Posted on:February 18, 2021
Tutor Doctor franchisee Sandra Tutwiler is no stranger to the business world. Before she started a Tutor Doctor tutoring franchise in early 2020, Sandra worked at a Fortune 500 company in key roles across multiple departments. Learn how this experience prepared Sandra for business ownership and why being a Tutor Doctor franchisee is her favorite role yet.
Tutor Doctor: What originally drew you to the Tutor Doctor brand?
Sandra Tutwiler: I wanted a service-oriented business that allowed me to really contribute to the community.
TD: Do you feel like Tutor Doctor helped you accomplish that? Are there any other unexpected benefits you’ve discovered as a franchisee?
ST: Very much so! The best and most unexpected benefit is being able to serve my church because I can schedule around volunteer events and bible study.
TD: What has been your biggest challenge in owning a Tutor Doctor franchise?
ST: COVID and trying to grow a business during a pandemic.
TD: What is the most rewarding aspect of owning a tutoring franchise?
ST: I love when I get feedback from my families. It’s very touching to hear that our tutors are making a difference. One mom told me her son didn’t feel safe in school but felt safe with his tutor, which is why he is doing better. I’ve had a few clients tell me how they love that I work with their needs and help make private tutoring affordable and get their children the help they need. It’s an amazing feeling!
TD: Have you noticed any changes in your personal life or your family’s lifestyle since going into business for yourself?
ST: My family dynamic has changed for the better. For one, I’m happy! I love waking up knowing I get to make a difference. My family sees my energy is now positive and WOW – what a difference. My income has taken a reduction from my corporate salary and executive compensation, but it won’t be that way forever. I’ve learned there is way more to life than money! Life is too short not to be happy. And while that sounds like a series of cliches, it’s the truth. By leaving my corporate life behind, my family is learning firsthand that being happy is far more important than it sounds.
TD: We’d love to hear a little more about your background. You mentioned that you left the corporate world to become a franchisee. What did you do before starting an education franchise?
ST: I worked for a Fortune 500 company for over 25 years. I was blessed to have the opportunity to learn from a variety of job assignments over the years from Planning & Engineering, Channel Marketing, Process Improvement, Call Center strategy, Merger Integration, and Learning & Development (training and optimizing consumer call centers around the world). I was blessed to have been a part of one company in so many ways. It also gave me the training to leave when I was ready.
TD: Wow! We bet that taught you a lot about what it takes to run a business. What skills did you learn from your corporate career?
ST: In my corporate job, I learned how to network and develop an elevator speech and then I was able to hone my skills as I grew within the company and became a mentor. My past corporate life also taught me how to create an experience and culture through the lens of a customer, manage a multimillion-dollar budget, and most importantly, learn that your team and circle of influence should balance your strengths and weaknesses so that you are always learning.
TD: In your opinion, what skills do you think are vital to franchisee success?
ST: The skills vital to success are building and maintaining relationships, taking calculated risks, learning to fail fast, not being afraid to fail (because often we don’t – WE SUCCEED), understanding your Profit and Loss report to help determine when the ship needs to be adjusted, desire to learn and grow (personally and professionally), and a sense of humor.
TD: Those are good ones! At Tutor Doctor, our values are at the core of what we do. How do you embody those values?
ST: When COVID hit, I had to rethink everything. I had been in business for 2 months and my world was turning upside down. I didn’t quit, I collaborated with other business leaders and Tutor Doctor franchisees, and I tried to learn quickly. And through it all, I approached every existing customer, lead, new client with care. My enrollments and renewals have resulted from me listening and offering support, asking questions, and providing a recommendation I believe in and stand behind. The last 10 months have seemed like years. I’m learning every single day!
TD: How has technology impacted your business, especially as you’ve responded to the demands of the pandemic?
ST: Technology is an enormous part of my business! I use technology to host/join networking sessions, for client consultations and discussions, my tutors use technology to tutor either discussing lessons, sharing notes on an electronic whiteboard, keeping track of customer data in our CRM, and using shared drives to collaborate with my team or other franchisees. Technology can help us work much smarter!
TD: We have one last question for you. What advice would you give to a prospective Tutor Doctor franchisee?
ST: Building your business isn’t about reliance on a franchise brand. You have to network any way you can. Get out and meet people, create your LinkedIn Network and have a 15-30-minute conversation getting to know people from your network (on the phone, over coffee, on zoom). People don’t want to buy from or refer a brand. They want to support YOU because they know, like, and trust YOU! But if you don’t get out and do the work, if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there in person, on Insta, on Facebook, or other platforms, then you won’t see the same growth in your business that you might experience otherwise. Use Google but don’t rely on Google! NETWORK and meet people like you (business owners and community leaders).
To start your franchise journey with Tutor Doctor, reach out for more information.