Interview with Ed Hyslop, Chief Executive of First Class Learning
Ed has 20 years’ experience running and growing businesses in a number of different sectors, but most recently focused on Education. Prior to joining First Class Learning in June 2016 he was CEO Europe for Cognita Schools, a leading global group of Independent Schools with a portfolio of 66 schools across Europe, Asia and Latin America
- First Class Learning (FCL) has over 170 franchisees running over 250 tuition centres in the UK. FCL only began in 2003, what do you attribute this success to?
- There are a number of reasons why FCL has become the education franchise of choice in the UK, having grown continuously since its inception:
- We have high quality materials which are closely aligned with the national curriculum in England and Wales thereby heightening their relevance to students, while becoming respected by an increasing number of schools with whom FCL centres have relationships.
- The FCL franchise is not a typical franchise in some respects given its flexibility which allows franchisees to choose how they run their business. They obviously have exclusive access to FCL’s highly developed programme of learning materials, but also have the freedom to introduce materials from other sources – the important thing is that our approach is always tailored to each individual student’s needs.
- The business model is a proven one with a low breakeven, and that provides an ability to scale rapidly if the franchisee has the drive and ability to do so.
- Are there specific areas in the UK you are looking to develop?
- We have excellent reach in and around London and a fairly good coverage right across the UK. However, there are some regions where we still have relatively low penetration despite there being a strong local demand for private tuition services and a high appetite amongst parents to improved educational outcomes for their children. We see this as a big growth opportunity and are actively looking to expand in regions like the Midlands, Manchester and the North West, Yorkshire, and Cardiff. There are also still large pockets of the South East that would benefit from a new First Class Learning centre.
- Is it a requirement for potential franchisees to be a qualified teacher?
- No, it isn’t. What is important is that franchisees have a passion for working with children and for improving educational outcomes for students. While a background in teaching is clearly a benefit, so too are other skills like having good organisational abilities. Some franchisees choose to be less directly involved in the actual tutoring of students, deciding to employ tutors and assistants who are more suited to the task of providing tuition.
- What has been your best franchisee success story to date?
- We have several franchisees who have scaled their franchise so that it encompasses multiple tuition centres and several hundred students within their communities.
- What do you feel are the main perks of running an FCL franchise?
- The potential exists for an excellent work-life balance to be found when running a tuition centre for two or three days a week in the after-school time range. Not only is improving the outcomes for children extremely rewarding for someone who has a passion for it, but the financial returns of running a busy centre can also be much higher than doing a full-time job.
- Franchisees can run a business in the manner they wish with little interference, but with plenty of centralised support available should it be required.
- Can you tell us more about the start-up costs, ongoing management fees and any training that is provided?
- The cost of a franchise varies area to area depending on the demographics of a particular territory, but a typical start-up costs c.£10,000, including funds for a marketing launch and initial materials.
- The above sum also includes initial training across two days and subsequent centralised support for website launch, open day advice and mentoring from experienced existing centre managers.
If you are interested in finding out more about the franchise opportunities with First Class Learning click here.