no other seminar I had ever listened to before. It was punchy, stripped of waffle and rammed with loads of practical and brilliant advice.
I wanted to learn more so I drove 150 miles to Solihull for the first ever National Event (in April 2010). Not only that, but such was my thirst for free advice, I sat in the first ever hot seat at the first ever meeting in a room of about 50 people in Solihull. How those meetings have changed – there’s often a thousand entrepreneurs there now!
My website was pants…
Before meeting Nige, I used to do a bit of networking and I employed direct mail when I had the time (madness), but I never used social media and my website was pants.
We re-branded and designed a new website that was geared up to generate leads, with a short punchy video, including testimonials from clients, and we also started to incorporate social media.
I am a bit of a fan of paperwork and admin (hey I work in insurance!) but by turning my day back to front and making my first job every day the task of winning new customers, we have grown our profits by over 100% in the first two years since joining and we are not stopping there. I have a plan for the next five years and I know how much money I need to make to stop working when I choose.
He’s full on…
What I like about Nige is that he has done it himself and he is very incisive about what makes businesses grow. He is not a theorist; he is a practitioner. He is “full-on”, but if you don’t respond to his ideas, you won’t succeed as much as you could. Simples!
The Entrepreneur’s Circle has had a huge impact on my business and I am sure it will do the same for anyone else – providing you pay attention and I-M-P-L-E-M-E-N-T.
Darren Taylor has achieved a lot in a short time. His business manufactures signs and safety equipment for the construction and fire industries.
From six figure turnover to seven…
Darren’s business was sizable even before he joined the EC; based in Wolverhampton with 23 staff and a sizeable six figure turnover. But Darren was properly ambitious and he joined EC looking for help to double the size of his business.
“It took us two years to double it the first time, and then another two years to double it again” explains Darren who now sits at the helm of a seven figure business “and we couldn’t have done it without all the help and learning from Nige and his team at the EC. It’s brilliant”.
Darren is very softly spoken and self deprecating but he’s got a really good handle on his numbers and, by making small changes, one at a time, he is continually moving his business forward.
Darren’s also very switched on to what’s happening in his marketplace and he’s been able to respond swiftly in recent times to new opportunities and reap the benefits as a result.
He is studious (studying some of the top marketers in the world), a great implementer and he has built a hugely valuable and very successful business.
2015 has been a pretty incredible year for Alan Marriott from The Property Press. With an incredible business model, knowledge of his numbers, and bucket-lo ads of drive and passion, it’s little wonder that Alan has ended the year being named winner in the Best New Business category of the National Entrepreneur Awards 2015.
The Property Press has taken Exmouth by storm. Launched in April 2015, it’s quickly grown to become the go-to publication in the region for estate agents, advertisers and the local community. It’s unrivalled and unmatched in quality, distribution and readership.
The Property Press came out of being in tune with the market, the ability to do things differently and resolve issues that were previously seen as unchangeable. They had to adapt quickly, recognising that there was no ‘lead in time’ to get this right. It had to be right from edition 1.
In order for TPP to work, Alan had to establish critical mass. The aim? Become the only property paper in town – not another one. Critical mass for launch was gained through agreements with 8 sales and 4 letting agents. But, there was still much to do before TPP became a reality.
To make it cost effective and a smooth transition for estate agents, Alan had to provide the software estate agents were already using through the local paper. The licensing cost a prohibitive £16,000. Alan makes money though selling advertising space, with a net return of approximately £5,000 per issue.
He has focused on refining, perfecting and locking down operational systems and costs to ensure it can be effectively scaled in 2016. Between issues 6 and 16:
- 16.2% reduction in delivery costs.
- 9.4% increase in letterboxes delivered to
- Reduced the delivery window time from 120 hours to 84 hours for each edition
- 21% reduction in print costs from refining processes and working closely with print provider.
- Halved pre-print cost to £300 per issue by changing designer!
It just goes to show with some strategic thinking, you really can transform your business.
“I’d been running my own business for 7 years, sold that and decided to do something different. I retrained to become a Personal Stylist in November 2011 and ‘discovered’ the EC in January 2012.
All I can say is WOW and THANK GOODNESS because I can say with 100% certainty that the EC has ensured I’m creating a viable business and doing all the ‘right’ stuff to make me a millionaire which is my end goal.
Since joining the EC, little old me has been:
- Invited by BBC Radio to talk about my business
- Requested to do a book launch at a city centre branch of Waterstones
- Approached to take part in a Channel 4 programme
- Paid treble my usual fees
£10 Million in the bank…
Not only that, I now have a business plan to get me £10 Million in the bank. And the numbers work.
Just to be clear, as amazing as Nigel is, he hasn’t done these things for me, I’ve done them. BUT, I’ve done them on the back of everything I’ve learnt from being an EC member, from attending as many events as possible and most importantly, by IMPLEMENTING everything I’ve learned.
Oh yeah and because I get so much value from every minute spent with someone from the EC.
Getting a buzz…
And the biggest and best thing actually is kind of a side issue. For the first time in my self-employed life, I’m hanging out with like-minded business owners, getting a buzz from our shared enthusiasm and getting THE BEST info and insights in the country.
So If you’re a business owner who wants a really super-successful business, come join us at the EC. It’s a cool place to be :)”
Mitch Lloyd was a Chartered Mechanical Surveyor but left the rat race to join her mum, Petra, and help run the family business, Petra Jewellery.
Things went well for a while but then Mitch began to feel like she could no longer cope with running the business. Long hours with little results began to take its toll and Mitch began searching for a mentor or organisation which could support her. It was only when Mitch attended a local networking event that she found what she was looking for. “I noticed the name Tim Savage, followed by Entrepreneur’s Circle, and thought ‘that sounds like what I need!’” Mitch tells us.
Mitch joined the EC and began implementing what she was learning straight away, starting with her staff. “I identified the staff that I felt were sabotaging my business by not embracing the culture that I want to promote within the shop. I look to businesses like Innocent Smoothies and Apple and the culture that they create within the workplace,” Mitch tells us. Stopping the sabotage did mean that Mitch had to go through the process of making someone redundant, but she now feels confident that she has a great team. “I did learn quite a few lessons during the recruitment process, but I now ask job applicants to submit a short video before an interview to check that they fit – I’m not prepared to compromise on my team.”
With the right team behind her, Mitch harnessed the power of PR for her business and held events at the shop. Petra Jewellery’s ‘Champagne & Canapes’ proved to be a great success. With 150 VIP guests invited, it was a great opportunity for Mitch to capture data. She held another event, a VIP breakfast, which was another success. Mitch says, “One guy, who had been a customer a few years back but lived 30 minutes away said the lure of bacon butties enticed him! His budget was £200 and he ended up spending £785. We also did an ‘early bird’ offer of goodie bags worth £35 for people shopping before 10am. However, they pretty much all turned up at 9:45am so that backfired a little and then the till crashed – but we dealt with it with humour and Bucks Fizz!”
Mitch also got to know her numbers – a scary decision for someone who once described herself as ‘spreadsheet-phobic’. However, doing so meant that Mitch created a clear picture of where her business was, and what she had to do to in order to get it to where she wanted it to be. “Setting monthly and daily targets, and seeing whether we were hitting them, helped me make decisions and spend big money. There was no more guesswork.” Getting to grips with those numbers clearly worked, as Mitch saw turnover increase steadily.
Mitch kept up the pressure to grow her business even more. First up, she set up a database, as she’d previously worked without one. Pairing the database up with an electronic point of sale system that collected and exported email addresses to Mailchimp meant that Mitch was able to contact her customers more regularly and she found out, from experience, that she could generate up to £10,000 by sending out a great offer. “I only send out stuff of value and I’ve had great feedback from customers,” Mitch tells us. She also developed a successful engagement ring service. She now offers four different engagement ring services to suit all customers, which includes free champagne and canapés, a photobook and a reception at a stately home. “We wanted to make it a special occasion” said Mitch.” The service certainly proved to be a massive hit with romantic couples, with turnover doubling in a year.
Following this success, Mitch decided to set up an engagement ring hotline. After asking for help with setting up a Call Tracking Number on the EC Members Facebook group, Mitch was directed towards the services of Jeremy Strong, at Invoco, and had soon added the new ‘Engagement Ring Hotline’ number to her website, complete with the message, “If you need to speak to an expert between 7am – 10pm then call this number.” Just three days after setting the hotline up, Mitch received a call at 9pm from a potential customer looking to buy an engagement ring. After chatting to the customer, Mitch sent out an invitation for him to attend an engagement ring design experience and two days later closed a sale for £5000 – all within a week.
Mitch and the team at Petra Jewellery never stop innovating and it paid off.
Leigh Kinch from Pear Tree Photography had been working full time as a police officer. His fledgling business was, in his own words, ‘ticking along’. Then he joined the EC and things went from strength to strength.
Leigh says, ““When I joined the EC, I was earning around £25K per year. Then I started to rethink my marketing strategy – rewriting my website copy, doing my 90 minutes and changing my pricing structure which meant more profit for less work.
The price of my wedding packages went up 20% without a drop in sign up and I increased our portrait photography spend from £250 per person to nearly £450, simply by changing our pricing structure.
“All this was very effective, but some of the biggest changes to my business came when I started to use Infusionsoft. I collected over 800 new email addresses in under five months, and was soon running 43 campaigns to nurture customers. We used it to send newsletters, to create landing and squeeze pages and collect data – our list soon grew by 500%. We also created an online booking system – which, coupled with selling photos online saw us make an additional £1,000 in five weeks – and it’s really helped us keep on top of our numbers.
“After seeing Jo Davies at EC HQ, we tried Google AdWords. It brought in nearly £8,000 worth of work in two months, with over £3,500 coming from just one campaign, and has seen us experience a 400% lift in enquiries through our website.
“I also set up my own online Photographers’ Mastermind Facebook Group where photographers around the country share ideas to help each other out and I run weekly Facebook offers. They all have the same deal, but a different story. For example, an offer based around the birth of Prince George made us £2,300, and we run ‘Back to School’ promotions.
“We also thought through how we could market in different ways. For instance, we became a main sponsor at a dog show, and we’ve taken part in joint ventures with a posh dog food company,with a local bridal shop, with Farnham Castle and another with a large local hotel, where we agreed to become their recommended wedding photographer.
“We also started to buy lists of people who recently got engaged and began sending them ‘chunky mail’, including a flyer with an offer and a hand written letter inviting them into the studio. In the first week , we booked five weddings, bringing in a total of £6,285 -a 100% conversion rate- and we increased our average number of portrait sittings from four to seven per week – an increase of £1,300 per week.
“We’ve achieved so much but since getting our new studio – three times bigger than the last – we have taken off even more and are flying. I have also taken on another photographer and an admin assistant.
“And this is just the start. I attribute all that we have achieved to what we have learned from EC. It’s all down to thinking about where our avatars are and working toward getting in front of them every day.”
“I’m a naturopath and my business is ‘Passport to Change’. Joining the EC reminded me why I had originally set my business up and how I should be capitalising on the name. I knew this but sometimes you need to hear the glaringly obvious. I went home and just started planning.
“Using a roll of wallpaper backing, my living room was soon swamped by yards of paper, covered in my ideas. I was on a roll – literally!
“With EC you learn two things above everything else – motivation and implementation. It has driven me to achieve and go out to do things I would have put off, thinking they would never work. I realise now I won’t know until I try them – and the world isn’t beating a path to a naturopathic nutritionist’s door without me getting out and beating a path to theirs!
“So here goes … since joining EC I have:
Income gains: I’ve increased my income 50% after the first month of EC and 52% the second month, far more than planned and I’ve done this because I’ve put into action stacks of stuff from the circulars, from the local and national events. I devour the circular when it comes through the door, thinking ‘how can I apply that idea to my business?’
Radio … and opportunity!: I got myself interviewed on the radio (and have been invited back), which is great in its own right, but I offered to help heal the presenter’s dog that had been sent home to die with a paralysed larynx – the vet thinks it’s a miracle that the dog is now as good as new! I then ended up on Irish radio for two hours, talking about naturopathy due, again, to helping the dog out. They have now asked if I am interested in co-hosting a regular show … so you just never know where things might lead!
My niche and social media / blogging: I’ve definitely found my ‘category of one’ – as I’m probably the UK’s only raw vegan naturopathic nutritionist, so it wasn’t too difficult to find in all honesty! And this has given me a perfect platform for my blogging and social media. I’ve gained clients from across the UK – not just locally – due to the radio show, changing my website copy and tweeting out that I was a raw food vegan naturopathic nutritionist. Plus I’ve linked my Facebook page with two rather famous friends in the raw vegan nutrition world. As a result, I am tweeting far more (@changepassport). After I tweeted about my handsome AA patrolman after a car breakdown, the AA favourited my tweet; this increased hits to my website by over 400% in one day!
Writing: I redrafted my book and I am writing my next book as well as designed 21 natural health guides for my clients to take away with them in the sessions. I’ve more planned, which means that my clients gain more from their sessions with me. I’ve written articles for the Nutritionist Directory, Drop By, and other websites which had over 100 hits each. I’ve been blogging more than once a week on www.travelstamps.wordpress.com.
Prices and services: I have increased my prices, to reflect the health screening I do, and I’m now charging for the other half hour of my initial first consultation. I have added food and environmental intolerance screening as an additional service as well.
Posters: I put posters up in the local schools, nurseries, Post Offices and shops to advertise food intolerance screening for children – a whole new area for me – and I’ve already had bookings as a result. Hilariously, even the butcher put a poster up for me.
Database: I’m building my database. I’ve added client birthdays and I’m now sending out follow up postcards for clients’ fridges to remind them to stay out of it when the going gets tough. I have found a way of putting their names in flowers on the front so it looks totally cool and personalised.
Referral coupons: Referral coupons are the best thing I ever did in my life, (outside of juicing and smoothies with chocolate in them!); everyone gets them who come to their second appointment.
We epitomise so much of what we have heard Nigel teach. Off the top of my head I can think of 6 ways in which we help our clients to tackle areas that Nigel tells us to focus on. So here they are:
1. Outsource as much as you can
2. Don’t answer your own phones
We are not just a message taking service; we don’t just answer phones; we are a call handling service. That means that we try to reduce the number of calls that our clients have to return. So we take a detailed profile from every client so that we can answer FAQs and direct messages to the right people or even through to their desk if possible. Along with telephone call handling, we can also help our clients with email management, diary management, mail merges, social media, web enquiries, order taking, sending out literature and much, much more.
As Nigel says, when you are looking at the cost of outsourcing you should be comparing the prices quoted with your hourly rate, and we can guarantee that we are significantly cheaper than you. So our clients find they increase their efficiency and free up time to make more money.
Very few people would ring Virgin and expect to speak to Richard Branson. You cannot become super successful and answer your own phones. You would never get anything done. By answering our client’s phones we protect them from the 15-20 minutes recovery time that comes with every interruption – you know, those times when you put the phone down, check your emails, pop into Facebook and make a coffee before getting back to that proposal for the deal of the century.
3. Protect 90 minutes a day
By answering our client’s phones we allow them to ringfence time so that they can focus on doing what they do best and preparing their marketing. We frequently advise our EC clients, especially new ones, to put their phones through to us during their 90 minutes so that they can spend their time planning, strategising and preparing their marketing.
4. Stand out from the competition
As Nigel calls it, a category of one! We tend to focus on our Genie and the magical difference she can make to clients with her virtual touch of office magic. At the convention in September we built a stand that would make a real impact and differentiate us from the other exhibitors, especially our competitors. Attached you will find photos of the stand along with our wonderful Genie alongside Nige.
We found ourselves rushed off our feet during the breaks when people crowded to the stand. In total we took 70 firm leads and even had 3 companies sign contracts on the day. Since then we have signed up a number of them and are in the process of helping many others put plans and strategies in place for their campaigns in the New Year.
5. Little things count in customer service
It’s the Disney experience. One of the easiest ways to let clients down is with sub standard phone service. By using a dedicated team of receptionists to answer the phone you can ensure your customers get the same level of care every time they call. A busy business owner, juggling sales, marketing, product or service delivery along with the accounts, paperwork, invoices and payroll, is not the best person to answer the phone. They will sound interrupted, gruff, possibly even annoyed or distracted which is not the best first impression for a new customer, nor a great way to cement a relationship with a VIP client.
By using us to answer the call, even if we put the call through to them, the very fact it has been announced allows them to stop what they are doing and focus on the call – making it the best experience for your callers. If they’re not available we can be sure to tell callers why, when they will be back and we can book a convenient time in both diaries for the call back.
And if clients want us to remember to ask certain questions or use their tag line with each call then we can do just that – going that little bit further than our competition.
6. Loyal customers buy more
Keeping your customers loyal is key to getting them to buy more often and recommend you to their friends. We help our clients build that sense of loyalty by providing a brilliant service over the phone. A classic example is a hair salon. By answering the phones instead of the stylists the customers in the salon will feel more appreciated, treated special and therefore will spend more and come in more often. If the stylists leave them sat there with wet hair whilst they answer the phone the customer feels abandoned and second to the person on the phone – not the best way to build loyalty!
“Our story started when I set up my sweet shop, Sherbet Pip, which sells nostalgic sweets.” explains Henry’s mum. “I recognised that every time adults talked about sweets, they thought back to when they were children. Plus, I always had a secret desire to go into retail.”
“While working on my product range, my 11 year old son Henry asked me what I was doing for children. I explained that it was a sweet shop for adults who wanted to be children as opposed to products for children. However, I told him to come up with some ideas and, if they were good enough, I’d think about a children’s page.
A few days after our talk, he came back with six jars of sweets – one of which was Mud & Worms. I told him that I didn’t think it would sell as it looked unappealing but he was adamant that children would love it.
And he was right.
Packaged with the sweets, he included a pen so that kids could decorate the jars afterwards and he sold them with dental stickers – to keep the parents happy. He really had all bases covered. He decided to call his page on the site ‘Not Before Tea’ – named after what his grandmother says to him when he asks for sweets. Next he designed a logo – Pip the Mouse – and even wrote a book about it.
“So, once we had a name, a brand and a product, I wrote press releases for both businesses, sent them out – and everybody pretty much ignored mine and went straight for Henry’s. Once the word was out, Not Before Tea really captured people’s imagination. The Daily Mail called us for an interview and the story was picked up by Yahoo News, The BBC, The Independent, The Times and the New York Times.
“We’ve been invited to so many awards and events. Among them was visit to the Bedford Chamber of Commerce, where Henry was presented with a plaque and given lifetime membership. However, when asked what his best moment in business has been so far, Henry will say the evening he attended The Great British Entrepreneur Awards. We met politicians and leading business figures and it was obvious that Henry was in his element. From the moment he arrived, he worked the room like he’d been doing it for years. One of the big highlights was when Sir Steve Redgrave recognised him and asked for a photo. The night was topped off by him being given a special One to Watch award and being asked to speak.He stood up and said that the government was not doing enough to help young entrepreneurs and business people.
“Henry was then given some retail space in one of Start-up Britain’s PopUp shops – an initiative that gives start-ups the chance to get their products onto the high street. This was a fantastic experience and we got loads of great customer feedback, the type which you just don’t get by being purely online. It was the perfect way to see firsthand how his product would sell in a shop – and we sold out of Mud & Worms. Soon after, Henry was invited to pitch to Sainsbury’s. The programme saw ten startups from 2,000 chosen to pitch their business to Sainsbury’s.To be honest, we weren’t really prepared for the scale of it all and knew we wouldn’t be chosen but, again, we got some great feedback, mostly about our packaging (or lack of it) and the door has been left open.
“Jon Wright, one of the founders of Innocent Smoothies was also there and that was a thrill for Henry to meet such an inspirational entrepreneur. It also inspired him to expand the range. When deciding what to do next, he’s interviewed his grandparents to find out about what they used to do for fun. There’s not a computer in sight and it’s very traditional.
“Henry learns a lot from established entrepreneurs and when asked who he wants to be like, he always answers ‘Alan Sugar but happier’. He’s also a big fan of David Walliams and loves anybody who can capture the imagination. I think he’s done just that so far.”
Andy has been involved in martial arts for 30 years and won many awards including two silver medals as a competitor and gold as team coach.
He opened a martial arts centre in Kettering. Later, his career took a sideways shift and he began to take an interest in the psychological methods that help people overcome their fears.
Since then he has combined his two great passions and completed a UK tour of speaking events. Andy teaches corporate seminars on communication, influence, stress management and assertiveness, and he’s also a NLP Practitioner.
“My business was in dire straits” explains Andy. “I had a bailiff after me for unpaid council tax; I hadn’t paid my premises rent for four months and a string of other debt collection agencies were chasing me too. I came within 24 hours of losing my business. Then, ironically, I was at the Northants Business Growth Show where Nige was speaking. I had seen Nigel previously, but had not seen any reason to pay someone £69 per month to teach me stuff but I became intrigued that day and I took a trial membership to try out the EC.
“I teach martial arts and I’m a therapist – I cure phobias and help people with depression, stress, stopping smoking and losing weight. I was told once that you only know if your martial arts work when you’re in a fight; philosophy is the same. I was in deep trouble, but I was fighting. Every day was a battle, but I was winning. The martial arts school was growing, up 7% each month.
“My customer base continued to grow. I rented out more space in the centre to other classes. I did some social media training with EC and discovered how to get more traffic to my blog – this resulted in me being asked to do copywriting work for websites. I was paid £270 for three pages, a relatively easy task with a good income. My customer base continued to grow.
“Then, following advice from EC I put all my students on monthly standing order. My residual income shot up massively. I invented ‘Kung Fu Parties’ – kids parties with a kung fu theme. I set up a ‘100 phobias by Xmas’ campaign. This got me on Radio Northampton – I went on three times and each time I earned about £500 from new clients.
I got booked by a local company to deliver assertiveness training – as a result of helping a client earlier in the year, being paid three times the fee I had received when I worked for another company a year before. Now it seemed everything I touched was turning to gold whereas six months before everything I touched turned to crap. I improved my turnover figures by 57% in three months.
“I instigated student of the month and student numbers rose 20%.
I introduced a £200 for eight sessions offer and set a target of three packages in a month – I sold four in three days! My new newsletter made me realise that my database was out of date and not fit for purpose. I cleaned it up and hired a part time administrator.
“My database is growing; the newsletter mailing list is growing. I’m getting more clients hiring me as a copywriter and five months ago this wasn’t even part of my business. I’ve been speaking at different events all over the country, for eight years now, mostly for free. But now I’ve started to be paid for speaking, at 22.5 times higher than my normal hourly rate!
I can see my business developing in front of my eyes.
“The simple fact is that the EC has transformed my business. In many ways it has transformed my life.
I know I’ve done all the work. I know my friends have helped. I know my luck changed, but for all that the EC has given me ideas and education that I have never had before.
I set my business up a long time ago but never, at any time, have I seen a 72% improvement in turnover in seven months. I can now pay my bills. I have a book keeper, an accountant and a part time administrator and this week I hired a cleaner as well.
The beauty of it all is that I feel like the fish that climbed out of the pond. I have grown legs, but not yet evolved into man. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but so far away from where I was.”
“Before I bought Mobex I had spent most of my working life turning around under-performing businesses so when I took the plunge and bought my own business in 2007, I thought I pretty much knew all that was needed.
How wrong I was!
I made most of the mistakes Nigel highlights in Botty’s Rules and no doubt some he hasn’t mentioned. However, despite all the pitfalls in the economy, the input from the EC has helped us to more than treble the size of the business to in excess of £1m turnover. We operate from 4 locations and handle close to 1,000 events both indoors and outdoors for clients big and small.
Getting on with it…
Mobex has been changed from an exhibition trailer provider to a Specialist in Exhibitions and Road Shows, designing and building exhibition trailers and indoor stands. Helping public sector bodies deliver core messages to the public, providing experiential staff organising designing and printing graphics
The benefits I have found since joining Entrepreneurs Circle are often not the major new things but the snippets of information about where to find information, who to talk to about specific specialisms and the re-enforcement at times that you are on the right track or that you need to rethink.
So many other organisations are passive in their “support” of SMEs whereas EC is all about helping us to getting on with it. They’re VERY practical and pragmatic which I like a lot…
Dawn’s business, The Melting Pot, offers chocolate workshops for adults, children and teams in Hertfordshire. Since joining the EC, her average party numbers have gone up by more than 30%, she has moved 10% of her customers to a higher price tier and has been on the pages of the Sun and Independent newspapers and on TV.
But there’s been exciting expansion for Dawn; she’s packaged up her workshop concept and turned the Melting Pot into a business opportunity, offering people the chance to buy their own ‘business in a chocolate box’ nationwide and most importantly for her, created that ‘magical’ residual income stream.
“A key part in creating opportunity for business growth has come from the support of the EC” Dawn says. “Although creating a ‘business in a box’ offering is something I realised might be the best way forward very early on, it seemed too daunting a prospect, and I just kept putting it off. I was worried about the commitment and especially how it might affect family life – but with help from the EC, I have scoped a model that is manageable, profitable and fits my brief.”
Dawn credits her successes to the many of the nuggets she picked up over the years with the EC. She passes on the best bits to the new members of her ‘chocolate family’. She says, “Pricing – for children’s parties I charge per head, with minimum numbers. As most children want as many friends as possible at their party, my average party fee has gone up by 30% per booking. I offer a range of workshop products at a range of prices – mini, standard and deluxe. I get around 10% deluxe bookings over the year, which carry a much higher profit margin. There is also a shop in the workshop which is perfectly placed for the upsell. My customers are my best sales force – word of mouth marketing is my best marketing pillar but I have a system in place to ask people to do this for me and I reward them accordingly when they bring in additional business.
“Keeping in touch regularly – my newsletter goes out every month and I have built my database significantly with a loyal readership. Open rates depend on a killer subject line so of course I try to write one every month! I’m very conscious of the personality I have built for the business. I work hard to create and maintain a warm fuzzy feeling and build longstanding relationships with my customers.
“I’ve had great success with PR – using Twitter to build a relationship with journalists, which has got me featured in The Sun, The Independent and won me an iPad from Nigel! I regularly appear in the local papers, and never miss an opportunity to fire off a press release and mention my latest news. This has led to many bookings and keeps my profile high in the community. The EC has served me well in providing an ‘excuse’ for great copy to send in, such as winning or being nominated for prizes. My latest PR venture is into TV – an approach from a researcher led to an hour’s slot on Gala TV as the chocolate expert. It’s a bingo channel – a perfect fit for my customer avatar!
“You will see a theme emerging, and that’s my passion for providing fantastic customer experience. I speak on a regular basis about getting ‘sticky customers’. I know I get mine covered in a little chocolate and genuinely sticky, but it’s so important that we keep hold of our customers, love them lots and get them to spread their love of what we do to all their friends. I’m using my ‘sticky customer’ talk as one of the ways of spreading the news about my new business venture.
“I also wrote my first book ’12 steps to getting sticky customers’, using my 90 minute chunks to get it done. On top of this, I’ve devised a ‘WOW workout’ – a programme designed to help other business owners become brilliant at providing the best possible customer experience, and a free download ‘100 Ways to WOW’ can be found on my Dawn Fry website (nicely building on my database – as does ‘how to temper chocolate in the microwave’ free download on my chocolate website, if you are into that sort of thing!)
“All together the results have been fantastic. There has been such a surge in the workshop business on the back of all the great marketing pillars I’ve deployed, that I’ve had my busiest time ever – with a 50% increase in turnover year on year.
“Being a member of the EC has raised my aspirations and my game. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to think. I’ve done a lot of planning, tweaking and heading off in different directions over the years, but I’m focused on where I want to be in the future and the gap I need to close to get there – getting clarity on your goals is key.”
“I had been a ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ but now my business has totally changed.
I have a clear vision of the future and the path that I need to take to reach that future. Trust me, this is a great place to be and life will never be the same again. I joined the EC and I decided that I wanted to change the focus of my PR consultancy business from being just me, paid only for the hours I was doing for particular clients, to being able to help thousands of entrepreneurs and SMEs to see the value and power of PR and use it in their businesses.
“I had created the vehicle for the change; I’d been on all the courses and learned how to market myself and my business but I just couldn’t take that final leap of faith, leaving my comfort zone behind me.
“So, I put myself in the hot seat at our Godalming EC meeting and let my friends and colleagues push me to the edge. We decided I needed to get my Your Marvellous PR Toolkit printed and split into two levels, giving people the chance to work with me to implement everything they were learning from it.
“Then the big moment happened – Phil Wintermantle rang and offered me the chance to be one of only 12 exhibitors at the National Entrepreneur’s Convention in Birmingham. There would be 1,300 of my avatars, all in one place, with Nigel – who knows me well – telling them all about me and how I could help them. I had 24 hours to decide but soon came to the conclusion that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“I signed up and and over the coming days I hardly drew breath! The deadline was tight as I had less than a week to get the ads, goody bag contents, exhibition stand graphics, designs, furniture and t-shirts organised, and then only three weeks to finalise the artwork and get my Toolkits and my book, 101 Marvellous Pearls of PR Wisdom printed and delivered in time to get them to the Convention.
“I had never done anything like this for my business so everything was new and completely unknown.
The results were staggering. My sales rocketed. We sold out of Toolkits and shifted another 17 by the following Monday; our stand was swamped and we took 306 contacts for our database. We also came away with 13 retainer client prospects, so I covered the costs of exhibiting and all my set up costs for the Toolkit the within the month.
“The bigger picture is that I am now firmly on my path to becoming the go-to PR resource that I want to be. I signed up with Infusionsoft and recruited staff and spruced up my rather amateurish MailChimp email marketing campaigns, and grew my database, with thanks to my new website (www.marvellouspr.co.uk) and free e-book.
“My social media profile also skyrocketed; and thanks to the power of PR and third party endorsement I received some amazing requests for new business. Now I’m looking at working with top franchises on providing PR support, bringing together and leading a marcomms team into a promotion for a new sports sponsorship website launch, running more workshops and training programmes and continuing to sell my Toolkits to all those people who are seeing the light about the power and value of getting PR into their marketing. And, as if this isn’t enough, I still have a thriving consultancy business where we do PR for our retainer clients.
“Remember, it’s the things in life you don‘t do that you regret and it’s the same in business.”
The secret to the success of Colin and Jenni Bradford’s Magical Maths is lots of learning, followed by lots of implementing. Here’s their story…
Fresh out of university when he joined the EC with his sister Jenni, Colin Bradford ran a modest tutoring business in Leicester, Guaranteed Grades. As a private tutor, specialising in mathematics, Colin taught around 12 students and made £240 a week.
After joining the EC on a starter membership for three months, Colin soon upgraded to Mastermind. “I was straight out of university when I joined the EC, so I didn’t really know too much. I’ve learned pretty much everything that I now know about business from the EC,” Colin says “and it’s changed my life more than I could ever have believed”.
In those first few months with the EC, one of the biggest nuggets that Colin unearthed was how to delegate and prioritise his time. The clarity and focus he gained from learning how to make the most of every working hour enabled him to stop tutoring altogether. With other tutors now working with his students, Colin was able to spend more time working on his business, rather than in it.
As a result, Colin and Jenni grew Guarantee Grades and their turnover increased significantly. Not only could Guaranteed Grades be considered successful in monetary terms, but Colin and Jenny also enjoyed some great academic results – 89% of students increased their performance by one grade/level and 98% of parents reported seeing a huge confidence boost in their children.
There’s no doubt about it- this was encouraging, steady progress, but there was much more to come.
Around this time, Colin and Jenni began working on Magical Maths. Originally intended to be a small side project, Magical Maths was created with the intention of making maths fun for primary school students through after school clubs and the use of entertaining characters like Professor Poopenshtinken (the Maths Genius), Stately Holmes (the Maths Detective), the Mathmagician and the Mathletes. “Accidentally, Magical Maths ended up going really well”, Colin tells us “and it’s now become by far the biggest part of the business.
The program became extremely popular and sold out very quickly after Colin and Jenni crafted a detailed marketing funnel. Although they had budgeted £2,000 for the campaign, they actually reached stage two of their funnel with a spend of just £364 and brought 68 new schools on board – three up on their target of 65. “We knew that our average club brought in £740 in sales,” says Colin, “which worked out at almost exactly £500 in profit. So, we ended up with £50,320 in sales and £34,000 in profit. With the cost of the marketing that worked out as an ROI of 9,361%. Not bad for eight days’ work.”
Magical Maths proved to be so successful that Colin and Jenni repeated the campaign twice more, doubling their intake of students. Due to the success of Magical Maths, Colin and Jenni decided to do something that many business owners put off doing for years – they decided to raise their prices.
As is often the case, the price increase led to higher demand for their service, with customers seeing the price as an indication of the quality of tutoring that Magical Maths could offer.
“With the help and guidance of the EC we franchised the business” says Colin “and within 18 months we had over 30 successful franchisees. We do most of the marketing for them – using the stuff we’ve learned from EC – which is one of the reasons why our franchisees are now enjoying great success as well.
Now, Magical Maths is one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK, has won several major awards and continues to go from strength to strength.
Phil Kiernan own the Farmers Boy Inn, a country pub and restaurant in Gloucestershire, which is famous for its gourmet pies.
Phil has been in pub trade for 26 years! He first came across Nigel Botterill and the EC when a CD landed on his doorstep and, because he was snowed in at the time, Phil decided to watch it.
“Finding the EC has changed my whole life. 100%” says Phil “Not just the way I see things now but the whole way I feel about my business.”
A phone call from Jamie Oliver’s team…
Phil created a new business, Mad About Pies, and opened the doors to his online shop. His aim was to take The Farmers Boys famous gourmet pies and deliver them all over the UK.
Phil says that he felt he’d done everything he needed to do with Mad About Pies – his product was great – but he still had no customers. Not one.
He describes a shift that took place for him in an EC Mastermind meeting with Nigel and 8 other EC members that was the beginning of everything turning around. “I realised that I had to focus on getting customers” said Phil “and that everything else came after that. I left that meeting with a clear plan.
In fact, on the way home from the meeting he received a phone call from Jamie Oliver’s team who were putting together a series about pies and wanted to talk to him about it.
In the short time since his EC Mastermind experience, here is what Phil has achieved with his business:
- Mad About Pies now supplies local delis and farmers markets in Gloucestershire as well as Worcester Warriors Rugby club which is also a customer and Phil supplies around 1,000 pies per match
- Phil also supplies Cheltenham Town FC and many other major venues.
- BBC’s Countryfile’s presenter, Adam Hensen, is also a fan of Mad About Pies and he now stocks the range at Cotswold’s Farm Park
- His pies are now on the shelves of multiple national supermarkets
- The word certainly seems to be spreading, but that’s no surprise considering Mad About Pies was featured on TV, radio and also on the front page of all local newspapers in the space of a single week.
Staff have to do an hour’s marketing every day…
As if this wasn’t enough, Phil’s has a brand new website up and running which is already starting to bear fruit and he’s very active on social media using Facebook ads to drive traffic through to his landing pages where he can collect customer data and stay in touch. He uses videos to market the business on Facebook, too.
Each of Phil’s staff has their own Blackberry and they are expected to do an hour’s marketing each day… if they don’t, they don’t get to keep their Blackberries! This arrangement seems to be working well for everyone.
Phil uses his CRM for his email marketing and keeping in touch with his customers and prospects on a regular basis. He says “Anything Nigel tells me to implement, I implement… straight away!”
New pie factory…
Phil has just opened his new pie factory in the Forest of Dean so he’s able to take things to the next level and he already has franchisees ready to take Mad About Pies into London, South East Sussex and Surrey and Wales, too. Phil is showing no signs of slowing down as he has networking and speaking lined up.
Jaroslaw joined the EC as the head of a very small removal company employing just three people.
Jaroslaw said, “I was looking for a niche. My dream – to grow into a huge company – was big but somehow our potential customers didn’t know that; they never called, emailed or enquired. But with help of Nige’s ‘6-pack’ and all the stuff in the Vault, I redesigned the website, put some money towards PPC and created our first email campaign.
We didn’t have to wait long as within the next couple of months our turnover more than trebled.
We were absolutely overjoyed – this EC marketing stuff actually works!
It was a crazy time; we had to buy more vans, employ more people and get more storage space. It was all good until our fixed costs caught up with us. They were just so high, and we couldn’t understand it. For the first time in my career I actually sat down and looked at my cash-flow. I quickly realised that whilst I’d implemented all the ECs training on marketing I’d ignored all their lessons and teaching on the importance of knowing your numbers. For a year or so i’d just ignored my numbers – and my cash-flow. It was a crazy-dangerous move and I allowed it to really affect my business.
For the first time in my life I Googled “bankruptcy” – I felt trapped – things were spiralling out of control.”
One of the EC team recommended the Funding Circle to Jarolslaw and he applied for a £30k loan which allowed him breathing space. However, it was clear that the speed of which business was burning money was staggering.
Jaroslaw says, “I worked out that if I didn’t do something quickly my business would be dead in just four months. Change had to happen – it was a case of do or die. Working out what that ‘something’ though was tough. I knew it needed to be big, bold and sudden, but I was totally clueless as to what to do. So I turned to the EC.
I had signed up for a TEAP – an annual training pass – and had already booked on several courses – I think I did 6-7 including the Million Pound Masterplan within six weeks. It was the single best decision I had ever made. Those training courses have changed my life.”
Jaroslaw implemented a range of strategies as a result of the Million Pound Masterplan, including:
- Redesigning the offer which is now accessible online and works on all mobile devices – this was critical as analytics showed that people viewing the site from their phone weren’t staying for long.
- Creating printed quotes with multiple packages in addition to hand-written welcome letters and a 32-page info-pack.
- Redesigning all the email campaigns in InfusionSoft.
- Sending hand-written “thank you cards”, birthday cards and holiday cards as well as hampers and chocolates to all customers in UK, France and Belgium.
What was amazing was that Jaroslaw implemented all this in just a few weeks.
Before the changes, the business was pulling in about 25k a month. After the changes turnover rose by a third but this time the cash is flowing and the profit is there. That’s the big difference.
Jaroslaw knows that he’s now on the right track. He says “The EC advised me really well. Without them I would still be a man and van. I haven’t got to my “huge company” goal yet, but I’m well on the way…”
“I’ll keep this short and simple: since joining the Entrepreneurs Circle my business has skyrocketed.
EC has made me really focus on the key elements of my business which I often overlooked before or left on my ever growing to-do list.
Now I spend quality time working on developing my business, marketing my products and services and ensuring my customers remain happy even after I have produced them great video content.
The EC community is a great sounding board for advice and support, and the national events always leave me full of ideas to implement into my business.”
In November 2013, LiveLink was dying, almost terminal. It was partly due to the behaviour of the bank, partly due to me and the impact the death of my Mum had had on me.
Since 2013, how we have grown by 352% in 18 months, what we did, when we did it and what we are going to do in the future.
We may not have the most impressive growth in £ notes or % but it’s not all about that. My personal growth is impressive and the direction that LiveLink is taking is impressive. I would not have been able to make these decisions pre September 2013, before joining EC. That was our turning point. Everything changed.
Our growth period began and is continuing month on month and without the hideous peaks and troughs we had been experiencing from 2011 – 2014.
From April 2014, the growth was quite steady and gradual until February 2015 when we began to get some real traction. In April 2015 our growth leapt by 161% to this month which is 352%.
Constraints preventing growth:
- There was little or no consistency with having a part-time team and consequently, only very superficial buy-in from our team about my vision and what I wanted to achieve.
- Too many free bolt-on systems making hard work of taking a call and finding out information about the client and it was all very clunky.
- Too small an office constraining how many people worked with us which limited the number of clients that we could have.
What we did that made the difference to our growth:
- Improved communication with clients
- Worked on our customer avatar
- Changed our staffing
- Moved offices
What we did more of:
- Identified that most of our clients came from LinkedIn so wrote more content for this platform
- Pro-active strategies to keep in touch with clients
- Referral strategy
- Client upsell
- Increased prices
I mentioned at the start about this not all being about ££ and % growth, but mine too.
With the support of EC team, members and our clients, I took the decision that private healthcare is where we know we make a difference and add a huge amount of value to our client and decided to market entirely to this sector. I would never have had the confidence to market entirely to one sector before, as I was always hedging my bets, but the EC gave me confidence to do it and its paid off in spades…
On a Sunday in February I signed up for a trial membership of the Entrepreneurs Circle because I wanted to attend the Facebook Marketing course I’d seen advertised. The very next day I attended my first EC meeting and I haven’t looked back since!
My real “light bulb moment” came when I attended the most amazing business event I have ever experienced! The ECs Million Pound Masterplan event, led by Nigel, cost a fair bit of money, but I came to the conclusion that I had to go, and before the second day was over I realised I was in the wrong business altogether.
That was quite a wake-up call!
I got so much stuff done…
Days 3 and 4 of that Course were fantastic as I was able to talk to a variety of people who were experts in their field, bounce ideas off other delegates as we sat around tables implementing some of the practical stuff we had learned over the first two days, and I came away from that event having set-out my new (different) business and:
- written a script and made a marketing video
• improved my facebook adverts
• written headlines for different marketing pieces
• got some great ideas for a newsletter, and
• a list of 24 other really important things I needed to do!
3 new clients already…
But most importantly of all, within weeks I had applied some of the learning from the Entrepreneurs Circle and am heading in a completely different direction with the launch of Linda Rumbold Marketing. I’m already celebrating the acquisition of my first three clients, and have a clear plan for the future.
I have gained the confidence to believe in myself, and just go for it.
I’m certain I wouldn’t have had the confidence and belief to take such a bold step if I hadn’t joined EC and taken on board the very practical thinking, ideas and strategies and then mplemented them.
John’s success with EC has been spectacular: turnover leaping by 131% and profits rocketing by 85%. But this is not just a story of marketing implementation, as you’re about to discover how John went about changing the way he lives his life to ensure he was on the road to super success, with the right people supporting him.
John says, “Since taking the Google Adwords course I’ve spent time studying and implementing/split testing ads within my account. I studied Perry Marshall’s materials for advanced Google AdWords training, read various books on AdWords and Analytics and watched a lot of YouTube videos and am now an AdWords master. It’s revolutionised my business and has allowed me to give up networking & leaflets, freeing up time and money and giving me huge ROIs. Last time I checked it was at around 2400%. I have put my pay-per-click skills to use and have launched a new business called PPC Wizards which manages the Google accounts of businesses who use my services and I also provide one to one tuition consultancy for Google AdWords. This is a major part of the extra income I needed to meet my goals set out in the Masterplan event. Without EC, I wouldn’t have known any better.
“I created a new video for my website which has helped reduce my initial high bounce rate, and customers seem to find it interesting. It also makes me very different to most other tradesmen so it’s a great way to differentiate from the competition. Another way I differentiate is an eight step guarantee which is publicised on my website and it really does differentiate me from my competition…
“I attended Nigel’s Million Pound Masterplan Event which enabled me to think about how much I want to earn and set some goals on how to get there.
I realised that I had to create a new income stream as being a do-er wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be. I also followed up with an implementation day at Botty Towers getting videos taken and wrote two new complete sales letters. I attended one of Nige’s Induction days and still managed to take away so much from it!
This might sound like simple stuff, but before, being dragged into the daily grind of work’s day-to-day chores, I just didn’t get a real chance to sit and focus on what had to be done.
“I have employed my first member of staff and have been teaching her all the aspects of decorating so I can handle more work and spend more time doing the important stuff – such as marketing.
“After I brought my quotation form into our local meeting for critique I completely revamped it. I’m very proud of my good looking and effective quoting system. I normally send out quotes by email but I now follow up with a hard copy in the post on nice thick letterheads, in a bright green handwritten envelope, just to get it noticed – another EC trick!
I’ve also implemented minor yet significant changes like revamped business cards, email signature and social media presence; used special fonts and squiggles; re-vamped & critiqued 60 second networking speech. Every single piece of marketing I produce goes through the special checklist provided. All the small things really do add up.”
Schalk & Jana Meyer are the proud owners of the Kip McGrath Tuition Franchise in Brentwood, Essex. Bigger than 80% of its local primary schools, it proudly holds the title as the biggest Kip franchise in the world.
Schalk and Jana passionately embraced teaching and as a result grew student numbers However they thought they couldn’t ‘break through the ceilings’ of space, territory and workforce, so they decided to further their business careers by starting a second business involving their second passion: food.
And that’s how the South African Food Company was born; with the aim of producing and selling authentic, ready-prepared South African food to national supermarkets – allowing Schalk and Jana to grow the business without restrictions of area and numbers.
Schalk says “Before we knew it, we’d taken on two completely opposite businesses in two of the most regulated industries in the UK! If we been with the EC at that point, we would have known that one of the keys to success is focus and synergy between multiple businesses – neither of which we had at that time.
We built a production kitchen, launched a line of 23 recipes and began selling directly to customers online, as well as delis, farm shops and Co-op supermarkets. We won many awards and were inundated with praise and positive feedback. However, the food industry is unfortunately a numbers game and with spiralling costs we came dangerously close to losing everything. It was then that we learned that on the road to success you sometimes need to evaluate whether you’re in the right vehicle and are on the right route. We weren’t, and so we took the brave decision to make some changes.”
Schalk and Jana began by closing down the Food Company and returned focus to Kip McGrath. Jana says, “By this time, the EC had equipped us with the skills and know-how to take the business to the next level. We applied a principle that Nigel teaches “The distinct difference between me and my competitors is that we think BIG”.
Instead of being limited by our physical space, we expanded and took on the premises downstairs; doubling our floor space and providing us with magnificent window frontage.
We also designed and fitted a bespoke learning environment, complete with a converted VW Campervan as one of the teaching “pods”, and recruited more brilliant teachers, so that we were able to stop teaching ourselves in order to focus on managing and marketing the business.
“Following the ECs advice we introduced Infusionsoft as our CRM system. It’s enabled us to implement systems that effectively run the business without us being involved in every step. I invested many hours on InfusionSoft – it was so worthwhile because we’ve now got automated systems for so much of the business, just as EC teaches.”
Schalk continues the story. “Our next challenge was to remove our so-called limitations as a franchise – we have done so with a vengeance. We started scaling our business by offering our services directly to schools during the day, and expanded our range of services by launching a ‘Getting Ready for School” course for pre-schoolers.
We introduced more lessons at alternative times and increased additional educational events like 11+ mock exams from two to 14 per year, as well as more writing workshops, holiday programs, Kip club and revision courses. The sky’s the limit, but we also realised that we need some time out to reflect why we started the business and what we really wanted to get out of it.”
“My sister joined the EC and for a few months I had to listen to her ranting on about how good it was, what a great bloke Nigel is, not to mention her 30% increase in profits. But I was deeply sceptical.
After much persuasion I decided to come along with her to an event and see what all the fuss was about. I was hooked…
Sitting in a room surrounded by around 600 likeminded business owners – you could feel the energy. Nigel came out on stage (turbo charged) and just held everyone’s attention with his wise ‘nuggets’ of advice and examples of what YOU can do to make YOUR business SUPER SUCESSFUL.
One important thing about these events is that they are fun 🙂 It’s not some boring seminar with people looking at their watches, yawning and wondering what time it will finish – it’s a fast paced, interactive, information packed day that makes you think ‘Hey, I could do that in my business’.
The local monthly meetings are always something to look forward to – so much learning and ideas. The ones I’ve found most useful have been about:
1. Improve customer service
2. Fine tune the look and content of your website
3. Growing your database
4. Following up on enquires better to turn them into sales
That’s only a small sample – there’s been lots more.
The main thing I have learned though is to spend time thinking about how to do things differently – and then DO THEM. Being different from everyone else in your industry can make a massive difference. It’s surprising how a few small gestures and simple things can make a BIG impact on your business and allow you to take special care of your customers and ultimately, your future.”
When I first started JP Hay Lettings in July 2011 I had no clear idea in regards to how I was going to market, grow and get new customers without spending a whole lot of money.
Whilst at a networking event I was talking to a gentleman and expressing my frustrations as to how I knew a lot of marketing was common sense but I just didn’t know where to start. He recommended something called the Entrepreneur’s circle that sounded like just help I may be looking for.
I was hooked…
He sent me a link and I signed up for the two month free trial and attended the local meeting. From the moment the session started I was hooked. Being someone who has a Law Degree I really enjoy learning new things and I was soaking up the information like I sponge.
Upon leaving the meeting I was very motivated and wanted to go into the office and start implementing immediately. Every month since then I get that same buzz from what I learn. But it isn’t just the learning. You have to implement if it’s going to make a difference.
It took me a while to move away from being a ‘doer’ to becoming a marketer of my business but now I to stick to my 90 minutes of concentrated effort working ON my business every day and the results speak for themselves. EC has been worth at least £10,000 per month turnover to me as a result of what I’ve done since I joined, which is amazing and makes it a very good investment of my time and money.
Changed my way of thinking…
I believe in what Nigel and the EC teaches because they’ve has been there and done it! I am not going to say it is easy because you have to be prepared to put the work in to get the benefit out but I believe that if it wasn’t for the Entrepreneur’s circle my business wouldn’t be anywhere close to where it is today.
Thank you to the EC. You have changed my way of thinking, my business and my lifestyle.
In his first two years since joining EC, James has been busy working ON his business, not in it.
James says, “It’s been a whirlwind of activity but I’m enjoying it so much and to be honest it’s turned the business round completely.
I do my 90 minutes pretty much every day. It’s enabled me to get loads of stuff done that has really moved the business forward:
- Employed the services of a 24hr UK call centre to ensure we capture all the data from every call and to alleviate the time pressure on my part time office manager
- Recruited our first Apprentice, John, who has worked out really well
- Recruited another full time technician who is a plumber and a qualified carpenter and he is also training as a gas engineer
- Outsourced HR to keep us in line with legislation, due to my expanding workforce
- Outsourced a bookkeeper to better manage my cash flow and to know how much profit I can invest to hit my 130% t/o increase target
- Recruited a full time Gas Safe engineer to strengthen our service offering
- Wrote two new recruitment ads, which have elicited response from some great people.
Website and social media:
- Filmed two video testimonials and put these on our website; I also changed the position and prominence of our testimonials page
- Filmed a series of five videos which are online and the first one is on the home page
- Invested in a company Facebook page, Twitter site, YouTube Channel, Google places, Google +, Flicker and LinkedIn. (This could actually count for 7 actions implemented really!)
- Set up a Google AdWords campaign with the help of Google
- Set up a LinkedIn PPC campaign
- Set up Google analytics
- Implemented 16 improvements to our website.
- Read Dan Kennedy’s managing people and profits book: it’s a great book
- Read “Delivering Happiness”
- Listened to Tom Hopkins Selling CD, Zig Zigglar’s “How To Get What You Want” and Jim Rohn’s “Art of Exceptional Living.”
- Read Brian Tracey’s “Eat that Frog” and “I Can Make You Rich” by Paul McKenna
- Started two new personal disciplines.
Sales and marketing
- Written a one minute presentation for networking meetings
- Carried out a customer spend analysis to establish my 80/20 split and used the data to create the Trust Club, an exclusive club for top 17% of my customers
- Had my first press release published in the Northampton Business Time
- Written a script for the technicians to use when greeting customers; this incorporates the referral scheme mentioned earlier. The winner gets a weekend away with a convertible. There is a minimum level to achieve for all
- Designed and printed (for free) business cards for the technicians, to make them feel even more professional
- Designed a leaflet to drop around the houses that we are working on with an Ad tracker number from the firm in Botty Rules (cheers for the deal, Nige!)
- Set up a referral scheme
- Designed a direct response ad for a village mag going to 8500 homes with an idea from Bill Glazer’s “Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful” book, and published an article in YourPropertyNetwork magazine, a national property investor magazine
- Created a new incentive scheme following on from my employee costs analysis as per Dan’s book.
- Systemised my induction process for new customers
Customer numbers up, sales up, turnover up, confidence up, profits up, enjoyment up. EC works!
“Now I’m not some happy-clappy acolyte that believes that if I just put a smile on my mooey everything will be just ducky.
This is a tough economic environment, and all around us businesses are going under, but I truly believe that the Entrepreneur’s Circle has motivated and inspired me and my business, and keeps on doing it month after month.
We can all get inspirational and creative every now and again, but it’s staying that way constantly – every week and every month – that keep me focussed. And that’s what Nigel and the Entrepreneur’s Circle excel at.
The EC meetings are informative, entertaining and free. The national events are like a rally – hundreds of business owners all charged up to make a difference – to work smarter, faster and of course make more money which is ultimately what I do this for – to give my family the life they deserve.
Whatever it is in life, if you want to do something better you need to learn and work at it.
Be it chess, quantum mechanics or Karate you need to read the right material, learn from the experts and put the knowledge into action.
So many businesses feel they can muddle through and figure it out as they go along. The truth is you can, but it’s a damn hard slog and I don’t envy you the task.
On the other hand you can learn from someone who really knows their stuff, will give you the edge and the business and life you want.
And for me, that’s Nigel and the EC”
* Yes, that really is his name, no extra ‘e’ or any fancy pronunciations just With. It’s weird we know, but go with it. He does know a bit about marketing, design and branding. He is also the resident branding expert in Talk Business Magazine so he must know what he’s talking about.
“I joined the EC after signing up for a trial. Although I had a successful property company, I felt I had hit a mental ceiling. I felt that having a super-successful business was for other people, not for the likes of me. All through school I was told I was stupid by parents, peers and teachers. And believe me, after 16 years of hearing this you start to believe it. However, I always had something inside me that I couldn’t explain; a certain feeling that I couldn’t quite identify. It was only when I was tested for dyslexia at the age of 24 that I changed my outlook on life due to a comment by the dyslexia examiner: “Your strengths totally outweigh your weaknesses. If you focus on what you’re good at, it will more than compensate for what you are poor at.” For me, this was profound stuff. Maybe I wasn’t stupid after all. Maybe I just had to do things differently. This was in the second year of my management degree. In the first year I was an average student, but in the second year (after my change of perspective) I won student of the year and achieved the best results in the history of the course. I hadn’t become more intelligent – in fact I now had a certificate to say how stupid I was. I simply changed my perspective.
“I’d made mistakes in business up to this point and although they were costly they were salvageable. But I knew that serious mistakes at the next level might cost me my business. That’s when I sought out the EC.
“My time in the EC has changed my perception from “not being capable of having a super successful business” to one of “this is why I exist”. This change occurred about two hours into the Masterplan event. Along with the Franchise Blueprint Bootcamp, these have been instrumental in giving me the focus to take the business forward. I have always had the drive and ambition to do it, I just lacked the knowledge. So, what have I done since joining the EC? Here’s a list!
“I developed a series of business opportunity products that sold for up to £2,000 each and provided ongoing monthly income. I repositioned the company from providing local property services to one which teaches other UK property companies how to run and grow their own businesses.
“Our newsletter, Landlord Insight, has been very popular since I started it and has got us many new clients.
New national company:
“I developed a new online property business, The Good Scottish Property Company, in which every customer gets to pick from four different charities to donate to with each purchase made through the site. This stops the geographical limits that my current property business has and gives us a nationwide reach.
“Once I got over the “customers won’t pay more” fallacy, we introduced premium management packages. This helped us reposition ourselves as a more high-end agent. I learned never to underestimate just how many customers were willing to pay for premium services. There is an unofficial industry ceiling on monthly management fees of 15% of rental income; however our VIP packages equated to an average of 17.5% and 22.5% of monthly rent, which made a massive different to our profitability. This exclusivity actually helped attract more landlords than we otherwise got trying to compete for the mass market.
“We introduced a strict application process for new landlords, rather than just taking on anyone, so we could determine whether they would be good landlords or not in order to future-proof problems. A massive step for us was taking the decision to weed out 58 of our worst landlords (costing us £3,500 a month in income). This step has made our staff happier and frees up a lot of time to concentrate on the clients who want to look after their properties and tenants (the 80/20 principle definitely applies here).
“There are so many success stories in the EC with very impressive statistics. Yes, I have some of these stats but it’s not something I focus on too much -sticking to your strengths, remember? There are numbers that are important to me – for instance, securing out largest client to date, our best month for new landlords to date and hitting our fully managed property targets.
Finally, the basics:
“These are the important things: CRM software, 90 minutes, systems, goal setting and good copy – these all make the business effective and drive growth. There are no magical secrets of success, but the basics matter. The EC teaches and reinforce the things that are just so valuable to any business – and which most business owners just don’t focus on”
“I can only describe joining Entrepreneurs Circle as being one of the single best decision I have ever made for my company. T
he way I think of it is that it is a course, a learning experience, an education.
I am a very good Architect, but it took me seven years study and a hell of a lot of experience to become one. I am becoming a very good business owner, but until the EC I never studied how to become one.
You may be the best at what you do but that doesn’t make you the best at marketing and selling what you do!
Of course, I muddled through, and was seeing some growth but I was killing myself to get there. With the EC, it just seemed to get a lot easier.
There is no magic in it. All they will do is show you how to work smarter. Teach you tricks, and some great tools that you can apply straight away.
A lot of it you may already know, but with the EC, it’s not just knowing, it’s the doing – and doing it well.
I know I will leave EC at sometime in the future, because in my opinion if you needed it forever, you can’t be doing it right. However, I’m still really enjoying it. I love the monthly magazine, I’ve been to all the national events, and I really take as much out of it as I can.
I say this honestly: I only wish I’d known about it sooner.”
“My first two sales were achieved shortly after I joined EC in October 2012.
I remember having a 1:1 with Nigel, when he asked me : ‘Why are you not selling yet?’
I replied “I thought that was hard work as this would mean delivering goods’.
My first order of three pallets was placed in November ’12. I had to produce all of the importation papers and register for customs clearance, but more importantly – I landed my first two customers!
Within 3-4 months I gained around 30 customers (independent retailers) by doing exactly what EC advised me to. I sent them beautifully wrapped parcels, followed up by a letter, then a phone call, and setting up the meeting if they were interested.
My conversion rate then was 33% which I had thought was pretty good.
In Spring 2013, after months of following up my first leads from the trade shows in the previous year, I managed to secure a contract with one of the largest distributors in the UK, who has some 800 independent shops that he was distributing too.
A week later I secured my first overseas contract with El Corte ingles (The Spanish flagship department store Gourmet club). I blame my good website for this – I was first noticed at the show but then easily found on Google. Prompt and enthusiastic conversations with this senior buyer have brought me a huge contract: some £60k per year in the first year.
This project didn’t go without difficulties , as many emails were translated from Spanish, the stickers were designed in Spanish, we were fighting the floods of biblical proportions in Serbia and Croatia that spring, to bring the first El Corte Ingles order of juices (half a lorry size – worth 30k) first to Dover then to Madrid. It all arrived on time!
In parallel , we had inquiry from Luxembourg chain of restaurants, who ordered pallets of goods , and still do ( each pallet is worth approx 2k). So my ,shy English business has overnight grown into International!
Each year I have continued to attend the trade shows as they were my main source of good quality leads. I was getting so well prepared for he shows ( uploading all the products info on the show website was one of them) so that the leads could find us and understand what we offer.
Next thing that happens, I am on a plane to Serbia, to meet the ‘Dragons’ of new owners of my manufacturer – who happen to be giants! Now, working with the ‘giants’ could be very difficult thing – lets be clear. They have their rules and procedures. And, you have to fit into their expansion plans of taking over the world with jams and juices- although you are the buyer!
So, I had some of the toughest negotiations in my business so far, as I wanted to win them over for the America’s market. Call me crazy but I just love it!
I’ve got some big plans for the next two years but they require us to ‘step up’ to another level. The changes would have to be:
a) The money – invoice discounting or larger bankers overdraft, terms of payments negotiated; We had to watch our fixed costs until established fully in the new premises.
b) the bigger premises – we have found the new 3 times larger warehouse and the same 3 times larger office, moving in December’15!
c) more staff -we are recruiting for 2 more staff – bringing the total to 5 staff and 2 directors. I will be in my castle – conference room with no one else so that I can do my marketing and planning for the expansion.
What is next? Yes, in the meantime we attracted one on line store in Hong Kong, and there is some talk on some of our business partners trying to get into China. But, hold our horses – we don’t go there as yet….I need a drink!
The times have never been harder or more exciting! We are only a small team but with big dreams and plans!
And we work so hard. What I enjoy most – is the challenge of ‘Getting’ the New customer – big or small…”
Business is all about relationships – something that David Garcia-Gonzalez knows only too well, as he has been able to significantly grow his business because of the relationships and connections that he has forged over his years in the media industry. David set up his own voice-over and translation business, GoLocalise, after gaining experience at some of the biggest audiovisual localisation companies in the world, as well as providing voiceovers for huge names such as Discovery Channel Spain, MTV, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
“I realised that after having learned from some of the top companies in the industry, I could offer a better service,” David says. “Although I was never going to beat them in price, I could beat them with a personal touch and top-notch quality. I applied what I learned from the big players in the market and mixed it with a dedicated personal boutique approach.”
David cultivated his business and nurtured the relationships that he had developed during his media career in order to grow a successful business, but when it was time to move up a gear, David joined EC. He didn’t waste any time before implementing marketing templates and saw great results from using the 80 Hour Cash Machine.
Sending out the done-for-you email sequence and getting in touch with his customers meant that David was able to re-engage with three clients and book three jobs straight away. “It was amazing, given that I did it during one of our quietest times of the year,” he says.
David’s dedication to preserve good connections with past clients and colleagues is something that he has given a lot of thought to. He says, “I strongly believe that maintaining relationships in a genuine way is a great way to do business. I keep in touch with former bosses, employers, colleagues, suppliers and even university professors and teachers. By being ‘out there’ nurturing those relationships, and offering assistance, whether through paid or unpaid jobs I have built a network of trusted industry professionals and contacts.”
David landed two new clients for GoLocalise, each placing orders worth £50,000 and £20,000 respectively. It took six months of negotiations, phone calls, emails and sales pitches, but David made it happen – something that he attributes to staying focused on the philosophy behind his business.“It’s important to have a clear philosophy for your business and to really believe in it,” says David. “I always make sure that my network understands that we offer a personalised ‘boutique’ service to absolutely every single one of our clients and that we work hard to meet stringent deadlines, all the while maintaining our quality standards. Our ethos is ‘no job is too small, and each job is as important as another’.”
Much new business has come as a result of referrals. David says “I’ve had several prospects say to me ‘Mr. So-and-So’ just couldn’t emphasise enough how important it was for them to call me as I would likely have the solution they were looking for. Building that bridge with that person drove a lot of traffic my way, which wouldn’t have come otherwise.”
“The next time temptation arises to burn a bridge or even let it fall into disrepair, take a moment and realise there’s a reason for a bridge’s existence. Once a bridge is gone, it’s very difficult to cross the gap.”
David is now putting into practice the lessons he’s learned at EC and is continuing to work towards his long term vision for Go Localise – to grow exponentially, open up offices around the world and be amongst the market leaders in the localisation field.
“In the last couple of years, I have had grand plans of becoming an entrepreneur. I am not really interested in the ‘work hard every minute to get a nice car’ type of entrepreneur. For me it’s all about quality of life. We only get one life and time is the most valuable thing we have.
In the last 12 months I have made a list of exactly 152 ‘muse’ (potential businesses) ideas! Some of these have actually been created independently by other people since I thought of them and they are now making lots of money from them. How many have I tried and succeeded or failed at?
None! This made me a ‘Wantrepreneur’. But then I changed.
“After seeing Nigel Botterill give a talk, I joined the EC. Nigel is a lot like Marmite. You either like his style or you don’t. I find his energy makes me want to go out and make changes myself, and that’s good enough for me!
“This is my challenge: My One Month of Business Implementation
“What is it?
I’m going to spend every working day (Monday to Friday) implementing changes in my business. These are all of the things that I know I should be doing, but never seem to find the time to do.
I will be improving and optimising my current business. Implementing as many of the things I know that I should be doing as I possibly can in the 23 working days . I will also be starting up at least two new areas of business along the way.
No working at the weekends.
No working in the evening (a bad habit of mine that my wife loves!)
Strict time slots for everything (will be trying out the Pomodoro technique as well as (10+2) x5).
“When does this start? The beginning of next month? From next Monday? Nope, today. Not putting anything off any longer.
“Day 1 is creating a whole website (which didn’t exist at all until today) and planning out the month ahead. I’m sure things will change around a bit as I go, but I’m off on the journey!
Here’s what happened, in a kind of order-ish!
•Set up blog to document my ‘Implementation’ effort
•Set up a structure and plan to achieve as much as possible in a 1 month period
•Sent out an email campaign to introduce people to www.christmaspartymagician.co.uk
•Tried to find an app developer to produce my iPhone magic ideas using my personal contacts
•Tried to find a suitable app developer on Elance
•Added contact forms to all of my WordPress websites (this has significantly optimised initial communication with clients)
•Improved current Google Places entry
•Added Google Places entries for different aspects of my business
•Attended a couple of business conferences (mainly on marketing)
•Developed a new magic promotion(this is a big commitment and needed lots of planning to get it right)
•Set up a few geeky tools on my iPhone so that I am not notified every time someone emails me, but I am notified if anyone makes an enquiry about my magic that I should respond to quickly
•Spent a lot of time changing, optimising and tweaking several different Google AdWords campaigns (I’ve learned more this month than in the last two years of AdWords tinkering)
•Experimented with hiring someone to do telesales for seasonal gigs.
•Created several new adverts to go into various publications
•Created trackable QR codes to go on these adverts, to see which forms of marketing are working and which are not.
•Edited a brand new magic promotional video together to promote www.christmaspartymagician.co.uk (this was a massive achievement, it is a huge improvement on the few shot clips I had previously)
•Went to a couple of business networking events
•Did more in terms of social media than I have done previously, but lots of it has just been ‘broadcast’. I’ve not had the time to engage with other much.
•Set up a shiny new CRM system (another one of the biggies that I’m particularly proud of. I’ve been putting this off for SO long!)
•Stated an argument on Facebook (sorry)
•Made lots of little changes to my targeted websites to improve their effectiveness.
•Had to deal with an ongoing increase in enquiries because of all of the changes. I estimate this is around a 400% improvement on previous enquiry rates!
•Tried hard to stick to the mantra, “Good enough is good enough”
•Achieved regular increases in booking fees without raising any prices by introducing optional upsells that are of great value to my customers.
•Went to a 4Networking Business breakfast
•Created a quick reference index card to quick data entry from telephone calls
•Went to a couple of different meetings to demonstrate my magic. Both resulted in gigs.
•70% of the way towards selling a brand new non-magic related product
•Lots of competitor and SEO research for the new product
•Lots of competitor and SEO research for other magicians
•Told my first app idea to the developer I most wanted to work with. He’s really into the idea too! We’re about 40% of the way towards getting the idea into the app store.
•Organised a photo-shoot for the new website (I hate this type of thing and put it off for about three years )
“Before this month, I would have sworn that time was my biggest obstacle.
This month I had the enlightening experience of removing time as an excuse!
The result was surprising to me, but I’m sure not to others who have ‘been there and done that’. The reason that I have a huge list of ideas that I’m not doing anything with is that doing anything with them is scary! Lists of multimillion pound ideas that may make you rich some day is perversely comforting. Taking one of these ideas and actually getting the actual thing onto the actual market for actual customers to actually part with their money for is terrifying! I guess it depends on your background how much of a leap that is, but it’s been a big one for me. I had a couple of huge attacks of self doubt that made me want to throw in the towel and hide under the duvet. I’m glad that I stretched out of my comfort zone as far as I did this month, but there’s still a fair way to go. I’ll get there though.”
“Since joining the Entrepreneur’s Circle in August 2010, my core accountancy practice has grown by over 64% but, in addition, I enjoy what I do far more now.
The change isn’t just down to one thing; there’ve been lots of small changes that I have made based on Nigel’s comments and teachings and collectively they’ve transformed my business.
My time management is also much better, as I now have clear goals and know that Nigel and the whole EC team want my business to succeed (almost) as much as I do.
As well as some invaluable 1 to 1’s with Nigel there is so much information in The Vault and also in the monthly magazine.
I am much better at marketing which is something Nigel knows all about, and is a vital area for all business owners – often more interesting than what we actually do! Which has given me the confidence to launch a new business/brand, Frank Reporting, to provide management information to businesses.
I have a long way to go but we’ve moved into new premises now and taken on more staff and I know that the EC will support me now I have moved up to this next level.”
When Lucy joined the EC her dance school Flair School of Dance was making her only £20,000 a year. But Lucy got busy and she has taken her humble dance studio business to incredible new heights: creating seven new companies, which are all turning over healthy business. She has stopped starting sentences with the words ‘Somebody should…’ and replaced them with ‘I’m going to…’
Lucy says, “I came away from an EC ‘Why Now’ Event feeling incredibly enthused and I started to spend 90 minutes at least three times a week focusing on how to grow, diversify and expand my business – just like Nige says!
I started to think like a business owner for the first time rather than a dance teacher.
Her learning at the EC helped her expand to four branches with sales of over £6,500 per month quickly and she also put into action seven business ideas that had been squirreled away in the back of her brain.
The first one of these was the Little Acorns Preschool Dance. This was a fun-filled 45 minutes of ballet, tap and modern dance for children and their grownups. She established 10 branches and more under a franchise model, as well as earning royalties from music she created herself.
Lucy says, “I also worked with a contact to win a contract to provide dance in schools and from this set up Dance Works, a company providing dance training in education for Key Stage 1 and 2 Students. We work alongside primary schools as a specialist in developing national curriculum dance lessons in partnership with the teachers in primary schools. We also started delivering Twilight Training for the entire teaching body and ran an after school club for students at the school.
“Shortly after the contract was awarded we learnt that the Government had extended the budget to cover a seven year period. An additional 20 schools came on board meaning and we soon turned over an additional £40,000 which is growing all the time. We anticipate more schools will come on board meaning that the actual turnover will increase even more.
“Using Nigel’s swipe and deploy model, I took something from the EC and came up with Dance Vault. This was an online subscription-based website providing lesson plans, royalty-free music, cross curricular applications and much more, all aimed at enriching the content of dance classes provided in education. The Dance Vault flourished through the PASS partner schools that we worked with.
“In addition, I also set up ‘Dance Class in a Box’ which is a comprehensive resources pack, offered across three pricing tiers and which comprise the ‘best bits’ from the Dance Vault in one ‘ready to go’ box. In the first month we turned over £1000 and we offer it as an upsell as well as an alternative to each and every primary school in the country when pitching the Dance Vault to them.
“In addition to the preschool classes, I also devised and set up LA Dance Academy, which is a step on from the Little Acorns classes. LADA offers three hours of training on a Saturday morning to develop students in all aspects of dance. This is aimed at helping them on towards a place at dance college and ultimately a career as a professional dancer. Classes are strictly limited but they come at a premium of £325 a term. With 15 students in each of the three ‘levels’ within the Academy, LADA is on target to turnover £44,000. We are looking at opening a second Academy and the ultimate aim is to franchise this model too, both of which would of course increase the turnover exponentially.
“We also made the most of the 7,000 dance costumes belonging to Flair School of Dance by cataloguing the entire collection for hire out through an online shop, Costume Flair. And we started yet another venture: Dancing on Rice, dance lessons for brides and grooms who don’t want to feel awkward for their first dance.
“It is not by accident that I have started seven new companies and expanded the original one so aggressively. ‘The EC has played a big part in my path. It changed my way of thinking and the way I live my life.
I realised that I had limited myself over the previous decade. It was the EC that got me thinking and behaving like an entrepreneur and once I’d got the bit between my teeth, things really gathered momentum. I’ve made myself accountable to the EC and with the support I have had from other EC members and the team at Botty Towers, I have found the courage to jump into the unknown and really chase my dreams.
In short I’ve realised that the possibilities are as endless as my imagination and being a creative sort I’ve always had an imagination that’s tended to run away with me. Thanks to the EC though, I’m now running away with it too!”
David and Marie Cross have turned their business, First Impression Training, around and been able to enjoy some family quality time, all in less than three years.
“We’ve committed laser-light focus, energy and hard graft to bring our vision and goals to life,” Marie says. “Having reflected on just how much we’ve achieved already we are starting to feel not only immensely proud (albeit knackered!) of the work we’re putting in to ensure we achieve our goals but more importantly, we’re starting to feel like we’re really running a “proper pukka business” for the first time since our launch.”
David and Marie launched First Impression Training fourteen years ago, on the back of Marie’s successful freelance career working for other training companies. The couple have since been learning, implementing, and growing F.I.T. into a solid, successful business.
“We spent nine hours locked in a room at the Hilton Hotel in Maidstone to scope and plan what we wanted in both their professional and personal lives. This was our “Eureka!” meeting. We built a vision board to hold ourselves accountable, and set to work growing F.I.T. We weren’t modest with our plans. Our business goal was £500k of business in the first year or our new operations.”
David and Marie have been busy using referrals, Google, and their current customers to bring in new business.
“We forged a strategic partnership with a large public training provider to pitch for potential clients in our niche, and the first opportunity to come through was massive for us!” Marie tells us. “We’ve also had a lovely new business enquiry via a Google search that would be huge for F.I.T.”
The team have also been busy implementing some killer marketing strategies to get them closer to their vision board goals. Marie tells us, “We’ve updated the website again to offer more free lead bait, resources and videos, as well as making sure it was optimised for mobiles. We’ve also set up a few PPC campaigns, and we’ve seen the fruits of David’s SEO labour coming through.”
But it doesn’t end there for David and Marie. The dynamic duo has also been working hard on two marketing campaigns that are both yielding great results. The first, a video brochure campaign for their Dreamlist; the second, a four-stage campaign to pre-qualified leads, including a tear-sheet, sales letter and audio-card.
The F.I.T. team has also grown, with David and Marie taking on a full-time employee as well as two new F.I.T. associates to help drive their marketing efforts. Their hard work has been rewarded with numerous awards.
As far as personal goals, the couple wanted to free up their time at weekends, so they recruited a housekeeper and gardener, and celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a big family party abroad; their business achievements enabled them to do this, as well as invest in their own personal skills, such as Marie’s Mindfulness and Reiki Masters training.
Former fireman Terry Gormley, is a role model for anyone who wants to implement and make changes in their business.
Here’s some of the things he’s implemented in his first few months since joining EC.
- Uses a voice recorder to enable him to outsource his admin to a virtual assistant
- Created a membership site, has set himself up across the various social media channels including Twitter, Facebook (which boasts a landing page with a data capture element feeding directly into Infusionsoft), LinkedIn and YouTubeStarted video marketing: not only in terms of delivering training via video but also by using video testimonials in his marketing. Terry has received thousands of testimonials which is impressive
- Collected over 2,000 email addresses through his website in the last 12 months; he’s put a solid guarantee in place, mastered the art of writing effective sales letters with Copy Secrets and started using Screencast and Camtasia to deliver high quality online training
- Uses Infusionsoft for his business and he’s had a 969% ROI from his Google Adwords activity
- Implemented re-marketing and tracking numbers…
As a result, he tracks the results of all his marketing activity (31,241% ROI overall) and he’s got a great PR strategy in place with a couple of celebrities endorsing him. Rachel Elnaugh can be seen putting out a fire on his website and Ken Morley from Coronation Street thinks he’s pretty great too
He’s implemented squeeze pages, a WordPress blog, DVD training products – one of which is a premium product, – Google analytics, Google Places and Facebook Ads.
Oh, and he’s run a Marathon and come in as 2nd in a Mixed Martial Arts competition too…
“Joining the EC has made a massive difference” says Terry. “It gets you focused on the things that really make a difference, whatever business you’re in…”
Glenn tells the story of EweMove, a business with a clear mission to rid the UK of disreputable estate agents by providing a genuinely honest and transparent alternative.
“Our journey so far has been incredible; we are truly shaking up the boring world of estate agency! We’ve gone from blank piece of paper to being the fastest growing estate agency franchise in the UK, and being No. 1 rated by customers on Trust Pilot.
Yes, there have been times that have been challenging but we’ve had the support of Nigel and the EC team to help us and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
“We’re competing against big established estate agents or new agents with multi-million pound budgets but we’re not afraid to be different and our rapid, organic growth shows that customers love our fresh approach to estate agency.
“When we started, our turnover was nil. Now, thanks to the EC and incessant implementation, we’re extremely proud to be turning over well into seven figures.
“It started with a ‘soft’ pilot franchise launch, and we didn’t imagine how phenomenal our growth would be. We now have over 90 franchisees and what we’re really proud of is the fact that our ‘early adopters’ are expanding, taking on staff and buying additional territories.”
“This success wouldn’t have been achieved without all of the innovative marketing ideas that have been put in place. Here’s some of our successful marketing developments:
- Happy Sale Guarantee, Happy Buyer Guarantee, Happy Landlord Guarantee: we’re the first and only estate agent in the UK to offer these customer guarantees, which remove risk for customers and help our franchisees gain trust and win more business.
- Online Live Chat; we average over 2,000 chat engagements per month. During one month 50% of our chat enquiries came outside normal office hours, helping us win more business when our competitors were shut. Franchisees have earned thousands of pounds of business thanks to Yomdel chat leads.
- Unbranded Squeeze Pages, Killer Lead Magnet Reports and our Amazing Book and DVD The 39 Steps to a Successful House Sale! The results of this are incredible, 11,476 seller leads and 4,688 landlord leads have been generated using this funnel. The book or ‘Weapon of Mass Instruction’ is personalised to each Branch Director; over 10,000 copies have been printed and we’re on the 2nd Edition. It’s also available on Amazon.
- Trust Pilot Review Platform; At the end of June we integrated our website with Trust Pilot the independent review platform to see how customers reviewed the service delivered by franchisees, we know from Nigel and the EC team how powerful a good testimonial can be but the level and quality of the reviews, quite frankly, knocked our socks off.
- We constantly update our website: we’ve invested thousands of pounds to develop it further, and it allows visitors to book their own viewing appointments, make an offer or application for a property, pay rent and report repairs at a time that’s convenient for the buyer or tenant; when most of our competitors are closed.
“We do everything we can to help our franchisees succeed because we understand that we only benefit if they are successful, so we’re mutually committed to their success.
We know that their first year of business will be the hardest so we do everything we can to support them. But what our franchisees really need help with is their marketing, so we take care of that too!
All new franchisees follow our award -winning marketing launch plan, ‘The Lean Green Marketing Machine’, a “Done For You” service provided by the marketing team at HQ. It helps them become established in their areas – it won Silver at the prestigious Estate Agency of the Year Awards.
It all started at the end of 2013.
I’d regretted not joining EC Mastermind before so I applied immediately when it was announced. By January and the first Mastermind meeting I realised that if I wanted to achieve my goals for 2015 I had to step it up somewhat.
With that in mind I used Mastermind to try and develop myself and the business.
I understood that there was no point in being amazing at something if you couldn’t find enough people to buy what you were selling but I was also conscious that we needed to be the best at what we did too. I felt we were really good at what we did but I also knew we could improve and boy, have we!
I still have the original piece of paper from when we started FinderMonkey in 2007 that says “To be the best, most customer focused, people-tracing company in the UK” and I think, with all the help and pointers we’ve had from EC we’ve achieved that now.
To give you some indication of how far we’ve come, here’s a list of just some of the things we’ve done in the last 12 months:
- We’ve added Case studies and testimonials to the website and our email sequence to give potential customers a feel for what it’s like to work with us.
- Our TV Show ‘Family Finders’ demonstrated our customer service levels first hand, it showed anyone who was thinking of using our service that we take their search extremely seriously and offer a level of skill and professionalism they were not going to find anywhere else
- We employed two new people with massive customer service experience to process our customer flow from start to finish, their remit is to keep our customers happy
- We’ve added a new process to ensure that any customer with an ongoing search received a weekly update to inform them of the work that had taken place on their case that week
- We are now using Barefoot Funnels ( a business we’ve met through EC) to work on the processes for live cases so that these updates happen automatically
- We’ve improved the functionality of the website to ensure that customers can find the service that is most relevant to their needs. We’ve also made the site mobile friendly
- For our team of researchers we’ve improved all scripts for various situations. We’ve created an ‘Aftercare’ pack that explains the best way to contact the person we have found for them so that this process runs smoothly. This also includes examples of what other people have done in a similar situation
- We have improved staff training to make sure that our team are training in dealing with difficulty calls and situations and can empathise with each customer. This included sending team members on EC Training courses.
- We Added video to our pre sales process to ensure customers can see examples of our work
- We now provide people with a same day response by telephone when they enquire about our service. This is backed up with an email campaign which explains more about our service
- Each customer now has a full consultation with a trained member of the team at the start of the work to find out what their needs and expectations are to make sure we can meet those needs through the services we provide
- We now Ensure the accuracy of information supplied by verifying data from multiple sources and consequently we provide a full guarantee for all work we do
- Once a customer’s report is written it is now checked by another member of the team to make sure all the information is accurate and all spelling and grammar is checked
- We now monitor the length of time it takes to start a case and keeping clients involved in that part of the process
- We now offer an intermediary service to all customers and offer recommendations on their next course of action depending if the trace was successful or not
- We have also taken measures to ensure our service levels are met regardless of if we are dealing with a customer a supplier or anyone else. This lead to us being selected for a second series of Family Finders
Overall, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved so far…
In 1982 I bought a closed down 24 cover Restaurant in Norfolk for £80,000 called Green Farm Hotel, Which was bought with a 100% Overdraft for the Purchase and my £20,000 worth of capital painted and decorated the property and put food in the Kitchen and wine and beer in the Bar
After 30 Years this had developed into a Hotel with 20 En Suite Rooms, Banqueting Facilities for 180 people and 80 cover restaurant with 21 Full Time Staff turning over £600,000 per anum.
Green Farm Hotel was valued at 2 million Pounds with bank borrowings of 1 million and www found a buyer.
It was time to move on so we bought Felbrigg Lodge a Small B&B in seven acres of Grounds with 4 rooms. We borrowed £1.1 Million which we would pay off once Green Farm sold and we would be living Mortgage Free at 50 years of age.
We had a buyer but then the financial collapse of 2008 happened and our buyer lost his Mortgage.
Other people wanted to buy but none of the banks would lend.
Green Farms Cash flow was always horrendous in January each year so we had an overdraft to see us through until May when we would move back into a positive cash situation.
January-March 2009 was hell, we had creditors constantly demanding money but the bank would not offer us any extra funds on our overdraft.
We survived but I knew mentally I could not go through this again.
In January 2010 we owed the tax man £7,000 the roads were full of snow we had no guests and no cash flow, but the one person who called at the door was Mr Green the tax collector.
He wanted his money and I explained look I have £60,000 of forward room bookings and £60,000 of forward wedding bookings, can we come to some arrangement for me to catch up.
His reply was that if he left without the money he would file for my bankruptcy.
He left, a switch went in my head, and I called the accountant and told her I would be closing the door for good on the Sunday evening.
We appointed an Administrator from an internationally recognised firm of accountants.
The Administrators quoted £10,000 to contact all creditors and advise them of the situation that we were in administration until a buyer could be found.
After the first 5 weeks we received a bill from the Administrator for £23,000.
In December 2010, still without a buyer, and both stressed out beyond belief I filed for bankruptcy.
With the bank crash property values fell and Felbrigg was very quickly in £500,000 pounds of negative equity. This proved to be the saving grace because it meant the banks did not want Felbrigg and allowed DeeDee to buy out my interest in the business for £1,000.00
We also took the decision at this time to replace the lost income from Green Farm by moving out of our house into a caravan.
We could let our house out as a Holiday Let. We survived for two years through the coldest two winters of the last 20 years with temperatures down to -18.
The extra revenue that this created allowed us to survive and our occupancy grew.
One January morning I had a phone call from a guest asking if I realised the restaurant at the hotel was on fire. Our fragile recovery and nerves were ripped apart.
Insurance claims and 6 months of building work later I heard about the Entrepreneurs Circle.
DeeDee and I discussed the possibility of joining, and after a long discussion agreed we should join spending £99.00 per month.
I promised her that for every penny spent on subscriptions I would take what we now know as a ‘nugget’ and implement to improve sales at the Hotel and hence see a return on our investment.
We still apply this principle to every penny we spend with EC whether it’s a trip to a National Conference or investment in training courses, say.
We owe so much to Nigel and his team at EC. In January 20013 I had a visit from one of the EC team. She asked me what my goals were for personal & business. I replied that if I could add £100,000 to the turnover (which was then £360,000) I could afford to employ a head chef (I had been doing all the cooking since we bought the Hotel) and DeeDee and I could take more than 1 weeks holiday a year.
We got out the calculator and decided if we raised guest spend by £10 per night we would generate a further £50,000.
If we increased occupancy by 5 room nights per week at the new average spend a further £50,000 would be generated. Light Bulb Moment!
We immediately raised prices by £10.00 and implemented more of Nigel’s marketing teaching at the end of 12 months we had grown sales by over £50.0000. Half our target.
Empowered, we treated ourselves to a chef for 20 hours per week.
In 2015, we added a further £10.00 per night to room prices, and tweaked our food, bar, and wine prices. As a result, we added a further £60,000 this year to turnover reaching £520,000. Occupancy is76% year round and we have just been offered funding through the Funding Circle to add 2 more rooms.
It has been one heck of struggle but we have prevailed and the EC has been an integral part of our ‘bounce back’.
“We made a decision 5 years ago to cut back our internal production and partner with specialist printers, embroiderers and engravers to utilise their in-depth knowledge of their smaller area of expertise.
At the time our main concern was the potential loss of control over the end to end process and how this would affect the consistency of the final result.
Our fears were unfounded as having put in place a very stringent structure of control over the external and internal process we have managed to maintain a very high level of customer satisfaction.
Processes we have implemented include
- Direct sample send (from our supplier plain label to our customer) so that our customer can receive product samples next day with a delivery note and letter from us.
- Proof before order – we offer to mock up any product considered for purchase with our customers’ logo so they can get an idea of the final result.
- Purchase Order Chasing System – system to ensure that there is no slippage in quoted lead times by suppliers sitting on orders.
- Acknowledgment Invoice and Statement by Email
- Post sales follow up – to get the instant reaction on product and service
As we are now entirely focussed on the relationship with customers and suppliers we see the measure of our customer satisfaction as the primary indicator of our success. As such, after we have delivered each order, we send a request for feedback through Feefo (feedback forum) in independent feedback website. We cannot fiddle it or delete it so what you see is what we got.
Our approval rating which is customers who have rated our service as Excellent or Good (ather than Poor or Bad) is currently 99% and has never dropped below 98%.
We really care and even when things do go wrong we try to find a solution that doesn’t leave the customer short of their goods for an event even if it leaves us at a loss on the order as delivering as promised and pleasing the customer is both the foundation and the every day mantra of our business…
“I set up my business in December 2003 in web design/development etc. Although it was moderately successful, by December 2011 I was in a bad place after 2 years of health and family issues. I was going to have to close the business and go back into the wicked world of corporate employment – something I was NOT looking forward to!
Then someone invited me to an Entrepreneur’s Circle event. Quite simply, it renewed my enthusiasm and vigour for running my own business.
Nigel and his team have not only shown me a myriad of methods for marketing and running my business but they keep me focused on what I MUST DO.
Nigels infectious enthusiasm, straight talking (he is a fellow-Yorkshire man after all!!), his no-nonsense appraisal of situations and his general motivation and encouragement to get things done is brilliant.
There are things that Nigel talks about that are blindingly obvious… but had escaped me or I’d forgotten about.
But there are other things which are genuine light-bulb moments which I’d never ever have considered or realised!
Virtually everything that Nigel communicates to EC members resonates with me. Every time I see him or read something from him or watch his videos I can take one or two nuggets away to implement in my business that I know will improve what we are doing at Elysium:Online. Whether I implement them, of course, is down to me. But when I do implement I can see the improvement. Every time!
There is no doubt in my mind that the Entrepreneur’s Circle has made a world of difference to my business and to my ability to control how much money I can earn.
Thank you Nigel and your team. And thank you Andy Gibney for introducing me.”
“I’d been in business for a while and if I’m being honest I was just making it up as I went along, but when I started the world looked very different, especially when most of your target customers were large financial services organisations. I got off to a pretty good start, worked very hard, and made some money initially. But it went downhill from there. I had staff, offices, large overheads (mainly the staff and the offices!!) and gradually my work slipped away and one day I realized I had no clients. I don’t mean a lack of clients, or even a scarcity of clients, what I mean is no clients at all! For three months my business made literally no profit losing significant amounts of cash every month.
Ripping me off…
“All my staff left, which I don’t blame them for as they would have had to go anyway. Two of them tried to set up in competition, but what were they competing for? Sleepless nights? Running out of money every month? Extreme hair loss?. At one point there was just me and a college student that had joined me on a one month work placement to help with the marketing and admin. I was less than £2,000 away from what would have been financial ruin. I mean, when that money had gone, I would have had nothing left. The bank would not lend me any money for the business. I couldn’t raise any more money on my house, and all the credit cards were all maxed out. Yes, you need violins and tissues for this bit.
“If it’s to be it’s up to me!” (sound familiar?)
“Anyway, I’d had the idea for EasyOnlineRecruitment.co.uk for a while, but never seemed to be able to find the time to do anything about it before. Now I had plenty of time on my hands, I mean it’s not like I was busy placing star candidates into high powered jobs, or chasing large invoices for payment. So together with Lestyn my work experience student, we set about finding some clients. It was a bit like the blind leading the blind. I was no marketer myself, and Lestyn had the theory, but no practical experience, but I figured we had nothing to lose, and he knew no better! Around this time, I received Nige’s 18 secrets email. I was working all the hours under the sun, so I thought that taking 45 minutes or so to listen to someone that has “been there and done” would be a nice little break from the old routine as much as anything.
A no brainer…
“I wrote 5 pages of notes from that initial webinar (“front AND back!”) – I literally drank the information, and couldn’t believe that no one had brought this stuff to my attention before! At the end of the webinar, I signed up for all the freebies adjoined EC. OMG, I’m so glad that I did…
Eyes wide open…
“What I learned literally changed my thinking about business, specifically about my own business. I’ve never been a “victim”, and I’ve always studied in a self development capacity, but it just seemed that what I had read previously (Think & Grow Rich, The Secret, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude) all these other books had a great sentiment, and I’d recommend them to anyone, but none of them gave real practical lessons about generating new client enquiries.
“I’ve now got a proper marketing plan. It has a number of “pillars”, including email marketing, direct mail, social media (that’s a biggie for me, and something Lestyn still helps a lot with), webinars (planned, with deadlines), networking (including EC events), PPC & SEO (check out “online recruitment” on Google, we should be somewhere near the top of the natural pages), website development (we have video, plus lots more plans for landing and squeeze pages, and data capture forms .)
And guess what?! I’ve now got some customers again. I’ve got new, more reliable staff, who help me work towards my goal -it’s their goal too, and we share the rewards. In fact I’ve got better staff and more customers now than I have ever had before, which I plan on keeping. I’m moving from this broom cupboard to some proper offices in the next couple of months and my sales, turnover and profit are really good.
All of this boils down to:
- Business people (in fact people generally) are entirely responsible for what happens to them – it’s our fault, good or bad. Sometimes all you have to do is change your perspective. I turned the traditional recruitment agency model on its head, and now I find my clients multiple staff for less than the cost of an advert in their local paper
- If you are struggling, with anything, then all you have to do is find some help. There are loads of people out there that can help guide you, coach you, and usually for much less money than you would have ever believed, in fact often, I have found, for free
- I set some realistic, but challenging financial targets for myself this year. I’ve just had my most successful month ever and I’m on course for 163% of target.”
Things had been going well for Rob Star. He had just bought his third pub, with the other two enjoying great success, and had put on a sellout music festival. Encouraged, Rob began planning a larger event at iconic music venue Knebworth Park. “I was in a great position and I thought that everything I did was destined to be successful,” Rob says, “But, that wasn’t the case.”
Rob was ambitious, increasing the event from a one day festival to a full three day camping event for 20,000 music fans. Costs began to escalate and Rob’s initial budget of £1,500,000 quickly increased to £2,000,000. “It became a beast that I just couldn’t control, but I wasn’t fazed. Even as I reached my breaking point, I still didn’t see the problem. I thought ‘we just need to sell more tickets.’ Unfortunately, we didn’t,” explains Rob. The event lost a considerable amount of money, much of which was Rob’s own, alongside capital that he had borrowed.
“I was at rock bottom. I’d lost all of my money and owed a substantial amount to friends,” Rob tells us. “To top everything off, my business partner left the business, leaving me with a lot of debt.”
Rob decided that he wasn’t prepared to give up and began to think of ways in which he could get himself out of difficulty. “The only way I knew how was to work my way out of it,” says Rob.
And so Rob got to work and drew on the knowledge that he had gained during his three years as a member of the EC.
Rob joined the EC whilst trying to balance his time between running an event promotion business, putting on regular events for around 1500 people, and making the pub that he had bought a success. “Unfortunately, I’d overstretched myself with the pub and all the money that I was making from the events was going into the pub to finish off the refurbishment,” Rob tells us.
After joining the EC, Rob learned about the importance of working on his business, rather than in it. He started to delegate the ‘£10 per hour’ jobs, such as invoicing, banking and any general admin, allowing him to focus on getting customers through the door.
The role that a database could play in growing his business had also been highlighted to Rob during his time with the EC. Both of Rob’s businesses had been built on solid databases which he grew at every opportunity, as well as segmenting his data in order to target his marketing at the right people. Combined with regular emails to his customers, Rob’s focus on his database brought in more and more revenue.
Rob also used Google AdWords to grow his business. “This significantly improved the number of bookings across all the pubs,” Rob says. Using AdWords meant that Rob really understood his numbers. By measuring conversions and tweaking key words, Rob was better equipped to predict the revenue of each pub on a daily basis, which in turn meant that he was in a better position to judge how many staff to employ.
“Over the years I’ve also had several one-to-one meetings with Nigel and he has been central in helping me make some key decisions in my business,” Rob says. These included the decision to take on my first marketing manager, which gave me the confidence to expand my business when opportunities arose.”
So, when Rob found himself facing challenging times, resolute in his decision to work through it, he decided to join Mastermind. “I couldn’t really afford it at the time, but I knew that if I was going to give both of my businesses a proper go, I needed all the expert help I could get,” Rob tells us.
It was during these EC Mastermind meetings that Rob devised a marketing plan to increase the sale of tickets for his three day musical festival, Eastern Electrics. Rob began by asking his customers to register their interest in the first phase of tickets. Over 2,000 people quickly signed up and Rob soon entered them into a marketing campaign, sending them four strategically written emails over the course of seven days to promote the event. The email campaign ran alongside a high impact Facebook launch, in which Rob ran a targeted ad campaign that reached 80,000 people. The advert offered an early-bird offer, with the first tier of tickets being sold at half price for a limited time period.
The results were spectacular. Rob sold a quarter of the event tickets, worth £100,000, within three days of them going on sale. “It did help that one of the acts we announced was also at number one in the UK charts at the time,” jokes Rob, “which was more luck than judgement, but I do believe that you make your own luck in life and business.”
Rob continued his marketing efforts and the festival went ahead. It was a sell-out and made a significant amount of money which rebuilt Rob’s business.
Over the last 12 months our sales have increased by over £300,000 – which is pretty amazing.
Income in side-line businesses has dramatically risen. Our core business net profit tripled from last year.
Nursery Business: We have implemented an incredible amount. Every time I attend an EC event or meeting, I implement at least one thing, otherwise I feel it’s been a waste of my time. This year we have improved our Direct Mail including our ‘Shock and Awe’ marketing pack with Guarantee, top tips, testimonials, brochures, leaflets, newsletters and marketing collateral.
Quite simply, this blows the competition out the water on the first touch.
This is followed up by a targeted InfusionSoft Campaign. Indeed, Infusionsoft in America were so impressed with what we were doing, they visited us in September and included us in their “UK Success Stories!” which is pretty incredible.
They spotted that our campaigns were converting, getting clicks and seeing action being taken (which is the name of the game really!)
We have improved our monthly Childcare Matters, direct mail, printed newsletter. This hits door mats on the 1st of every month and has been responsible for bringing in at least 20 new customers (lifetime average value is £30k each) in its first six months.
We have implemented a training programme on the back of the summer spent in the Disney Institute. We have a full 6 month training programme which includes one full day off site, which teaches our team about our core values, our mission and our vision, as well as giving them training on our Quality Standard Keys, our Service standards and what we expect from them.
The result has been a better motivated team who understand what is expected of them and customers who feel more cared about (we surveyed our customers and satisfaction is higher than last year.)
The InDUCKtion programme has also helped focus the whole team on our company ethos – we have encouraged some staff members to pursue careers with other nursery providers, if they didn’t mean our standards! Its helped us focus on where we are going.
It’s also improved retention rates among staff. Our Director of Operations joined us in December and continues to assess the effectiveness of the training on our teams. Our Operations Director has meant that my focus has been on the growing the business, not managing my managers and nurseries – fantastic!
The wedding business – Dizzy Ducks Wedding Crèches – is booked for a least the next year. We have increased staff headcount and resources to enable us to double the creche numbers we provide at weddings, more than doubling our profit on this going forward. The plan for this business is to process it, and offer as a “Business in a Box” opportunity over the UK.
We have recruited a Business Development team member to grow this business to that point.
We are developing a Babysitting Business which will be rolled out to our nursery parents, and then out to the general public as a membership site. This business is underway and we are looking to take the nationwide.
We have meetings set up to discuss the possibility of soft franchising our brand to smaller operators (1-4 sites) which looks a positive growth method.
Websites have been relaunched and we have completely rebranded our service, giving a fresher feel to the business. They are driving business to us daily.
Within the business, we have been recruiting heavily for key roles in our growth plans (for both the nursery business, the wedding business and the babysitting business…..and our nanny business which is coming next) and due to the increase in headcount, we had to relocate to bigger premises. This has allowed us to recruit team members to help us drive forward even faster.
BUT…(and this is the most important thing) I cannot underestimate the impact that the increase in profitability in my company has had on my family.
The formidable Kate Lester of Diamond Logistics, a same-day courier business, has ruthlessly re-focussed her business resulting in massive growth and increased profits.
“I’ve been in business 20 years and was stuck between selling and wondering whether I could rejuvenate my enthusiasm for my business. The EC helped me empower myself to face some grim realities and instigate more change in four months than I think many companies do in a life time. I’ve also learned very clearly what not to do.
“So I looked to the EC. I did it half heartedly at first; not really getting it, particularly as I thought it was aimed at smaller start ups. After the trial I was going to stop. But instead I went to the Dambusters event. I walked out of there after one speech from Nigel thinking ‘f***. f***, f***’. I didn’t even stay for the afternoon session. There was work to be done.
“I started with my underperforming staff. They had to go; my new vision was never going to be supported by these staff who whilst adequate for a boutique company were never going to cut it on a national stage. I had to be ‘ruthlessly intolerant of incompetence’. Gulp. These were people who’d been with me 18 and 16 years. I realised that my branches were unsustainable and that had to change too – I wanted motivated self employed people in my depots – not jobsworth employees. Then I realised that our third biggest client was a ‘time vampire’. I recruited people of an entirely different calibre. I converted my loss making branches to profit making franchises. I sacked the time vampire client. We quickly saw a growth in our profits again not long after.
“And I felt so motivated. The financial pressure didn’t change – the banks had not conceded to lending to support my expansion – but suddenly I felt more motivated than I had done for a long time and knew with grim clarity what I had to do and I’ve done it.
“And that’s not all. We launched a new service and in a day had a webpage, AdWords campaign and mailer sent to 200 cinemas. We had five new clients – annual spend only £50k – £75k (50% profit). We installed InfusionSoft, and I am getting stuff done because we are all not running around like headless chickens; we have time to do our jobs properly.
“My new support system has contributed hugely; my monthly meets, Nige’s notes, the Botcasts, the workshop, the resources. It’s not stuff I didn’t know, but when you are fighting a firestorm you need to be reminded of technique occasionally. Every day I say ‘will it make the boat go faster?’
“I have fundamentally changed the way I approach my business and here are some of the key learnings I’ve grasped:
•Focus– I am considering having ‘will it make the boat go faster’ tattooed on my left arm!
•It’s not what you do it the way that you do it.
•That business development – not just running your business – is where you will make the real money.
•E-myth – i.e. get systems right.
•Being ruthlessly intolerant of incompetence.
•Setting publicly declared deadlines and targets – increasing mine and my team’s accountability.
•My work day – Mornings for business development, afternoon for meets and clients and exercising after work not before. This seems like a minor thing but I was using all my energy first thing, when actually I needed it for my important stuff.
•Being all over my numbers – again this was scary stuff.
•Pricing – three price strategy – that alone has whacked up revenue and re-educated my sales staff.
“Finally, support is really important. It’s a lonely job running your own business and sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees.
I get to talk to people all the time that are truly understanding of what sh*ts employees can be, how the banks should be shot, how their friends and family are naysayers. And that helps enormously. I am not afraid to stand up in my local meeting and say, ‘My name is Kate Lester and I am an ECaholic’.”
When Sarah first set up The Creation Station she set out hoping to be able to do something that would fit in around her children which would be fun and that would earn her a decent income at the same time. The inspiration for the business came from having three boys to keep occupied. Sarah had to come up with creative ways to keep them busy but she found it hard to enjoy the activities with them because she was too busy getting everything out, washing up and trying to get them clean before they charged through the house. She realised that this must be an issue many other parents also faced and she set about creating an experience for children and their parents or carers that wasn’t quite like anything else available.
UK’s number one…
Her aim was to inspire children’s natural creativity at an early age in a safe and nurturing environment with the involvement of the parent or carer; not only was it great for children’s development but it was really good fun to do this creative stuff with a child, especially when the ‘mess’ was not an issue, and all the planning and clearing up was done for you.
A few years down the line and Sarah is now the proud owner of the UK’s number one creative children’s franchise which has so far helped over 30 other mothers to achieve the perfect work / life balance too! The Creation Station has now been enjoyed by thousands of children and their parents all over the UK and they are set to keep on growing.
However, Sarah has been faced with a number of challenges that would have left many business owners crumbling under the pressure. Both of the main suppliers of her arts and crafts materials went bust and Sarah tried to buy both of them but for various reasons it wasn’t appropriate. In essence she was left with no supplier for 80 products she needed in order to be able to deliver The Creation Station activities – a big problem.
Nothing gets in her way…
Another challenge was that Sarah’s franchisee manager moved on suddenly. Whenever a team member team leaves, no matter what the circumstances are, there is a period of upheaval which is rarely easy to deal with. An old health problem which had prevented Sarah from walking for a few years in the past also returned which has been an additional challenge and her business numbers had stopped improving.
Doubled her turnover…
Despite the challenges she was having, Sarah decided that for ‘a bit of fun’ she would see if she could double the turnover in the next Quarter. In fact, not only did Sarah double her business once again but she also began implementing a social media strategy AND she’s moved into a new premises with a warehouse. This allowed her to carry her own stock and ensure she had greater control of this area of her business. She’s found a new supplier in China too and she’s launched her new online shop selling arts and crafts materials.
Challenges or opportunities…
Sarah has a great saying; “You can either look at things as challenges or opportunities” and she’s absolutely right.
Where others would have crumbled under the pressure she was facing, Sarah only saw the opportunities, stayed positive and came out smelling of roses.
We joined the Entrepreneurs Circle in 2011 because our business was in freefall. We’d been hit really hard by the recession.
We heard Nigel speak and we really liked what he had to say. He made us understand that with some learning we could grow the business ourselves, we didn’t need expensive consultants and it wasn’t rocket science!
In a lot of ways it was a bit like advanced common sense – although I don’t want to diminish it because the impact EC has had has been extraordinary.
It’s not just been about the stuff Nigel and the team have taught us either – we’ve got so much from the wider EC community. Meeting other switched on, motivated business owners along the way has been brilliant and we’ve all been able to help each other. It is just like a big family.
What we’ve learnt in the Entrepreneurs Circle has helped us to have the freedom for our family that we envisioned we would have when we first started out in business. It’s helped make our dream a reality
Mark Greig found himself in a worrying position. His family business of fifty years, Comrie Automatics, was in decline and Mark was looking for someone to blame. “At the time I was blaming the economic situation and the rate at which pubs and clubs were closing down across the country,” says Mark. “Now I know that there was only one person to blame…me!”
It was then that Mark’s attitude shifted – he joined the EC and immediately began implementing the nuggets that he felt would not only save the business, but push it forward towards great things.
Comrie Automatics was started by Mark’s late father and supplies amusement and gaming machines to public houses and social clubs, as well as owning and operating two gaming centres in Birmingham and Derby called Harry’s Amusements – in memory of Mark’s father.
In order to begin the overhaul of Comrie Automatics, Mark decided to focus on the B2B side of the business and develop a ‘dream list’; a list of pubs and social clubs that he really wanted to work with. “I decided to visit every pub and club within the West Midlands, and no, not just for a pint, but to establish whether I wanted to do business with them or not,” Mark tells us.
He gave each pub and club a rating, as well as collecting the contact details of each pub and adding them to his database. “Although it was very time consuming, after a few months and many nights out on the road, I had developed my dream customer list and set to work implementing one of the biggest nuggets preached … getting profitable customers.”
Mark had taken note of Nigel’s own success with a telesales team and decided that a telephone campaign was the next step in making his ‘dream list’ a reality. Before starting the campaign Mark sent out mail containing roulette chips and mini roulette wheels, to promote his new roulette machine. This was followed up with a phone call.
“We worked very closely with the telesales company ensuring that they knew our business and our telephone campaign had amazing results. At least 90% of people remembered our leaflet, thanks to the chips or mini roulettes. It was a great talking point and ended with us securing lots of new business,” Mark says.
Implementing yet another EC nugget, Mark designed and circulated Comrie Automatics’ very own newsletter. The “Inn the Club News” is sent to all social clubs in the Midlands.
“The hardest part of the newsletter was the ‘getting started’ bit, as I had lots of ideas in my head but putting it on paper was not so easy,” says Mark. “However, after using some of my allotted 90 minutes to brainstorm, my ideas spilled out onto the paper. I remember speaking to Phil Wintermantle about the newsletter at a local meeting and he said that once you decide you are going to do it, your radar will search for content to use, wherever you go – which has proved right.”
The results from all of this implementation? Comrie Automatics has now secured 73 new social clubs and 22 public houses – a third of these coming from Mark’s ‘dream list’. Mark then focused on the B2C side of the business, known as Harry’s Amusements. “This proved to be a much harder task, as it involved finding potential customers who played fruit machines in a certain geographical area,” Mark tells us.
Mark’s initial marketing plan for Harry’s Amusements consisted of keeping the doors to the arcades open and hoping that customers would just walk in; however after spending time with the EC Mark realised that this was not enough.He embarked on a Facebook ad campaign to target his ideal customer. Mark’s first campaign achieved moderate results, and he realised that he was asking for too much information. “Being a Club+ member, I learnt about squeeze pages and decided to use Dan Harrison’s squeeze page tool kit,” Mark says. Asking for just thefirst name, email and mobile number resulted in a 32% uplift in customers giving us their details.”
After attending a national event and listening to Nigel speak about buying up, down and across the business chain, Mark decided to let his suppliers and trade contacts know that he was looking to expand.
“Hey presto! A competitor approached us about selling up. We listened to his moans and groans, with which we agree, and then agreed to purchase his business, consisting of 110 licensed premises, at a bargain price,” Mark tells us.
The steady implementation has paid off for Mark, and his turnover is now 63% up from where it was when he joined the EC. “Now, when I hear people say to us; ‘you’re in a shrinking market with so many pubs and clubs closing down’, I can sit back knowing that everything we have achieved as an EC member has helped to contradict that.”
Darren Armstrong, owner of Chin! Chin! Bar & Kitchen in Bristol has had a phenomenal year.
He believes that thanks to the EC he’s begun to look at his marketing in a totally different way; sniffing out innovations where others would see limitations.
Well, we’re so pleased to hear that Chin! Chin! was awarded the Bristol Good Food Award 2015 for the second year running on the back of this innovative thinking.
It came about after Darren attended the Business Excellence Bootcamp where Nige expressed the importance of entering in for industry awards as a great way to increase public awareness.
Not one to not take heed on direct advice from the big man, Darren threw himself into doing just that and has now crafted the perfect ‘power of one’ statement.
Ladies and gents, please make way for Chin! Chin! Bristol’s only award-winning café bar and restaurant that celebrates Great British Empire Food & Drink!
“Thank you Nigel and Team EC! You’ve been an inspiration and gave me back by business mojo on many an occasion, helped introduce me to some great people and I couldn’t imagine a future without you all!”
Because of the EC we have some serious fun in our business now!
The biggest problem I had was that I was paralysed by the fear of failure, I felt like I’d hit a brick wall and I needed something to change my thinking. When I joined the EC it flicked a switch inside me and set me off on my journey again.
The biggest thing I’ve taken is the way to systemise my business, a different way of marketing, a different way of thinking.
Google Retargeting, Facebook Ads, writing email copy, building the campaigns, I didn’t have a clue about all that until I joined!
We now take more holidays, go skiing every year and the real game-changer for me is I’ve lost that fear to try new ways to grow the business
Jaz’s story begins back in Glasgow in 1970.
Having moved from India in 1968, his father opened his first Indian restaurant in the Scottish city. At eight-years-old, Jaz started working in the business washing pots – his first taste of life as a restaurateur.
“Aged 21 and recently graduated from university, I opened my first restaurant in the East End of Glasgow. I had a 100% mortgage on the property, and was paying a 20% interest rate! Two years later, I bought some land and opened my second restaurant – one I still own today.
12 years later, I joined forces with my brother-in-law and opened my first restaurant in Barnsley.
Market research showed us that there was nothing like it – no clean, crisp, Indian restaurants – and ‘Chilli’ was born. The rest, as they say, is history.”
It was the beginning of an amazing journey for Jaz.
Between 2004 and 2007, Chilli Restaurant had a turnover of £1m with a marketing spend of less than £2,000. To paraphrase Jaz, customers just flocked to the Indian restaurant.
That was of course, until the recession hit.
“2008 and 2009 were really tough and testing times for us. Our customers had less disposable cash so began revising their spending and our sales dipped. We went down the cost-cutting route. In hindsight, of course, I know this was the wrong thing to do. We should have been marketing, but we just didn’t have the tools to do so.
In 2009, Jaz made the decision to change his fortunes.
He headed to a seminars held by Nigel in Sheffield and signed up immediately. Jaz learned the importance of database marketing – and how to grow his all important database – and has been using the things he learnt ever since.
“Fast forward to 2014, and EC introduced me to Google Adwords. It’s since become the most important marketing tool for our business, and has proved to be the secret ingredient in our success story.
Within two or three months, we started getting bookings from our AdWords efforts. And these bookings have increased from a couple a month, to a couple a week. We spend around £3-£4 a day and are always in the number one position thanks, in part, to our 900 negative keywords.
In fact, we don’t do anything BUT Google AdWords now and we’re booked every Saturday for the foreseeable future. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you need to persevere with AdWords. Success won’t happen with it overnight, but it’s worth it!”
But Jaz’s story doesn’t end there.
In 2010, because the business demanded it, he began diversifying their offering. And, thanks to some outside-of-the-box thinking, today, Chilli Restaurant is nearly back in the position they were in pre-recession.
“In 2010, we diversified into outside catering. Something we have grown from £4,000 a year to a division of the business that now turns over £125k a year. We started offering a takeaway service in 2012 which has grown from turning over nothing to £80k a year, and in 2013, we launched our ready meals. These are now stocked by 12 local retailers, and turnover around £37k a year.”
And since joining the EC, Jaz has been making the most of the knowledge within the team.
Last year, at his local meeting in Sheffield, Jaz took the hot seat to pick the brains of Nigel and the team. You see, he had a problem. During the week, his second restaurant, Grille, was really quiet. Nigel suggested focussing on running a promotional offer one day a week, and ‘Tenderloin Tuesday’ was born.
“Historically, we were only getting 10-15 covers on a Tuesday night. Since launching Tenderloin Tuesdays, we now get 60 covers a night without fail. Every week. Grille is the place to be on a Tuesday night!’
For a minimal spend of £12-£15 a week, Jaz runs Facebook and Google ads on a Monday and Tuesday – at optimum times to maximise money – promoting the event. And, because it’s been working so well for him, Jaz has been putting this tried and tested method into practice again with a second promotional venture.
“Launching Takeaway Tuesdays was a natural progression. We’ve gone from taking 2-3 orders a night on what is historically a quiet night for takeaways, to consistently receiving around 15 orders a night.”
And entrepreneurial Jaz is never one to say no to anything and is always spotting amazing opportunities to grow his restaurant empire.
In 2015, we launched wedding catering but that happened by accident. I had a call one night from a friend asking if we could cater for her daughter’s wedding that weekend after she’d been let down by a hotel. Of course, I said yes, and we never looked back. We’ve got four weddings booked for this year, and it’s my goal to host one a month in 2017.
When Mark Rose started his business, Boosh 365, he wanted to achieve exciting things – to Mark, the sky was the limit. And, thanks to steady implementation, innovative marketing campaigns and Mark’s dedication to creating the right culture within his business, he succeeded.
Mark made the brave decision to split his previous company after realising that he and his partner held completely different views about the future of their business. He left the company with half of his previous customers and began building Boosh 365. Then he found the EC. “The EC encouraged me to be different, which was so refreshing. It’s something that I still tell my staff to do today – always think outside the box,” Mark says.
Mark employed more people, and investing in his team is something that Mark continues to believe in. “Initially, it enabled me to get out of the office more to network, which in turn brought in new customers for the business,” says Mark. Mark’s team of twelve people work in two departments: Technical and Marketing, so that he can now offer his customers much more value.
“One thing I do is ensure that I employ the best people for the job. I don’t go solely for people who have 10 A*s on their CV – most of the time people are recommended to me,” Mark explains. “I ask them to come into the office to see how we work and whether they think they’d fit in. Another way of recruiting which works well for us is apprenticeships. We currently have two people who have completed their NVQs and who are now full-time members of staff and another three who are all on track to complete shortly. They love the fact that they can earn whilst they learn!” Mark tells us.
A partnership with Vodafone helped in part to fund the recruitment of Mark’s expanding team. The partnership involved a tiered system, in which if Mark achieved set targets then he was rewarded with a larger percentage of commission. The Boosh 365 team smashed their targets with Vodafone and were made a ‘Vodafone Pioneer’. “Of all 459 Vodafone partners in the country only four of us were lucky enough to have this status. It was a huge milestone for us and was something that had been my goal from the start of the partnership,” Mark explains.
One of the biggest areas for development was the ease with which customers could contact the Boosh 365 team, as well as the team’s response times to resolve issues. “Since we’re a telecoms company everything we do is time critical. Very often we don’t hear from customers unless there is an issue and it’s then that they need us to be as time efficient as possible,” Mark tells us. He implemented a ticketing system allowing the team to see the nature of the enquiry and assign it to the correct department.
“The customer receives a bounce-back email to let them know that their enquiry is being dealt with and then we work through them in order of priority,” says Mark. “The ticketing system has become a vital part of the daily workload and we can boast that 90% of our tickets are dealt with within the working day.”
“I suppose the biggest compliment has been that we have taken on board so many new clients through recommendations from existing customers. They’ve told others about our friendly staff, informal attitude and non-pushy ways of working,” says Mark.
Mark exercised his favourite mantra “think outside of the box” when it came to his marketing campaigns to attract local business. “Unfortunately, telecoms and IT has a very tired, stale image. Most people think everyone in our industry is a geek who likes to talk numbers – we wanted to prove that we were different,” explains Mark.
Mark launched a lumpy mail campaign to the local businesses that he wanted to work with, sending out a branded calculator, a bar of chocolate and a letter explaining that using Boosh 365 could save them, on average, £700 per employee, per year. It asked them to use the calculator to calculate their own potential savings. “Because we know how many employees they had before we sent them the box, we already knew that this figure was going to be high,” Mark says.
The campaign worked perfectly and resulted in Mark landing a contract with a huge restaurant chain.
The second part of the campaign was to tackle the prospects who wouldn’t return Mark’s calls. Mark couriered a working Pay-As-You-Go phone, and, once confirming that they’d received the delivery, he gave them a call. It was through this campaign that Mark secured one of Boosh 365’s largest customers – a sales and technical support provider to customers in the mobile radio, radio communication and TV broadcast company.
“Boosh 365 has seen a meteoric rise. We saw our customer base double and we have an increase of 45% in turnover, going from £450,000 to £652,000,” Mark tells us. “The business is set to grow even further in the future.”
Bistro Live is a small chain of 3, large capacity live music restaurants. The business started in 2001.
We serve in the region of 85,000 people every year.
Our ‘customer avatar’ is someone celebrating a special occasion; birthday parties; hen nights; Christmas parties; leaving ‘dos’ and corporate functions.
At Bistro Live, Customer Service is the CORNERSTONE of our business.
This is not a ‘hollow’ statement –over the course of the last 2 years, Bistro Live has developed and built a culture within the business that is completely focussed on the customer.
We believe that customer service is all about making emotional connections – as we know, people buy people. And, it’s also about making people feel special – everyone wants to FEEL SPECIAL.
But, in order to deliver BRILLIANT SERVICE, there is recognition that:
- Customer service is SUBJECTIVE
What impresses one customer does not impress the next !
- 2.People’s DEMANDS change, so their expectations change
So, we understand that our customer service ‘policy’ cannot be developed one year and then parked – it has to be DYNAMIC, and it has to change according to our customers and their experiences and feedback.
You see, behaviour is normalised very quickly – what is a WOW experience the first time around becomes expected the next time – our customers are always looking (and expecting) better, so we have to continually raise the bar in what we offer.
So, at Bistro Live, we constantly ask ourselves:
HOW CAN WE KEEP ON IMPROVING THIS?
WHAT CAN WE DO NEXT TIME?
This does not always have to be ‘Grande gestures’, in fact most of the time, it’s not – it’s the tiny little things that make all the difference.
At Bistro Live our customer service ‘programme’ is called
“HOW TO WOW”.
So, we continually look at all aspects of a customer’s journey with a view to constant improvement:
- from initially hearing about Bistro Live (marketing)
- through booking their night out (sales/booking processes)
- to experiencing the actual night out (people/operations)
- and finally – how we follow up after the night out (feedback/follow up)
Our focus in all of the above is finding new ways to “WOW” our customers.
In our “HOW TO WOW” programme, we: –
- Aim to recruit the very best people – ‘hire for attitude first, then train for skills’
- Look at different and innovative ways to train them
- Constantly share best practice across the 3 restaurants
- Incentivise the management teams so that they drive and ‘embody’ the new culture
- MEASURE AND EVALUATE EVERYTHING
- Give customer service the highest priority in the business
Sales/booking processes: –
- Our sales team have a regular weekly training session where customer service is the first point on the agenda.
- They are tasked with trying to find out small ‘snippets’ of information about each customer, that can then be used on the night when they visit the restaurant.
E.G if a customer celebrating a hen night is going somewhere specific for their honeymoon, we will decorate their table in the theme of that country…
- We have a courtesy call (‘non-salesy’) to all bookers 2 days before their booking from one of the management team to say “Hi, I’ll be looking after you on the night, and just wanted to call to say hello”
Our people completely ‘get’ our company mission: –
“TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE A BRILLIANT NIGHT OUT”
So, all of their interactions when dealing with customers are carried out with this in mind.
As a company, we realise the importance of our people….
- We have an Annual staff awards night – ‘The Bistros’ – where the best members of staff compete for the title of ‘Customer Service Superstar’.
- We constantly evaluate our people using our CARES principles: –
- We have a Staff ‘Wall of Fame’ in all 3 sites – highlighting examples of ‘unforgettable customer service’, with pictures of all staff
- Our Managers introduce themselves to all bookers and all people celebrating on the night….”Hi, it’s me…I called you a couple of days ago, and just wanted to say Hi”
- We give a surprise ‘celebration cupcake’ for all celebrants, with individual message piped in chocolate on the plate – simple, but gives a real WOW – and the photos that the customer takes gets shared across social media platforms !
- We have rigorous management check backs on food delivery, and replacement dishes if customer not completely happy with food – we actively ‘seek out’ feedback on the night in the belief that if it can be dealt with there and then, a negative experience can be turned in to a positive one.
…and our customers…..
- We have a 36-point customer feedback questionnaire that is emailed to all customers after their visit
- Our management bonus based on results of questionnaire, rather than financials – we actually have a question in our survey that says:
“Our staff are paid a bonus based on how well they look after our guests. Should they get one based on your visit?”
- To qualify for bonus the restaurant must score a minimum 95% ‘YES’ to the above bonus question, and then score above an average of 70% ‘Excellents’
- Feedback is analysed weekly, initially by Directors, and then circulated to all key personnel
- All positive feedback contacted to use comments in testimonials – and to arrange their next night out with us!
- All negative feedback – customer called by General Manager. Objective – to win them back as a customer, so the GM’s are empowered to ‘do what is necessary’ to get the customer back ‘onside’
- All complaints are overseen by a Director
- There is a constant feedback loop between Directors/Management/Staff to improve the operation.
What results have we had?
- Awarded the TRIP ADVISOR CERTIFICATE of EXCELLENCE AWARD in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Only the top performing 10% of businesses receive this prestigious award.
- We won the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE award at the NATIONAL ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS (Sept 2013)
- We won the Leicester Mercury award for BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE in the annual business awards for Leicester (April 2014)
- We won the Nottingham Evening Post award for BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE in the annual business awards for Nottingham (May 2014)
- We won the BEST HOSPITALITY AWARD at the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards (April 2015)
- Over 97% of people that have visited us since January 2014 said they would come again, and would recommend us to their friends.
- AND, 77% said our staff were ‘Excellent’ – the highest possible rating
Darryl’s been on a steep learning curve but has loved every minute. He says, “I have learnt to become a marketer and not a doer in my business – working smarter not harder. I started the journey by implementing as many effective marketing pillars as possible. I’ve created a real buzz with my videos. I get calls for new business every week on the back of these videos and randomly I even have people that call me up and tell me how brilliant they think I am!”
He’s also used video effectively on his website. Darryl says: “I put the video on my homepage and actually had one customer call up that said he hadn’t even looked at the rest of my website as when the video auto-played (a tip from Botty) and he called up right away as he knew he wanted to do business with us.”
Personality and connecting with his potential customers has been a big part of Darryl’s strategy to grow his business, the way he promotes the business – ‘people buy people’.
Darryl says: “If you take a look on my website it contains some fun stuff and information; we had one guy call through recently who wanted to do business with us purely because of the fact I was a West Ham fan.”
Darryl has widened his customer base by targeting specific groups and markets which has enabled him to tailor his marketing message to improve response. One example is his focus on attracting architects to become customers and offering specific advice to add more value to the work they do for their clients.
He says: “We have been able to be really specific in calling out to architects in the marketing pieces that we run – it’s a lucrative market we simply didn’t get close to before. Typically architects speak to the building contractors and in turn they speak to us but by going directly to the architects we can provide a better service for them and we end up saving them money. No one else really does this; we’re bridging the gap and creating new customers.”
A key change in his business has also been the introduction of systemised follow up to new enquiries and people that have not taken action within the first few weeks after enquiry.
Darryl says:“We use Nigel’s Dynamite Sales system to send out personalised postcards to people that made an enquiry 3-4 weeks ago but have gone quiet. So many businesses do the hard work to get new leads then fall down on follow up and conversion. We find that the most effective way to do this is nudging them with postcards to get them back. Before I joined the EC I waited for my customers to give me a nudge but now I’m nudging them in the right ways all the time. Just as importantly I used to wait for my customers to create jobs for me (letting me know when they needed something doing) now we create jobs by letting the customers know about different things they may need doing and offering peace of mind and repeat visits.”
He has a business card dispenser on his vans (tracking numbers on the cards of course!) that has been really effective; he brings in customers via Twitter;runs his blog,; creates direct mail campaigns that includes miniature Lego men electricians and even his own comic strip.
Darryl says, “Not only have I doubled the turnover of the business but I now have more time to spend mixing with business owners that are better than me. I would never normally have been able to afford this time away from the business. All the pillars of marketing I have implemented wouldn’t be there without the EC.
I didn’t have any clear goals; I just went from day to day relying on word of mouth to grow my business. Now everything has changed.”
“One of the first tips I ever learned from Nigel when I joined Entrepreneur’s Circle was to spend 90 minutes each day working ‘on’ your business, not ‘in’ it.
Now I had been researching the psychology of time for some years and I knew several simple techniques that can help stretch the perceived passage of time. These techniques are mainly simple breathing and meditative exercises and actually have been known for thousands of years.
Nigel’s insights gave me the light bulb moment to come up with programme which brings these techniques right up to date. I realised the time was right to teach people how to use them in their modern day, busy and frenetic lives. The programme is called Bending Time and consists of four workbooks and over three and a half hours of audio visualisations people can listen to on their iPods, tablets and smartphones.
The audio visualisations get people into altered states of consciousness so they can get what would take 3 to 4 hours of work done in around an hour. This is often referred to as “getting in the zone”.
Within 3 months of launching it had become my primary monthly revenue source. This simply would not have happened if it wasn’t for the Entrepreneur’s Circle.
No small part of its success has been the myriad of marketing techniques I have used to build and promote the site – all of which I learned from being part of EC.
People who are using it are not only becoming more focussed and productive but also reducing stress and finding they spot serendipity and opportunity at every corner. These by products are no accident.
Thank you Nigel and EC, I would not have had the impetus to do this without you.
Jez Rose’s first year in the EC was a whirlwind of activity. Between the implementation of new marketing pillars, Adwords, setting up new systems, banner retargeting and learning to use social media more effectively, Jez barely noticed the remarkable results; he had gained 80 new agents and increased his turnover by 200%.
These were great signs of success by any means but he was determined to get serious and make his business the best it could be.
Jez says, “ I had been approached by a number of managers and individuals on executive leadership boards asking me to coach them on motivation, mindset and strategy implementation, so I sat down and began pulling my own resources and knowledge together in order to create behaviourally effective plans in response to their requests. I always ensured that the advice that I gave and the techniques I presented actually worked, so I put them into practice and created a global strategy.
“What better place to start than the EC Six Pack? A key thing that I took away from reading through the Six Pack was Nigel’s advice about taking a moment to stand still, take stock and take drastic measures if your numbers don’t add up.
So I sold three “vampire” businesses that were sucking up my time and money.
Focusing on just one business gave me the opportunity to develop three new services and add a premium product, and as a direct result of this, we had sales of more than £10,000 within just two months of implementation.
“A big revelation for me since joining the EC was the concept of 90 minutes of protected time every single day to grow MY business and to get and keep customers. It’s genius and it bloody works!”
To start out I only did this when I needed to, but now I do it seven days a week, without fail. Sometimes, if time is tight or I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling then I’ll arrange for a driver, or ask Mrs Jez to drive, so that I can do my 90 minutes on the move.
I’m deadly serious about the impact that scheduled, protected time has made to my business, and to my life. It’s changed everything. Really.
“It’s those 90 minutes that have been vital in securing me the time and opportunities to get implementing – and that’s the key. You can read books and watch videos until you’re old and grey but at some point you’ve got to stop and put it all into action. We’re all looking for the magic wand; the magic pill that will do it all for us but, in reality, we’re guarding an empty safe. There aren’t any more secrets- all that’s left to do is to put them into action.
“Take my printed newsletter for example. Nige and the EC assured me it would work and as a direct result of sending a monthly printed magazine to my clients, I added £28,500 to my bottom line. I know this because I asked why the client had scheduled work with us after not hearing from them for six or more years. They told me that it was because they’d forgotten all about me, but now, due to the magazine, they were reminded of what they were missing out on by not working with us.
“We also sent out regular emails and lumpy mail to stay in touch and position our key services. It commonly resulted in contracts, as did spending £200 on personalized cards to cold clients with whom we’d lost touch.
“Innovation in marketing has been key. When I couldn’t find the names of a few key prospect contacts that I really wanted to get in touch with, I sent out a Guess Who? board game (thanks to fellow EC member for the idea) with a post it note on it, attached to an envelope to complete with cover letter and a copy of our client magazine. As a result of those packages, I am now in discussions about a sponsorship deal worth £45,000 a year.
“I also outsourced nearly every role that I didn’t have to do, including a few that I could have done but didn’t need to, which freed me up to keep a closer eye on strategy, spend more time building key relationships and also develop new services. It also improved efficiency and productivity, too. For a long time I resisted outsourcing, and at one point I didn’t think that I had the money to, but I bit the bullet because I realised that I had reached capacity- that nothing more could get done with just me working in the business. Fortunately, I found the right people and they’re now critical to the smooth running of the business today.
“Our turnover rose twelve fold to £500,000 in a short time and this didn’t happen by reading. It’s been long hours, hard work and persistent effort. I’ve had to regularly amend strategies and get my head down to JFDI. The results, however, have been better than I ever would have imagined. I’ve published books, toured with a one-man theatre show and developed a TV show as well as written for national newspapers. The most important thing for me has been to stay focused. I have very clear goals, strategies for those goals and after consolidating the masses of knowledge available to me (The Vault, old editions of The Circular, The Six Pack and various business books) I’ve been able to find the space to breathe and finally start putting things into action.”
“Although I’ve been in business for a long time, since joining EC it’s like we’ve turned a corner.
It’s no exaggeration to say that EC has been worth at least £250,000pa in increased turnover to us – which has had a massive impact on our profit and my drawings.
I’m also leveraging ‘who you hang around with matters’ and getting the most from my EC membership through help and support from Nige’s team and other EC members in the group.
It’s pushed me to understand exactly what marketing is and has helped me to implement it properly in my business.
And, of course, the fear of turning up at an EC Mastermind meeting without achieving what I said I would is a real driving force!
It would be impossible to list everything that has changed in my business thanks to my time in EC but one thing that I would pinpoint is that I have become much clearer about where my business is and my goals. As a result, there has been some big changes.
“For a start, we’ve moved to much nicer offices where we can invite customers to visit and demonstrate our services via ‘hands on days’ and training events.
We also took a leap and attended a convention as exhibitors. This was an amazing success and we added just under 300 contacts and 60 new leads, 12 of which we signed up as customers over the next couple of months.
“It was also thanks to the EC – and, in particular, some advice from Nigel – that I am seeing even better engagement from customers with my monthly newsletter. I originally ran it as an occasional publication but when Nige pointed out that it seemed a little haphazard and needed to be more frequent, I decided to write one every month to around 600 people, including prospects. And they’ve now started to see it as a personal communication.
“Although I’ve doubled my turnover, there are things that have made an even bigger difference.
A big move for me has been raising my prices twice and creating a series of premium products.
I have also sacked 25% of my customers; these were paying the least and expecting too much. This happened because when the recession hit we did what many businesses did, lowered our prices. This meant that we attracted a lot of these low paying customers. However, when we joined the EC, we put in place premium products and transferred the majority of our existing customers onto these. This, in turn, gave us the confidence to push others away or ask them to upgrade – in most cases, they went somewhere else.
“Another massive change is that we’ve now got a handle on our numbers. This has helped my sales team work out which areas we should be concentrating on. Tracking numbers have been invaluable in identifying which bits of marketing have been working and which we should stop.
“This has had a massive impact and I’d estimate it has saved us thousands. Thanks to knowing our numbers, we now focus on PPC, telesales, remarketing, direct mail to existing customers, 52-week auto responder campaigns, exhibitions, networking and Facebook ads.
“Just being around the other guys in EC means I’m also picking up some very useful habits. For example, I’ve now got into the habit of reading a new business book every fortnight – I’m aiming to get through 20+ this year. Nige’s book list and Club notes are really helpful for suggesting new books to put on my reading list.
I also making sure I do my 90 minutes every day – but with a bit of a twist. I have in place a 90-day plan to make sure I achieve one BIG thing every day that gets me closer to where I need to be at the end of the month.
“I can honestly say I’ve never been so organised. I even know what marketing I’m going to test each month. All I need to do is follow my plan and I know it’ll make a huge difference.
My personal earnings from the business have also grown markedly as a result of joining EC and I draw a five figure sum every month now which just wasn’t possible before…”
Pieter de Villiers came to the UK in November 1997, with no plan at all. He says, “Since then I have spent a few nights sleeping on a bench in Green Park and managed a bar for 5 years. I met my wife, did a music degree, had one failed business, and in 2008 I started iSpark Electrical Limited with my business partner John. We started out just running around doing every possible job we could, no matter how small or where it was. Through a painful series of events, we ended up working for three estate agents in London. The guy John and I worked for before setting up on our own put his company into liquidation owing both of us a large sum of money so we took over the contracts.
We were busy working for the estate agents, but soon realised that there was very little money in it. Word of mouth started to build up and we started getting calls for larger jobs. John and I always said we just want to run a small company with our two vans on the road.
“But then I joined the EC. After attending the first monthly meeting, my brain changed, and not for the last time.
Working crazy hours…
“I realised that I could do so much more than being an electrician, going from job to job. We started getting introduced to larger jobs, meeting architects, surveyors and other contractors. We started getting busy, and at this point it was still just John and I working crazy hours (driving to Bristol at 4am, work till 6pm to be back for a job in London the next day). The first change I made was to hire an accountant. This stopped me having to do the accounting till 11pm, and gave me a bit more peace of mind, as I was never sure if I got the VAT or payroll right.
Two big boosts…
“Two events gave us a real boost: one was getting our first contract with Grainger Plc, the UK’s largest private landlord. One job with them led to another, and we are now working for several of their property managers, have a permanent maintenance contract for one of their portfolios, and also carry out inspections and repairs throughout London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. We are also working with them on several refurbishment projects.
“The second boost came from being introduced to Temple Building Ltd in London. Our first job for them was our biggest at that point, but they didn’t know this! I had to drop everything and go for some three phase training between the time the contract was agreed and the day we had to start. The next job for them was a mews house and two flats.
Doubled our turnover…
“Since then we’ve worked on bigger and bigger jobs e.g. working on nine four bedroom new build houses and tendering for the refurbishment of 154 en-suite bedrooms over seven floors at the YMCA Forest building.
“Since I have been an EC member, we have doubled our turnover, profit, and personal income. We now employ five electricians; we’ve just taken delivery of two new vehicles, and we are on course to do more business in the next six months than we have done in the last two years. I have also not touched a screwdriver for nearly six months. I’ve been spending so much more of my time working ON the business instead of IN it.
“The biggest impact the EC has had on me is mindset! Attitude has been everything for us. Never saying “we can’t”. I might not know how, but I bet I can find someone who can teach me, before you find out!
Technology plays a big part…
“The other major factor in our success has been relentless customer service. It is very unusual for us not to be on your doorstep within 36 hours of ringing us. I don’t think the larger companies we work for know how relatively small we are. This is only made possible through having systems in place to deal with everything. Using technology plays a big part in this. There are costs involved, but they are far outweighed by the benefits. Every member of our staff gets an iPhone when they start, and we are now also rolling out iPads. I run every aspect of the company from my car, with an iPad. I need to know where everyone is, and also they have to know where they have to be. With the iCal system, anything I put in the diary automatically turns up on their phones. I don’t spend my time emailing or phoning staff, telling them where to be when jobs change or something urgent comes in.
I read a lot more…
“Nigel’s approach to commitments at the monthly meetings is also very handy. It is very difficult to stand up in a room with 300+ business owners and admit that through lack of effort, I did not get something done. This made the deadline for our new website unmovable.
“I have also taken the opportunity to have some Adwords training at EC, have started advertising in our local magazine, set up a Facebook page and ads, registered on LinkedIn, dabbled with Twitter, have set up a CRM system and am starting to get to grips with it, and am generally aiming much, much higher than I would have before learning so much from the EC. I also read a lot more than I used to. Once you open your mind, there’s so much to discover…“
“In October 2010 I was invited along to a meeting that was to change my business thinking – and my life!
It was at that meeting that I first met Nigel Botterill and that was the day I realised that if I wanted my business to be super successful I would need to surround myself with the knowledge, positivity, team and members at the Entrepreneurs Circle. ‘Who you hang around with matters’ as Nige says!
I signed up for my trial membership and I have never looked back. I have learned so much and picked up knowledge that I just know would not be available to me anywhere else – especially not all in one place.
I’ve been encouraged and supported in a fun but no nonsense way. At your 1-1’s you get told it as it is which can sometimes be a bit brutal. It’s not for the faint hearted but a lesson you will be thankful for.
Join Nigel and the team…
Since being a member of the Entrepreneurs Circle I have priced for profit, sent out newsletters, written a book, built products that bring in a passive income, have learnt how marketing needs to be right and yes you can make it fun… in fact this is what your customers remember about you and how someone, somewhere is also waiting to help you on your business journey.
I have certainly turned my thinking from self-employment to business owner and would encourage anyone who wants to do the same to join Nigel and his team at the Entrepreneurs Circle. Once you have taken that decision I don’t think you will look back, the only thing you need to do is put your learning’s into ACTION!”
It all started with me attending an EC event in January 2014.
At the time we had just re-established our café business, Avenue Café, at a suburban Bristol location having started out in the center of town back in 2000. The business had been built up through reputation and having a strong loyal following.
But we had no marketing pillars in the business other than a dated website and the success of the business was due to the quality of our products and the great service we provided through the personality of our staff and us!
When we first started out we were at the forefront of the café/coffee shop scene and we were good at what we did which helped to keep us ahead of the wave that was to follow.
Some 15 years on and 4 ½ years at this site, things are much different! There is vast competition from many local and national chains, and independents alike and you can no longer just open the doors and hope for the best.
This is the reason I joined the EC and I’ve learnt so many new skills and implemented new systems into the business which has not only helped us to remain strong but it has enabled us to grow the business by 37% since the beginning of 2015.
The first thing we did was to begin gathering customer details, in house, with a contact form, to build a database and within a couple of months we had around 300 customers on our list. Communication was primitive with me sending out individual e-mails to the list with a self crafted newsletter or a coffee voucher here and there. There was no real regularity and this process was lengthy and laborious and to be honest I didn’t look forward to it.
We developed a simple coffee loyalty card, buy 9 coffees get the 10th free, also with space for customers to fill in their contact details, to then add them to the list and put the cards, when full, into our monthly prize draw for a voucher. Over time we have up-dated and refined the design to reflect the business image.
After attending several of the National Events that followed and regularly attending my local meetings I began implementing more things in the business.
A significant factor has been using our CRM system where over the past 12 months we have built a list of 1,200 customers and which continues to grow by around 100 contacts per month.
This is linked to our website with auto responders and data capture in place. This has enabled us to send structured emails with significantly improved response rates. For example, when promoting our regular Mezé Nights on sending out an email releasing 6/8 dates we are literally sold out within minutes of the email going out! Our customers are also more responsive to our vouchers and café news.
We also developed a phone app for the café which last year helped us become a finalist in the Best Use of New Media category at last years EC awards.
Our app has over 2,000 downloads with regular weekly usage and at the time of its launch, last year, it was the fastest downloaded app for any independent coffee shop or restaurant in Bristol. The app has general information about the café, a loyalty card, a free coffee voucher and money off coupons, together with links to our social media feeds and lots more features. Helping to communicate with and incentivize our customers and to build loyalty. The use of mobile phones and mobile apps in society and business is growing at a very fast rate and is something all businesses need to embrace!
During the latter part of 2014 we re-branded the business giving its a fresh and up to date image. This was reflected in all of our promotional material, menus, menu boards, signage etc. We had a re-launch evening at the end of 2014 with a price increase on our menu products, having also re-negotiated better prices with our suppliers, which has also attributed to growth.
Our website has recently been rebuilt. We have recently introduced a Birthday Club, (the development of which was helped along by Nigel at the Copywriting TEAP Course), capturing Birthday information and sending treats to customers, which again breeds loyalty.
We also developed a “Wall of Fame” (another idea from EC!) which showcases customer testimonials and comments.
We ran a competition through email and social media with voucher rewards for the best comments and have over 80 testimonials/comments which we display on the wall and use on our social media platforms and website in rotation.
Our best promotion is a £5 Off voucher when you spend £15 or more. We promote this via email and also through the app. This alone has seen a growth of 22% year-on-year with an average spend, after the £5 discount, of £15.28 per transaction.
Having implemented and improved all of the above with better and more frequent communication with our customers and by increasing awareness and exposure we have seen a combined growth of 37% compared to the same time last year. Seeing turnover rise from £286k to £390k.
We are currently taking part in the Food Magazine Reader Awards where we are aiming to be shortlisted in the “Best Café” category and have had over 500 nominations so far after our recent social media and email campaigns for support.
Avenue Café holds a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015 for its high standards.
The business continues to grow and with continued implementation and development and EC support, we will aim to maintain further growth.
“I first came across Nigel when I decided to go on the ‘How to ensure your business thrives (Screw Surviving) seminars. Since then my turnover has increased steadily. Since joining the EC I’ve implemented lots of actions that have really made the difference. For instance, I delegated far more of the physical workload: I work on my business not in it. I’ve employed a secretary and realised that someone else can do most things that I believed only I was capable of; I’ve instigated an ongoing pay per click campaign as this is where the majority of my leads come from; I’ve installed systems to get the basic stuff like dealing with enquires done really well. Everything is done promptly, efficiently and comprehensively with a 100% customer focus.
“We conduct an annual survey of all customers and use this to acquire testimonials. I have had such good feedback that I felt I had to use it in a brochure– something you really should do in your business. I’ve developed a comprehensive database of customers and enquirers. And of course we actually mail and email to people to drive response!
“I put my prices up – I’ve never felt confident enough to increase prices since I started the business because I work in a competitive market but EC has given me the assurance in the value of my product and service to increase prices and feel comfortable about justifying it to potential customers.
“I set up a Facebook page and have realised that it can work well for us and our type of marketing – we do quite a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ stuff and this provides the perfect platform for this. I have a group of guys who work for me who instinctively capture great moments on camera so my job is to work out what is and isn’t’ t acceptable from a marketing perspective!
“I also initiated customer service training for my staff –‘The Rules’– I, like I suspect many others, have adapted Nigel’s N5 Rules to suit my operation – this helps to focus my brain on who I want working for me, and provides a very clear message about the attitude and standards expected.
“I’ve realised that our vehicles are an amazing way of ‘touching’ scores of customers every week. We’ ve got great pictures all over them, and the piece de resistance was deciding that I shouldn’t pander to the complaining minority by being reticent about putting our ‘ Erections’ picture on the back of a lorry. It’s worked brilliantly and I’ve yet to receive a complaint (although we have to whip the door up quite quickly when we turn up at schools.)
“I’m constantly updating the website – we now have in-house capability to update the website with quotes and pictures. We’ve had a great video added to this, have completely altered the front page after the BGA session on this, and are about to completely re-launch it.
“I’ve also put in place a Customer Service ‘Guarantee’ because I realised we don’t shout enough about how dedicated we are to our customers. This is a brilliant way to demonstrate to the customer the fantastic service that they will receive before they even book with us and removes the worry and frustration for them when doing business with us. Other original marketing initiatives that we have implemented include:
Valentine’s Day flowers to venues we’d like to work with – the message was “Do your current suppliers love you enough to send you flowers?” Worked a treat and we’ll be deploying that again.
Winter package offers (one stop party shop, we do everything apart from the booze, food and invites) this helps us secure more business in the quieter periods.
Brides t-shirts – all brides get a t shirt with ‘I did it in an Archers Marquee’ across the back.
Anniversary cards – we send cards on the first anniversary of all weddings we provide marquees for.
“Our turnover and net profit has increased steadily throughout the same period, even during ridiculous weather.”
I Launched B60 from kitchen table on May 30th 2012. Today we are profitable and growing and working with some of the biggest brands in the world.
All of this has been achieved 100% organically with not an outside investor or a penny of venture capital in sight. I had just 8 weeks’ working capital with which to conceive, develop, launch and nurture B60 into the awesome profit machine it has become.
B60 was born as a mobile agency delivering mobile app development and consultancy. The following day my campaign to acquire customers began. I knew I had to move fast to survive. I was starting from scratch. It was just me, the sales guy; everything else would be outsourced. Everything!
I was thinking big – I talked about B60 like it was a global brand, because in my head, that’s exactly what it was going to become. So I acted like it was one. I flew by the seat of my pants, inspired by Dr David Schwatz and The Magic of Thinking Big.
I got a website pulled together by an offshore developer and some business card designs.
I registered with the VAT office to ensure companies I approached could see we were a proper business.
I knew that getting customers was not going to be easy so I started running free webinars and seminars about how to adopt mobile and use apps to drive growth and efficiency. No other mobile development company was doing this, I quickly gained some traction and landed my first clients.
I had no development team, I wasn’t a programmer and so I had to resource the work through freelance agents and local development companies. It was hard work, juggling sales and production, but I battled on.
When month 3 came, as predicted, I was out of capital. But the business was paying its own way and giving me a wage. It wasn’t a big wage, but it paid the bills and put food on the table.
Within 6 months I needed staff, it was a big step but one I knew I had to take to continue growing. The issue was that with staff I only had 2 months capital to pay everyone and market the business and still grow sales.
So I did what any entrepreneur would do, I took a calculated risk and put most of the working capital I had on a marketing campaign online and drove a load of traffic to the website.
In 4 weeks I landed £20k in revenue.
I was working every hour I could at getting customers and seeking referrals from the ones I had. I just pressed on and sure enough the business went from strength to strength.
We’re creating jobs in the Midlands and in the North West, having opened an office to service the growing demand in Manchester for our work. And we have plans for another office set to open in London. I’ve been part of the EC for pretty much the full journey and from me at my kitchen table back in 2012, to today writing this with staff and healthy growth has been one hell of a fun ride. And one that I know will long continue.
“Since joining the EC I have found that I can better understand how to make my business opportunity and products appeal to people – I know how to structure things to make them realise what’s in it for them!
I’m building a global consumer network of people using the best health and wellness products available (verified by independent blind testing) – I wouldn’t have realised how powerful it is to include that statement before I joined EC.
Too good to give up…
I joined the EC in May 2011 – I bought “Botty Rules” and had two months free – I was just going to take this and then leave! What I found was that the incredible information and resources available were much too good to give up! The power of providing something free or an offer to entice others was clear to me straight away!
So here I am now, still a very happy member. So what have I done…
I have built an attraction marketing system for my main business – to get people to know me, like me and trust me. Written an eBook to give away; outlined the content of a book for publishing. Set up a WP blog and Aweber auto responder. Written a library of blog posts and so far around 15 auto responder messages. I use the National Events for learning and networking.
1000% next year…
My business has grown by over 200% since joining and I haven’t finished yet! I still have to complete the second and third series of auto responder emails. I have also learned the power of setting clear goals and deadlines –and the power of momentum!
And all this around my two school age children, running a ladies networking group and my charity fundraising and volunteering!. EC definitely works!
“I joined the EC on a free trial. I’d put a note in my diary to cancel the membership when the trial ended so that I wouldn’t get charged because I didn’t think I could afford the membership fee.
However, two weeks in I already knew I was going to stay – I was devouring the information supplied by Nigel in ‘The Vault’ the online home of the Entrepreneurs Circle.
It all made perfect sense to me and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t heard about this before!
There was no ‘corporate’ speak, it was all just incredibly clear, useful information – stuff that I could apply to my business and watch it working.
I’ve always worked hard at my business, but now I realise that I lacked focus – I was working IN my business and not ON it, I didn’t have a clear goal and I allowed others to distract me (because I work from home friends would ring me during the day, pop in for coffee or ask for favours because I didn’t have a ‘proper job’). I felt a bit lost really as my husband was out quoting and carrying out installations and I was in the office flitting one thing to another.
I took full advantage of every piece of information offered to me in fact, it became a standing joke in our house that I was ‘going to bed with Nigel’ as I would sit up for hours reading his book and other documents from the website.
One of the best things I did was have a 1:1 telephone consultation with Nigel himself. It was so inspiring and he gave me some home truths – he tells it like it is!
Hearing from him that our website was, to put it politely, rubbish, was hard to take, but he was so right – it’s since been redesigned using all the advice I got from him and his team and it generates load more leads now as a result.
I realised how far we’d come recently when I overheard my 10 year old daughter talking to a school friend – the school friend said “I’d love a pony, maybe my mum and dad will buy me one when they win the lottery” Emilie said “my mum and dad don’t need to win the lottery, they know Nigel Botterill and he’s helping them to grow our business and get rich!”
I’m actually quite proud that she understands that hard work and perseverance pays off and not to pin your hopes on winning the lottery!
Being a member of the Entrepreneurs Circle has made such a difference to me and my husband that we’re now about to launch our business on a national level. That was always a dream but thanks to what I’ve learnt from Nigel, it’s soon to become a reality. The ‘business in a box’ contains everything needed to hit the ground running and I really wish we’d had that at our fingertips when we first started out!
Quite simply, Nigel gave me the kick up the backside needed to take things to the next level and gave me my mojo back – you can’t put a price on that!”
Entrepreneur’s Circle is like an “All You Can Eat Buffet” and I’m getting heavier all the time!!
There are so many benefits to EC membership and so many ways that my business has grown as a result of implementing Nigel’s ideas and suggestions.
Like any buffet, there were things that I tried but which were not right for me at the time, but times and tastes change so I’ll keep revisiting those choices.
In the meantime, here are my favourites!!
Starters – The foundation
Be different – we all have competitors but it’s how I stand out from other insurance brokers that has a big impact for me.
90 Minutes – putting aside quality time to work on the business has helped me to plan and implement ways to grow the business
Get Help – whilst I’ve not yet started using a virtual assistant, I do use a call answering service and I also outsource certain other work, leaving me more time to work on more productive stuff!
Main Course – The biggies
CRM System – this has been crucial to improving communication with prospects and clients.
EC Team – an incredibly enthusiastic and helpful bunch who have provided some great ideas and are often quite thought provoking.
Social Media – I wasn’t sure that this could help my business but EC has shown me it is here to stay and that I cannot afford to ignore it. I’m now on Twitter and Facebook and whilst I have not yet seen any direct results, I can see how it helps me to engage with clients. There’s still a long way for me to go but I will get there.
Drafting Direct Mail – Nigel helped me with a new direct mail letter and made me think about the approach from a different direction, focussing on what a potential client would want to read.
Desserts – Little Luxuries!
Call Tracking Numbers – helping me to monitor where business comes from
National Events – these have been a great place not only to learn new things from Nigel but also to share ideas with other members.”
“I joined the EC on a 2-month trial membership and never for a second did I think that I’d continue the membership at full price after the trial period was up.
I was really new in business and £80 cost per month was way out of my league. But then I went to a national event, and a local one, received an EC Circular and had my mind happily boggled reading all the great stuff in the Vault. All of a sudden I realised that the EC was exactly what I needed.
It’s like school for business owners – you learn about marketing and how important it is, how to really think about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, and there’s so much support it feels less lonely and isolated.
The buzz you get coming away from a national event may not be legal – you feel like you can achieve absolutely anything! I’ve had some major lightbulb moments at EC events that have totally changed the direction of my business, and I’ve learned to think bigger – much bigger.
Originally I wanted to replace the salary from my previous job in 2 years, but after 4 months in the EC I brought that goal forward to 16 months, and I actually achieved it in 12. I’ve already made 160% of my first year’s income in the first 4 months of my second year in business, and I attribute at least half of that success to the EC.
Oh and I’ve taken August off – how cool is that?!
I would never have been so far along in business maturity had it not been for the knowledge, the support, the enthusiasm, the attitude, and the people of the EC.
If you’re running a business and it’s not giving you what you need, then the EC should be your first port of call. You won’t find anywhere better for helping you figure out how to achieve great things.”
“As a franchisor with a network of 65 franchised outlets I attended my first ever EC event as I wanted to find a way of keeping our franchisees ahead of the game and adopting the very latest smart thinking to give us an edge in a competitive market. I also wanted to understand what we could do better in the field of franchise recruitment and when it comes to franchising there is no-one better to learn from than Nigel and the EC team.
Marketer of my business…
“I remember squirming in my seat when Nigel was asking about how we recruited and how we marketed ourselves.
Up until that day we had followed the fairly conventional path of franchise recruitment; spending shed loads on adverts in franchise magazines and hoping for enquiries to roll in as a result. We had a consumer website and a page of the site was dedicated to franchise recruitment. Following that day with Nigel I went away and starting focusing on being a marketer of my business – every day. I implemented loads:
“We built a dedicated franchise recruitment website. We ditched our paper-based prospectus and poured everything into our site that a prospective franchisee would want to know. We ring fenced the sections on costs and earnings and made sure that to access this area we captured contact details to enable us to carry out our own email promotion blasts on an ongoing basis. Following the tutorials on social media and Google AdWords I set up an AdWords campaign in every area in the UK where we were seeking a franchisee. This drove traffic to our website as Nigel said it would. This subsequently helped us build our database as the more visitors we got the more contact details we captured.
Social media network…
“As the email database grew we would send out incentivised promotions to attend our Discovery Days.
We also built Facebook sites and began tweeting and encouraged our franchisees to do the same. We have developed quite a social media network as a result.
Change in approach…
“As a result of this new learning, the recruitment website went live and since then we have recruited seven new franchisees which is a company record.
They are great people and we would never have found them without this change in approach.We have developed a quite sophisticated pipeline process from enquiry through to Discovery Day that is all based on my day with the guys at EC – I’m so grateful to them for sharing their knowledge. It’s made a massive difference…”
The business started when we borrowed two giant games for a friend’s wedding, and watched peoples’ reactions. They loved it, and we soon realised we’d stumbled across a potential business opportunity.
We’ve come a long way in the last 12 years. From a small business in our spare room to a million pound plus business, we couldn’t be prouder of where Sunshine Events has been – and where we’re heading.
Having taken a six month sabbatical from their jobs as an accountant and events manager to travel the world 12 years ago, James and Sunny Sandwell’s minds began working on ideas for their return. After researching the industry, they decided to launch a business that was the opposite of the established market.
They wanted to do something different from everyone else.
We set off with plans that were different to everybody else in the market, and this has enabled us to have different results to everyone else. We’ve achieved a continued growth in turnover and profits, and are now the number one business in our industry in the country.
Sunshine Events was born, and James and his wife Sunny set about bringing events to life with their fun equipment. From photo booths and candy floss machines to human table football and giant assault courses, they’ve proved that they really are the fun experts.
Keen to grow and looking to really maximise their success, the husband and wife team were ones to rest on their laurels. Keeping their goal of being different in mind, James and Sunny looked closer at how they could move Sunshine Events into the big league.
We really got serious from 2013 onwards. I now work on the business nearly full time, and have put many things in place to hold the future growth. You could say I’ve lit the torch paper, and we’re ready for business
We made the conscious change in our client base from private parties to the transition of primarily supplying corporate, councils, event companies, television companies and venues. These have bigger budgets and offer us repeat work. In 2015 alone, our clients included Pandora, BBC and Merlin Leisure. We also had repeat bookings last year from Facebook, Google and Amazon!
It doesn’t stop there for James. Over the last twelve months, he’s invested heavily in the development of Sunshine Events’ latest website, and the creation of a bespoke booking system to streamline their operation.
James had set himself a target of a £1 million turnover, something which – thanks to a growth in sales of 49% last year –he’s already exceeded.
James and Sunny have also seen their team grow to 13 full time staff and 40 casual event staff. Their management team is made up of four people, all of which benefit from share options. It’s just one of the ways they reward those who’re committed to them.
James followed EC advice and asked, ‘What would the best in the world do?’ and then he did just that.
But it’s not all been plain sailing for. Like all entrepreneurs and business owners, he’s had his tough times and faced challenges in business.
The biggest obstacle for me in reaching my goals has always been my clarity. I need clarity of mind in what the future holds, and in finding the right order to do the right things.
James has been working on his clarity though, and it’s been paying off. Over the last 12 years, Sunshine Events has achieved many of those original goals that were once distant dreams.
And James isn’t resting on his laurels. He may have smashed his targets for 2015, but he’s already well on the way to making 2016 bigger and better. Not afraid of hard-work and implementation, there are some very exciting things on the horizon for Sunshine Events.
We’re no strangers to implementation, and we’re now in the position to dedicate time to work on our long-term goals. Both in our personal and professional lives.
The Entrepreneurs Circle has had a huge impact on the business over the last three years, and now is the time to super-charge our actions.
We have some very clear goals for the next 12 months. We want to build the value of the business, and help achieve its exciting potential – and we’ve got 100% c-l-a-r-i-t-y over these goals and how we’re going to meet them!