How To Open the #1 ‘Tutoring Services Franchise’ in Your Hometown
If you have kids and live in one of Canada’s major cities, you have probably seen the familiar “Thinking Face” and sky blue storefront signs in your neighbourhood.
Each year since 2002, Kumon has been consecutively named the number one “Tutoring Services Franchise” in Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500®, which is the world’s most comprehensive franchise ranking. Kumon’s Canadian operations reached an all-time high of over 350 franchises across the country with the majority of those learning centres in densely-populated metropolitan areas, but Kumon Canada President Mike Shim has a plan to change that.
“The business is doing extremely well, and backed by the strength of our global brand, Kumon franchises have always been a sustainable local small business option, but we want to do an even better job reaching families outside of the big cities,” says Shim. “With lower square footage requirements and more flexible operating hours, we’ve successfully opened franchises in smaller markets across Canada, including our newest centres in Lloydminster, Fort Saskatchewan and Mission, and we’re looking forward to bringing our math and reading programs to many more communities in the near future.”
Kumon’s display at the Elgin Mall in St. Thomas, ON is not a functioning centre, but a “mock centre” that allows visitors to get a sense of how a real small-format franchise would look. The company is employing these types of awareness activities to energize the brand in communities where they see the potential for growth outside of the typical major markets.
Craig Mayer, Area Development Manager at Kumon Canada, says that his team is taking a grassroots approach to recruiting prospective franchisees. “Kumon is an owner-operated business. The franchisee is also the Kumon Instructor – not an investor who hires someone else to run the business. He or she is invested in positively impacting the lives of children in his or her own community. It only makes sense for us to go into those communities where we want to open centres to find the right person, rather than waiting for that person to find us.” explains Mayer. “In Shivani’s case, we feel very fortunate that she believes so strongly in the program that she brought Kumon with her to her new hometown.”
Shivani Wazir has been a ‘Kumon parent’ since 2008 when she enrolled her older daughter at their local Kumon Centre in Prince George, BC. Five years and thousands of Kumon worksheets later, a career opportunity for Shivani’s husband took the family to Lloydminster, AB, with the closest Kumon Centre being in Sherwood Park, a two-and-a-half hour drive away.
“When we arrived in Lloyd, I called the Kumon office to see if there was a centre there. They told me that they had some serious interest from a few people to open one, but that there were no immediate plans to do so. I really wanted my daughter to have the chance to complete the program.” Having experienced the benefits of Kumon so far, Shivani was so determined that she enrolled her daughter at the Sherwood Park Kumon Centre and made the 230 km commute for 3 years. “Greg, my daughter’s Instructor, seeing how dedicated I was to the program and how much I believed in it, encouraged me to open my own centre in Lloyd.”
Shivani first inquired about opening a Kumon franchise in 2016. “It took me a long time to move through the process. I was busy with my job at the bank and day-to-day life. To be honest, I was also worried about the risk. Lloyd is half the population of Prince George and most people here had never heard of Kumon, but I guess people are people and children are children wherever you go. The modified business model for smaller cities also made a lot of sense to me. So, I finally opened the centre in May 2018 and it’s already growing much faster than I could have ever expected. Also, I have to admit that it’s nice to not have to drive my younger daughter two and a half hours twice per week to go to Kumon!”