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Dale Carnegie franchise gives training global scale


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Amsterdam, an international hub for businesses, is a prime market for corporate training and where new Dale Carnegie ‘zees in the Netherlands see opportunity.

Even though Dale Carnegie Training was without an active franchisee in the Netherlands for more than two years, Cuneyt Soydas wasn’t too concerned with that absence, or deterred by the task of building the business back up. Dutch culture, he says, values continued education, making the market ripe for Dale Carnegie’s brand of professional leadership training.

“It’s a very highly educated country and the corporations, they pay a lot of attention to training,” says Soydas, who moved to Holland 10 years ago from Turkey and is based in Amsterdam. “Companies have large training budgets. And the young people want to be trained … Amsterdam, it’s an innovation center of Europe.”

Soydas, along with fellow Turk Caglayan Bodur, became the new Dale Carnegie franchise owners for the Netherlands in October 2018. Bodur has a long history with the brand, both as a master trainer and franchisee in Turkey since 2006. Bodur’s track record with the brand is part of what convinced Soydas, whose background is in international banking, to join the endeavor as the local partner in the Netherlands.

“He increased revenue every year, for 13 years,” says Soydas of Bodur’s operation in Turkey, and they see the same opportunity in the Netherlands.

Jordan Wang

Jordan Wang gears training toward millennials as the Dale Carnegie ‘zee in Australia.

Amsterdam, says Soydas, is a major hub for international businesses and the Dutch government is also advancing policies to promote lifelong learning programs, including subsidies and other private learning and development initiatives. And while they’re going up against several competitors in the professional development segment, the likes of Deloitte and McKinsey mainly serve the financial world, says Soydas, “but we stand out as a more friendly, like your next door neighbor kind of company.”

“We approach our clients with the intent to change their emotion,” explains Soydas. “That is what changes the performance of people. The Dale Carnegie approach is changing the emotional side of people—why am I doing this and how will it affect my team. That’s a big difference that we highlight” when presenting to potential clients.

Soydas also expects pull market share from competitors, including local groups, by offering training in Dutch and English, something his predecessor didn’t do.

“He just concentrated on English training,” says Soydas, which meant the franchise didn’t have a Dutch-speaking client base. “We have to build this back up. Previously it had a very narrow client base.”

The new strategy also focuses on staying connected with graduates to ultimately get connected to their companies. And Soydas and his trainers will host free skills seminars and other thought-leadership events to generate leads and connect directly with potential clients, something that’s necessary for the brand to resonate within Dutch culture.

“In the Dutch market, it doesn’t work to buy contact lists and email them—that just doesn’t work in Dutch culture. It has to be more personable,” says Soydas. “We have to build up our reputation and not just rely on putting up a name.”

Growing the global footprint

That name, though, is still hugely recognizable in the Netherlands and throughout the world, says Andre Goldstein, and the brand began operating outside the United States in the 1940s. Now, 127 of its 228 territories are in international markets, and about five years ago revenue from international operations began exceeding Dale Carnegie’s domestic system, notes Goldstein, vice president of franchise development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, along with the Asia-Pacific region. The split of overall revenue is 55 percent international, 45 percent domestic, he says. Dale Carnegie debuted on the Franchise Times Top 200+ last year at No. 248 with systemwide revenue of $190 million in 2017.

Cuneyt Soydas

In the Netherlands, Cuneyt Soydas (left) and Caglayan Bodur are relaunching Dale Carnegie Training after a two-year absence in the market.

“Our sweet spot is small to medium-size companies,” says Goldstein. “The company where it’s very easy to get to the decision makers and companies that don’t have the resources to provide the services we do.”

In addition to looking at factors such as economic growth and the legal landscape, Dale Carnegie closely examines the training environment, essentially “is training a well-established activity,” says Goldstein, and executives travel to new markets to meet companies “and find out if they have budgets” for corporate training. In its franchisees, the brand wants “demonstrated business experience” and is moving away from an owner-operator model to “franchisees who are investing, leading and shaping culture but not doing the training themselves,” explains Goldstein.  

That’s exactly what Pallavi Jha is doing in India, where her Walchand PeopleFirst is the exclusive Dale Carnegie franchisee with a presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

After earning her MBA from Syracuse University Jha joined her family’s business, Hindustan Construction Company, managing one of India’s largest construction companies.

She later launched a financial portal and provided training, which led her to bring Dale Carnegie Training to India in 2003. It had “the widest curricula among industry players,” and Jha notes Dale Carnegie’s books have been famous in India since they were first published.

“In fact, I still have in my collection a 1939 edition of ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’ that belonged to my grandfather,” she says.

Jha’s franchise has multinational corporate clients along with smaller organizations, independent professionals and students. While the core methodology and ethos of Dale Carnegie run through the franchise, the ability to tailor programs to suit varied industries in India such as food and beverage, manufacturing, and IT helps the brand stand out.

Pallavi Jha

Pallavi Jha operates Dale Carnegie in India, where she’s been growing the brand since 2003.

And, she notes, while there are several training schools in the country, they’re “operating in an unorganized fashion,” and “they lack the scale and consistency in quality that is required in the learning and development space.”

To succeed in India, with its cultural and language diversity, Jha says her trainers must be “experts in customizing and contextualizing” the material to communicate effectively with CEOs and students alike. “Fortunately, they are doing a great job of it,” she says.

On another continent, Jordan Wang made the transition last year from operations director to franchise owner of the New South Wales territory, where he’s based in Sydney, Australia. The previous franchisee, he says, had shifted attention to other states in Australia and Wang saw in Sydney “all the makings of a great market.” He took over in March 2018 and is in the midst of executing a strategy targeting, in part, millennials.

“I’m what you’d call a millennial,” says Wang, making him particularly attuned to what he calls the “tech integrated” workers entering the job market who are “not as good at the leadership skills.” Targeted messaging to that group “has helped us get in with a strong position with established companies” employing those workers.

“I hear from clients about younger people not having the same work ethic” or an interest in leadership, he says, “but it’s about understanding how to communicate with them and teach them.”

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