A tutoring and test prep franchise can be a great investment. It’s a $4.3 billion industry and is expected to reach $5.4 billion by 2019. And students in the United States are lagging behind many other countries. According to OECD’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), the United States ranks 26th in math, 21st in science and 17th in reading. At the same time, the college entrance process is getting increasingly competitive. According to the College Board, only 43% of SAT takers in 2014 met their College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
While investing in any children’s educational franchise can be extremely rewarding both personally and professionally, it does require a significant investment of time and money. Before making that leap, here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you need to be an educator? If you are going to be spending your time helping struggling students succeed and helping competitive students achieve even more, you certainly should have an interest in education. It’s important to note that many children’s educational franchises do not require previous educational experience. If you choose one with a proven curriculum and system in place, you do not have to be an educator to be successful. You will need to hire teachers/tutors who are willing to follow the system. Be sure to choose a brand with a history of keeping up to date with changes and developments in education, such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core Standards.
- Has the system been vetted? Look for a proven system with data on measurable results. While a new franchise concept may be tempting, you can minimize your risk by joining a proven system that has results that you can share with school personnel to give them the confidence to refer students to your program, and to parents to give them the confidence to invest in their children’s’ futures and sign their children up.
- Will I be able to follow the system? If you are the type of person who wants to strike out and invent something completely new, franchising may not be for you. Yes, you need to be motivated and have the initiative in order to succeed, but the risk is minimized when you join a proven system and execute it flawlessly.
- Do you like working with children? Of course, children can be challenging at times. But if you do not truly enjoy working with children and seeing them grow personally and academically, look for a different opportunity.
- Are you currently active in your community? A key to success in a children’s educational franchise is being involved in the community. This means participating in local events and joining the Chamber of Commerce. It means visiting the schools and partnering with them.
- Are you strictly a 9-5’er?Your franchise must be open a good number of hours when school is not. Particularly in the first 1-2 years of starting up a new franchise, you will want to be present to develop relationships with the parents and children, to train and oversee your teachers and administrators and to ensure that standards are being met.
- Does the franchise leverage and integrate current technology? Advances in technology are a part of our everyday lives and they should be a part of the tutoring and test prep franchise you are considering. That does mean that the franchise needs to lose the personal one-to-one touch that can make a huge difference in a student’s life. But technology needs to be an integral part of delivering student outcomes.
- What kind of training is offered? You want to find a franchisor that offers training both when you’re first opening your franchise and on an ongoing basis for the life of your franchise. You also want there to be an opportunity to keep you well-trained as well as your staff.
- Does the franchise have extensive operational and marketing support? A key advantage of owning a franchise versus striking out into uncharted territory is the support system that’s in place, especially in operations and marketing. There should be systems in place for running your center on a day-to-day basis. In the marketing area, look for advertising and communication templates already developed that you can simply personalize to your market. Is there a website? Is there a call center? There should be a calendar of activities that includes critical action dates. The time you will save by not having to create these from scratch could make the difference between success and failure.
Taking a hard look at your skill set and what you enjoy doing, as well as asking the right questions of the franchisor and other franchisees of the business you are considering, will help you make a decision that’s truly right for you.
Darlene Viering is the Vice President of Sales for Huntington Learning Center, the #1 revenue-producing tutoring and test prep franchise for the K-12 market. There she leads franchise development as well as Huntington’s national call center. Founded in 1977, Huntington Learning Center’s mission is to give every student the best education possible. The company prides itself on personalized attention and proven student results which leads to franchisee profitability.