As a past winner of CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person” competition and a former contestant on Jeopardy!, Peter Dyakowski seems like the perfect candidate to open a tutoring franchise. But being a multi-unit franchisee with Oxford Learning Centres is actually a second career for Dyakowski, who plays guard for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“Football doesn’t last forever and I was interested in finding a business that I could invest in and build for the long term,” says Dyakowski of his decision to open a business. As he researched business opportunities, he decided franchising was the best route to entrepreneurship. “I’m a smart guy and know enough to do my homework; my research found that starting or buying a franchise business is a more secure path to small business success.”
As an active volunteer in Hamilton, where he opened his first centre, Dyakowski was keen on starting a franchise that would allow him to give back to the community. “I wanted to find a business with a social conscience,” he says. “That’s what drew me to education and tutoring.”
Dyakowski began researching education franchises online but wanted to meet face-to-face with franchisors before making any big decisions. So, in 2013, he attended The Franchise Show in Vancouver, where he met Matt Baxter, Vice President of Business Development for supplemental education franchise Oxford Learning.
“He did an awesome job of getting me really acquainted with the company,” says Dyakowski, adding that he was impressed with the company’s proven track record for improving students’ grades. “The fact that Oxford Learning has been around since 1984, and having the chance to meet some multi-decade franchisees helped seal the deal for me.”
As a first-time business owner, and without any experience in education, Dyakowski says he felt “100 per cent prepared” to open his first Oxford Learning Centre thanks to the training he received prior to opening. “Matt made sure I had all of the corporate information and pre-training materials I needed, we visited existing centres together, and I attended a training program at the Oxford Learning headquarters in London, Ontario.” He also received ample start-up support, including site selection and grand opening assistance.
He says operating his Oxford Learning Centre has been just as rewarding as he hoped, especially when he sees his students make progress. “Hearing from parents about how much we’ve helped makes me feel really good about the business I’m running. That’s exactly what I wanted in the first place.”
For prospective franchisees looking at education franchises, Dyakowski says not to be discouraged if you don’t have a teaching or business background. “I had neither,” he points out, “but what I did have were strong organization skills, strong communication skills, and a love of education.”
No matter the industry, he says, all franchisees should take full advantage of being part of a franchise network. “You’re paying for an organizational system that, if implemented properly and consistently in your business, will all but guarantee success. Dedicate yourself to your training and commit to making sure you pass that dedication and passion on to your staff.”
As a successful franchisee, Dyakowski’s secret to success is simple: “Believe in yourself and your franchise,” he says. “Your franchise has proven itself time and time again at other locations. Know that it is designed to make you successful.”