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Mentoring Success in the WSI Network

The following article was published on the Franchise Opportunities site.

Around the world, business franchises are recognizing the value of Mentoring Programs. Not many organizations, however, have explored the full potential of this mechanism. WSI, the world’s leading provider of Internet solutions to small and medium sized (SME) businesses and the #1 Internet services franchise in the world, has taken Mentoring to a new level of sophistication. Having started off with experienced franchisees mentoring newer ones, the company has expanded the scope of its Mentoring Program to also include mentoring of end-clients through increasing educational seminars and profitability analysis based progress tracking. Success in the WSI network has thus come to mean a well-rounded, deep and thorough meaning of enhanced profitability for all stakeholders, franchisees, end-clients and the franchisor.

Since its inception over a decade ago, WSI has always sought ways to provide formal and informal forums for its franchisees to interact, exchange best practices and work cooperatively to ensure the collective success of the WSI network and its clients. Furthermore, WSI Consultants are trained to adopt a unique business methodology whereby they work as business partners with their clients on a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. This approach of handholding a client from early stages of e-business adoption to advanced levels of e-commerce and search engine marketing enables mentoring of small and medium sized business owners by their WSI Consultants. The overall effect of this kind of mentoring that involves need analysis, solution delivery, result monitoring and business efficiency upgrades is the ongoing and enhanced profitability for franchisees and their clients.

WSI has strived hard to create an organizational climate that encourages, enables, rewards and accelerates learning by ensuring that access to information and learning resources remains continuous, easy and affordable for all. Ron McArthur, president WSI says, “Having studied the pattern of informal mentoring within our network for the past decade or so, we decided to give it a more structured and formal look in order to optimize the positively beneficial results as well as to define set goals and objectives for all of us involved. No longer is mentoring a random effect of 2 franchisees getting together to manage a successful project. Although this may still happen sporadically, we now have several key Mentoring initiatives in place (more details provided below) to ensure that franchisees, their clients and us as the franchisor are committed to achieve defined goals over a specified time period with measurable results affecting the bottom line.”

Darren Kincaid, a Virginia, US based WSI Internet Marketing Consultant (franchisee) started his WSI business in January 2007 and in less than 6 months, he already has a good base of clients generating monthly recurring revenue plus his new business referrals are growing. “Mentoring has been the key to my early success. Even though I was very well equipped with the intensive training provided by WSI headquarters and the ongoing business coaching that I was receiving, I was a bit stunned when I landed my first big e-commerce deal. The WSI Mentoring Program allowed me the chance to review and select a Mentor in my proximity. With the knowledge and experience of a seasoned WSI Consultant, Neal Lappe, I was able to manage my client’s expectations, work efficiently with the WSI e-marketplace production partners and deliver a world class solution that is now a proud exhibit in my portfolio of clients. I would not have been able to achieve this level of success without my Mentor. The success of my client is also not a surprise by-product – we worked together to realize the desired goals and I feel great to be on my client’s speed-dial! I am not just another vendor but a valued business partner. I will continue to mentor my client towards their ongoing e-business profitability using the tools, techniques and knowledge expertise available to me through the WSI network.”

Ron McArthur concludes, “Simply put, at WSI, learning is a part of everybody’s job description and an essential component of work. Every day, in every way, we collectively look at ways to improve each WSI team member’s ability to perform their jobs at higher levels of productivity, efficiency and profitability. We do this by facilitating advanced learning using best of breed learning techniques, systems and experts. Mentoring is a cornerstone of success for all WSI touch-points.”

An Overview of WSI Mentoring Initiatives:

Ambassador Training Seminars - Ambassador Coaches are experienced WSI Internet Marketing Consultants with expertise in certain techniques or skills which have led to their ongoing profitability and high performance. The quality of training imparted by Ambassador Coaches and benefits experienced by session participants are regularly surveyed and monitored to ensure that the curriculum content and methods of training meet the changing needs of the WSI community. The subject tracks covered in these seminars range from sales and marketing to business management, customer relationship management and Internet marketing strategies.

Having designed a living resource for learning with the Ambassador Training Seminars, WSI encourages each of its Consultants to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from their experienced peers, the Ambassador Coaches. Although it is difficult to attach a monetary value to these high quality seminars, the logistical expenses required to attend an event of this nature has been valued at $1,500 USD. In order to ensure maximum participation, the WSI Training Scholarship Fund (TSF) was created to help franchisees cover the seminar fees. Every Consultant is thus awarded an annual one-time total of $5,000 USD to be used towards four separate Ambassador Training Seminars.

Virtual Training - As the WSI community continues to grow and expand around the globe, the company finds great value in local Consultants who can provide a wealth of learning to their regional peers or to the entire WSI community on specific areas of business. WSI endeavors to present this learning to all its Consultants, online, without having to pay for it. Virtual Training is provided in the form of “Coffee Break” Web casts (an audio/visual presentation that is broadcast over the Internet), podcasts, video presentations and e-talk shows. WSI Consultants from all over the world can log on using only their computers and an Internet connection to learn about new WSI products and services, business practices, industry trends and other topical subjects that affect their business. Consultants have the opportunity to discuss and ask the presenter questions in real-time online and the Web casts are also archived for future viewing.

Suppliers within the WSI e-Marketplace range from Production Centers to suppliers providing a diverse range of services such as Hosting solutions, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-per-click programs, Sales & Marketing Training, Copywriting, Lead Generation, Multimedia solutions, creative services and many more. As Authorized Suppliers with WSI, the quality of their products and services is the best of the best in order to help franchisees provide exceptional service to their SME customers. It is no surprise then that the people in these organizations are highly qualified and experienced in their own fields. More importantly, they are always willing to add value to the WSI community by sharing their knowledge through Virtual Training media like Webinars.

Excellence and Innovation Conferences - These conferences attract over a 150 WSI Consultants from all over the world. The objective of these two/three day conferences is to enable seamless flow of information, best practices, trade ‘secrets’, industry trends and technological advancements across the WSI network of Consultants in an environment of close networking and relationship building.

Keynote speakers at these conferences are subject matter experts of repute; leaders in different fields of specialization related to Internet Marketing and Business Consulting. In the past WSI has invited well-known and extremely busy industry experts such as Susan Sweeney, John Quarto–von Tivadar, Brad Fallon, Jay Conrad Levinson and others who willingly spared the time to come in as speakers and were very happy to be introduced to our high-profile network of WSI Consultants. Presenters at E&I are also WSI Internet Marketing Consultants who have excelled in their WSI business and consistently achieved greater profitability by introducing an innovative concept or practice. These presentations are founded in the objectives of sharing best practices that can be adopted and duplicated in a flexible manner across cultural boundaries by other WSI Consultants, anywhere in the world.

Internet Business Planning Seminars - As small business owners themselves, WSI Consultants understand and empathize with the needs and motivations of other small and medium sized business owners. Making SME businesses realize that having a website is just not enough, they help business owners retain repeat customers and attract new qualified customers through increased traffic and enhanced online conversions. To educate SME business owners about profiting from the Internet using a mix of Internet Marketing tools and techniques, WSI conducts Internet Business Planning (IBP) Seminars across North America and Europe. These seminars are a structured form of mentoring that WSI franchisees provide their SME clients.

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