Any executive can tell you that uniqueness sells. It doesn’t matter what the business is or how or where it began; what does matter is being different from your competitors. These three Canadian entrepreneurs’ success demonstrates that very well.
As a one-on-one tutor in high school and later in university, Cathy Thompson says she saw a huge difference in kids’ learning capabilities. And it was these differences in ability that eventually led her to start Beyond the Classroom, a customized tutoring service that is built around catering to a child’s needs.
Thompson began the business in 1998 with her first hire, and started attracting clients through word of mouth. Now the Founder, Owner, and President of Beyond the Classroom has up to 60 tutors who work from each of the six locations, four of them franchises and the other two corporately owned. Beyond the Classroom began franchising in 2015.
Beyond the Classroom doesn’t sell packages of tutoring sessions, says Thompson, and respects the students’ family lives, with flexible schedules and payment options. “We try to do our best to make our tutors and students comfortable,” she says.
Beyond the Classroom has locations in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Burlington, Oakville, Milton, and Mississauga, and in Guelph and Hamilton, Ontario. Thompson hopes to add a further three to five franchises in 2018, and wants to expand in the GTA. Each franchise has access to an exclusive territory, and all of the system’s tutors are engaged as independent contractors, working an average of five to 10 hours a week. Most tutors have an Ontario teaching certificate, and are contracted by the franchisee. Math and science subjects are in high demand, says Thompson, as are early literacy instruction and customized learning for students with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and other learning challenges.
Thompson says franchisees should have values that align with those of the system, and teachers and business owners have invested with the system so far. The cost of a franchise is $24,000, and franchisees will also have to buy liability insurance. Training takes seven to 10 days, depending on the background of the franchisee, and takes place in Burlington, Ontario. After the in-class training, franchisees complete a minimum of four one-hour online instruction sessions.
Thompson says the benefits of investing in the system include low overhead, low cost of entry, the full support of Beyond the Classroom, and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Greg Ewasiuk, CEO and Founder of Holy Falafel & Shawarma House Restaurants Ltd., says he received great mentoring when he worked for Earl’s Restaurants, a major presence in Western Canada, while he was a university student. He worked his way up through Earl’s, finishing his early career there people hiring, training, and opening new stores.
Later on, while working as a sales and marketing executive in Vancouver’s hi-tech software industry, Ewasiuk discovered a small, very busy falafel restaurant that sold great soul food, and he became a regular business patron and a friend of the owner, eventually asking him if he’d like to sell him the business. The owner originally said no, but one day years later, Ewasiuk got a call asking if he still wanted to buy the place, because the owner was retiring. Ewasiuk said yes, buying a single store in Langley, British Columbia, along with its fourth-generation Lebanese family recipes.
In 2011, Ewasiuk completely innovated and professionally modernized the operations, menu, and concept entirely, introducing a contemporary fast casual franchiseable healthy lifestyle brand. “Holy Falafel,” he says, “is not your typical corner mom ‘n pop donair shop.” In fact, it’s so up to the minute that Ewasiuk describes his principal product as “gourmet falafel.”
All food at Holy Falafel is created fresh from scratch by chefs on the premises every day, with ingredients and flavours that are sourced locally where possible. As well as falafel and shawarma, the restaurant also offers custom salads, daily soups, breakfast wraps, desserts, and a sprinkling of Indian and Greek Mediterranean flavours. While Ewasiuk thought his customers would primarily be millennials, it turns out those of all ages want to eat at Holy Falafel.
Relocated from Vancouver to the growing suburbs in Langley, the flagship location is now franchised, and Ewasiuk says there are two more franchises slated for the third and fourth quarter this year, with more to come in 2019. “Our plan is to grow out organically and locally from our source,” he explains. And Holy Falafel is getting considerable interest in British Columbia, along with the rest of Canada and overseas.
Ewasiuk says that although some exposure to business and food service helps, the qualities he’s looking for in a franchisee are an entrepreneurial spirit, a passionate outgoing personality, and a willingness to make a positive impact in the community. The turnkey cost of a franchise at 600 to 700 square feet is $175,000+, and for a franchise at 1,300 square feet, it’s $375,000+. On-site hands-on training takes place in Langley, and at the new stores, and lasts for six to eight weeks.
Ewasiuk says the benefits of investing with Holy Falafel include its proven track record, depth of management experience, vibrant company culture, innovative and healthy menu, and an absence of competitors on the horizon.
For time-starved Canadians, or for those who just can’t stand the thought of ironing and folding clothes, Carlos Costa has the perfect solution: Maid 4 Ironing will drive to their homes and do it for them in a custom-designed van.
Costa, the Owner and Founder of Maid 4 Ironing, first thought about his system in 2009, but then spent some time, well, ironing out the details. One of them was finding the right sort of power for his Mercedes-Benz vehicles; he eventually settled on solar panels, and the first Maid 4 Ironing van arrived in 2016.
Maid 4 Ironing started franchising last year. So far, Costa says there have been expressions of interest from across the Greater Toronto Area, including Ajax, Thornhill, Brampton, and Mississauga. “My goal for this year  is to have 20 vans in the GTA.” The system may also expand elsewhere, with Costa noting that Maid 4 Ironing has gathered lots of attention from the U.S.
The cost of a turnkey franchise is $95,000. The specialty vans are leased for five years from Mercedes-Benz, lease costs are extra, and all vans are equipped to communicate with customers via text and email. Costa says franchisees don’t need a technical background, but must be willing to work and be “ready to run a business.” He suggests the system is attractive to newcomers to Canada and couples working together.
Training takes one week at Maid 4 Ironing’s Vaughan, Ontario head office, and is conducted in a space that has the same layout as one of the vans. The company’s target customers are just about anyone who needs the service, and Maid 4 Ironing reaches them with social media, an initial three months of telemarketing, door hangers, and more. Each franchisee receives access to a designated territory of 20,000 to 40,000 households.
Costa is enthusiastic about the benefits of the Maid 4 Ironing system, saying that it offers a unique proposition, customer convenience, lower cost of entry, and lower overhead.