July/August 2018

Building Bright Futures

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To help ensure their youngsters have the best possible shot at future success, more and more parents are turning to education and tutoring franchises for a range of beneficial programs and services targeted toward their children’s specific needs.

Here, Franchise Canada showcases five franchises that are perfect for entrepreneurs who are focused on putting kids, and their futures, at the forefront.

Academy for Mathematics & English

With testimonials from students who managed to snag a spot at prestigious Harvard University, no wonder the Academy for Mathematics & English is such a popular franchise. Franchisor Jonathan Sauer explains that his parents started the franchise in 1993 in Toronto, after they arrived from Australia and realized there were few existing tutoring companies.

Today, the franchise boasts a national footprint, with most locations in southern Ontario, and has helped tens of thousands of students. “On average, our students improve one to 2.5 grade levels within six months,” says Sauer.

The Academy offers tutoring programs in math, pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12, reading instruction programs, English programs, and physics and chemistry programs.

“We pinpoint knowledge gaps, and target those areas. Once we fix them, it’s like an epiphany –everything opens up for them,” says Sauer. The company offers a custom-built learning system for each student, wherein they work in private learning booths, free of distraction.

Sauer says rewards include the satisfaction of seeing kids succeed, and the boost in their confidence, and financial rewards are significant even for single-unit owners. Successful franchisees need to be passionate about education and helping students.

Training involves two to three weeks of blended/hybrid classroom training, online training after class each day, one week of on-site training, help securing first clients, and ongoing training support from head office.

Sauer’s advice for success in the franchise: “Believe in yourself, have a sincere passion for helping kids succeed, and follow our proven system.”

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If you think your brain needs exercise, especially when it comes to mathematics, then why not get out to the math gymnasium a couple of times a week? And what better place to do that than Mathnasium Learning Centres. The first Mathnasium location opened in 2003 in California, and Sam Kay, Executive Director, Franchise Development (Canada), says the system is unique for two reasons. “Our model is based on a membership of children and parents. They can attend any time it’s open, any time of the week.”

Mathnasium’s franchise model ensures franchisees a predictable income thanks to its membership component. And it’s also the kind of business that makes its franchisees feel good. “We get to do something we can be really proud of. We help the community, we help children, and we alleviate pressures on parents,” says Kay.

Kay says top franchisees care about children and the community, and prospective franchisees don’t need to worry about having business experience or math proficiency, because the franchise has systems in place to help.

Initial training involves 50 hours online, then four days in-class, plus a week of in-centre training and an additional week of in-classroom training. As for support, extensive research is done into the best locations for Mathnasium centres. As well, a media team creates a media campaign for franchisees to help as they open their location.

At the end of this year, there will be 70 franchise locations in Canada, with 900 already established worldwide. When you do the math, that’s pretty good!

School is Easy Tutoring

“The sky’s the limit” could be the mantra not just for students attending School is Easy Tutoring, but also for its franchisees. Darryl Simsovic, CEO, LaunchLife International Inc., which bought the franchise in 2017, says the company has big plans for the franchise, which started in 2002 in Vancouver.

Simsovic says that what makes the franchise different is, “We use certified teachers for the most part to teach the school curriculum the child is learning.”

Right now, the system provides in-home tutoring, with plans to set up locations in the future. With 13 franchisees in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, the company is planning to expand to California (development rights already sold) and Mexico, with a goal of 250-300 units by 2020.

Notes Simsovic, “When it comes to sporting activities, there’s a whole support network about how to get the kids to practice, but how many kids have an infrastructure of parents getting them to practice more math?”

The benefit to franchisees is that the franchise is home-based. As well, going forward, the franchise is only going to be selling to entrepreneurial-minded females. “When it comes to educational decisions and support, traditionally it’s the mother taking the lead. Women owners working with and supporting other women; we feel this dynamic is the formula for success – for the student, the parent(s), and franchise owner,” says Simsovic.

The challenge is that there’s no physical location from which to advertise, but pretty soon, franchisees will be driving cars wrapped in the company’s logo.

Simsovic says franchisees don’t need an education or business background, but just need to be connected with the community. The franchise offers full training, along with webinars on a range of subjects.

Tutor Doctor

With global education systems lagging, demand for the supplemental education industry and private tutoring is growing. Tutor Doctor serves a niche within the supplemental education industry, providing one-to-one in-home and e-tutoring to serve all children by helping to change the trajectory of their educational journey.

Frank Milner became President of Tutor Doctor in 2007, relaunched it, and in the years since, Tutor Doctor has taken the tutoring industry by storm.

With 300 franchisees operating in approximately 550 territories in 16 countries around the world, Milner says, “Our concept is that instead of coming to the learning centre, we go to them. We deliver the tutoring to their home, where they’re comfortable and relaxed.”

The student’s homework assignments and course material are used as the basis for the one-on-one tutoring.

The benefits of the franchise are that it’s a low-cost model, and franchisees don’t have to invest in real estate. “It’s also important, impactful work. The work we do has meaning,” says Milner.

He notes that because franchisees don’t have a location, they need to be more involved in community events, and also need to work with local business owners.

Training involves 40-50 hours online, followed by in-house training, then on-the-job training and an ongoing 13-week training program. Franchisees also receive extensive ongoing support.

An ideal franchisee is hardworking, driven, business-oriented, and caring, and doesn’t need to have any specific background. Franchisees only need to follow the system to be successful, says Milner.

Willowbrae Academy

You know when a child care facility sounds so exciting that you wish you were four again, it’s really got something going for it. Started by Wayne Cochrane in 2009 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Willowbrae Academy offers a world-class curriculum with three different programs: Willowbrae Young Scholars, BodyBreak KID FIT (with input from BodyBreak’s Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod), and Willowbrae Creative Kids.

“We built Willowbrae Academy to franchise it from the beginning,” says Cochrane. The franchise now has 20 locations, including six recently sold in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Maritimes.

Willowbrae offers full-day programs for preschoolers, and after-school programs for school-aged kids. What makes it unique, says Cochrane, is, “Our curriculum is world-class. We’ve found a way to link in-class activities to expected outcomes for children.”

The benefit to franchisees, says Cochrane, is the owner/non-operator model. “Once the business is established, the franchisee works like a CEO or board of directors, with the Director for hire running the operational daycare.”

The best franchisee is not necessarily experienced in education, but has a strong business background. The biggest challenge is finding suitable locations with a reasonable lease rate, in the right area, with enough play space and natural light.

New franchisees attend a one-week training program in the corporate office, and receive on-site visits once they open, along with ongoing training. “If they implement the system and hire a good operational manager, they’ll be successful,” says Cochrane.

By Georgie Binks