Expansion planned after sales trainer fights back from lockdown with 322 per cent growth

An award-winning training franchise, which faced losing every customer during lockdown, is planning to add new staff and add more course offers after completing a remarkable turnaround.

With all face-to-face training banned and no prospect of further sales, Roy Johnson, of Biddulph, Staffordshire, faced the meltdown of his Sandler Training (M6 Corridor) business when the UK locked down in March 2020.

But a financial and creative gamble on state-of-the-art video studios resulted in the creation of a hi-tech, online enterprise – and 322 per cent growth, when comparing turnover with pre-pandemic levels.

A highly successful sales professional, Roy founded the M6 Corridor franchise in 2015. He was joined by Matthew Dashper-Hughes, a former senior leader with major national companies, in 2019.

“We were doing well, providing valuable training to support companies from solo entrepreneurs to multi-national companies and making a modest profit, then lockdown hit,” said Roy.

“Our training was conducted face-to-face, either at our Fenton base or in clients’ offices, and suddenly that was banned. The old business was essentially over.”

But 2021 proved the best year yet for Roy and Matthew.

The duo won the coveted UK Sandler Sales & Leadership Training and coaching Franchise of the Year Award, based on criteria including turnover, business growth and customer feedback.

They started their fightback by offering free advice to customers, with Roy explaining: “People were in pain, they feared the end of their companies and we felt we had skills to offer. I’ve been a salesman for three decades and, for the first time, I was giving away services, we had to help”

Then a conversation with Stafford video company owner Steve Cranston – a graduate of Roy’s Sandler training programme – led to a leap of faith.

Using his own savings, supplemented by grant funding, Roy decided to invest in two state-of-the-art home TV studios.

Both Roy and Matthew now have sophisticated, multi-camera TV studios and the smart use of technology has not only saved the business but led to major growth.

Roy and Matthew have delivered training to over 2,000 people from more than 500 companies since the transformation to online services.

“In this brave new world, I estimate we have never even met 90% of our clients,” added Roy.

“The lockdown caused many heartaches, but there are some upsides to how businesses were forced to change. Previously, people would travel in their cars to a training room in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, or we’d drive to them but now all that travelling time is saved, efficiency has been massively improved and sales/leadership training and coaching is far more environmentally friendly.

“Delegates’ time away from work for training was, on average, halved because of the removal of travel time and this time could be used far more usefully on the ‘day job’ than it would be sat in traffic jams.

“It was previously difficult to get sales teams together. Now everyone can join from anywhere where there’s a good WiFi connection and this means training updates can be delivered more frequently with improved learning outcomes, and less impact on budget.”

With lockdowns now hopefully behind him, Roy is looking to expand. Planning is taking place to work on how to integrate face-to-face training with online offers, and there are plans to add two new training associates and an admin/social media manager.


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