Kitty Cho has always been passionate about education. After completing a two-year Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) diploma, she ran her own tutoring centre for over a decade in addition to holding various management positions.
While she enjoyed working with students, she didn’t like the atmosphere at her previous tutoring centre, which she describes as rigid and competitive. “The enjoyment of learning, the sparkles of curiosity in the students’ eyes and the smiles of satisfaction were virtually non-existent,” she recalls.
Dissatisfied, she decided to seek out other business opportunities in the education sector and, to that end, attended the FranchiseCanada Show in November 2013. “I wanted to research the best education program worth investing in,” she says.
At the show, she met with representatives from Kumon Math & Reading Centres, a supplemental education franchise that specializes in the Kumon Method, an individualized worksheet based program developed by founder Toru Kumon to foster both academic ability and self-learning.
A “Kumon mom” herself, Cho was already sold on the concept. “My two sons were Kumon kids for years when they were young. I saw how Kumon helped them in their school work and cultivated their decision making abilities,” she says. She was also impressed by the business model, which she was guided through prior to investing in the franchise. “I was able to familiarize myself with the business operation well in advance.”
As a result, Cho says she was well prepared to open her Kumon Math & Reading Centre in Richmond, British Columbia last year. “They wholeheartedly guided me to become a successful member of their team,” she says. “It’s extremely important to have confidence and related knowledge to prepare for a strong start in the business. It helps you avoid potential mistakes and uncertainty.” When she does run into challenges, she says representatives from Kumon’s head office are always available to offer assistance.
Cho’s advice to prospective franchisees is to find a business you’re passionate about. “Without passion, you can easily lose your focus and get side-tracked,” she says. “Franchisees must share the same vision and mission as the franchisor.” Second, she says to thoroughly research any franchise you’re considering before you meet with representatives so you know what questions to ask.
She says new franchisees should be willing to “work harder than hard. Work earlier and stay later than anyone else. Be willing to pay for the price of success and endure the fear of learning from your mistakes.”
For Cho, owning a Kumon franchise has not only helped her achieve her business goals, but has made her a better educator. “As a Kumon franchisee, I gained the knowledge on how to guide children to reach their potential, valuable educational information and the full support of Kumon Canada, which I lacked before. The opportunity to share insights with experienced instructors, both locally and nationally, is one of the eye-opening experiences I have really benefitted from.”
As a franchisee, she is inspired by one of the core principles of the Kumon Method: “Never ‘good enough’, always ‘something better.’” For Cho, that applies not only to her business but to her teaching as well. “Through Kumon’s training, I became a better instructor and am now able to encourage each child to learn ‘how to learn’ so that they can discover their own potential and contribute to the global community.”