Kevin Stansfield celebrated 10 years of franchise ownership with ActionCOACH in May this year
Kevin tells us about his driving purpose that has kept him motivated over the last decade.
Kevin was used to advising companies; a chartered accountant, with lots of experience in regional practice and industry, he’d had been working as a self-employed freelance Finance Director for 15 years but, in 2006, he was ready for a change.
“I read an article about ActionCOACH and liked the idea of coaching as a way of working with businesses in a much broader way. Colleagues and friends told me to save my money and do it on my own, but I felt it would take me five years to amass the tools, techniques and knowledge I’d have from day one with ActionCOACH. I didn’t want to wait five years before I was equipped to get motoring!”
“There are so many people there to support you, saying ‘you can do it’ when you have those moments of doubt. I also like the ethos of self-development – it’s really strong, so you and your coaching business are improving all of the time. The choice was clear for me. ActionCOACH might have been the highest investment, but was clearly the best value; if I’d wanted to be a partner in a major accountancy firm like PwC I’d be expected to buy in. I felt I was doing the same with ActionCOACH.”
Kevin says there have been challenges. For instance, he had to develop new skills: “I’m a reserved accountant; I wasn’t used to sales or being on stage presenting. It was a big shift but it was a welcome one. I discovered I’m more outgoing than my career to date had allowed but I needed to be. I had to be out there showing people that an ActionCOACH would really make a difference to them.”
When Kevin became one of the UK’s first ActionCOACH franchise owners to gross a cumulative £1million in revenue, it was clear his decision to buy the franchise five years before had been a good one.
“Of course you have some doubts about whether the franchise will work for you, especially in the early days, but I always had faith in what I was doing. I knew that if I followed the ActionCOACH approach, I’d build a major business and more importantly make a massive difference to the companies I coached.”
In 2011 Kevin took the next step in his evolution by joining forces with another coach and setting up their own training facility, with 3 coaching offices and a training room that they often fill with 20+ business people. Their Firm currently coaches over 50 clients. These are in a mix of sectors, sizes and demographics. Some are on weekly coaching; some are fortnightly or monthly. Others attend their group coaching programmes, which allows the smaller businesses to benefit from coaching and training in a cost effective way.
It’s when talking about his clients’ successes that Kevin gets incredibly emotional. It’s obvious he loves the work: “My clients are all so different, all shapes and sizes, while the specifics of what they want are different, they all follow a similar pattern; more time and money to do what they want to do, and it is such an honour when they acknowledge that without coaching they would not be where they are today. Why would I want to do anything else?”
For instance, Kevin had one client, in the building sector, who had been struggling in their business for 5 years, with a crippling workload. Within 9 months Kevin had freed him from the business. At their recent 10-year birthday celebration dinner, an old client stood up and thanked Kevin for helping him move from packing products in a cold warehouse to being fully retired with houses in Cyprus and France.
Kevin won his first client – a printing firm – after one month of launching his ActionCOACH business. This client is still with him continuing with group coaching to remain in the strong community that Kevin has fostered: “Having a client for 10 years is an exception, if people stop growing and learning they go backwards so we love to keep them with us as long as we can. Our average client retention is probably about 2 years, it all depends on their goals and if they want to keep working at them.”
The results speak for themselves and at the 2016 Business Excellence Forum and Awards, Kevin had his third client winner in 5 years. Aqua Cooling Solutions, the UK’s leading specialist in industrial process cooling and associated products and services, won Best Service-Based Business. In the previous year, they won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, business awards in Solent and Portsmouth and recently came runner-up for the Best Data Centre Supplier award against a multi-billion pound global company.”
Just two years after setting up his coaching business it was big enough for Kevin’s wife, Jane, to leave her well paid job and join him, working part-time as the office manager. The team has had its ups and downs over the years, but this is in part down to Kevin’s determination to build the best coaching businesses in the UK with four new coaches planned for the next couple of years so that he can hit his goal of looking after 200 businesses in the Hampshire area.
New franchise owners have a far better starting position than Kevin did when he started: “I still remember my first week, I had to network and pick up the phone to generate my leads. Most of our marketing material was still Australian and American, so we had to convert it all to fit the UK market. Since then the UK ActionCOACH support office has invested heavily in marketing systems including a brilliant marketing team, which gets coaches off to a far quicker start than I had.”
10 Years On
“These days, I like to give more than I take. I coach a charity under our Coaching for a Cause programme and am currently coaching two Action Coaches during their start-up phases. I am one of only a few Master Coaches in the UK who are licensed to train new franchise owners. Past successes with coaches have seen 3 go from banking under £6,000 a month to over £20,000. This summer I’m flying to Scotland to run a training session with the Scottish team focusing on client retention and motivation.
“What’s my secret to a great ActionCOACH business? Client retention is important and I achieve that through strong 90-day plans for my clients, offering constant education with a workshop available every week, getting my clients together to build a great community and celebrating results – including my 10-year anniversary dinner! I just love being a coach. It doesn’t feel like a job. When times are tough I still can’t think of anything I’d rather do.
“How do you keep yourself motivated for 10 years?! The big thing for me is having clarity around your purpose of being in business. The first couple of years is survival, if you don’t do well then all that investment is wasted. Then I moved into the wants and desires phase of new cars, holidays, new house and awards and recognition. Most coaches I have seen leave once they have achieved all of this but when my time came to question if I would stay or go, I went back to the reason why I got into this in the first place.
“My purpose was, and still is, that I want to help small businesses like my parents had – struggling and not as profitable as they should be. Being in business should give you more life, not take it away from you and so I am very proud that over 10 years I have so far helped 263 businesses to be better than they would have been if they had not been Action coached. For me the purpose is more important than the business itself. I’m not the largest turnover or most profitable Action Coach in the world but I would like to think that I am one of those that has made the biggest and widest impact in their local area, and it only takes one of my clients to achieve their goals to make me realise that what I do for them is why I do what I do. How can you not be motivated by that?”