Life was Never the Same After Discovering Kumon
Name: Dr Nettie de Jongh
Location: 3 Kumon franchises in Johannesburg: Linden, Parkview and Blackheath
Franchise: Kumon Maths and English
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Kumon franchise?
I am a practising Educational Psychologist with a special interest in under-achievement, scholastic issues and in the development of study skills and the acceptance of accountability in children.
Ever since I can remember, I have had a genuine passion for children, for Maths and for reading.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed being in Private Practice and doing Psycho-Educational assessments, I soon realised that the medical aids did not have the funds to assist parents in paying for the long-term therapeutic interventions their under-achieving/learning disabled children needed regarding scholastic and cognitive issues. I never wanted to just assess, interview, give guidance and be consulted, but never see how the children benefit and develop. I wanted to become a partner in this process.
At this stage my own children were 6 and 4 years old, and because they both are intellectually strong and even at that young age enjoyed Maths, Chess and lateral thinking challenges, I started to look for educational Programmes which would be beneficial for them, something that would help them develop their own potential to the best of their ability; something that is not just for learners who “have a problem” but also would help those who are already strong.
I discovered Kumon….and our lives were never the same again.
Both our boys enrolled as Kumon Maths students. What impressed me even more than Kumon’s expected emphasis on number conceptual development as well as the mastery of basic Arithmetic/Mathematical concepts is the fact that crucial life skills development is also stressed in this Programme. This includes issues such as being accountable for your progress, improvement in time management, task completion, perseverance and self confidence.
Needless to say, I immediately realised that Kumon was the answer to my prayers for my practice. By buying a Kumon Franchise my wish would be granted to become an involved partner in the educational journey of the students once they have been assessed.
I also quickly realised that by buying the Kumon Franchise, I would reach a much wider “audience”, extending my services to students of all ages and abilities, and also uplifting those who can’t necessarily afford, or don’t need a psycho-educational assessment at all before they chose to enrol for a Programme that can help them develop their own full potential!
What did you do before taking up your Kumon franchise?
I was a teacher at the Transvaal Educational Department; worked at the University of Pretoria’s Child Guidance Institute assessing students; did research on learning and reading difficulties at the Human Sciences Research Council; was a school psychologist for the Gauteng Department of Education and started my own Private Practice a few years before buying the Kumon franchise.
How did you raise the finance?
I used money earned through my Private Practice to pay the franchise fee.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
When I started researching reading Programmes for my doctoral studies, I went to visit Kumon South Africa’s Head Office to look at the new English Programme which had been brought to South Africa at that time.
Management saw how impressed I was by the emphasis on holistic development of the students, and especially how this impacted on my own two children, and invited me to attend a five full day training session, with the view of buying a franchise.
The many years of training to become an Educational Psychologist and the fact that I have a passion for children, Maths and reading, obviously also helped tremendously in this training to understand exactly how and why what is done.
Our Kumon South Africa Head Office staff and the different area managers I have had over the last 16 years all play a very supportive role. There are regular meetings for us instructors which are arranged by the area managers; we regularly attend regional and/or national conferences, and I often attend international conferences, inter alia in Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. Learning opportunities are everywhere and all the time for those who believe that “nothing is ever good enough, there is always something better!”
What is a typical day for you as a Kumon franchisee?
I don’t have a typical day, and also not a very specific, set routine, and I really do enjoy this flexibility a lot more than a normal 9 to 5 work day!
I am, however, extremely busy all day (and evening) long!
I am still in private practice and many mornings I am fully booked for consultations. I am also available for my Kumon parents some of the mornings, and also often meet with other Kumon instructors who are part of the same Voluntary Study Groups’ as me. I also have staff meetings and training sessions in the mornings.
My afternoons are filled with running my three Kumon Maths and English Centres and this is the indeed very rewarding.
The evenings are spent writing reports, reading and answering e-mails, writing newsletters, putting “brain-wave ideas” on paper and thinking about how to improve and learn more.
I also spend time working through the Maths and the English Programmes.
Fortunately I am in a position to have many, competent staff members who do the administrative and other chores that I don’t have to do personally. I have surrounded myself with staff members who have strengths in the areas which I am not interested in, or not good at. My job is to manage and train my staff, communicate with clients, parents and students, do assessments and to ensure that each person who enters my business get the maximum benefits.
What challenges have you faced?
Becoming a “Managing Director” of my own business, learning how to delegate and handling accounts were all challenging aspects.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It most certainly has. Before buying the Kumon franchise, I only had to manage myself and the clients I saw! Now I have to manage a real business with staff!
The most significant change is that I am now in a position to reach a much wider selection of students of all ages and abilities. My staff and I can make a positive impact over a long term and help the students in developing their Maths, their reading comprehension and the necessary life skills to allow them to reach their own full potential.
This is indeed an extremely rewarding profession to have.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Do your homework; know exactly what owning this franchise would mean for you and your family; find the right venue; have a proper business plan.
If you plan to buy a Kumon franchise, you must have a passion for people in general (adults and children alike). You must have a passion for Maths and for reading; you must be prepared to learn all the time, and you must know that communication and goal setting will take up a lot of your time every day.
What are your plans for the future?
To keep on learning; to work through the Programme again and again; to find ways to communicate even more efficiently with all the stakeholders; to reach more students and to grow my Centres.
Would you do it again?
Over the last 16 years, I have in fact bought three Kumon franchises, and will definitely do it all again!