Mississauga, Canada (PressExposure) June 04, 2009 -- When WSI co-founder Dan Monaghan was a young boy, he wanted to be an inventor because he loved the idea of "not just seeing things as they were, but as they could be."
So it was no surprise that some 20 years later in the late '90s, Monaghan and his brother, Paul, found themselves traveling the globe on around-the-world airline passes, pitching their upstart Internet consulting firm in seminars to business owners.
Some of the more amusing moments - at least looking back now - occurred when Monaghan would tell audience members to look at their business cards and tell him if their fax number was listed. Most would raise their hands. When Monaghan asked if that had been the case 10 years earlier, most of the hands would go down.
"Then we said in five years, all of you will have an e-mail address on your business card," Monaghan recalled. "People looked at us like we were from another planet. They had no idea what we were talking about."
Applying the same foresight and stay-ahead-of-the-curve thinking to the explosive online marketing arena is what today has made WSI - which stands for We Simplify the Internet - the world's leading provider of Internet marketing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses the world over. WSI provides Internet marketing solutions, web site design, e-commerce solutions and web hosting.
With a network of more than 1,500 franchisees in 87 countries, WSI is the world's largest Internet consulting firm and has been ranked as the No. 1 Internet business franchise by Entrepreneur magazine for nine consecutive years.
And in a recession that has many businesses seeing red, WSI is drawing its numbers with a big, black marker. WSI expects to award 225 franchises in 2009, an increase of almost 30 percent over both 2007 and 2008, when it awarded 174 and 175 franchises, respectively. Fifty percent of WSI Internet Marketing Consultants are located in North America - the company's primary focus of growth - with 600 in the United States.
Systemwide revenue increased 11.5 percent in 2008 from 2007 and revenues are projected to increase another 12 to 15 percent in 2009. New WSI franchisees in 2008 saw their average annual product sales increase by 50 percent over new franchisees in 2007.
"We're pretty bullish about 2009," WSI president Ron McArthur says matter-of-factly. "The recession is an opportunity for us as people are downsized and decide to do something different. They are not only looking at owning and operating a small business, but also owning a franchise. I think we're positioned very well in our sector."
WSI's Internet Marketing Consultants are not web designers who create graphics and program web sites. Instead, they analyze the businesses and competitive positions of their clients - small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that comprise 90 percent of all businesses - and help them become more profitable by introducing sales-generated Internet marketing technologies and cost-reduction strategies.
It is not a one-time sale. WSI franchisees build long-term business relationships and become trusted business partners of their clients, affording WSI franchisees multiple revenue streams and incremental recurring revenue from such services as web site hosting, visitor traffic monitoring and reporting, consulting fees and Internet marketing campaign management.
Fueling WSI's growth is the rapid shift in focus from traditional advertising media outlets such as TV, radio and print to online marketing. Already this year, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News have stopped printing daily newspapers and the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News will print its last edition later this year, all victims of declining ad revenue.
"We are getting a double bump," said McArthur. "Not only are our franchise sales up, but our unit economics are up because we are running counter to the economy. The troubles of the printing and publishing industry... the whole newspaper world... are driving our business forward."
Often referred to as a "white-collar" franchise opportunity, WSI Internet Marketing Consultants enjoy the distinction of providing professional business-to-business services. They are individuals with strong general business and sales and marketing backgrounds, as well as IT professionals who understand the value of providing Internet marketing solutions, as well as building relationships and trust with their clients.
"It's all about understanding the power of the relationship, McArthur said. "Our Internet Marketing Consultants understand that the relationships they build with their clients are the key to their success. It's not about getting into the nitty-gritty of building a web site for a client and never talking to them again."
Eighty-three percent of WSI franchisees work from home and set their own hours based on business needs and personal growth. There is no need for specialized equipment beyond a laptop computer with basic business software and Internet access. Family business partnerships also comprise 15 to 20 percent of WSI franchisees and are continuing to increase.
The estimated initial investment is modest, ranging from $60,350 to $166,650 and is based on a wide range of territory licenses, ranging from a single territory license with a population base of 100,000 individuals to an international license that allows a WSI franchise owner to build a worldwide client base from the comfort of their home office. About 30 to 40 percent of WSI franchisees obtain a regional or national license.
The entire WSI business model and support structure has been developed to sell products and services that offer clear benefits to any business while offering WSI franchisees excellent profit potential in the exploding Internet marketing solutions industry.
"WSI identified the shift from traditional advertising venues to Internet marketing more than two years ago," said McArthur. "Now we are eating, sleeping and breathing it as it happens in reality. WSI has always been ahead of the game, but now we are in the middle of a very exciting time."