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The Toughest Part of Your Job: Running a tutoring franchise

tutor3By Molly Doyle
Running a tutoring franchise takes a lot of work and is not as easy as you might think. There are long hours and a lot of people to manage and unpredictable difficulties can arise when dealing with families—but helping students gain confidence both in school and at home makes it all worthwhile.

Getting into the business
For Sunny Verma, founder and president of Toronto-based TutorBright, starting his own business and gaining clients became easier once he got the word out to his neighbours. Beforehand, he did not know he was going to end up in the field of education and, specifically, tutoring. In 2007, he was asked to help out a friend’s younger sister with her Grade 12 English course.

“The first couple of times I was working with her, I noticed she could write beautifully, but her grammar was poor,” Verma says. “I knew I needed to help her with grammar, but even more importantly, she needed a mentor to help build her self-esteem and self-confidence.”

His new student’s attitude toward school and life took a dramatic turn as her grades and confidence started to rise. For Verma, the indication he could be a catalyst of change in somebody else’s life gave him a phenomenal feeling, which was a major turning point for him.

He quit his job and started going door-to-door, asking people if they needed any tutoring services within the neighbourhood. He met parents at parks, sporting events and wherever else he could find them. He started gaining clientele and, as things progressed, he was able to grow his own marketing department.

tutor1Jon-Anthony Lui, a regional director for Tutor Doctor in Vaughan, Ont., had spent about five years marketing online education programs for an electronic learning consulting firm before he joined Tutor Doctor in the franchise development department. As he started looking at what was going on in the field, he became more interested in what the company was doing and decided it was time for a change in his role.

“My first client was a referral from a franchisee in Newmarket, Ont., who said it was a good lead,” says Lui. “So, I went in and did the student assessment and the consultation and that’s how I got my first client.”

In October 2009, Lui became the general manager (GM) for the Vaughan franchise. He soon bought the franchisee out, purchased a second territory and has continued to buy about two territories each year since.

Michael Bateman, president and CEO of Grade Learning, chose a different direction. With one child at home and two more on the way, he saw the need for support in schools. After reading articles about how big the secondary education system was in the U.S., and how Canada did not have any formalized learning centres, he decided to open his first location in Unionville, Ont.

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