Internationally recognised business advisory franchise Alchemy Network launched its first operations in the Middle East in 2011. In an interview, Simon Hodges, CEO, Alchemy Network Middle East elaborates on the company’s future expansion plans in the GCC and Mid - East region.
Namita Bhagat (NB): What is Alchemy Network all about?
Simon Hodges (SH): The Alchemy Network is an international consulting and deal making franchise of professional people that originated in the United Kingdom. Since its launch in 2007, Alchemy has expanded operations in 13 countries. By using powerful methods, systems and techniques developed by the Founder David Abingdon, Alchemy business development consultants have directly and indirectly helped thousands of small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs (SMEs) achieve personal success. Alchemy Network Middle East launched its first operations in the Middle East in 2011. My company Simply Governance FZE is the Master Franchisee for Alchemy Network Middle East. Quite simply, our business is to assist and work alongside the owners or operators of SME and help them achieve business and financial success.
NB: What motivated you to partner with Alchemy Networks?
SH: With a background in corporate governance of over 30 years, with over seven years in the UAE, I am keen to bring the needs of the consumer to the heart of business decisions, which is often surprisingly overlooked in many organisations. When I started looking to set up my own business, I realised that though I had worked in a professional capacity all my life, I did not have the systems and processes to be able to provide my potential clients with the help they needed come the consultant I wanted to be, and needed to compliment my own skills with a package of strategies to take to the client. The Alchemy Network, which right from the start adopted the franchise model, has developed a comprehensive range of systems that gives our franchisees the structure and confidence to work with companies in any type of business in any industry but at the same time complements their own skills and experiences.
NB: What is the brand’s potential in the market?
SH: In the region, we are a small organisation, and are growing organically. Many owners recognise that although they are surviving quite well, they are sliding into the trap of being caught with the mundane day to day issues that are involved in the running of a business, where they would rather spend the time developing their business for the future. Essentially our systems are structured to enable them to step out of this role, and be become proactive once again. We target business entrepreneurs and owners alike, who need help and support in taking their own businesses to the next stage.
NB: Could you share your brand’s current presence in Middle East? What are the brand’s expansion plans in region in the coming future?
SH: We hope to now gain interest in Master Regional Licenses within the major countries around the Middle East. This offers the opportunity to build a network of like-minded partners to operate their own lucrative consultancy business. They will purchase exclusive franchise rights for that region, to create a regional centralised hub in support of the Middle East head office from which to recruit and manage partners and consultants of the Alchemy Network. They will join an internationally recognised organisation and build on the network of consultants located throughout Europe, Australasia, North America, and now the Middle East. Our objective is to have operations established in all of the GCC countries, as well as Egypt and Jordan within five years and we have some exiting new products that have just been launched in other parts of the world that we hope shortly to be able to bring to the Middle East
NB: Could you share franchise facts (area, capital needed) for the potential franchisee seeking
SH: Investment levels are dependent on the entry level. But as a guide an initial investment of between US$25,000 to 200,000 is required. In addition, government registration fees and the cost of establishing an office need to be factored in. Break-even is expected to be reached within 18 months and it is quite possible for the practice to become cash positive immediately following the completion of our initial training course, although we recommend that investors should have 3 to 6 months of living expenses.
NB: What are the qualities, you look for, in the franchisees?
SH: The Alchemy Network is an attractive proposition for business professionals from all walks of life that have achieved a seniority that will command respect from business owners, who are now looking for a new challenge. Candidates should be ambitious, self-motivated and competent in their area of expertise. The company prides itself in out of the box' thinking, and its consultants become an integral part of the business they are helping by taking a stake in the business they are helping.
NB: What kind of training and support a franchisee can expect for successful operations?
SH: New Members undergo Alchemy’s 12 month comprehensive training program. This begins with an intensive residential Training Course the length of which depends on the entry option being taken and is followed by ‘Blueprint To Success’, an on-the-job coaching and instructional program. Throughout the 12 months, partners and Regional Directors are also invited to attend free of charge Alchemy Continual Professional Development (CPD) days and a two day Alchemy Business Coach Training Course. Currently these are provided in the UK but it is the intention to build regional capabilities to handle these aspects locally. The global team of Alchemy consultants operates as franchisees under the Alchemy license and have access to a collection of manuals and toolkits with a huge range of advice, scripts, spreadsheets, presentations and other Alchemy resources to help smaller businesses attain their goals. These systems are applicable to businesses throughout the region.
NB: Kindly share the brand’s franchise business prospects in Middle East?
SH: This is an important event on the calendar of investors, entrepreneurs and business owners. To fast-track their operations, business investors in the GCC are drawn to the benefits of joining and investing in an organisation that has already proved itself internationally, and can show reliable return on investment whilst avoiding expensive start-up costs. We are fortunate in that we can help both the investor and the owner achieve their goals.