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How Delivering High Quality, Premium Service Helped This Franchisee Grow During Turbulent Times

Posted on:

March 18, 2022

Winner of the 2020 Global President’s Award, David Boddy, joined us for a Fireside Chat with Mark Szpak, Vice President of Field Operations at Tutor Doctor, to share his team’s journey since opening his franchise in October 2018. David Boddy and his teammates, Suzie Oweiss and Victoria Davies-Jones were also the recipients of the Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 2019. Since then, they have continued to drive growth and success in their Tutor Doctor business, despite facing some difficulties during the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on as David shares the secret behind his continuous growth over the past few years.


Mark Szpak: Hi everybody, my name is Mark Szpak. I'm the Vice President of Field Operations here with Tutor Doctor, and it's my pleasure to introduce David Boddy who is our most recent President's Award winner. We're just going to talk to him for a few minutes today about a few areas in David's business and behind his success over the last year.

So, David, I just want to thank you for joining us today. Why don't you introduce yourself and where you're from and how long you've been in the Tutor Doctor business? 


David Boddy: It's a pleasure to be with you Mark. So, David Boddy is my name. I'm part of a team, a great team, working with Susie Oweis and Victoria Davies-Jones. The three of us manage nine territories in Central and Southwest London. We trained in September of 2018, and we trained together, which was a great decision. We hit the road in October 2018 and have been going strongly ever since. 


Mark Szpak: Perfect. Now, what people watching this video wouldn't necessarily know that you and your team were also our Rookie-of-the-Year winners a couple of years back. It's been amazing to see the progression. If you can give a little bit of insight on just how your business strategy has evolved. We're going over the last couple of years leading up to winning the President's Award this year.


David Boddy: Yes, delighted to. We really picked up on the training that we had in Toronto, which gave a fair measure of emphasis to the value and importance of making yourself a really important part of your community. Community marketing was a great part of our opening strategy and, to be frank, that went great guns in the first 12 months of operation. We had some pretty big targets for a start-up business, but we were getting there, and about 35% of our income was coming from those community events. 

Just as we're about to take off, of course, COVID hits. We'd also just secured, at that stage, another empire. But COVID hit and we knew we had to change a bit. To begin with, we had to pare down our expenses. Then we could see that what was really necessary was to be alongside our clients as much as possible.

We put a great deal of emphasis into client care, and that has seen us through the COVID period. Now we're coming out of the COVID period, we've got the basis of excellent client care. We've got a lot of renewals and a lot of referencing taking place between existing clients and new clients, and now we're looking to get back into the community. We're looking to re-establish our growth that we were going so well with in 2019. 


Mark Szpak: So talking a little bit about some of the challenges that you had in the last year, could you elaborate a little bit about how you overcame those challenges? 


David Boddy: Well, one of the challenges was during the course of the COVID period and being in a big city like London, which has got countless universities and countless young graduates who couldn't get jobs. What do they do? They became tutors, and then they became competitors. Yes, of course, some of them worked with us, but they basically came and became competitors. So, we decided what we had to do was to not go into that game of trying to measure ourselves against the providers of rather cheap tutoring services. We needed to keep our quality high, and that meant we needed to keep our service levels high. Excellent tutors, well-paid, and we needed to have the courage to ask for top dollar on a per-hour basis. Now, we had to trim a little bit, but not too much, so we've managed to maintain good margins during the course of that period.


Mark Szpak: I think it's great. You're talking a lot about the value in what we bring that sets us apart. I think it's just important to be able to project that value in that belief, and I know you guys really do that. Can you touch on a little bit about how you set yourself apart as a premium service? Because I think that's a huge contributor to your success. 


David Boddy: Yeah, I would agree with that. First and foremost, we passionately believe that we are in the business of changing the trajectory of young people's lives. It's a great phrase, it's a great mission statement, but we believe that's what we are about. That's the first thing. The second thing we believe is the thing that makes the difference to the youngster is the quality of the tutor. Therefore, we have to recruit well, and we have to match well. This is the real crunch point. If you take that little bit of extra time, if you charge that little bit of extra money, and you can get that better tutor, you are going to keep a satisfied customer for longer.

We are now in the business into our third year, so we can start to see that the customers are staying with us or referring us to others. What they're all saying is the same thing: your tutors and your tutor matching is excellent. Every three weeks, we are in touch with our clients, and we listened to them. That's the critical thing. We listened to them, and we're prepared to adjust and amend. But, we're also not shy to say “Ah, you're getting a great quality service here. We're also helping you with school selection choices. We’re also helping you with advising your youngsters, how to take the next steps. That's a quality that others are not providing, but it's all part of our service. This is why you should stay with Tutor Doctor.”


Mark Szpak: Yeah, and I think that ties into one of our uniques, that we’re more than tutoring, and also another unique of that flexible, white glove service that you've referenced. That just ties right into the value. I want to lean into one other thing before we wrap up this conversation. You mentioned specifically about how community marketing was a huge driver of your first-year success, and now that restrictions have eased, you're going back to leaning into it. 

Can you elaborate a little bit about some of the specifics of what was involved in your community marketing strategy that helped in year one that you're now applying to your third year, now that you're able to go back to it?


David Boddy: In year one we did it all ourselves. 

Susie, Victoria, David, and a few others were always out there in the marketplace every weekend, sometimes twice a weekend, Saturday and Sunday. It nearly killed us, but we knew that you needed that to get the business off the ground. We could see the results and we can see the impact when we couldn't do that. That's what validated the fact that the strategy is moving again back to community marketing. 

This time, we are trying to put together a team. We’re trying to hire some people to help us with the business of erecting the gazebo and doing all of the administration around and making sure the insurances are all in place. It's an important element of eventing, it takes time. I'm trying to put together a team around that, and we're trying to involve our better tutors in helping to get out there and sell the services. 

There's one thing that the three of us, Susie, Victoria, and myself, absolutely love - it’s to talk to the parents, to talk to the children and to have fun with them out there in the community. If you don't like that, the community marketing would be a bit difficult, but frankly if you don't like that, then maybe you should think again about being in the education business. 


Mark Szpak: For sure, and I think just to your point that community marketing is must in order to drive results. I think that is really critical. I think it's great seeing a business of your size and tenure recognizing that and leaning back into it, as it is a point worth highlighting. 

To wrap this up with one final thing, what advice for anybody that's watching this that's either looking to join the organization, or for somebody that is already a part of the organization and is looking to drive growth over these next six to 12 months, any quick pieces of advice you would throw their way?


David Boddy: Number one, hold yourself in high value. Recognize what you can give to the children and to the parents that you're serving. If you have a high level of self-esteem, you will succeed here. Not arrogance, not at all, but you've got to believe that you are delivering something of really high quality. That's number one.

And number two, be very realistic with your ambition and your targets. Being realistic means recognizing this is phenomenally hard work, but equally, it's phenomenally rewarding as well. 


Mark Szpak: Perfect. I appreciate your time, David. Thanks for joining me and anybody watching, hope that you have a great rest of your day. Thank you. 


David Boddy: Pleasure. And if Susie and Victoria could have been here, they would say it's been great talking to you as well.


For David, Suzie, and Victoria, it’s their undoubted belief that they are in the business of changing the trajectory of students’ lives. As a premium service in the education industry, delivering high quality service to their clients helped David and his team see renewals and referrals as things slowed down during the pandemic. Most importantly, being passionate about education, helping families, and being active in their community is what helped this dream-team see continuous growth since the launch of their business. Watch the full Fireside chat with David Boddy and Mark Szpak below:



Tags: marketing, entrepreneurship, tutor doctor, education franchise, United Kingdom, business, tutoring, franchising, entrepreneur, education

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