School teacher Audrey Menard did her best every day to generate an appreciation and understanding of mathematics. But at the end of every class, she was overwhelmed by the number of students that asked her for extra help. She spent most of her spare time working with them one-on-one. There was such a strong demand for tutoring that she would have to tutor full time in order to reach them all.
Then the idea hit her: Why not create a business to meet student demand for extra assistance? But she was a teacher, not a business person. She knew about education and believed in the importance of individualized tutoring, but she didn't know the first thing about starting and managing a business. Following a friend's advice, Menard began business counseling with SCORE Mentor John MacDonald and regularly attended SCORE workshops.
“I wouldn’t have the success I do today without my SCORE mentor. He helped me with EVERY business aspect and got me where I am today.” says Audrey.
Champion Tutoring opened its doors with four to five tutors who offered math, English, special education and reading tutoring primarily to junior high school students. MacDonald helped Menard to market Champion Tutoring to students and parents and to recruit tutors. She used direct mailings and radio and newspaper ads, but her presentations to Charlottesville schools proved to be the most effective. She visited Charlottesville's guidance counselors, teachers and principals and presented Champion Tutoring. The schools were very receptive and soon let parents and students know where to turn for extra help.
Champion Tutoring has grown substantially in just four years. Menard now employs around 30 tutors that offer tutoring in a full range of subjects including, math, English, reading, special education, science, social studies, GRE prep, SAT prep and foreign languages. Word has traveled so quickly about the quality of Champion Tutoring that advertising is no longer necessary; nearly all clients come from referrals. Between 1996 and 1997, revenues increased by $35,000 and in the last year, profits increased by another $34,000.
UPDATE: Champion Tutoring has since been sold to new owner, Anna C. Patchias. Patchias has worked to transform Champion Tutoring and give the company a new fun filled spin on education. Patchias has worked with SCORE since 2004 and uses the advice her mentors have given her to give Champion Tutoring an edge.
John MacDonald helped Menard transform her business idea into reality. He provided Audrey with assistance in all aspects of developing the business, including creating a business plan, developing a marketing and sales strategy and managing cash flow. MacDonald's mentoring and Menard's diligence soon paid off. What once seemed like a far-fetched idea became a profitable business.