Oxford Learning Centres franchisee Kim Chapman turned her passion for education into a profitable business. Here, Kim shares her journey to franchise success, plus her top tips for others considering franchising.
Q: How did you end up becoming a franchisee with Oxford Learning Centres?
A: I decided to go back to grad school several years after I finished my undergrad, but couldn’t decide between teachers college and library school. I rolled the dice and ended up doing a Master’s in Education, even knowing that, at that time, a teaching job could be hard to come by. I took a position at the Kitchener Oxford Learning Centre as a tutor, and was offered a promotion at another centre. I finally ended up working for the owner of the Guelph Oxford Learning Centre in my hometown. I approached the franchisee a year later, and asked if she would be interested in selling me the franchise. After a quick negotiation, it was done and I was the new owner.
Q: What do you love most about it?
A: My first year had a huge learning curve as I acquired business acumen. I had never even taken a bookkeeping course before! But I had a solid understanding of the programs we offer, and I love to talk, so I jumped in with a lot of enthusiasm and no lack of excitement. I’ve discovered that I am a born saleswoman, which I never would have guessed. I thought I would end up in a classroom eventually, but I absolutely love running a business. I have learned to surround myself with people who can give me good advice, and people who I know have had similar experiences.
Q: What’s the secret to your success?
A: I treat my clients like gold. Customer service is our top priority, and I make sure my team understands that no matter what happens, the client walks away pleased. I am very aware that I am 100% a people pleaser, but this has served me well. I’ve kept clients for years and I make sure that they know they are valued. I also make sure their kids have a fantastic time when they are at my centre. If that means I’m walking around singing, that’s okay, because I’m there to brighten their day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much I love my job and my students, and I think that is a necessity.
Q: What advice do you have for others who are thinking about investing in a franchise?
I have lots of advice for people considering franchising an Oxford Learning Centre, but number one on that list is follow the program explicitly. We are in the business of changing kids’ lives, and it really does work. If you make sure you’re running a great program, you treat your staff fairly, and the kids and parents are happy, you’ll be successful. Also, know your own strengths and weaknesses, and hire your opposite. I’m not the most organized person, but I make sure my right hand person is, so we have that covered!
Get more tips for success from Kim and other franchisees like her this weekend at the Franchise Canada Show in Toronto. Click here to view our full seminar lineup and don’t forget to register online for your free pass!