What was the original idea behind the franchise concept The Alternative Board?
The entire concept of The Alternative Board all started due to a great business success by Allen Fishman.
Years ago, Allen was asked to take over a struggling electronics firm in the Saint Louis market; they needed somebody to help pull the company out of receivership. They were simply hoping that Allen could tidy up the company and just get them out of trouble. He was far more successful than that; their growth was so significant that the company ultimately went public. That success and the financial freedom it provided Allen allowed him to retire…briefly.
During that time, Allen wondered what the “X factor” had been that helped him achieve such tremendous success. He realized it was the outside advice of people who helped him think through the challenges and opportunities that any company faces to make better decisions, to make fewer mistakes, and add a higher level of accountability to his role.
That led him to build and test peer boards in the Saint Louis area. TAB was always a franchise concept based on the fundamental belief that the best people to facilitate and coach business owners are other business owners.
More than 30 years later, TAB is operating in 22 countries, with thousands of TAB Members around the world and people benefiting from exactly the thought that Allen originally had when he worked to get that initial company out of receivership and into the public.
What is the meaning behind the brand name “The Alternative Board”?
Many, many hours were spent trying to come up with a name that would reflect TAB’s primary objective, which was to have an affordable alternative to a high-paid board of directors.
The reality was that anyone who had a truly functional, high-performing board had to spend lots of money to bring in talent to give advice and guidance that most privately held business owners did not really see the benefit to, or the expense was far too burdensome. TAB is the alternative to a high-paid board of directors. Thus: The Alternative Board.
What does the TAB slogan “shared wisdom, bottom line success” mean?
“Shared wisdom, bottom line success” is the very essence of TAB.
Being on a board with other business owners who have been there, done that, overcome some challenges and struggled against others, and then share those experiences so others can learn from them and make better decisions themselves – knowledge stemming from shared experiences is invaluable.
Those shared experiences that TAB Members trust with each other, make everybody better – and that results in bottom line success.
TAB has benefited so many business owners around the world and their companies because the advice is coming from shared experience, from a group of business owners who know what it’s like to be on the top of their business and to lead their business to greater bottom line success.
What need does TAB fill?
Being a privately held business owner is one of the most exciting, rewarding scenarios that anyone could be in. It can also be overwhelming and stressful. Having a peer board allows owners to make better decisions and have more confidence in all of their decisions. TAB provides a tremendous amount of thought, comfort, security, and accountability – all the benefits that everyone has been able to share for decades. TAB changes the lives of its Members; you enjoy your life more while operating your business more successfully.
Who is a typical TAB Member in terms of industries, sizes and positions?
Their businesses are in every type of industry one can think of; every field of business. TAB Members on each TAB Board generally own businesses of comparable size ranges. They are privately held business owners; they are forward-thinking, and they want more – more productivity, more profitability, sometimes even more personal fulfillment.
This diversity has been incredibly valuable, especially knowing from experience that 75 – 80% of businesses are the same at heart. Sitting on a TAB Board with diverse industries from all different areas allows every business owner to look at their own business through different lenses – evaluate their own issues from a different paradigm.
Are there any types of businesses that are not suited towards TAB Membership?
Government businesses are not really TAB’s niche, but all types of businesses are suited to benefit from TAB Membership. All Members receive benefits from the TAB community and their fellow TAB Members from the business they own. Every business field you can think of faces basically the same challenges.
What does a TAB Member get in terms of Membership?
The primary thing is the advice a TAB Member gets from the Board Members – a peer board of non-competing business owners meeting every month in a confidential, safe environment where they present challenges and opportunities. Those Members typically have hundreds of years of business experience between them. Every TAB Board in the world has Members who can provide valuable expertise on every imaginable business challenge.
In addition, a TAB Member gets coaching from you. You will help your Members to stay on track, hold them accountable to your strategic plan, and keep them focused.
Beyond that, TAB Members get tremendous value by being able to leverage TAB’s best of class tools and processes, like Business Builder’s Blueprint, the TAB assessment, and TAB’s strategic planning process.
Also, people really enjoy being part of a global organization of business owners. TAB is a world-class organization around the globe, as well as a world-class community.
How long do Members stay with TAB, and why do they stay for so long?
The average retention of a TAB Member is almost five years. However, several Members have stayed for decades – some Members have been with TAB since its inception!
Members stay with TAB because of value. The advice they receive brings about bottom-line value to their companies and value to their lives. It is very important to have a place where business owners can have a connection with fellow business owners, which is unlike any other connection they will ever have.
Members can tap into TAB’s tools and processes and leadership where they are a part of a community where they can get advice, guidance, and opportunities presented from other TAB Members around the world. Why would anyone let that go?
TAB strives to perform such that the only time TAB Members do leave is because they have successfully transitioned their business and sold it and are living the full benefit of what every entrepreneur envisions.
What is it like to be part of the TAB brand and culture?
TAB’s culture is one of the best cultures anyone could possibly be a part of, given the firm belief in having strong corporate values illustrated by the word CALIBER. Being a community is first and foremost to TAB, and the most talented and successful people from 21 countries who are willing to help each other and participate with each other are part of that community.
It is also a culture of sharing. Sharing is fundamental at all TAB Board Meetings as well as throughout the worldwide TAB community. TAB Connect is a global network of fellow business owners who are TAB Members, and who are there for every other TAB Member when it comes to counseling and taking advantage of opportunities and challenges.
Why are franchise owners called TAB Business Owners?
Owning a TAB business is more than owning a typical franchise, so it does you justice to instead be referred to as a TAB Business Owner. You are a business owner, and you work with other business owners. It is imperative to have a peer-to-peer relationship with your TAB Members, and those Members are other business owners.
TAB believes that business owners are the most interesting people in the world because they had a vision to do something to make a difference. They went for it, and they strive for excellence. Thus, to be a business owner is a privilege; it is an honor. It is something that one should be exceedingly proud of, and that is why we call our franchise owners TAB Business Owners.
How does TAB differ from other B2B franchises?
Support. It can be challenging to start a professional practice. TAB has outstanding initial training, but nothing takes the place of real-world experience. TBOs starting their business takes priority. TAB provides you with a field support trainer in the field with you for two weeks. Those trainers are experienced on Member acquisition, and how to manage appointments, how to build pipelines, how to select Members, how to place the Members on what TAB Boards, and what coaching systems will look like. TAB also provides LinkedIn coaching and experts in social media.
Further, TAB runs on a subscription model wherein every month, Members pay a fee to our TBOs, and because of the fruitful field support trainers and marketing support, TBOs can obtain Members rather quickly. Once you are on this subscription model, the money begins to build because of the structured model and the additional income opportunity. That allows TBOs to also consult and train in addition to more coaching. There is no other company in TAB’s space that does that.
Another source of support is the opportunity to be part of our world-class community of elite business owners and advisors. The customers we work with are some of the most interesting people that one could have worked with, each with a variety of ideas and thoughts and challenges and opportunities. TAB’s business opportunity is one that has enormous flexibility and great independence, while at the same time being part of a very supportive community. There are not many organizations like that.
What are the traits, experiences and skills that are well suited to becoming a TAB Business Owner?
You must have the right mind-set, the mind-set that “this is up to me.” You must be determined to be successful and resilient in your tenacity, both of which are attributes of any successful business owner. To succeed with TAB, you must also have an ability to connect with people, to coach, to enjoy not just helping someone through the bottom line of business, but also be motivated and inspired to help someone improve the bottom line of their life by running a more successful business. Finally, you must be knowledgeable about and understand the basics of business.
Business encompasses a lot of areas like marketing, sales, operations, finance. Do TAB business owners have to be experts in all these areas to be successful?
No, absolutely not. No one is an expert in all of these areas. One of the most powerful things about The Alternative Board is that the knowledge and experience in all areas comes from the power of the board or the broader community. For example, if a TBO is excellent at marketing, that is a tremendous benefit to privately held business owners – but if that same TBO does not know finance or technology, that is alright because they have the power of the other Board Members, the power of thousands of other TAB Members around the world who will share their knowledge of those particular areas.
TAB offers a protected territory – what is the typical size of the territory?
TAB offers three different territory sizes rather than trying to make one size fit all; there is a perfect size territory for TBOs who prefer country living, another sized territory for TBOs just outside of cities, and a third territory size for TBOs who prefer living in metropolitan areas. TAB does not “force” our Business Owners to make do with one sized territory. Each territory will serve the TAB Business Owner very well.
What does a typical week look like for a TAB Business Owner?
You, as a TBO, are running a business – it’s super exciting, but there is no such thing as a “typical week.” Initially, when you are establishing your professional practice, there is going to be more networking, more meetings, more appointments than coaching and facilitation, or even consulting. As the business grows, it is not as critical to invest that amount of time into building the business as it is to maintain the business.
What TAB Business Owners really enjoy the most is the opportunity to be working with the TAB Members, whether they are running a TAB Board meeting or meeting with their Members one-on-one in private coaching sessions – bringing a level of accountability and support to them, helping them stay focused on their strategic plan, going out and meeting prospective business owners to see if they qualify for a TAB Board. “Qualify” means finding new TAB Members is a mutual searching process; it is a privilege to sit on one of the TAB Boards – and that is part of the excitement as well.
How does TAB help TBOs market their business?
The marketing team at The Alternative Board understands various marketing tactics like social media, diverse marketing platforms, digital marketing, and the team even offers a LinkedIn coach. TAB excels in terms of one of those differentiators.
TAB has all of the bases covered when it comes to ways to market and assist the TBOs in appointment setting.
How many TAB Members can a typical TBO serve?
It depends on the model and how many hours per week the TBO wants to work. The time commitment, in general, is about 25 hours per month for a TAB Board of eight Members, so the formula is very simple. If you want to work 40 hours per week, 160 hours a month, or 60 hours per week or 200 hours a month, you simply subtract the number of TAB Board Members or Board meetings from eight that you have from those hours per week that you work.
TAB does have territories around the world that are comprised of 50, 60, even over 100 Members. Those TBOs are not doing it by themselves – TAB’s model allows TAB Business Owners to have Contract Facilitators (CFs) to run TAB Boards and do coaching on their behalf within their protected territory. Most TAB business owners start bringing in a Contract Facilitator once they have hit that 30 to 34 Member mark.
What is the Contract Facilitator model?
The Contract Facilitator model has been very successful for TAB; it has been in use for almost 30 years now. It allows the TBO to do more training or consulting without having to reduce their potential income. In most cases, Contract Facilitators are 1099s, not employees. TAB trains them on how to be a coach or facilitator in order to coach and facilitate TAB Members on behalf of the TBO. That creates a passive revenue stream for the TAB Business Owner, and it also gives an additional income to that consultant who is in the territory who is looking to augment their income. For example, a semiretired executive or a former business owner.
How long is the contract?
You have a choice to sign either a 7-year contract or a 10-year contract. Each contract can be renewed, and each business model can be sold. This provides a level of comfort in regard to how long you believe you want to make that commitment.
What does training look like for TBOs?
TAB has pre-training to prepare new TBOs for initial training; a great deal of time is spent to discuss the training through our process because it is important. The pre-training positively prepares you for the initial training. TAB trains you on what you need to know.
Once you have been through that training, you can always come back to initial training with no additional charge, even if you have been with TAB for 7, 10, 15, 20 years. It is all included in that one-time training fee.
How do TBOs keep sharpening their knowledge and skills?
One of TAB’s core values is lifelong learning; as a trusted advisor and a coach to business owners, you should always be growing in knowledge. One way is attending initial training again – initial training is constantly being updated as processes evolve, so that “initial training” becomes new training when it comes to the use and operation of TAB’s latest tools and operating systems.
TAB also has great webinars and seminars of leadership where people can continue to grow. We have regularly scheduled training on different topics and timely needs of business owners. TAB’s ability to provide learning opportunities to TBOs is enormous. It is impossible to NOT learn by being a facilitator because you are around so many different scenarios and see why people are successful or unsuccessful.
How do your TBOs share best practices?
TBOs share best practices with each other in several ways. Even though we are operating in 21 countries on all the corners of the world, the TAB community is very close, and we regularly meet at conferences – we have five international conferences around the world, in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the UK. People get together to share their best practices and experiences. There are group calls on a variety of topics where people phone in and share. There is a hotline where people can put out challenges, needs, and issues, and the Members of the community share their experiences and leadership. TAB also has very active social media leadership engagement, whether it be on LinkedIn or Facebook.
TAB Connect is another powerful tool. If a TBO has a question or an issue comes up in their business, TAB is confident that one of their colleagues has already gone through that door. Why not share that wisdom and that knowledge? That is what happens through the TAB connect system.
What is StratPro?
StratPro is a game-changing program for TAB Business Owners. TAB has been successful over the years, helping CEOs, business owners, and business leaders be more productive. But they have to be able to get those results to the people they employ, and having a program that is so clear and easy to follow and so supportive, which involves the leadership team of any business owners, takes what has already been incredibly successful by being on a TAB Board and elevates that success to a whole next level; the results are phenomenal.
What does ongoing support look like?
Most candidates do not actually want to buy a franchise. What they are genuinely looking to invest in, is the support, the backroom operations. TAB is here and ready when you are interested in the opportunity, and there is a fit. What you will experience when you come here is going to be doing exactly what you love to do: Coaching, facilitation, consulting, training. The rest of that is left up to TAB in terms of the accounting, IT support, marketing support, etc. – it is all done by TAB for you. This is the type of service that you deserve. When candidates see the website, the brochure, the work put into the quality of the materials – all of that is done at the home office in Westminster, Colorado.
How much does a candidate need to invest to become a TBO in the US and Canada?
Because TAB has three different territory sizes, the investment will vary. The best way to have a good understanding regarding the exact amount will be to have TAB help design your territory. Next would be to review the franchise disclosure document together – it is a very accurate document that spells out the investment levels in great detail.
TAB’s recommendation would be for you to talk to TAB about where they live, so TAB can come to a better understanding as to whether it is a very rural territory, or suburb, or a major metropolitan market. Then it is time to discuss the investment levels and reinforce that with the franchise disclosure document, which will provide an exact figure for the initial investment.
What is Zorakle and why should every TBO take this test before they consider becoming a TBO?
When you speak with TAB, you have specific dreams and certain goals you want to obtain. But you also have some concerns and challenges you want to discuss, and TAB needs to be sure you will be a good fit. An assessment of the entire community revealed characteristics of top performers and found it is all about the three C’s: Competency, Capacity, and Compatibility. Probably the most important would be compatibility because TAB can train and teach and coach on capacity and competencies, but compatibility is about fit.
Zorakle provides a better understanding of how you fit with those top performers. If there are other items to discuss, it provides some facts and some data for a more in-depth analysis.
What are the steps to becoming a TBO in the US or Canada? When you get the application or the information of a broker. What are those steps?
It starts with a conversation regarding what you are looking for in terms of your dreams, goals, or aspirations – and if TAB can beat them, which is usually the case.
Next comes a discussion regarding what TAB does and how TAB does it. Is that something that will fit you well, or not? Zorakle and some other assessments are part of the process of that education.
For you to be successful, it does have to be a good fit, and you must enjoy and be passionate about what you do because TAB is in the people movement business. You will get additional information, as well as the franchise disclosure document, and you will be able to attend a TAB Board Meeting. After that, you will be talking to as many TAB business owners as you would like. Once all of that is done – well, so far, so good. There is a fit.
Next, you will join discovery (in person or virtually) to meet the executive team. You will understand who TAB is and how TAB conducts business—having you immersed in this experience of attending a TAB Board Meeting with a TBO and actual TAB Members. After all the data has been collected and presented to you, it is time for a decision. A decision on your part and a decision on TAB’s part. Then TAB would send out agreements, schedule you for training, and then also schedule you for launch.