David Tsai - National Franchise Manager

Date: JAN 30th, 2013

Topic: Interview with a CEO

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Kumon concept.

David Tsai: The founder, Toru Kumon, created the Kumon Program to help his son, Takeshi, build the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in school. Our personalized approach helps children learn math and reading concepts based on their ability rather than their age or grade. Since the curriculum is individualized for each child, it allows students to comprehend the material fully before moving ahead. The Kumon program also emphasizes self learning, so students from preschool through to high school become self-reliant and will gain confidence to learn new material at their own pace.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with Kumon?

DT: I started my career with Kumon in early 2002. Interestingly, I was first hired as a centre assistant working at one of the company centres in Toronto. Later, I took on the role of Kumon Centre Instructor for about two years as part of our management training program. This valuable experience showed me how the Kumon Method of learning can positively impact children, and how meaningful this business can be within the community.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining Kumon?

DT: Before joining Kumon, I worked with Bell Distribution and Bell Canada as a Retail Sales Representative, Retail Sales Manager and Manager of Direct Fulfillment for Corporate Sales. I was also a language teacher at the Toronto Catholic District School Board and owned an IT solution firm with friends.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Kumon franchisee?

DT: Kumon is more than just a financially sound business investment. Owning a Kumon Centre allows our franchisees to follow their life’s passion – helping children become lifelong learners and prepare for success both inside and outside of the classroom. Fueled by the pursuit of their true passion, Kumon Instructors enjoy a sense of fulfillment and work-life balance rarely found in a franchise venture.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

DT: Our ideal franchisee is an individual who is inspired by rewarding work that benefits the community, is motivated by accomplishing something meaningful everyday and is driven to help children realize their full potential.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Children’s Services Market?

DT: There will always be a high demand for a children’s franchise business because parents will always be willing to invest in their children. More than ever, parents are focusing their attention and finances to ensure that their children receive the highest quality of education possible. Families are always on the lookout to enhance their children’s lives with extra-curricular activities so that they can be as academically prepared and well-rounded as possible.

The child services sector includes many different business models which include tutoring and education, sports and physical development, child care and more. Overall, the children’s service market continues to grow steadily. Regardless of the economy, parents continue to seek new options to stimulate and educate their children.

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

DT: I have learned many great lessons from our franchisees and the families who have enrolled their children in the Kumon program. From franchisees, we continue to learn how to improve efficiency and build strong relationships between the corporate office and our franchise owners.

Parents and students (and franchisees) have always provided us with exceptional feedback so that we are able to continually improve upon our curriculum to provide the most effective program possible for our students.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

DT: Kumon franchisees are my mentors. They inspire me on a daily basis. Their passion and dedication to children is truly remarkable. Their positive attitude and motivation constantly remind me that everything we do, from a corporate and centre level, are all for the betterment of the children enrolled in our program.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

DT: Do your research so that you have a strong understanding of the industry and the opportunity itself – are you really ready for the commitment? Choose a business that you are passionate about and make sure that you are choosing it for the right reasons.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that (Kumon) would be a great opportunity for someone?

DT: We have a proven track record and a global presence. With more than 50 years of success and growth, Kumon is the world’s largest after-school math and reading academic enrichment program and one of the most established franchise businesses in the world. Our franchisees have continual access to resources to help establish and grow their Kumon franchise. By joining the Kumon franchise opportunity, you are not only making a sound financial business decision, but also embracing a socially responsible opportunity with unparalleled growth potential.