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My franchise story: Building a business to be proud of

My franchise story: Building a business to be proud of

Franchisees Rob and Lynne Kerrison joined Tutor Doctor when it had just launched in the UK, allowing them to be part of the business' foundation and growth in the country

As he approached his 40th birthday, Rob Kerrison was unsure which direction he wanted his life to take. After many years of working in sales and marketing, he searched for the best option that would utilise his skillset whilst providing him with a chance to reflect on what he had achieved throughout his career so far. Although the idea of franchising didn’t initially appeal to Rob and his wife Lynne, it was tutoring franchise Tutor Doctor that eventually piqued the pair’s interests. Over a decade later, they have firmly cemented themselves as an integral role of the franchise network that they are extremely proud to be part of.

“We joined Tutor Doctor at a time when there was a lot of freedom for us to run things in our own way,” said Rob. “The brand had only launched in the UK the year before, so we were heavily involved with building the foundations of the network as it established itself. Although we didn’t know the tutoring sector, we both had the business skills and experience to make our new venture a success. We felt confident that this was the right decision for us.”

Rob and Lynne met while studying for a business degree at Loughborough University. After graduating, they both went into corporate roles - Rob at Unilever and Lynne at Tesco. Following various moves career-wise and relocations, the couple had the opportunity to find something new but didn’t quite know what that something was. What changed things was a meeting with a franchise consultant to help find the most suitable solution.

“Not only did this inform us of the franchise opportunities on offer, but it also helped us reflect on the strengths we had developed over the course of our careers and made us think how we could best apply them in new space,” explained Lynne. “We had to answer a lot of questions, which ranged from what roles we were good at to what specific elements of business we enjoyed. This exercise was great at helping us finalise our next steps – as a result, one of the standout brands was Tutor Doctor.

“Initially, we didn’t quite understand the benefits of being part of a franchise but very quickly, it became clear why franchising can be, and is, so successful. Having the support network, along with the expertise of the brand, is advantageous to anybody - whether you’ve got existing business skills or not. Tutor Doctor is a fundamentally simple business, and we could just see ourselves making it work for us, and being involved with the local community in such a positive way is a real draw.”

Tutor Doctor is the fastest-growing in-home tutoring franchise in the world. Franchisees manage a team of tutors and work closely with families to identify the needs of students. As successful business owners at the heart of the local community, franchisees help children to achieve their potential and change lives for the better. In today’s modern, hectic world, the tired old centre-based model lacks convenience and the personal touch. Tutors visit students at home or work with them one-to-one via an online platform for a truly bespoke, person-centred service.

Rob and Lynne flew to Toronto for their initial franchisee training in July 2010. In a cohort with other eager business owners looking to start their tutoring empire, they were ready to make it happen.

“The training was very comprehensive,” added Lynne. “But perhaps the best part was being able to see and hear from other franchisees who were already running a successful Tutor Doctor business. It gave us an extra boost of confidence that we were making the right decision and, from that point onwards, it’s been full steam ahead.” 

The husband-and-wife team didn’t let that energy dwindle when they arrived home to launch Tutor Doctor Cambridge, getting straight into the community to get their name out there. They focused on being visible to ensure prospective customers knew how they could provide a solution to their children’s learning needs. Their efforts quickly paid off as their business began to gain traction.

“For the first two years, although enquiries were coming in thick and fast, we didn’t stop attending events and leafleting across the area. We knew the first couple of years are the most important and wanted to create a solid foundation for the future. It might be a bit crazy to admit that we grew too quickly within that time, but it gave us a reality check – we learnt to understand the market and concentrated on being more strategic with our choices as we moved the business forward,” said Rob. 

Tutor Doctor has been through many transformations since the duo joined the network, but one thing remains at the forefront: the emphasis on their ongoing support. In the present day,  franchisees are actively supported by a business coach across all areas of business through structured training programmes, weekly coaching calls, weekly global calls and on-demand support as it’s needed. Then, as the business grows, specifically designed support systems will help to maintain growth, build momentum and scale the business, allowing franchisees to achieve both financial and personal goals.

After celebrating the business’ 10th anniversary, Rob and Lynne are not resting on their laurels. If anything, they are even more committed to making a difference and providing a much-needed service to students in the area.

Lynne added: “Increasingly, our business grows through referrals, from families and schools we work with. Everyone says it, but our organisation absolutely needs to focus on customer service as our success depends on these customers continuing to tell their friends and colleagues. And they do. At the end of 2020, we’d worked with 661 tutors who provided tuition to 2,670 clients, resulting in us delivering almost 100,000 hours of tutoring. It’s these numbers that make me feel proud and makes it all worthwhile – and we can see the positive impact that we’re having.” 

Their business is a far cry from their lives in the corporate world. Alongside giving them the satisfaction of providing a service to their local community, it’s given them the chance to enjoy their personal lives much more.

“I coach the under-14s at the local hockey club and try and squeeze in the odd round of golf,” said Rob. “By commuting to London every day and being in control of our own calendar we’ve not missed out on those key moments you have with your children as they grow up. As a Tutor Doctor franchisee, it’s given me the freedom to do the things that I love and spend time with my children whilst building a local business that makes a difference to so many people.

“Establishing the Tutor Doctor brand in Cambridge and also being involved with the growth of Tutor Doctor’s presence in the UK has been extremely rewarding. We definitely feel that working within a franchise system has helped us build the business we have over these past 10 years and are very much looking forward to the next 10 years. “

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