School Is Easy Tutoring - Founder, Susan Cumberland

Date: JUN 29th, 2012

Topic: Interview with a CEO

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the School Is Easy Tutoring concept.

Susan Cumberland: Tutoring is an exploding industry. Entrance to College and University is becoming more competitive and there is a definite need to get an academic advantage. We offer one on one in home tutoring by certified teachers in all subjects (grades 1 to 12). Our domain name is ‘schooliseasy.com’ and our toll free number is 1-877-ITS EASY. We want to make school easy for students and we want to be known as easy to work with. We provide excellent teachers. Our policies are straight forward. We make matches quickly. There are no up front fees. We respond quickly to questions and concerns.


BTB: How and when did you become involved with School Is Easy Tutoring?

SC: I founded Academic Advantage Tutoring in 2002. When I started a family I wanted to find a way to be at home. While on maternity leave I started doing in-home tutoring. Money was tight. I took on more tutoring clients. Word of mouth spread quickly and I found I had more clients than I could handle. THEN THE LIGHT CAME ON! I could create a passive income by sending other tutors out to teach in students’ homes. This year marks our 10 year Anniversary and we are rebranding from “Academic Advantage” to “School Is Easy”.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining School Is Easy Tutoring?

SC: With a B.Ed. in Secondary Education from the University of British Columbia, M.A. in Educational Leadership and Counselling from San Diego State University, TESL certificate, courses in marketing and a diploma in entrepreneurship I have developed a skill set that compliments this business model. I continue to take business courses, workshops and coaching sessions which inspire me to set goals and follow through. I have teaching and administration experience in Canada (14 years), USA (2.5 years) and Japan (3.5 years). I have worked in private and public schools, colleges and universities. I learned a lot about business by working in the private sector. I spent 5 years marketing private ESL Colleges and travelled through Asia and South America recruiting students. I was included in meetings regarding budgets, pricing, market demands and it was from this experience that I became inspired to begin my own business. My husband is a Secondary school teacher and department head. He was also a Faculty Associate and has been a School Associate several times. His involvement in the public education system keeps me in the forefront of current educational issues.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a School Is Easy franchisee?

SC: Starting a tutoring agency from scratch is hard work and it’s likely that you will make a lot of mistakes that are costly in time and money. School Is Easy Tutoring has a proven system and has been building trust through its award winning brand for 10 years. We will provide you with training, use of our proprietary software and an operations manual. We will share marketing practices that have been successful and those that were not. This will save you thousands of dollars. Our initial investment is low. This is a home based business so the overhead is low and you can enjoy the advantage of tax write offs. Through shared marketing we can reach more students at lower costs. Our service is easy to buy into with our concept of ‘easy to work with’.

In summary you will receive:

  • Exclusive territory
  • Training
  • Proprietary software
  • Operations Manual
  • All forms and agreements (Some materials translated into 4 languages)
  • Initial marketing materials included in franchise fee. Reduced costs afterwards because of large volume printing.
  • DVD
  • Use of proven system
  • Ongoing consulting and business coaching.
  • Sharing of success and challenges with other franchisees. You are not alone.
  • You build equity in your business.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

SC: We are looking for ambitious, energetic people who understand the importance of a good system and marketing plan. If the franchisee is a certified teacher this will be a bonus, but it is not required. Our franchisees need to fully commit themselves to the success of the business. The franchisee must be a good communicator with excellent verbal and writing skills. The franchisee must have the finances to cover the initial franchise fee and have enough funds to live on for the first year while the business gets known in the local market.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Tutoring Market?

SC: The tutoring industry is exploding. ‘The average growth of tutoring in the USA is 2.1 percent per year from 2011 onwards’. Small Business Trends Magazine. As reported by New York correspondent Margot Adler ‘Tutoring is a 4 billion dollar business and that figure is rising. It has become a staple of the middle class, with millions of students in both public and private schools using one on one tutors. Once an upper-class phenomenon, tutoring is now becoming so pervasive it is arguably changing the face of American education. Competitive pressures have never been greater for students. As more and more students are being educated, at least partly, with private funds, the United States is following a trend that has taken hold in Asia and is increasingly found in Europe: Parents are spending enormous amounts of money in addition to the costs of their children’s public or private schooling.’

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

SC: It is important to bring the right type of person into the franchise system. They must understand that every new business, even a franchise takes time to grow. The new market has to know that they exist. They must market themselves locally. They must have the energy and ambition to make it happen. They need to have enough finances in place to sustain themselves while the local market gets to know them.

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

SC: I absorb as much as I can by reading business books, working with a franchise coach and belonging to a support group for franchisors.

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

SC: Make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into. Owning a franchise requires hard work in order to be successful. Make sure that the day to day activities involved in owning the franchise are something you enjoy. I always consult a lawyer before signing anything. Franchise agreements are long and tedious and use legal jargon. Make sure to use a lawyer that specializes in franchising. Make sure you fully understand everything.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that School Is Easy Tutoring would be a great opportunity for someone?

SC: I absolutely love what I do and I want to share my successful business model with others .The appreciation I receive from clients is overwhelming. I love the flexibility, freedom and income I receive from my home based business. I also enjoy my place in the community. Our service is much appreciated by parents and struggling students. Parents are so relieved when they see the schoolwork stress lifted from their child’s shoulders. Teachers are also grateful for us finding them extra income and they often enjoy the one on one experience with students.