At just 30 years old, former teacher Leon Collins is one of the youngest franchisees in the Tutor Doctor network. But don’t be fooled into thinking that makes business ownership less of a commitment for him. On the contrary, thanks to his drive and ambition Leon already has 12 clients and hope to achieve a turnover well in excess of £100k for the year.
Leon has been running his Tutor Doctor franchise in Poplar, east London, for just five months, but already recognises that buying his franchise was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
"I’m loving being in control of my own destiny. It sounds so clichéd but I can’t tell you how good it feels being my own boss. I’m working really hard, harder than I’ve ever worked…but it’s not for someone else’s benefit this time, it’s for my own.
My efforts directly influence my rewards, you really do get out what you put in. I have the freedom to make my own schedule and the control to take my business where I want it to go…which for me means growth and profit whilst doing something that I love. Not many people can say that!"
Despite being only 30, Leon has already achieved a great deal. A qualified teacher and the proud holder of a degree in physical geography from Reading University, alongside a master’s from Kings College London, he is no stranger to hard work. Unfortunately, like so many others, Leon found himself in a stressful job which he didn’t enjoy. Now his Tutor Doctor franchise has enabled him to combine his hard-earned knowledge and skills with a long-standing desire to be his own boss.
"After university, I trained to be a teacher. I spent three years as a secondary school science teacher in London. I loved the job, I really did. Making an impact on children’s lives and seeing them grow and learn was very rewarding. I desperately wanted to complete a master’s degree though and there’s no way I could juggle the two, it wouldn’t have been fair to myself or my students. So I went back to university full-time.
I found almost straight away that I missed that feeling of making a difference so I did some private tutoring myself whilst I was doing my masters, both privately and through agencies. It was a great way to support myself and still do something that mattered.
After my degree I got into the energy industry and most recently worked as a gas trader, buying and selling – just like a broker. It was a fast-paced job but I didn’t feel entirely fulfilled by it, so I started to think seriously about doing something for myself.
I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I never had that lightbulb moment that some people talk about but I knew I wanted to be a business owner. I used to bore my friends to death trying to come up with ideas for a business!"
Like an increasing number of young people, Leon knew that his age was a benefit, not a disadvantage. Whilst researching business opportunities, he found franchising and quickly realised it was his best chance of success.
"When I was doing research into starting a business I looked at the statistics around business failure rates. I was shocked to see that a large proportion of all start-ups fail within the first two years. Then I saw the statistics on franchising – talk about a different picture! Only a 4.6% failure rate by comparison.
I wanted to know why so I looked into it more and realised all the great things about buying a franchise. The proven model, the training, the marketing and sales support…it’s a far less risky route.
I found Tutor Doctor on the British Franchise Association’s website. I was actually on there getting information and learning more about the industry when I realised there was a member directory with information about different franchises. Tutor Doctor just jumped out at me, it ticked all the boxes: work from home, flexibility, high profit margins – add to that my background and it felt pretty much like a perfect fit!"
Not wanting to waste any time, Leon contacted the team at Tutor Doctor in order to learn more about the opportunity.
"The discovery process was great, very open and genuine. I didn’t just speak to the head office team either, I was able to talk to existing franchisees to find out about their own experiences and how their businesses were going. That’s what made me certain I was doing the right thing."
Confident that he was making the right decision, Leon signed his franchise agreement in May 2015 and officially joined the Tutor Doctor family. Next step: training!
"I was really impressed with the training. There was a thorough programme of online training first which gave me a great understanding of the business model and the general practices. Then I went out to Canada for 10 days to the head office. I was just blown away by how much they invest in their franchisees at this point. They put so much time and effort into the training, I guess because they want you to do well…and it shows!"
After launching a Tutor Doctor franchise, business owners are actively supported through structured training programmes, weekly coaching calls, weekly global calls and on-demand support as required. As business grows, specifically-designed support systems help to continue growth, build momentum and ultimately scale the business to help the franchisee achieve their financial and personal goals.
That level of support has been a great boost for Leon.
"Something that’s really special are the weekly calls with the network. And not just the UK network, the entire Tutor Doctor network from across the globe. There’s training, guest speakers and all of your fellow franchisees! It’s not mandatory but I attend every single one, they are so invaluable. It makes you feel like you’re part of something, a family…a support network. There’s always new ideas and ways to improve."
It’s not all work, work, work. Leon’s home life remains as busy as his professional life! Even while building his new business he is able to enjoy his favourite pastimes of tennis and regular games of football; he also plays the guitar and recently took up roller-blading!
Looking to the future, Leon intends to make the most of his exciting new career and understands that the hard work and time dedicated now, will be rewarded many times over in the years that follow.
"My long term goal is to grow my business into the leading tuition provider in my region and make it as profitable as possible. I want to be secure financially, to be able to live comfortably and build something to be proud of. I’m very positive about the future!
I feel like there is real momentum in the brand which is what I always wanted. I wanted to be part of something big, that’s always growing. And now I am."
Tutor Doctor has over 450 franchise territories in 15 different countries worldwide in a growing marketplace: over the past three years, consumer spending on tutoring has increased 7-10% each year. One-on-one tuition has exploded into a billion-pound per year industry that annually serves over 2m children across the UK. The Tutor Doctor network of 32 franchisees enjoy an exciting, scalable business whilst making a positive impact in the lives of children in their local communities.
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