Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Mulcahy was finishing her degree in education at San Diego State University in 2011 when she started her journey with Tutor Doctor, first as a tutor then as an education consultant. Mulcahy saw the market for the franchise's service in the surrounding area. So, when she was given the chance to take over a franchise, she jumped at the opportunity, becoming the youngest franchisee in the network at age 24. Here's what she has learned.
Name: Ashley Mulcahy
Franchise owned (location): Tutor Doctor in Orange County, Calif.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Two years as franchisee, four total years in the business.
The support provided by the home office is unparalleled. With franchising, I have corporate backing and constant support tools, along with the creative freedom to run my business the way I want to. The Tutor Doctor franchise model has proven techniques and systems in place to mitigate start-up risks and a sound formula that has worked for others. This has created a level of comfort and confidence in running my business because I know I have access to a support team, dedicated to ensuring my success.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I had just finished my Bachelor’s degree in Education and was headed to my master’s program. I decided to pause it when the opportunity of entrepreneurship fell into my lap. You can always go back to school, but a business opportunity is once in a lifetime. As a young entrepreneur, I knew I would have to dedicate all of my time and effort into growing the businesses and establishing trust in my team.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I was already working in the business as a tutor/education consultant/operations manager. However, what made me make the jump to franchisee was the true passion behind Tutor Doctor. The Tutor Doctor brand truly wants to make a difference in the lives of its students and it shines in the corporate staff and franchisees across the world. From the first time I met the Tutor Doctor leadership team, I was blown away at how passionate the company was about helping people and how much they cared about the success of their franchisees and tutors.
For me, it is the ability to work closely with so many students from such a variety of backgrounds reach their “aha” moment. Nothing quite beats turning academic issues into action plans to meet education goals and help build self-confidence and a desire to become a lifelong learner. It is seeing someone who benefits from tutoring that validates the entire process.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I bought out the previous owner who had spent about $300,000 in franchise fees and set-up for the nine franchise units. My business is one of the larger franchises in the system, since we cover so many territories.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
There is extreme value in the support mentors can provide to aspiring business owners. Lucky for me, I had a strong mentor by my side who knew the business and played an integral role in setting me up for success. New to the game of entrepreneurship, I also do a TON of reading on the subject. My favorite book is 'The E-Myth: Revisited.'
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
One unexpected challenge has been the ability to promote the premium/concierge service Tutor Doctor offers in an industry that was otherwise unregulated, or had a “flaky” stigma. I have learned that the key to success has been taking calculated risks. For example, I have made decisions and implemented new strategies when it comes to marketing that focuses on the quality each of our tutors provide over the quantity of our work and services.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You will get what you put into it. I know this is cliché, but it is very true. People expect to open their business and automatically get customers. Activity does not equal achievement either. So, just because you do a bunch of marketing does not mean you will get anything out of it. You need to be smart about it – track results, be strategic. Do everything with a purpose.
What’s next for you and your business?
We want to become the household name of professional tutoring by building a trusting relationship in the neighborhood of Orange County and its surrounding towns. I hope for the community to know us as the place to go for premier tutoring services.
With more than 425 territories in 15 countries, Tutor Doctor is strategically growing around the world. I am all in with Tutor Doctor and am constantly looking for opportunities to grow my relationship with the brand. I would love to help with expanding our franchise presence internationally and even motivate/coach other franchisees to achieve success.