Posted on:June 17, 2021
Tutor Doctor franchisee Alejandro Agudelo can be considered a citizen of the world. After leaving his hometown of Bath, England, Alejandro moved to Venezuela to pursue his bachelor’s degree, to the U.S. to earn his master’s degree, then to Columbia where he first started his Tutor Doctor franchise. Today, Alejandro has moved his business to Portsmouth North in England!
With a background in project management, social programs, public policy, graduate studies and even university education, Alejandro calls himself an eternal learner. He loves to engage in work that makes a true social impact and betters his community. It’s no surprise that Alejandro would choose to start a business in education.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Alejandro and learning how his globetrotting lifestyle has inspired his values, what makes Tutor Doctor a rewarding business and what franchisee need to be successful.
Tutor Doctor: How did you become acquainted with the Tutor Doctor opportunity?
Alejandro Agudelo: In 2017, when we moved to Barranquilla, I got introduced to Tutor Doctor by Matchpoint, a company in Mexico dedicated to research and analysis on franchise opportunities for entrepreneurs.
TD: What convinced you to take the plunge into franchise ownership?
I would say that my background in project management, individualized and blended learning (master’s degree at DeVry University, Houston, TX, USA, 2014–2015), and early childhood education (Head Start Program, Eastern Idaho, USA, 2016–2017) fit well with Tutor Doctor. It drove me in this direction when I was comparing the available alternatives.
Back in Venezuela, while I was working on my bachelor’s degree and graduate studies, I also researched public policy and social programs in education. Since my elementary school years, our family had academic support from specialized tutors in psychopedagogy who greatly influenced my inclination towards individualized education. These tutors where also immigrants from Chile and when we arrived in Colombia I felt I identified with their childhood experience.
TD: Wow! You’re quite the world traveler. How has your experience living in different countries impacted your business?
AA: I’m currently moving my family back to England, my home country. Even though I’m a British citizen, I feel just as Venezuelan. As an immigrant, I would say this dream of inspiring others through education with academic support and customized learning projects is still alive and driving our entrepreneurial motivations.
Looking back on our entrepreneurial experience in Barranquilla, we were able to change lives by offering opportunities for students who wanted to learn new languages to develop their professional opportunities abroad. And we were able to aid immigrant tutors from Venezuela with professional job opportunities in their field of knowledge. These kinds of goals still drive us.
TD: Are there any unexpected benefits you’ve discovered since starting a tutoring franchise?
AA: The flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. When we came back from our on-site training in Canada in January 2018, we started focusing on school-age children. And suddenly we started receiving requests from adults and children with special needs excluded from the educational system in Colombia. We also received several requests from young adults that wanted to emigrate from Colombia and needed to learn a new language. But the fixed schedules of local providers were highly compromising.
Also, during the months of the global pandemic, we started to receive requests from students abroad for online classes. These were immigrants in Europe who needed language preparation with customized lessons that worked with their schedules. All these required new processes that we could figure out really quick and respond accordingly.
TD: What an incredible story. You’ve already listed some, but what do you think is the most rewarding aspect of owning a tutoring franchise?
AA: The reward is the chance to see how we impact our students’ lives and the trust of their families have shown us. Suddenly, that trust transcends into their own environment. It changes the attitudes and expectations about their own capabilities as an individual student and as a family.
TD: What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
AA: Building a strong and identified team is difficult but achievable. Our office and our learning center help us a lot in this sense. We also had to close for a while during the pandemic. However, we still run our business in Barranquilla, Colombia, from more than 10,000 miles away and still have some students in online programs in different countries.
The LATAM network, other franchisees from Colombia, and our regional manager’s coaching, coordination and advice were highly effective in overcoming challenges.
TD: The pandemic has caused a lot of franchisees to increase their use of technology. How has technology impacted your business?
AA: We developed several ways of adapting. We implemented paperless enrollment forms, can sign agreements entirely online and are using e-commerce platforms for accounts receivable. We had requests from students abroad which has expanded operations. We also recruited tutors in those countries using online interviews. We also shared tutors with other LATAM franchisees. I would say that ICTs is one of our greatest assets along with being able to do the projection on this new phase of our business.
TD: In your opinion, what skills or qualities do you think are vital to the success of a Tutor Doctor franchisee?
AA: Listening and communication skills are essential. But readiness, emotional intelligence, planning and project management skills are also very important. They should be curious and want to do research on educational approaches, trends and paradigms. Must be open to knowledge from other franchisees. Must have patience and perseverance since results take some time.
TD: We think you’re a great example of a Tutor Doctor franchisee. Can you tell us how do you embody the Tutor Doctor values and spirit?
AA: I believe that changing lives through customized education is not only possible, it’s necessary and can be highly significant to a person’s life. Traditional education—a massive structure, with 15-30 students per classroom, 10-30 classrooms per school—is the form of a historic time that demanded this setting. In order to be significantly effective, education needs an individualized setting and one-on-one, family style learning. Today’s social dynamics require an intelligent organization that can fulfill these needs while families try to adapt to their current circumstances.
TD: What is your advice to a prospective Tutor Doctor franchisee?
AA: Believe in what you do and can do, involve your loved ones, enjoy the travel, and find a way to look at the results of your efforts. Remember to take time to yourself and have fun and relax from time to time. It’s important to be confident in the worthiness of entrepreneurship and the support of the Tutor Doctor organization.
We are a family of four with four nationalities. We are citizens of the world. We have been traveling and engaging in projects that can be difficult but never impossible as long as you know what your boundaries and capabilities are. Don’t be afraid to fail. It can be a rewarding lesson learned at the end. And always keep your focus on your goals and your loved ones.
Thank you, Alejandro! We loved hearing about your unique experiences and how that has impacted your life as a franchisee.
To read more about other amazing Tutor Doctor franchisees, head to our blog.