Gill Gibbon is a powerhouse of a franchise partner. After nearly two decades in the Auditel network, she is respected and trusted by her clients, admired and valued by her fellow Consultants, and well-liked by all. Operating as a Client Management Specialist in a sales, relationship and project management role, Gill leverages the Auditel network to its full advantage.
Her successful business, which boasts a large and diverse client base, has been built by joint venturing with her fellow franchise partners. Gill’s ongoing success was recently marked once again with a prestigious award: ‘Top Performer (Single Consultant) 2019’.
“I was delighted to be presented with this award,” said Gill. “Everyone loves recognition for their hard work and to be given this in front of my peers – to be singled out in a network of over 100 consultants – is something I’m very proud of. My business is very much a partnership with my fellow franchise partners. My job is to find clients, win them and then project and relationship manage – something that I’m extremely passionate about and work incredibly hard to excel at.”
Gill is no stranger to winning awards. She holds three additional titles from her time within the Auditel network including ‘Franchisee of the Year 2008’ and ‘Business Performance Award’ which she won in 2017.
“My business has given me some really proud moments but I’m not one to be complacent. I will always work to build for the future. I continue to invest and commit time, energy and resource into a number of different sectors in order to secure business longevity for the foreseeable.”
The latest accolade cements her position as a true leader in business. However, Gill points out that her recent achievements are, in fact, the result of a consistent investment of time, resource and finance.
“My turnover this year was up again, which is fantastic. But this is not an instant input/output business. The returns I’m seeing now come from work and investment two and even three years ago. Just as last year’s higher turnover came from the previous two to three years’ work. Client wins often have very long lead times so this is always about building for the long term, not the short term. The beauty is, once clients are onboard, provided the relationship is properly managed, you can retain them for long periods of time. You have to invest heavily up front in order to reap the rewards for years to come.”
Gill has an impressively loyal client base. Her average retention is in excess of five years and yet many clients have been trusting her services for over 15 years. The secret? A personalised and focussed management style and a level of knowledge and experience which is hard to match.
“I am really conscientious and spend an enormous amount of time on client management. I try to be very hands on and there for them in a way which is unobtrusive yet reassuring. I am completely committed to my clients – that’s why they stay with me for so long. I always try to do the right thing and go the extra mile. I know my trade, having undertaken much of my own project work in my early years, and I know how to identify pains and orchestrate successful outcomes for clients. The bottom line is, I make sure we deliver.”
Over the last three years, Gill has focussed her efforts on four main sectors: Charity, Care, Housing and Education Multi-Academy Trusts. An evolution in her business strategy, Gill says that this laser-focussed approach is advantageous in more ways than one.
“Having changed my strategy slightly, I’m now constantly talking to people in the same sector with the same problems. It’s actually boosted my confidence because not only can I demonstrate recurring successes in similar organisations, but I’m able to relate on an increasingly intricate level to prospects’ pains and frustrations. Again, it’s been a lot of investment up-front, attending conferences, exhibitions and events, but what it has given me is a much bigger pipeline of sales and a lot of warm prospects. The sectors I’ve chosen to target weren’t random, they each also have some overlap whilst being individual markets themselves. I’m very pleased with how it’s going and I’m looking at adding another sector into the mix next year.”
A key factor in Gill’s success is her commitment to continual investment in sales and marketing. In addition to face-to-face activity, she also engages the services of professional telemarketers to maximise client follow up and conversion.
I try to be very hands on and there for them in a way which is unobtrusive yet reassuring. I am completely committed to my clients – that’s why they stay with me for so long. I always try to do the right thing and go the extra mile.
“I always follow up in the first instance because that’s all part of delivering a personalised service. However, after time, it becomes more prudent for someone else to undertake that work and so I invest in telemarketing. It’s all about trying to make the best use of my time and work smartly. My time is finite, so I have to ensure that I’m focussed on high value activities and lower value tasks are outsourced where possible. It’s exactly why I have a part-time assistant who works for me three days a week. She helps with prospect research and back office admin because again, that’s not where my time will generate the biggest return. I am totally focussed on developing income out of existing clients and finding and then securing new clients. I say it time and time again but if you want a long-term sustainable business, you have to invest in sales and marketing.”
Driven as she is, Gill is feeling extremely positive about the recent introduction of a new suite of marketing collateral and sales training programmes to the Auditel model. The development comes hand-in-hand with the promotion of Auditel’s former Marketing Director, Chris Aston, to Managing Director. With over 20 year’s in the procurement, marketing and franchise industries, his knowledge and experience is unparalleled.
“I see Chris’ move into the role of MD as incredibly positive. He’s amazing on the marketing side and his energy is brilliant. The head office team is very strong and between them, their mentality and approach to business really resonates with me. They’re about going the extra mile, motivating people, working in a team environment and supporting people to achieve their potential. This last year generally I really appreciate the focus to help franchise partners develop our businesses. I’m just about to enter my 18th year and I’m really looking forward to the future because I know I’m going to get lots of help and support in marketing and sales. Head office is as passionate about it now as I am!”
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