Franchise Qa With Tanya Mitchell Learningrxs Chief Research Development Officer
How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?
LearningRx was originally conceived by Dr. Ken Gibson, who had reading struggles of his own. He had always loved business and dreamed of being a lawyer, but learning struggles kept him from the coursework. Instead, he became an optometrist with the hope of helping children learn to read through visual processing improvement. In the 80’s, he realized that reading struggles are actually more likely auditory processing issue and he began offering a program designed to build both auditory and visual skills for kids. He spent time fine tuning his program in the 80s and added some key elements for effective brain training, including one on one training that was much more intensive. He began licensing his program, then called P.A.C.E., in 1995. His family run company moved to Colorado in 2000 and opened a local brain training center to show licensees how to run a large training center. The center was very successful both in training results and profit and they quickly realized that they needed to do more than license the product—they needed to offer a full business business system, as well. They began franchising in 2003.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
Our goal has always been to help as many struggling readers as we can. As we learned more about the ways this program can help individuals across multiple ages and learning struggles, we have added additional procedures and concepts to help meet additional learning/performance struggles including helping people with brain injury and seniors with memory loss. At the heart of the company is a deep desire to create life change for kids and adults, and will likely never change; we just look for more ways to reach that goal.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
We want to make sure there is a really good fit for the franchisees likes and dislikes and running a center. That’s why we spend so much time during our award process discussing natural tendencies and future goals; we want to be sure that our franchisees will be successful, and above all, that they will enjoy the work they are doing.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
This is always a bit of a hard question because there really aren’t any direct competitors in our industry. But for anyone who’s considering a service-based or child-focused business, I would urge them to consider LearningRx because we are unique, we have a huge client base, we get incredible results, and the work is extremely rewarding. Our programs are so life changing that LearningRx clients have rated a 9.6 of 10 for the last five years on how likely they would refer friends and family.
What makes your industry attractive?
Regardless of the economy, parents are likely to spend money on their children. Brain training is predicted to be the next trillion dollar industry by Forbes magazine, and LearningRx is at the forefront. Additionally, we are able to service individuals across their lifespan, whereas many of the other educational franchises are limited to school-aged children. But most importantly, our industry allows franchisees the opportunity to make a difference in their communities every day through brain training.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
Most of our franchisees are driven and enjoy networking, marketing, and sales. A great many of them have family members who would benefit from brain training or they come from a child-focused career. Regardless of their background, we are looking for motivated franchisees who want to make a difference in their communities.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
The initial franchise and training fees cover training for up to 3 people at our 10-day franchise training in Colorado, as well as a 2-4 days on-site visit at their location. New centers also receive personal sales and marketing coaching for their first year. Franchisees are also provided with opening materials (around $5000). Franchisee Royalties includes award winning franchise support, a proven business system, and research backed brain training programs.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
Protected territories are designed to protect their center location as well as create a buffer between centers. Once a center location is chosen, the franchisee will be provided with a territory of around 200,000 in population. This allows franchisees to market and network within a specific area and also provides adequate distance between LearningRx centers in highly populated metro areas.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
We spent a lot of time studying franchising and listening to the experts before we began franchising, but we think one of the biggest reasons we’ve been successful is that many of the executive team have run a very successful LearningRx business. Many of our business concepts and best practices come directly from our own experiences. In fact, the founder wrote a book on the topic called. You can learn more about Dr. Ken Gibson’s business ideas in his book, The Purpose Directed Business. We offer free digital copies to everyone that starts the franchise process with us. We think another reason we are able to remain successful is that we aren’t afraid to make changes when necessary. As the industry (and the world) continues to change, we continue to adapt and evolve our business to meet our clients’ and our franchisees’ needs.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
In 2017, we celebrated over 100,000 brains trained through our programs. In 5 years, we’d like to triple that number and have over 300,000 brains trained! One of our huge focuses as a company is brain training research, and as we continue to complete more research and understand more about the brain, we would also like to reach more individuals across the lifespan and with more varied learning difficulties. Hopefully, we will be able to change more and more lives as the years go on.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
We believe we have the key elements of how to run a successful business and those that follow our system and build networking and marketing into every week are the most successful. The more you plan, the better you’ll be able to weather what comes your way. We help teach you who to hire based on your own natural tendencies so that you can build a team of excellent people around you. And of course, lean on your support team! A new franchisee isn’t in business alone and our support team have all been a part of running a successful center.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
I would tell them that franchises have a much higher success rate than individual small businesses, and that every new business involves some risk. We discuss financing during the very first call and help them navigate who they may want to connect with. The great news about starting with a franchise is that you aren’t starting from scratch—you’ve got the experiences and pro-tips of an entire system at your disposal.
Can you explain your financial assistance?
We don’t offer any in-house financing, but are happy to set up our franchise candidates with third-parties that we know will give them expert advice and the very best options to finance their business.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
Most of our franchisees are able to complete the franchise award process in about 2-3 months, and from there they are able to attend training and open their center in about 3-4 months. From start to finish, most franchisees are up and running within 3-6 months.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
I have a degree in finance and worked as the first non-doctor to run a learning center for my father, the founder. I have worked with my father for over 20 years. I completed my CFE in 2002.