Tutor Doctor: The franchise opportunity
The global tutoring chain explains why its home-based franchise offering will suit anyone looking to "make a difference in education"...
Franchise: Tutor Doctor
Description: Home Tutoring
Started in: 2000
Founder: John Hooi
No. of franchises: 450+ (45+ in UK)
Coverage: 15 countries
Average cost per franchise: £29,700
Tutor Doctor is a multi-national tutoring company and started as the vision of founder John Hooi who thought there needed to be solution for children who were struggling with school, beyond more schooling. His initial tutoring service was so successful that he decided to offer franchises in 2003 and the Tutor Doctor brand was born. The first franchise was in Canada.
In 2007, Tutor Doctor was acquired by its current owners, who enhanced the business model and re-launched an improved version in 2008 with Frank Milner, the current president, at the helm. The franchise expanded into the US in 2007 and shortly after into the UK. While the world was experiencing one of the worst recessions in history, Tutor Doctor was growing.
With a presence on five continents in 15 countries and over 18,000 tutors worldwide, Tutor Doctor is enjoying one of the fastest international expansions of any educational company in the history of franchising. Forbes Magazine predicts that the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass £68bn by 2020, and Tutor Doctor has taken this opportunity to create a business model that holds quality, convenience, and personalised care at its core.
Moving into franchising
So how did you move into franchising?
Franchising was the preferred choice to expand the Tutor Doctor business – it is a much faster route to market and Canada was a country with a good franchising ethos.
Where did the business open its first franchises?
How successful were those original franchisees?
Very successful. So successful in fact, that we quickly expanded in the US and UK markets. Our first UK franchisee was Alex Scotchbrook. She opened in 2009 starting with her territory in Guildford.
In her first two years alone, Scotchbrook helped well over 500 students and grew her business very quickly. In 2013, she was nominated for the BFA Female Franchisee of the Year Award. Scotchbrook now owns four territories – Guildford, Camberley, Woking and Farnham – engaging over 250 tutors and helping more than 1,000 children achieve their results. It is one of the top two largest Tutor Doctor franchises in the world.
The franchise opportunity
What makes the franchise different/unique?
We have spent the past 15 years building our curriculum to match it uniquely to each market, and then match the needs of each student to a high quality tutor. Tutor Doctor serves as an educational catalyst, delivering academic performance, greater self esteem and impacting the lives of tens of thousands of children and students around the world.
What services do you offer?
As a Tutor Doctor franchisee, you will be supported by a team of experts who will help you learn the Tutor Doctor business, implement the franchise model in your territory and ultimately grow your business to achieve your goals. The training and support team is immense and experienced. Franchisees will receive:
- Initial training and launch: Your journey as a Tutor Doctor franchisee will start with a comprehensive training program that includes online, classroom and field training. It is specifically designed to help you launch your business quickly, successfully and profitably. A franchise development director will review our unique training and launch program in more detail, if you choose to learn more. Training covers all aspects of running a Tutor Doctor franchise including marketing and lead generation, recruiting tutors, finance and accounting, Tutor Doctor’s proprietary consultation process and much more. When you launch your business, not only will you have the knowledge and training needed to be successful, you’ll have the confidence and reassurance that a team of experts is behind you each step of the way.
- Ongoing franchise support: As you grow your Tutor Doctor franchise, you will have access to and be actively supported across all areas of your business through structured training program, weekly coaching calls, weekly global calls and on-demand support as you need for anything related to your business. As your business grows, we have specifically designed models to help you continue your growth, build momentum and ultimately scale your business to help you achieve your financial and personal goals.
- Annual franchise conference: Each year, Tutor Doctor franchisees from around the world come together to share best practices and learn about new and exciting initiatives at the annual Tutor Doctor conference. This is an exciting time for our organisation and fantastic opportunity for franchisees to develop relationships with peers and learn from each other as we work to leverage the collective strength of our global network of franchisees.
How big is the market opportunity?
The UK private tuition market is worth £6bn; we think that speaks for itself and furthermore the number of students receiving tuition has nearly doubled to 2.8 million over the last 15 years. We are in a growth sector where quality prevails.
How many franchisees do you have today?
Over 450 and 45 in the UK.
How is the brand marketed?
The brand is marketed through two primary methods; local marketing in the community and digital marketing. We’ve embraced digital marketing and developed a number of highly effective and innovative strategies to help franchisees cost effectively generate customers through social media, email marketing and search engine advertising and optimisation.
Secondly, franchisees are very active in their local community creating awareness and educating parents and schools about Tutor Doctor’s unique tutoring matching service. Our local marketing strategy is best thought of as guerilla-style marketing that is very low cost and very effective.
Additionally, due to our success, we’ve had numerous franchisees featured in major entrepreneurial and franchising publications. We know our franchisees themselves are our best source of marketing.
How do you divide the regions?
We divide the regions by population (territories are 100,000 people) and post code.
The perfect franchisee
What do you look for in potential franchisees?
No background in education is necessary. If you’re a motivated, people-oriented person who wants to own an education franchise that enables you to have more flexibility in your life, work from home, make a difference in your customers’ lives and have control over your income, then we want to talk to you.
Owning a Tutor Doctor franchise is a uniquely rewarding opportunity that meets a variety of needs including personal fulfillment, financial rewards and lifestyle objectives. Tutor Doctor Franchisees are intelligent, driven people who come from different walks of life including those who have come from the education industry, small business environments, and the corporate world as leaders, managers and executives.
Only 17% of our franchisees have prior experience in education while 83% come from diverse business backgrounds. People choose to open a Tutor Doctor franchise for its inspiring corporate mission, strong cash flow, ease of operations and because of the value Tutor Doctor adds to the communities it serves.
We look to support:
- Professionals: It takes a driven entrepreneur to succeed in business and at Tutor Doctor; we facilitate professional growth with a focus on personable and intimate interaction with clients.
- Young entrepreneurs: At Tutor Doctor, we have been inspired to make a difference in the next generation of business leaders. So, we have developed a Young Entrepreneur Scholarship (YES) programme where we provide start-up financing for individuals who qualify. As part of this programme, scholarship recipients will also receive one-on-one mentoring from existing tutoring franchise owners. In order to qualify for the programme, applicants must be 21–28 years old with demonstrated academic excellence, business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. If you are a recent graduate and have a “can do” attitude, you may be eligible for our incredible YES, which will help to fast-track you to franchisee ownership.
- Educators: With a background in education, teachers know what works to foster learning. Tutor Doctor provides the tools to harness their passion to create a thriving business.
- Families: Have a family business in the comfort of your own home. Low overhead means you don’t need a large investment to start and the commute can’t be beat. One of the greatest advantages for working parents is the work-life balance that working from home offers. Not only are you always there for your family, but part of your job is getting involved in school and community events so you can join everything from sporting events to the P&C.
So do franchisees work from an office, or are they home-based? Is it part-time or full-time?
Tutor Doctor is a home-based business. Franchisees don’t have to invest in a brick and mortar location. We have franchisees who work from home, coffee shops, even their cars.
Tutor Doctor can be either full time or part time depending on how franchisees structure their business. The more hands on the owner-operator is, the more hours they will put into it. Plus, we have just launched a semi-absentee model that allows franchisees to keep their jobs while launching a Tutor Doctor franchise.
How are franchisees vetted?
Franchisees are vetted based on their financials and business acumen. But one of our biggest criteria is how well they fit in with the Tutor Doctor culture. At Tutor Doctor, we like to say we’re not only committed to making a dollar, but also making a difference. Any potential franchisees need to embody that mindset and really invest in our values.
What do you offer franchisees that sign-up?
We offer franchisees comprehensive training and support. Once a franchisee has joined the Tutor Doctor family, they begin our training programme. This includes a comprehensive 25 day Road to Toronto series that will prepare them for the seven day in-class training at our Home Office in Toronto. After they open, franchisees are supported by a team of people focused on helping them become profitable.
How much do franchisees pay and what are the ongoing franchise fees?
Our franchise fees starts from £29,700. Ongoing fees are 8% with a further 2% payable towards advertising.
Success and growth
How successful are some of the franchisees today?
Our franchisees, especially in the UK, have been very successful. Some of our franchisees are making up to £70,800 in turnover per month, £17,700 in net profit. This translates to an annual turnover of up to £850,000 with a 55% gross and 25% net profit.
We have franchisees like Joyce Batten who have recently expanded to three territories and newcomers like Jeanine Shittu who, in her first six months, brought on 60 families with a roster of 20 tutors. Financially the business has performed very well for Shittu and she already has her eye on securing a second territory nearby in order to grow the business.
How is the brand looking to grow?
Our expansion plans right now are quite extensive. We have just begun our foray into South Africa and that is going very well. We’d also like to make more headway into the US and Australia. We have franchises here already, but we’d like to have a dominant presence in every territory in these markets.
It’s a big job, but we’d like to have 1,000 territories in 20 countries!
What is the potential of the business?
The potential of the business is essentially unlimited. The private tuition market in the UK is worth £6bn, with the global tutoring market predicted to reach $123bn.
In the UK in particular, there has been a meteoric rise in demand for tutoring services. The number of students who receive tutoring in the UK has from 1.6 million in 2001 to 2.8 million in 2014. Within this industry, Tutor Doctor is uniquely poised. We are the only company that can deliver high quality tutors who are individually matched to a student’s unique need, that allows franchisees to work from home and put their money where it will do the most use; the business itself.
What will the challenges be in achieving that?
The only “real” challenge is finding the right people to become part of the Tutor Doctor family. Our company values are so entrenched in the way we do business, we want to make sure every potential franchisee is committed to them. But, despite the sometimes arduous process, we’ve been very lucky to have the best franchisees in the business.
What awards has the business won?
- Number one in-home education franchise business by Entrepreneur magazine.
- 2015 CFA Franchisees’ Designee
To what extent are the founders involved today?
The founders are no longer part of the business, with the current president Frank Milner joining Tutor Doctor in 2007.
Finally, is the company a British Franchise Association (BFA) member?