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20 Locations Later – Are We Growing Fast Enough?

20 Locations Later – Are We Growing Fast Enough?

On a Saturday afternoon in February of 2014, I was at a franchising tradeshow, in Toronto, hosted by the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA). Personally, I have attended and exhibited at dozens of franchising tradeshows, but this particular show and moment is one I will never forget.

A gentleman passed by our booth for information and began lecturing me, over the course of thirty minutes, about how we were not growing fast enough and if we didn’t start opening locations at a faster pace, our entire franchise system would fail. We had a total of nine locations on the date of that lecture. The lecture was both frustrating and disheartening. Why is the business community so caught up with the speed at which we grow as opposed to the quality at which we grow? What is wrong with investing in a long-term, sustainable model that incurs conservative growth?

In 2012, after completely revamping our franchise system from the ground up, which included our curriculum, IT management system, suppliers, construction process, head office staff, marketing systems and franchising process – our team became obsessed with supporting each individual franchisee in achieving their personal business goals. As a franchisor, our focus is on rolling out quality locations, with high quality franchisees that are focused on exceeding the expectations of clients and families. Our constant fear at head office is that we do not surpass the expectations of our franchisees. Often, achieving the goal of providing an enhanced level of service to our existing franchisees results in slower, more conservative growth in terms of rolling out new locations.

In 2014, I was proud of our nine locations. Any day, I would take our nine great franchisees, that stood by us through the ups and downs of building our system with a strong foundation, before having twenty-five or thirty locations at that point. Our team places so much value on having inspirational, supportive and collaborative franchisees – our franchisees are our brand. We have, and will continue to, place emphasis on opening quality locations over the quantity of locations – even if that means being lectured by our critics and onlookers.

July 2nd, 2017 – I’m sitting in a Tim Horton’s in Bradford waiting for John to arrive. John is signing a franchise agreement today, becoming our twentieth franchisee. John is always on time. Sure enough, he walks in promptly at 11:00 am. John had just read the article I wrote about being nervous when I bring aboard new franchisees because I never want to not meet their expectations and asks me if I am nervous. Truth be told, today I am excited. John is opening our twentieth location in Newmarket – a landmark achievement for our franchise system and head office team. With twenty locations, I feel like we are becoming a true franchise system. I feel proud talking about how our team opened the twenty locations, talking about how we conservatively grew from 2012 to 2016, talking about how from September 2016 to August 2017 we opened seven locations on the back of a strong foundation that we had built and have plans to double or triple our number of new locations this upcoming year.

Today I am proud of our head office support team. Our head office team is forever indebted to our franchisees – they sacrifice so much each and every day to fulfill their dreams of entrepreneurship under our Scholars brand. To prospective franchisees, understand that the foundation of our system, although accelerating at a much more rapid pace than in previous years, is built on the quality of franchisees and sites, not quantity of locations, and we are just fine with our approach.