4-YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: The 3 Phases of Growing a Franchise System—Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH, Founder/Chairman

Today’s episode is extra special as it is the celebration of our podcasts’ 4 year anniversary. Thank you to all of our loyal listeners who have been with us and a part of our journey. And, I always remember our first episode because it was released right around Father’s Day. 

On our celebration episodes I always like to have a special topic or special guest and today is no different. I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Brad Sugars, who is the founder and Chairman of ActioCOACH, which has over 1,100 franchisees in 83 countries. Brad shares with us some key insights into marketing and growing a business, the 3 phases to growing your franchise system from 1 to 100 franchises, and the 5 sales that occur during the franchise sales process.


 “You can’t outperform your knowledge.” 


Brad Sugars is the Chairman and Founder of ActionCOACH, a multi-million-dollar franchise providing result-driven education and business solutions to entrepreneurs and executives in 70+ countries across the world.  Since starting it in 1993, Brad has scaled up his venture into an award-winning global enterprise that coaches 15,000 businesses on a weekly basis, helping them grow, sustain, and succeed. With over 30 years of experience in the entrepreneurial space, Brad has established himself as one of the world’s leading business coaches. He has lent his professional expertise to 9+ companies as a CEO, besides building his personal brand as a renowned business guru, keynote speaker, and best-selling author. 


This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.

If you are interested in being a guest on our podcast, please complete this request form or email podcast@bigskyfranchise.com and a team member will be in touch.


Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):

Welcome to the Multiply Your Success Podcast, where each week, we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, and in today’s episode is an extra special episode as it’s the celebration of our podcast’s four-year anniversary. So a big thank you to all of our loyal listeners and to you who’ve been a part of this journey. And I always remember our first episode because it was released right around Father’s Day where I had a chance to interview my dad.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:36):

So a happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. And on our celebration episodes, I always like to have a special topic or a special guest, and today is no different. I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Brad Sugars, who is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH, which has over 1,100 franchises in 83 countries. Brad shares with us some key insights into marketing and growing a business, the three phases to growing your franchise system from one to 100 franchises, and the five sales that occur during the franchise sales process.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:13):

Now Brad is the founder and chairman, as I’d mentioned, of ActionCOACH, which is a multimillion-dollar franchise providing results-driven education and business solutions to entrepreneurs and executives around the world. Since starting in 1993, Brad has scaled up his venture into an award-winning global enterprise that coaches 15,000 businesses on a weekly basis, helping them grow, sustain, and succeed. With over 30 years of experience in the entrepreneurial space, Brad has established himself as one of the world’s leading business coaches.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:48):

He has lent his professional expertise to nine-plus companies as CEO, besides building his personal brand as a renowned business guru, keynote speaker, and bestselling author. And let me just say that this episode is jammed full of phenomenal information that Brad shares. In fact, I think it’s so good you might even want to listen to this episode two times. So let’s go ahead and jump right into my interview with Brad Sugars.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (02:16):

So Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH chairman and founder. So yeah, I get to drop the CEO title these days.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:24):

I’d love for you just to talk a little bit about starting the business and then I always like to ask people in franchising what led you to franchising.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (02:33):

When I first started business coaching, there really was no business coaching. People would always say, “Is that like consulting,” because ActionCOACH, we are now almost 31 years old as a company. What led me to franchising, interestingly enough, was the desire to spread internationally. When I… I was in Australia, obviously by my accent, grew up there, started the business there and opened offices across Australia and New Zealand, then wanted to open Singapore and Malaysia, and it was like, “There’s just… It’s not going to work.” So I sat with a buddy of mine. Now, I’d already been involved in two different other franchises, one in pet food and one in feather and down quilts and duvets and stuff.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (03:14):

And so I sat with a buddy of mine, I said, “Do you think we could franchise white collar?” Because, at the time, the only other people in white-collar franchising, expense reduction analysts, and one of the tax guys, one of the tax companies, was dabbling in franchising. So we tried to work it out, and eventually we did. And that’s where white-collar franchising today is not… it just seems normal to people, but back when we started 30-odd years ago, there wasn’t such a thing. It was you went to a franchise expo, and it was cleaning and burgers and that was basically it.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:53):

Just the variety of industries you see franchising impacting has just changed so much from what people might think of, like you said, that cleaning or restaurant franchises for sure.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (04:05):


Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:05):

As you’ve started expanding, what I always find fascinating with your business model is that you are in a business that coaches franchisees to coach, and I always find that very interesting. And so, part of any franchise success is coaching and training and teaching. So I’d love for you to maybe share how you found to be effective in coaching or training a group of coaches to then go and coach. It’s a very interesting setup there.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (04:34):

Yeah, obviously our franchisee selection is a big part of that, their backgrounds, what they’ve done, and it could be that they come from a great communication background like a coaching or teaching stuff background, or it could be that they come from CEO of X, Y, Z, major corporation type thing or somewhere in the middle. We do have a lot of road warriors, a lot of ex-bankers, people that were around businesses a lot. And so sales and marketing people who, even though they’re in sales, they’re actually in solution providing.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (05:06):

So, a lot of the time, they are coaching people in that communication. But what we’ve found is that the same as you create a systemic methodology to make a burger, there is a systemic methodology. After we’d coached about 13,500 clients, I wrote the book called The Business Coach, and that shows our systemic approach to growing a business because, like baking a cake, there’s a recipe. Growing a business, there’s a recipe, and we go through six layers. The first being mastery, where we’ve got to take care of the fundamentals and the basics of the business first.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (05:42):

Most franchisers that’s a lot easier because they’ve already got that the ZO provided that to the Zs type thing. But there’s still some cases where someone, it’s their first ever business, and Tom, someone their first ever business, they might be great at the technical side of it or the doing side of it, but they’ve not yet learned to be a business owner. And I was chatting with a guy the other day actually. He was a marketing manager for a major company. He’d invest 500 grand a year in marketing spend, and when it’s not his money, he’d just cut the check. He’s now in his own business, and he’s like, “Brad, this is $500 in marketing. Should we do this?”

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (06:20):

And I’m like, “Dude, I get it. There’s an emotional difference, lot less zeros, but a lot more emotions when it is your own show.” So we go the mastery, then we go to marketing because we got to take care of cash flow. And marketing is the fundamental lifeblood of a business. Business is about two things. Get them and keep them. Get customers, keep customers. And so if you’re marketing to get them as broken, we got to fix that. If you’re marketing to keep them as broken, we got to fix that first because there’s no use. Usually, we fix the keep first and the getting second because there’s no use getting new if you can’t keep them type thing.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (06:57):

And then, from mastery, we go through to systemization, which, again, in most [inaudible 00:07:02] relatively good because the ZO has provided most of those, but there’s still day-to-day systems that people need to develop. Then we move through and we look at the team building because again, management, leadership, all of those aspects of running a business. And then it’s the scale and then the freedom that comes from it. So I love helping business owners become better business owners, whether they’re a Z or ZO or just a standalone business.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:29):

One of the things in preparing for this that came up is this concept of really just customer-centric operations for entrepreneurial success. I’d love for you to share what that is.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (07:40):

Yeah, so when you think about entrepreneurial success, it’s about, as I mentioned before, get them and keep them. It’s about buying customers. I wrote that book about buying customers because I wanted people to understand just how much it costs to get a customer. If you put $1,000 in advertising and you get 10 new customers it cost you $100 to buy each one. And most businesses that fail in that beginning fail because they don’t buy enough customers in the beginning they just think, “Well, I’ve hung the shingle, it’s going to work.”

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (08:07):

And whether you’re a franchise or not, hanging the shingle is step one, beating the bush is getting out there, getting your name known, doing all that sort of stuff that takes the hard work sort of thing. But in the customer-centric, the way we do it is what we try and do is say, “Okay.” And if you go back, oh, back even 10 years ago, customer service was the thing. Now, it’s about the customer experience. And that experience starts way before they even buy from you. They’ve got an inkling they want to buy, or they’ve seen an ad or seen a billboard that gives them their thought. From that thought, they then go and do research.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (08:43):

So how are you thinking about the customer when they’re researching buying from you? Google’s numbers are 7, 11, 4, which says they’re going to do seven hours, 11 interactions, and four different places, they’re going to research, whether that’s an interaction on the phone or on your website or on your YouTube channel. But if you’re not giving people seven hours of content to browse, and that’s on average, by the way. If someone’s buying a car, it’s going to be a bit more, and if someone’s buying a razor blade, it’s going to be way less type thing. But we’ve got to give them that knowledge.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (09:16):

And then what we want to do is have them raise their hand, so to speak. So download an ebook or attend a webinar or [inaudible 00:09:26]… that we’ve got to get them to do something so they become a prospect to the organization and known to the organization, that’s called an MQLA, a marketing qualified lead. Then you’ve got to nurture and do all that. And this is where if you go back to the old know, like, and trust, and I was sitting with some salespeople just recently, and I said, “Okay, show me the bio that you send out to prospective people that you’re going to go meet with.” And they’re like, “Well, I don’t have a bio to send.”

]I say, “How do…” Know, like, and trust starts with no. If they don’t know you, if they don’t know you have kids or a dog or what school you went to, or if you’re a football person or a golf person, or if they don’t know any of that stuff about you, how can they like you or trust you? Like and then I say, “Okay, so where in the process do you have a sandwich with people or a beer or a coffee? Where in your sales process do you do that?” They say, “Well, we don’t really do that. We do a lot of Zoom.” And I’m like, “Oh my God. First of all, Zoom… an hour face-to-face is worth five hours of Zoom, right.”

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (10:25):

We have to… That’s just come out of Wharton. Wharton has just proven those sort of numbers, right. And so, how do they like you if they haven’t eaten something with you?” Know you, you can use video, you can use testimonials, you can use a bio, you can whatever it is, chat with them, but to like you, they’ve got [inaudible 00:10:43] broken bread with you. Okay. So make sure that happens. And then trust you comes because they realize you’re an expert. So how do you prove your knowledge? And that’s, again, comes back to you could have written a book or do webinars or teach them something, educate them, those sorts of things.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (10:58):

So that’s the front end of that customer-centric. And then once you’ve got them, then you’ve got to keep them. So what does that experience then look like? That first hundred days, how you onboard a customer really determines the lifespan of it. I’ll give you an example. For us at ActionCOACH, when a new client comes to us, they go through our Business Masterclass, it’s 12 weeks. They watch a video for a half hour. It’s me. So I say to them, “Every week, you and I’ll have lunch together. You get to sit with me at lunch and watch the video.” But then they’ll get together with their coach and a group of other business people and discuss what did you learn?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (11:34):

How are you going to implement it? What are you going to do? Because we found that onboarding customers is kind of like, if you think of it like a TV show, you don’t got to Netflix and go, “Okay, I’m going to start at season three, episode five.” No, you start at season one, episode one. And so onboarding a client is like that first season of a show. Get them to learn all of the basics about your company, what is, what happens, where it works, how it works, what it is, all those things, and then building that whole relationship. I could spend days on that one, Tom. I love that subject.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:05):

Phenomenal. And you started talking a little bit about this, but I find it interesting, this concept of buying customers for guaranteed results that you speak of. So I’d like for you just to dig into that a little bit more.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (12:17):

Yeah. So when you look at marketing and specifically advertising, we’ll touch on advertising as distinct because a referral campaign is marketing, and you can use financial incentives to get referrals, and therefore, it’s a buying of customers type thing. If, let’s say, I was doing an ad, so imagine I’m putting an ad on Facebook, and I’m running an ad for my company. Well, there’s a science to buying customers. So the first thing I do is I test concepts. Some written words on a blank background, test the concept, see if the concept works.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (12:53):

Now, I might put $20 behind each of a dozen ideas. Does that make sense? And there are a dozen different ideas usually broken into… We do sort of four categories and three versions of each category. From there, once we’ve tested that, then we go into testing the languaging behind it, and then we’ll go into… So we’ll go through six phases of testing before we actually have an ad that will scale and stress test. Does that make sense? So-

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:20):


Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (13:21):

… it’s about the science behind it. I own two marketing agencies as well. It’s like because of our franchise needing customers, I found great marketing agencies, and I bought shares of them because it was like, “Okay, can you just work for us?” It’s like if you just do… Because at ActionCOACH, what are we? We are just under 1,100 franchise partners in 83 countries. So it’s like it’s the providers to do it. Even our HubSpot provider, it’s like, “No, you guys need to be bigger. You need more people because we’ve got 1,100 people for you to sustain.” Even Yelp the other day, I said, “Okay, we need all 480 of our US offices on Yelp. How are you going to do that?” And they’re like, “We’re going to need more people.” I say, “Yes, yes, you will. It’s one of those things.”

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (14:05):

But when it comes to the process of buying a customer, I learned this back when I had a dog food business, which was actually a franchise as well. In that business, we put vans on the road. We had veterinary nurses who home delivered the dog food, fresh dog food. It went out every six weeks to the customers and to the pets. Well, when we put a van on the road, we needed 60 customers. We didn’t need 30, and we didn’t need 120. If we got 120, well, our service went down because we couldn’t deliver for two weeks type thing. If we only got 30, we didn’t make a profit. So I had to learn how much did it cost me to buy a customer. Now, in that particular example, our average first sale to a customer was $108, of which 38 was gross profit.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (14:48):

So if I spent $20 buying a customer, so it was $20 out and $38 back, I have an unlimited marketing budget at that point. Well, the only limit was how many I can deliver sort of thing and which was 60 a week. And I still remember my radio ads were 20… for every $24.50 we spend in radio, we got a new customer. So it was 24.50 out, 38 back. Any genius in the world says, “Hey, if I give you 24 and you give me back 38, I’ll do that all day long.” But that’s the essence of it, Tom. It’s about how do you profitably buy lifetime customers. That’s really my definition of marketing, and it’s all about how do we get them and keep them so that there’s a profit in that customer.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:34):

I think that’s an avenue, especially what I’ve seen in working with entrepreneurs my whole career, oftentimes are great at getting customers. They understand that getting them that marketing side of it, and then, sometimes, they lose interest when it’s in the thick of whatever they’re delivering on the operational side of it with that founder or as that kind of visionary in their company. How have you seen in your years of coaching and working with your franchisees and coaches and clients along the way, some of those operational components to keep that customer?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (16:04):

Yeah, firstly, the philosophy has to be understood that profit comes from repeat business. You do not get profit from first-time customers because the cost to buy them chews up the profit of getting that brand new customer type thing. The only way you make profit in business is repeat business. Now, repeat business, my formula for it is pretty simple. Relationship times results equals the retention of them. So you got to have a great relationship, and you got to have great results. So the results are… If you’re in a restaurant, the results are great food, great drinks, great service, great atmosphere type thing. If you’re in… For us in business coaching, the results are getting the customer’s business growing and getting them less stress and getting them working less hours, their team performing better.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (16:51):

So you’ve got to get the results, but you’ve also got to build relationship with people. And relationship rarely happens when you are discussing business. See, people think that, “Okay, I’m doing a meeting with my customer. I’m going to build relationship.” No, you just spent four hours talking about the installation of that big piece of machinery they bought. You didn’t actually build much of a relationship. Relationship happens in off times. So nurture the relationship with communication with those sorts of things. And that’s where that whole, you can use a lot of technology to assist in relationship building, but it never actually replaces the, what was it, old Tommy Hopkins, the belly to belly. It never replaces that human interaction time, and it never replaces that.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (17:37):

So when it comes to the operating side of things, fundamentally, and I sort of think about this way that unless you delight a customer these days, you’re not getting repeat business. Unless they’re posting on social media, you know they’re not excited about what’s going on type thing. And so we use… And from a marketing side, ratings, testimonials, reviews, they are three of the most important parts of any marketing plan that exists, and yet most companies don’t have that in their marketing plan. Testimonial, video testimonials today is possibly the most powerful thing any business person can do for their business. Your customers can outsell you a million times. So those sorts of things are really important. So what we look for in creating retention is creating an emotion.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (18:30):

If you look at most videos today that you see on YouTube, they’re trying to give you information. Like most franchisors, when they’re selling the franchise, are all about the information. Dude, emotion beats information. Emotion always beats information. So keep that side of it as part of that relationship building. But that’s where when we see them doing things like posting on social media when we see them doing an unboxing of a product, when we see them tagging with their thing, I’ll give you a simple example. One of the things we do at ActionCOACH is every franchise partner gives out awards every month to their members for high achievements, business growth, all the things that they do sort of thing that they got their first employee. If someone got their first employee, that should be celebrated. That gal or that guy needs an award.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (19:23):

Now, here’s the crazy thing. Every time we give them an award, Tom, and we take a photo of it, what do you think happens with that photograph? It goes up on their social media, and we do those full membership days, which are all about education and planning their business. But at the end of the day, you know when we get the most social media posts? When everyone goes to the bar and has a beer afterwards and hangs out with their friends, it all becomes a social thing. You know what I mean? That’s where you’ve got to build that relationship stuff into the business these days. And I think that because of the virtual viral nature of the world, we’ve stepped back a lot from that. We need to step more into it, I guess.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:01):

We work with entrepreneurs that are franchising their business or emerging franchise brands. That tends to be the majority of clients that we work with and I’d love for you to talk about. Now it’s been a while back since you went from kind of zero to maybe the first 100 franchisees in your system, but are there any lessons or things you might be able to share that you recall on how you went from zero to the first hundred in your system?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (20:27):

Yeah, I get that because ActionCOACH is the company I’m most known for, but I’m a partner in many other franchise companies, commercial cleaning, recruiting business. Now, our recruiting business literally started franchising in the end of last year. So it’s going from its number one franchise last year to this year we guess we’re going to allocate about 22 new franchises. Here’s the biggest challenge for that breakthrough because when I say breakthrough, I mean when royalties are paying for all the bills. Where it’s not new franchise sales paying the bills, its royalties are paying the bills type thing. And so you go through, we sort of see three phases.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (21:11):

Phase one is learning how to sell the franchise. That’s phase number one on limited lead flow. Now, if you’ve got a burger chain, people can come in and try the burger, and therefore, they buy. If you’re like you guys and us in white collar, it’s someone doesn’t try the thing it’s like it’s a different way of doing it. Then you’ve got to learn to market it. And marketing today of franchises is mostly about information provision, provide the information. If someone was looking for a franchise with us, they can go to our YouTube channel and there’s a line there called About ActionCOACH Franchise. And there’s nine videos at the start of that that explain everything from how we do our marketing, how we train you, how we do our sales. It explains it.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (21:59):

Also, someone buying the franchise can see all of that. And interestingly enough, Tom, that shortened our sales cycle by about a third, by having that information available to them on video rather than it through a salesperson. All of those videos, by the way, are also turned into eBooks, so the people that like reading can read it, and those who viewing can view-type thing. So selling it, [inaudible 00:22:26]. And then once you’ve done that, actually scaling. And so the problem with a lot of it is you get used to selling five to 20 a year, and you think that’s the right number. No, you should… Once you’ve learned how to sell it and learned how to market it, then it’s scale time, then it’s time to really go big, build a team that do it, don’t do it yourself.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (22:49):

You’ve got to build a sales manager, all of that sort of thing. And I think, Tom, it’s… you see this more than I do, obviously, that learning that you are actually in the franchise business, not the business coaching business or the coffee business or whatever it is, that’s what that business does. You are no longer in that business. You are in the franchising business, and you’ve got to learn those skills as opposed to just the skills of the coffee shop or the burger or the cleaning or whatever the franchise is.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:22):

That’s exactly right. I often will tell our clients, “While we may be helping you turn your business into a franchise system, what we’re actually doing is teaching you how to think and act like a franchisor.” That’s really what we’re doing is it’s almost really a paradigm shift to go from this operator or, in many cases, company-owned mindset-

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (23:44):


Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:44):

… to a franchise, sell, train, support, help others use your system to grow the business they want to grow with it.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (23:51):

“Yeah, you don’t sell coffee anymore, dude. You sell dreams and goals. So stop selling coffee, start selling dreams and goals because that person coming to you…” And even back to know, like, and trust with my team the other day, I said, “Okay, that…” I just went through their prospect list. I said, “How many kids does that guy got?” And someone said, “I don’t know. [inaudible 00:24:11], you’re not getting that sale. Does that person have a dog or a cat? I don’t know. Okay, not getting that sale.” So a lot of those things that apply just in any business apply to this most definitely. But someone joining a franchise, I always say there’s five sales for someone joining a franchise.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (24:29):

Number one, you’ve got to sell them on having their own business. If they’ve already had their own, then you don’t have to do that as much. You got to sell them on the franchise concept, the idea, the industry of franchising, and if they don’t believe in franchising, they’re not buying. Third, you’ve got to sell them on the industry that you’re in. The actual our profession of business coaching, we have to educate them as to what is the profession. How is it growing? What’s happening? What’s the market size? What’s the numbers? Where’s it moving to, et cetera? Fourth is you’ve got to sell them on the company.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (25:01):

Okay. And then the fifth, you got to sell them on the territory that they’re getting because they might not like that site or that territory or that spot. It’s like… So there’s a lot of selling in franchising that people miss, and I think a lot of people lose sales because they just try and sell the franchise and they forget about the fact that this person has to learn to have their own… have to wanted their own business, has to want to be in franchising. And that’s where I think a lot of franchise brokers do a phenomenal job of educating the prospect about franchising, about having their own business and that sort of thing, and then steer them to a brand-type thing.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:40):

Emerging [inaudible 00:25:41] new franchise salespeople, new franchise brands, one of the things I think they often don’t realize is how long that sales cycle is. And so you have a lot of time and opportunity to do what you said, get to know these people and learn about them and go through those stages that you just described.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (25:58):

Yeah, I don’t know about what you’re seeing, but our average is around 77 days, and we’ve bought that down, and we keep trying to bring it down. But if someone’s leaving a job or if they’re doing something, and oftentimes, someone’s been looking for a franchise for years, and they’re looking for the perfect one, and that’s one of the first education pieces I do in my webinars, [inaudible 00:26:21], “There is no such thing as a perfect business. There’s perfect for you.” It’s like there’s no such thing as a perfect partner or spouse. There’s just perfect-for-you type thing.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (26:29):

But also, I think when someone’s joining a franchise, I’ve bought a lot of companies over the years, and I find when you get to about 80% of the way through the purchase, what happens mentally is you start looking for reasons not to. And I warn all of our potentials. I say to them, “Well, listen…” Because we only accept one in every 115 applicants. We warn them with a very clear thing. We say to them, “Listen, at some point, you’re going to be ready to make a decision, and then you’re going to start looking for reasons not to.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (27:02):

And even though you found 100 reasons to do it, you can find one reason not to, and you can let the emotion…” Because there’s two big emotions when you’re making a major life decision, fear, and excitement. And if excitement’s got you to 80% and then you let fear take you out at 80%, then that’s crazy. At 80%, pull the trigger. One way or the other, just say yes or no, but don’t… you’ll never get to 100% until you’ve done the training and opened the store type thing.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:29):

I think about when you were describing your average. I was speaking with a client the other day who had let me know that a franchise candidate she’s been speaking to for a year moved forward, and I was thinking about the average. And there are always going to be those folks that you’ve been speaking to that they’ve kind of gone dormant, or they’re back, or they kind of teeter back, and forth and then finally they make that decision.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (27:53):

[inaudible 00:27:53] they ruin my average. But the interesting thing is, though, we actually learned several years back, Tom, that if someone takes too long to make a decision, we’re probably not going to want them. And it’s not that they’re taking long to make a decision. We’ve found they can make a decision in six weeks.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (28:13):

So six weeks of education from us to them and them to us, they can make a decision. When they start is a totally different question. That lady probably said, “You know what, I’m going to do this.” And then, went away and found the money, and then I was just on with my partner in our HR business, and he said, “There’s this one lady,” and he said to her, “Listen, you can’t buy our franchise right now.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (28:35):

You need to go get a job, stabilize your family’s income, stabilize what you’re doing, stabilize yourself. In 90 days, I’m going to reach out to you again and see if you’ve stabilized, but in 180 days, then we’ll talk about buying our franchise. Right now, though, you can’t. I’m not going to let you.” Do you know what I mean? So sometimes you’ve got to… the decision is quick, the justification or the right timing might take longer.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (29:00):

And I think you’re right for that lady that ended up buying this franchise. She had made the decision a year ago and just had to get things in working order to make that happen. I think that’s exactly what it was.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (29:11):

Yeah, I love when they take a long time, but I’m also like, “Come on, dude, let’s get you going.” And then that one thing they say though later is, “Oh, I wish I’d started sooner.” It’s like, “I do too. I wish you started sooner.”

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (29:24):

Every franchisee I’ve ever run into always says, “I wish I had started a year sooner, 10 years earlier,” or whatever the number is. Well, Brad, this is a great time in the show where we make a transition. We ask every guest the same four questions before they go, and the first we ask is, have you had a miss or two on your journey and something you learned from it?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (29:43):

A bunch of misses on my journey. I think the biggest thing to sort of learn, probably two things. Number one, trust but verify. If you don’t have systems in place to check on things, don’t expect it to go the way you wanted type thing. It’s like if there’s no checklist, there won’t be consistency of performance type thing. I think the second is I probably… the biggest thing that I wished I’d done was gone faster in this thing.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (30:11):

I wore it as a badge of honor in the beginning, and I was proud that we bootstrapped our way through it sort of thing. And I kind of really wished, earlier on, I’d gone and found a capital partner and grown a lot faster than we did, even though we grew very fast. But I still think with a capital partner, it would’ve been different.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:30):

You have lots of awards and accolades and accomplishments. Are there a few highlights or wins you’d like to share?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (30:36):

Most of the highlights for me are watching my franchisees grow as business people, as families. Actually probably two big things that stand out for me. Number one, we are coaching in three communist countries. We have franchise partners in three communist countries coaching business people and entrepreneurs.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (30:56):

And I think that’s kind of a very cool thing. And the other one is that I have a lot of franchisees now where their kids are taking over the business, and it’s like they’ve been with me 15, 20 years, now their kids are old enough, and the kids are stepping in and running the company and allowing them to step back and retire type thing.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (31:17):

To me, that’s kind of a really cool thing that we’ve created a business that’s been around long enough and stood the test of time to be able to have generational franchise partners, to have franchise partners who are… And we use the term partners because that’s what they are. They are our partner in business. We’re just a very minority shareholder in the revenue stream.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:41):

Excellent. I love those stories. Well, let’s talk about a multiplier. The name of the show is Multiply Your Success. Have you used a multiplier to grow yourself or business?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (31:50):

I would say multiply to grow yourself is just knowledge, just consistent reading. Jim Rohn said it to me when I was 16. He said, “Son, read a book a week for the rest of your life.” Done that. Written 18, but read thousands type thing. Multiplying the business. Two things I’ll say that allowed us to multiply the business. In the early days, it was our structure, our Master Franchise structure, using that to partner to open new countries.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (32:17):

So in foreign language markets in particular and lower demographic and markets we would definitely use joint ventures and Master Franchises to open those territories. But the other thing is now technology, we sort of try and stay as much as we can on the leading of technology, but even just our education of our clients around the world, we can deliver that education 24 hours a day, seven days a week online to them, and then they go and see their coach for the implementation sessions and how to act on it.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (32:53):

Of course, it’s ActionCOACH, so it’s what are the actions you’ll take based on that new education? But if I was to add a third, the multiplier for the business is marketing. It is just making sure that we are consistently generating leads at a level above what we can concurrently deliver because a lead will take 90 days to get through to fruition. So yeah.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:17):

Great. Well, and the final question we ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (33:22):

It’s interesting that when you set that through because my podcast is actually The Big Success Podcast, and so I get to ask people all the time about what is their definition of success. I just had Stephen M.R. Covey on. And so an accumulation of asking a lot of people about what success means, ultimately, I believe it comes down to fulfillment. Fulfillment, and you can define that across the board being at relational fulfillment and financial fulfillment, but yeah, all about that fulfillment factor if you ask me.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:59):

As we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (34:05):

Just I think a big thing for every business owners to realize that the knowledge you need is going to get you to that next phase. It’s all about learning that next phase. If you’ve hit… I guess I’ll go back to when I was a kid, Tom, and my dad said it to me very bluntly. He said, “You can’t outperform your knowledge. If you want to earn more, you got to learn more.”

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (34:28):

And as I became a better business person, as I became a better leader, a better manager, better marketer, ultimately, if I can finish with this simple statement for anyone that… And if people want to come and chat with us, please jump on the website, do all that stuff, or find me on socials or whatever it is. But business isn’t going to get easier. You got to get better at business.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:49):

How can someone who’s maybe tuning in that says, “Brad, I like what you’re saying. I’d love to connect with one of your coaches, or maybe my franchise system might be interested in getting involved.” What’s the best way to make that happen?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (35:01):

Actioncoach.com. If you want to have a chat with one of our coaches around the world. Bradsugars.com, if you want me to come in and speak to your franchise group or whatever it is that you want. But yeah, we’re here to help. Please reach out anyone that needs help growing their business. If you’re struggling with something, please reach out. We’ll be only too willing to give you a hand or point you to some videos that get started. My YouTube channel is full of training, and so is the ActionCOACH YouTube channel.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:24):

Excellent. Well, we’ll make sure we link that in the show notes and your podcast as well. And what’s that show again?

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (35:29):

The Big Success Podcast. Yeah, there you go-

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:29):

Love it.

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH (35:32):

… just on that subject.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:34):

Brad, thank you so much for a fantastic interview, and let’s go ahead and jump into our three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Brad talked about creating lifetime customers and how he defined that and how you generate real profit in business is through repeat customers. And he said, “You establish repeat customers when you have relationships times results equals retention.” I thought that was a nice, simple formula with the R’s. Relationships times results equals retention. Takeaway number two is when he talked about going from one to 100 franchises, and he provided three phases that you go through.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:18):

Phase one, he said, is learning how to sell franchises unlimited lead flow. Phase two is learning how to market your franchise, and phase three is scaling. Once you learn how to sell, he described five to 20 franchises a year, then it’s really learning and remembering that you’re no longer in the primary business that you started. So as Brad had mentioned, maybe if you sell coffee or provide a professional coaching or consulting service or whatever business you’re in or widgets you might be selling, you’re now in the franchising business. And as Brad described, you’re now selling dreams and goals. Takeaway number three is that there are five sales when selling a franchise.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (37:07):

Sale number one is that you have to sell them on having their own business. Number two is to sell them on franchising. Number three is to sell them on your industry. Number four is to sell them on your company, and number five is to sell them on the territory that they are going to be purchasing or getting as part of their franchise effort. And he said even with his system, and I found this interesting, his average time to sell a franchise is 77 days. And I think for a brand that’s as mature and well-known with as much notoriety as ActionCOACH, it’s a good reminder for any franchisor or franchise leader tuning in or maybe potentially new franchise system that’s tuning in that the franchise sales process takes time.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (37:55):

And Brad even mentioned that it takes six weeks for the franchisee, at a minimum, to gather all of the information that they need to help them make their decision to move forward. I think it’s just lots of great information for you to take. And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win comes from the end of the episode, and Brad shared just some great nuggets right before we finished up the interview, and he said, “You have to realize that the knowledge you need is going to get you to your next phase.” And he said what his dad used to say to him is that, “You can’t outperform your knowledge.” And I think that’s fitting as we celebrate our anniversary episode where he quoted his dad on our very first interview.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (38:46):

I interviewed my dad right around Father’s Day here, and a happy belated Father’s Day to all of you dad’s tuning in here. And he said, “If you can’t earn more, then you need to learn more. If you can’t earn more, you need to learn more.” I thought that was just a great thing to remember as you’re going through that. And the bottom line is, as he said that, “Business is not getting easier, so you have to get better at business, and that learning helps you get there.” Tuning into things like this, our podcast, and listening to great experts, thought leaders, and people who have been successful in their careers to provide us with little pieces of information.

Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (39:26):

And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.

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