Name: Tracy-Lee Sydney-Smith
Franchise: Kip McGrath Education Centres
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Kip McGrath franchise?
I am a qualified teacher and I wanted to go into business. This would have been a very daunting venture if I had not gone the franchise route. I needed the business support that Kip McGrath gives to help me start my own business. The teaching part of the business was second nature to me. It is useful to have all the support and structures in place so that you can enjoy a business that is your passion.
I have learnt to be a successful business woman through Kip McGrath.
What did you do before taking up your Kip McGrath franchise?
I had taught in England for three years and gained immeasurable experience and skills. I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching there but did not enjoy the lifestyle, so I returned to teach in Durban.
I had seen no real improvement in Education in the period that I was overseas, so I started looking for alternatives. Alternatives are not great for a teacher, so I resigned myself to the fact that I was always going have to continue at school. Teaching is truly my passion.
Then I discovered Kip McGrath Education Centres from a colleague.
My first night of Kip Teacher Training I knew that I wanted to buy a franchisee. I woke my husband up when I returned home and asked him if we could use our savings to buy a franchise. He was half asleep when he agreed and fortunately remembered when he woke up in the morning. I taught at Kip McGrath (Amanzimtoti) for 6 months, and opened my franchise on 1st February 2006.
How did you raise the finance?
I convinced my husband to spend the hard earned pounds we had saved in the United Kingdom to buy a Kip Franchise. I also took a personal loan with Nedbank which I managed to pay back within 2 years of the business being opened. We also had wonderful family support – from our grandparents and parents alike. Friends were generous to us as well. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by such people.
What training and support did you receive initially and on-going?
I received 7 days of franchise training which was quite exciting and hard work at the same time. Retha Sleigh (Franchise Support Director) has given on-going educational and business support from then on. Brian Sleigh (Managing Director) has supported on the business side mostly. It is great to know that you can pick up the phone and support is always readily available.
What is a typical day for you as a Kip McGrath franchisee?
A typical day for me would be:
06:30 Check Emails
07:00 - 08:30 School Visits
09:00 - 10:30 Gym and shower
10:30 - 12:30 Financial issues to sort out
12:30 - 13:00 Administration
13:00 - 14:00 School visit follow up
14:00 - 15:00 Assessments of Potential clients
15:00 - 17:50 Teach Matric Maths
Hopefully leave the centre by 6pm to go home. But usually leave 6:30pm.
I aim to be teaching less this year and to not be teaching from 2013.
What challenges have you faced?
Cash Flow was my biggest headache to overcome in the first 4 years. But now in the last 2 years I can enjoy the profits.
My husband joined me in the centre for 2 years. This was extremely difficult as I am very proud of the business I had built and for that time it didn’t feel like MY business anymore but rather OUR business.
He did help me improve the financial side of the business and gave me invaluable opinions and business insight. Our relationship improved because after working with me, could understand me and my business better.
I am very grateful that he did join me.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Is teaching your passion? Are you willing to put your blood, sweat and tears into a successful business? If yes, then buy a franchise. You will never look back.
What are your plans for the future?
To expand and own 2 more franchises. I want to be the best Kip McGrath Franchisee in the world.
Would you do it again?
Yes of course. I might do it a little differently with the business acumen I have now, but I would not change being a Kip McGrath Franchisee.