What the Olympics Can Teach Us About Franchising

The world’s best, strongest, fastest, and most talented athletes are competing for personal glory on the world’s most public stage: the Olympic Games. Behind the fanfare, sponsorships, and medals lie years of hard work, sacrifice, and standing on the shoulders of your supporters.


As a franchisee, your business is your Olympics. While you may not find yourself on a podium decorated with a bronze, silver, or gold medal at the end of each day, your customers, employees and franchisors are judging your performance.


The Importance of Passion

Take a page out of an Olympic athlete’s book: passion is paramount. How else could you dedicate 20 years of your life, as Michael Phelps has, to hours and hours of training? To not watching your favorite television show? To not ordering dessert? The only time that sacrifice doesn’t feel sacrificial is when what you stand to gain is greater than what you are forgoing. That, and when what you’re doing still feels like fun.


Olympic athletes are often quoted pre-and-post event on the importance of, “going out and having fun.” Without some semblance of fun, the hours in the gym, pool, or at your business, would be unbearable. That’s why when choosing a franchise concept it’s important to be truly interested in or passionate about the business you’re about to buy into. Franchise agreements are written in terms of years. Most are between 10 and 25 years. Can you imagine doing something you don’t really like for so long?


What It Means to Be a Part of Something Larger Than Yourself


There’s something to be said for being a part of something larger than yourself. Recognizing your place as part of the whole (as opposed to the whole) can be humbling and empowering.


As a business or franchise owner your importance is obvious. Without you there wouldn’t be jobs for your employees or services and products for your customers. Then again, if it weren’t you it would be somebody.


Embracing this reality and mentality can make you a better manager and franchisee. When you accept that your role, while important, exists only thanks to your franchisor, your customers and your employees, it’s easier to be more appreciative of how your business truly works.


Furthermore, realizing your place in something bigger serves as a reminder that you are responsible to and accountable for others—an important inspiration for staying true to your endeavors when you lose sight of your goals. Perhaps this is why Olympians become so overwhelmed with emotion; they see they represent more than just themselves.


The Importance of Support and Guidance

Regardless of what you may believe, we all stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us—and thank goodness for it! The experience and knowledge of others is invaluable whether you are an Olympic athlete or a franchisee.


Can you imagine going to the Olympics without the guidance or tutelage of a coach? Can you imagine becoming a business owner without support from your family or friends? As a franchisee, you not only have the support of your friends and family, you have the support of a network of franchisees and franchise support systems designed to make you and keep you successful! While your personal and financial preparation is your responsibility, you are not without resources or guidance.




Q&A with Stan Friedman of Tutor Doctor

Where are you from? How and why did you become involved with Tutor Doctor? What does your job entail?

A native New Yorker, but an Atlanta transplant since 1989.

I became involved with Tutor Doctor because it is a brand who’s time is now!  Low barrier of entry,  real estate, high margins, much needed service.  All of the stakeholders win with this brand.  Franchisees, franchisor, and the families in the communities that we serve.

I am the Vice President of North America Franchise Development.  I oversee a team of professional franchise recruiters and manage our relationships with our franchise marketing partners and brokerage networks.

As a member of Tutor Doctor management team, what’s the most rewarding part of being part of a franchise? 

Being part of a dynamic and passionate leadership team is personally, very rewarding.  It is great having a peer group that shares the same vision, values and ethics.

Quickly describe the franchisee selection process to me. What do you look for in a franchisee? Do you have a profile in mind?

There is nothing quick about our process.  We very carefully and methodically work with our candidates to be certain that both sides of their brains are fully engaged in what it takes to successfully operate a Tutor Doctor franchise.  Many times the applicants are tutors or teachers, which can work out just fine, but the profile is more of a marketing and networking professional that can manage multiple relationships: tutors, families and other members of the community, with whom our franchisees do LOTS of cross promotion.

What can we expect from your franchise concept in the years to come? What can we expect from the children’s education industry in the future?

You can expect continued, sustainable growth.  The need for the services that our franchisees provides is a growing segment.  Kids unfortunately get less and less attention as education budgets get slashed in tough times.  We pick up lots of that slack for families that want the very best for their children.

How extensive is the training for your new franchisees? Do you try and develop personal relationships with them?

Franchisee training is intensive.  There is a 50 hour pre-training curriculum that is followed by 6 intensive days in the classroom and in the field at Home Office.  Following that, there is ongoing e-learning and actual mentoring with high level producers that spend two weeks with our new franchisees shadowing them in the mentor’s territory and then two weeks of the mentors working with the new franchisees in their territories.  Personal relationships are a cornerstone of the Tutor Doctor culture.

Do you provide ongoing support? If yes, how so?

Would you expect anything less from a professional franchise organization that is focused on tutoring?  We provide ongoing multi-media e-learning programs, support coaching calls, conferences and seminars throughout the calendar year.

How’s business? Is Tutor Doctor growing?

Growth is explosive.  We are one of the fastest growing brands in one of the most explosive market segments.

 How was the idea of starting Tutor Doctor conceived? 

About 10 years ago we had a simple idea and a desire to make a difference.  We wondered why parents had to adjust their family’s busy schedules and drive half way across town, just to put their kids into another classroom with more kids, when in fact it was the classroom experience that their child was stuggling with in the first place.

How has the recession affected sales and growth? 

Parents may cut back on their “Fourbucks” in tough times, but will not cut back on services for their kids.  Strangely enough, parents will spend less with Tutor Doctor for a more personal, custom tailored experience for their kids and we come to the home, as opposed to paying more and receiving less at a learning center.

You’ve got tremendous business and franchise experience. What’s some advice you’d give those who are beginning the franchise selection process? What would you tell someone who’s in a management position like yours in terms of advice? 

Begin with the end in mind.  Do your introspectives on drives you… what would you do with your time if you didn’t have to earn a living working.  Seek your passion and make a go of owning your business doing what matters to you.  As for what I would say to others in positions like mine, believe in your concepts and the opportunities you are representing with all of your heart.  You are helping people make life changing decisions.  Make it about those that you are serving.  Help the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons and everyone will win.

Is Tutor Doctor involved in VetFran? Does Tutor Doctor provide any financial incentives for veterans?

We are very engaged in VetFran and have active programs to encourage returning veterans to join us.



Tutor Doctor was founded in 1999 as an alternative to the “one-to-many” teaching model most extra-curricular learning centers offer by providing a personalized one-on-one, in-home tutoring service to students.  The company quickly grew and in 2003 turned to franchising as a way of expanding the company’s impact and meeting the vast market demand.  Now with offices internationally in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, the Tutor Doctor vision is becoming a reality as the lives of students and their families are being positively impacted throughout the world.  Tutor Doctor is affiliated with the National Tutor Association (NTA) whose mission is to foster the advancement of professional and peer tutoring, support research into best practices and standards for all tutors, support tutor training, advocate for tutor certification, and uphold the NTA Code of Ethics.

About Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is a Certified Franchise Executive specializing in franchise development for more than 23 years. He has held leadership and executive positions including Senior VP of FranConnect, a franchise client conference, Executive VP and partner at Wing Zone, Executive VP at WSI Internet, ERA Franchise Systems and Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.   Friedman is a founding Board member of The International Franchise Association’s (IFA’s) Diversity Institute, where he has served as First Vice-Chair since its inception.  In 2011, the International Franchise Association honored Friedman with its Ronald E. Harrison Diversity Award, previously awarded only seven times in the IFA’s 52 year history.  Friedman also chairs the advisory board of the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative, (PAFI) collaborating with IFA and its members to bring soon-to-retire professional athletes to a new playing field, that of franchise ownership. Now, Friedman has expanded his professional profile to include Tutor Doctor, a one-on-one, at home tutoring franchise with more than 200 units in 7 countries. Friedman became its VP of North American Franchise Development on May 1, 2012.

What Does the Affordable Care Act Mean For Franchising?

Last Thursday, The Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act as constitutional. In the days that have followed, some have rejoiced in victory and others have contested the ruling in anger. However, everyone is asking one salient question, “What does this mean for my future healthcare costs?”


If you’re a small business owner (which includes franchises), you’re probably particularly concerned with the potential added costs of the Affordable Care Act. Do you have to provide healthcare for your employees? If you’re an employee of a small business, you’re probably also concerned. Does this mean that you’ll lose your job? Or, will you be asked to work part-time hours so your employer can opt out of paying for your health insurance?


First of all, here’s a breakdown of what the law requires. For more detailed information, head here.


  • If you own/operate a business that employs 50 workers or less, you will not be required to provide healthcare coverage because you are considered a small business by the Affordable Care Act.*
  • If you own/operate a business that employs more than 50 workers, you will not be required to provide healthcare coverage. However, beginning in 2014, employers that do not provide adequate health insurance will be required to pay an assessment if their employees receive premium tax credits to buy their own insurance. These assessments will offset part of the cost of these tax credits. The assessment for a large employer that does not offer coverage will be $2,000 per full-time employee beyond the company’s first 30 workers.
  • If you are self-employed with no employees, you will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a tax equal to 2.5 percent of your household.


Last Friday, The International Franchise Association conducted a survey of nearly 200 franchise owners, operators and executives. Asked if they’re more or less likely to hire based on how the Supreme Court ruled last Thursday, of the 200 survey participants 85 percent said they would be less likely to hire. Fifteen percent said they would be more likely to hire.


At a separate time but in tandem with the IFA, The Hudson Institute conducted a study that suggests 3.2 million jobs at franchise businesses remain at risk as a result of the employer mandate provision of the healthcare law.

In a recent Washington Post piece, FASTSIGNS chief executive officer, Catherine Monson, called the law “truly unworkable and unaffordable for our country’s small business owners.” Monson lampooned the Affordable Care Act, saying that it is “one of the largest tax hikes in U.S. history,” one that comes at the expense of small businesses, and will ultimately impede growth at a time when our country needs it most.


Just to be clear, the Affordable Care Act isn’t one of the largest tax hikes in U.S. history. Presidents Bush and Reagan both introduced tax increases larger than Obamacare.

That said, the law does include a number of tax hikes:


  • $27 billion : the amount the individual mandate will raise during the next decade.
  • $30 billion: the amount the tax on unusually expensive health insurance plans will raise during the next decade.
  • $60 billion : the tax on insurance companies
  • $200+ billion : the amount the largest tax increase in the law comes from high earners, who will see Medicare payroll tax increase by 0.9 percent


“Bottom line: the law will deter growth by unintentionally discouraging franchisees from owning and operating multiple locations, creating a competitive disadvantage for our franchisees who do own more than one or two locations (and who may want to open additional stores), and barriers to entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalize on the franchise business model to grow their business and hire more workers,” writes Monson.


What do you think about the Affordable Care Act? Is universal healthcare something that the United States needs to embrace? Or, is it a hindrance to job growth?


*If you own/operate a small business that employs 25 workers or less, you will not be required to provide healthcare coverage. However,  the government offers subsidies for small businesses with less than 25 employees who make less than $50,000 annually. A tax credit to defray 35 percent of the cost of healthcare will be given to for-profit companies; a credit of 25 percent to not-for-profits. In 2014, those percentages will rise to 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively.