For one Florida franchisee, becoming a business owner wasn’t the only goal he had in mind. He wanted his business to have a positive effect on the world and Huntington Learning Center gave him that opportunity.
Bob Harms bought his first Huntington location in Pembroke Pines, FL in November of 2007 and purchased his second location in Plantation, FL in January of 2010.
Although Harms knew he wanted to own a business and he knew he wanted to have a positive impact, he wasn’t completely sure what industry or specific concept would be the best fit. After hiring a business consultant and looking at a variety of different opportunities, Bob determined that the Huntington Learning Center system gave him what he was looking for.
“It really kind of fit into my wheelhouse of something I could do very well at financially, while also making a difference at the same time,” Harms said during a recent interview from his home in Florida. “Just owning a business and making money wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I was looking to own a business, earn strong profits and have the opportunity to have a positive impact, whether it is on kids or another community. Huntington just really fit who I was and what I was looking for.”
Previous corporate America experience
The majority of Harms’ prior professional experience comes from a privately owned company on Long Island in New York. He was there for 21 years, starting out in the mail room and working his way up the corporate ladder while also expanding his education. By the time he was done with college, Harms had earned an undergraduate degree in Marketing and a master’s degree in both Management and International Business.
Bob was eventually promoted to a supervisory role for one of their product lines and then later to operations manager for approximately 50 customer service team members. Later, he made his way into new business development where he grew two existing divisions and had the opportunity to start two new ones as well.
Going into business for himself
Once Bob decided to go into business for himself and identified Huntington as the right fit, he went through the initial training program, which consisted of in depth work at the main office in New Jersey where he learned all the key components of Huntington—everything from the student lifecycle to customer service excellence to what differentiates top performers from the rest of the pack (the secret, he says, is following the system).
“They do a really good job of taking you through the whole process, showing you how to manage in this environment, teaching you the business model, walking you through the key performance indicators and how to improve them, all of those key components,” Harms said.
With two highly successful centers today, Bob is now also one of 5 franchise owner members of Huntington’s Ad Fund Board. On the board, Bob has the chance to work closely with the marketing department which he finds to be highly effective and experienced—from the VP of Marketing, Beth Lawrence, who is over 30 years into her career of leading high impact marketing for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to nimble start-ups to the Director of Digital Marketing who has executed best in class social and search strategies for multiple household name brands. Bob also highlighted the company’s significant investment in innovative educational technologies that come at no extra cost for the franchise owners and are driving improved student outcomes and big time savings for his teams.
“The support is really phenomenal, from the call center in New Jersey that handles all new customer calls to the coaching department that you can call to help you with any tricky instructional challenges. I’d invest in Huntington again in a heartbeat.”
Beyond it being financially and personally rewarding business, Harms said his quality of life has improved drastically. While there’s a serious initial effort that’s required by the owner to get the business up and running, Harms now has teams in place at his two locations that enable him to spend more time with his family. He’s doing better than ever financially, Harms explained, but more importantly, he is helping to change lives. His two locations have kids that come in as D students and leave as Honor Roll students—it really opens up new opportunities for kids, he says.
Harms was quick to give full credit to his phenomenal staff, who he said has his two locations running smoothly.
“For me, it really has worked out extremely well,” he said.
For anyone who has a passion for kids, changing lives, owning their own business and making a positive difference in the world, Huntington is definitely something they should look into, the franchise owner said.
It’s certainly worked out well for Bob.