Helen Kim opened her first Kumon Math and Reading Center in 1989 because she wanted to positively impact the lives of youth in her community. By 2007, she was the owner and instructor of two learning centers with enrollments totaling close to 1,000.
Her daughter, Jennifer, enrolled in Kumon at four years old and completed the entire math and reading program by the time she was 15. The love that she developed for math and the sense of confidence that the Kumon Method instilled, inspired her to become an engineer. She was a valuable member of the civil engineering firm responsible for developing E-ZPass, the electronic toll collection system used in most northeastern states.
Even though she spent most of her youth in her mom’s Kumon Center, first as a student and then as an assistant, she never saw herself becoming the owner and instructor of her own center. She was on the path of becoming a professional engineer, when life opened up a new door. She had the opportunity to takeover one of her mom’s Kumon Centers and become her own boss.
Whether it is a franchise or a mom-and-pop shop, Helen and Jennifer provide three tips on how to successfully hand down a business to the next generation.
1. Support independence.
I knew immediately that Jennifer was going to make a great instructor and that she was going to bring a new energy to the Kumon Center. From the beginning, it was important for me to support her independence and allow room for growth. Don’t be worried about giving your child every single piece of advice so they don’t make a mistake. In order for them to grow and mature as a business owner, it’s important for them to have the ability to learn from their mistakes. Allow them to blossom and make their own business decisions.
2. Accept change.
It may be difficult to let go of the way that you ran the business, but it’s important to welcome new practices brought in by the younger generation. Because of my background as a civil engineer, I had the luxury of manifesting technology, revamping the culture of staffing and incorporating the idea of project management into the center. As a business owner, you need to adjust to new trends and cater to the needs of the consumer. My mom was hesitant to incorporate technology, but it was one of the first things I did. I increased the use of our website, cultivated a social media presence, developed an email and text message communication platform for the parents, and incorporated the use of iPads to monitor how long students were staying in the classroom.
3. Networking and professional development.
The beauty of being a part of a franchise like Kumon, is that you have a proven learning program and entire network to lean on. We always recommend taking full advantage of the resources and opportunities presented. For us, it was yearly Kumon conferences and networking with other instructors. Instead of leaning on your parents, find another role model within the franchise or within your industry to learn about best practices. It’s important to always be willing to learn and grow, but beyond that, the relationships developed are just as important and beneficial. You have this entire world that is opened up to you and a group of people that are going through exactly the same thing as you.
Learn more about the Kumon franchise opportunity and discover additional franchisee success stories.