The Alternative Board brings together business owners to create a group that can offer impartial advice and sound support based on their own experiences
Business & Professional Services, Business
The question that lay behind the creation of The Alternative Board is a simple one: why can’t owners of a small business benefit from the same advice that’s available to big businesses?
The Alternative Board, or TAB as the business is popularly known, offers businesses that advice and support by bringing together a group of other business owners to create a ‘think tank’, offering impartial advice and sound support. These businessmen and women know the kind of challenges and understand the issues a business can face because they run similar-sized businesses.
A fresh pair of eyes can often find a solution to a problem that has shifted your focus and eaten away too much time. Just airing a problem to the sounding board of these fellow business owners can provide valuable results and the shared experience and collective wisdom may provide easy solutions.
As well as monthly board meetings, businesses also meet on a one-to-one basis with their local The Alternative Board facilitator. These sessions offer an opportunity to keep business owners focused, accountable and on track to achieve their goals, helped by a mentor who will help you recapture the excitement of why you first set up your business.
The Alternative Board has 35 facilitators around the UK, helping businesses overcome barriers and capitalise on their ideas and opportunities.
The Alternative Board members also have access to the Business Builder’s Toolkit, a strategic business planning process which will help business owners focus on delivering their vision. During personal mentoring sessions, TAB facilitator will help members develop a strategy for their businesses.
These strategies are presented at board meetings for criticism and constructive feedback and will eventually coalesce into a realistic, strategically focused plan that can utilise the company’s strengths to grow the business, neutralise weaknesses, make the best of opportunities and mitigate threats.
The toolkit also helps you track key performance indicators to continually assess the progress a business is making.
The Alternative Board is a full member of the British Franchise Association (BFA) and of the International Franchise Association (IFA).
The Alternative Board has its origins in North America, where it was founded in Missouri in 1990 by Allen Fishman, who understood that the only people whose advice was honest and worth listening to was the advice of his peers — small business owners like himself.
The Alternative Board operates in 20 countries and is constantly adding to its existing international franchisee community of 400. Between them, these franchisees have experience of more than 300 industries and have helped more than 15,000 businesses with a combined turnover of more than £8bn.
The UK branch of the company, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was incorporated in December 2008 by Paul Dickenson and Jo Clarkson under the name Massive Deal Ltd. In 2014 it was renamed Peer Power Ltd., trading as The Alternative Board.
The running of the company was taken over by managing director Ed Reid and finance director Mags Fuller in February 2017. Reid was originally The Alternative Board’s third franchisee when he bought the York franchise in 2009 having learned the challenges facing SMEs from his own print business. He is
now managing director of The Alternative Board UK.
Mags Fuller honed her commercial skills in a range of financial roles with companies including the Arcadia Group and Ernst & Young.
Co-owner Mark Fuller was running his own business when he joined The Alternative Board in 2009. When the opportunity came along to invest, the beneficial experience he had as a The Alternative Board franchise member made it an easy decision to make.
Membership of The Alternative Board allows companies to share ideas and collaborate with like-minded business owners and benefit from their experiences. Through The Alternative Board, business owners can meet with a group of around half a dozen other business owners — the same people each month so everyone knows and understands their fellow board members’ businesses. Each member brings an issue or an opportunity to the meetings every month, and as board members have no vested interest, their
advice can be candid as the group works through that month’s problems.
Thanks to this drawing together of mentors and business owners with different skills and a diverse range of views, The Alternative Board has helped over 13,000 members face hundreds of thousands of challenges.
Income is derived from monthly membership fees.
The franchise offers a range of involvement and costs. The regular franchise costs £48,750 for a full award (£35,000 franchise fee, £12,750 training fees). For this franchisees are given an exclusive territory based on postcodes in which to operate. Ongoing monthly fees are 20 per cent of net fee income with a further 2 per cent contribution towards the TAB marketing development fund.
There is a second option costing £23,750 to become a corporate contract facilitator with an option to upgrade to a full franchise at a later date.
The Alternative Board recommend franchisees have a £10,000 budget to invest in marketing in their first year.
The Alterative Board states that minimal personal investment is 50 per cent but financial aid is available for the remainder. Most banks have local franchise managers or a specialist franchising unit where potential franchisees can get banking and financial support. Banks are often willing to lend up to 70 per cent of a franchisee’s costs, depending on their financial history.
What support and training does The Alternative Board offer its franchisees?
The Alternative Board has designed its training programme to enable franchisees to develop a profitable and rewarding business. It begins with five days of training at The Alternative Board’s Harrogate head office, followed by two weeks of working ‘in the field’ before returning to Harrogate for another three days of training.
There’s extensive ongoing training and development opportunities which will mean franchisees have all the support they need to succeed.
The Alternative Board brand is marketed at a local level to support its franchisees, focussing on SME’s within the area to attract interest.
The rewards from The Alternative Board franchise vary with the initial investment put in by the franchisee, but with low ongoing overheads, a The Alternative Board franchisee should only require a few members paying an average of £500 per month each to show a profit.
A The Alternative Board business can build to a six-figure sum in the first 2-3 years of business, and franchisees can continue to grow their membership by recruiting additional facilitators to work with them or build income through providing additional consultancy services using the TAB tools.
According to The Alternative Board, the average member remains a regular monthly attendee for four and a half years.
The Alternative Board recognises that each exclusive territory is developed by franchisees and their business can rise in value as they build their business successfully.
Some franchisees prefer to enter into business with the hard work of starting a new territory already tackled. For whatever reason – relocation or retirement being two of the most common – franchises may come up for resale.
Contact The Alternative Board to see if there is a franchise for sale in the area you would like.
The Alternative Board is looking for franchisees with a minimum of seven years’ experience in business at a director level. As important is your drive to succeed and enjoyment of being part of a community.
Getting the right mix of people around your first board is going to be one of the biggest challenges you face, and you will have to cope with the inevitable highs and lows of every board member, as well as with being a business owner yourself.
Farnborough & Hazelmere, Harrogate, West Hertfordshire, Ivel Valley, Leeds Centre, Manchester West, Newcastle, Thames Valley East and Thames Valley West and elsewhere in the UK.
Potential franchisees for The Alternative Board are subject to a process of evaluation to determine if they are the right fit for the franchise. To find out more, or to request further information on franchising with the Alternative Board, click on the ‘Send Enquiry’ button now.
New articles added every week
Hand picked franchise opportunities just for you
First class help and advice for franchising and business
We have the industries best contributors on board
Inspiring and insightful franchise case studies