Interview with Ron McArthur President of WSI

Date: MAR 23rd, 2010

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Having joined the company in 2004, Ron McArthur continues to focus WSI efforts on the growth and profitability of WSI customers, Consultants and partners within the WSI e-Marketplace. Ably positioned at the helm, Ron has built a team that embraces the concept of strong relationships in all their interactions within our global community. With his long standing experience in the franchise industry and unrelenting focus on providing superior customer service, Ron leads the WSI team towards realizing the company’s vision - to be the world's leading provider of Internet solutions to the small and medium size business (SMB) market.

A Chartered Accountant by profession, Ron’s previous assignments include being President of Hudson’s Bay Wholesale (a division of the Hudson’s Bay Company). Ron was also President of Van Houtte’s largest Office Coffee division and Executive Vice President of their corporation’s Mergers and Acquisitions department.

BeTheBoss - When, how and where, was WSI created?

Ron McArthur - The company was founded in 1995 in Toronto, Canada, and started franchising at its inception. The goal of WSI has always been to be the leading provider of Internet Solutions to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) the world over, and we have stayed true to that vision.

BTB - How would you describe this type of business?

RM - The WSI concept is built around the model of being a one-of-a-kind freedom franchise. We allow our franchisees to leverage the experiences that they bring to the table from their outside careers – whether that’s a management experience, or a business experience or certainly an entrepreneurial spirit. Each of our franchise units is locally owned with a local presence and global reach of WSI. Our franchisees rely on WSI’s global knowledge through its marketing materials, leading edge products, and its ability to differentiate them from competition.

The freedom comes from being able to operate their own business locally with WSI support from a global perspective. Franchisees can focus on generating profits, servicing their small and medium sized business owner customers in a world class consulting environment. It’s really a virtual business, which makes the WSI concept very interesting, highly profitable and a relatively satisfying experience for each of our franchisees.

BTB - In which countries does the company have its presence today?

RM - WSI has over 1000 franchisees in more than 80 countries around the world. Our network is truly international and covers countries in all major regions of the world: North America, Europe and UK, Latin and Central America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

BTB - What makes WSI successful?

RM - The WSI business opportunity is special and unique as it leverages the dynamism and exciting evolution of the Internet. Our success is built on the strong foundation of happy and profitable franchisees serving the fastest growing business market – small and medium size business (SMEs). Our franchisees are proud to serve satisfied and profitable customers, the world over. No other franchise offers the distinction of an international opportunity, in the dynamic, fast paced Internet industry, with access to a private virtual e-marketplace serving the business needs of the SME market.

The WSI success formula is simple:
Successful Franchisees + Successful Clients = Successful Franchise Opportunity

BTB - On an international level, what accomplishments does WSI have to its credit?

RM - WSI has held the position as the world’s #1 Internet Services and Technology Franchise in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Annual Franchise 500 listing for ten years in a row.
WSI continues to be one of the most profitable, proven franchise opportunities in the world today. The sheer expanse of our franchise network makes us uniquely positioned to serve the SME market which is the fastest growing segment across the world. No other Internet services franchise is close to these numbers. And yet, we know that we have only reached the tip of the iceberg as far as reaching out to SME business owners on a global scale. As we continue to innovate, upgrade and expand our portfolio of Internet solutions and services, we also stay focused on growing our franchisee numbers, adding the best of the best Consultants to our network.

BTB - What is the profile of the WSI franchisee?

RM - Not restricted to technology wizards, our franchisees come from a variety of backgrounds across every industry imaginable, giving the benefit of their own business experience in addition to their Internet know-how. That's an important distinction between Internet Consultants and traditional Web Designers, as they focus on delivering true business solutions, rather than simply developing websites.

At WSI, our selection criteria was developed with a clear understanding of what is required to be a successful Internet Consultant, including a business background. We typically see many different business backgrounds being useful including Marketing and Sales, Corporate Executives, IT experience and entrepreneurs (those who own or owned other businesses). In addition, it requires the ability on the part of the applicant to follow a proven system for success, the willingness to work hard, dedication to fulfilling their customers’ needs and most importantly a personal drive to succeed.

At WSI, we carefully select our franchisees based on their experience and entrepreneurial spirit. We then hone those skills to train and empower them to be the partners SMEs need in succeeding at e-business. You cannot afford a mistake as a small business. That is why our franchisees join the WSI family with the shared mission to educate their clients and increase their profitability. The success of any business depends on the business owner’s understanding of the end customer’s needs and the ability to deliver the products and services to meet those needs. Perhaps the most valuable experience required by our franchisees, therefore, is that of business analytics, expectation management and relationship handling skills.

BTB - What do you think are the advantages of a franchise system?

RM - Most Executives, Entrepreneurs, Managers and Consultants have one thing in common, and that is the desire to be their own boss and be profitable. In fulfilling this desire, many individuals may not realize that being one’s own boss often times also means being your own sales person, project manager, marketing coordinator, book keeper and administrator. The biggest benefit a business owner can derive from a franchise system is not having to re-invent the wheel. A proven franchise system is then, the backbone of a franchisee’s business and his or her long term success and profitability depends on diligently following the system.

While some WSI franchisees have grown their operation to function from a physical office, most continue to operate from home, simply because all the tools, products and services they require to serve their end customers, are available in WSI’s private virtual e-marketplace. Not having to invest in a physical office infrastructure is one of the ways in which our franchisees keep their operating costs low. This advantage is unique to the WSI franchise system. In addition, the training and certification that WSI provides its franchisees, qualifies them as experts in Internet Marketing and they are able to use these innovative techniques (SEO, PPC, Email Marketing, etc.) to better market themselves to the SME market in the most cost efficient manner.

The recognition of the WSI brand is getting stronger every day as our Consultants reach out and penetrate deeper into the SME market globally. Our franchisees tell us from their experiences in the field that this is another huge competitive benefit that boosts their individual credibility in local markets. From a customer’s perspective, it is easier for a business owner to place their trust in a local Consultant who has a global network and an established brand offering a comprehensive portfolio of case studies, sample sites, customer testimonials and business referrals.