Former Educator and Tutor Finds High Demand From Families in Her Community for the Much-Needed Services Class 101 Provides
With two kids in college and one headed to campus this fall, as well as a 21-year career as a teacher and tutor, Class 101’s newest Florida franchisee knows firsthand what students and families stress over during the college application process. Mimi O’Leary opened the Treasure Coast Florida office of the Class 101 college planning franchise to serve Port Saint Lucie and Stuart, Florida, in late February. She began setting sales records during her first month in operation.
O’Leary had 30 students sign up for her first free SAT test-prep class, and the sign ups continued. She opened her Class 101 location with her husband, Mike, who handles the business side of things while also working at his full-time job.
O’Leary is excited about their future with Class 101.
“I think that it has a lot of potential to be a very profitable business … the more you put into it the more you get out. I have been really busy,” she says. “It is a lot of work, and you’re wearing a lot of hats but (Founder and CEO) Tom Pabin is more than willing to help. He really wants his franchisees to succeed.”
With her college-age kids and high-school senior daughter who applied to 12 colleges and universities, O’Leary also can relate to her clients who are going through the complicated and stressful college application process. Unfortunately, that process often can result in students who get very little, or zero, financial aid and who often end up at the wrong school. But not with Class 101. Every Class 101 national college planning franchise addresses this problem by meeting one-on-one with students throughout the year, resulting in their improved ACT and SAT scores and GPAs.
We sat down recently with O’Leary to learn more about her passion for helping teens succeed and what sets Class 101 apart from the competition.
How did you get started with Class 101?
My friend, Tim Shanahan, bought a Class 101 for Rochester, New York. He kept telling me that he loved the company and that with my educational background I should look into it. I am SO GLAD I did.
What do you like about being a Class 101 franchisee?
I love helping students look toward the future. It is an exciting time — the opportunities are everywhere. I get to help them choose the right path for them.
What attributes should a franchisee have to be successful?
You need to love working with teenagers, first and foremost. They are the reason I am here. Also, you need to be organized, enthusiastic and willing to learn new things. There is a LOT to learn in this job at the beginning. You also need to be willing to work weekends and evenings, as that is when the students are available.
What does a typical day for you look like?
A day can involve working on a college list for a student, planning a marketing event, learning about a college that a student is interested in, making calls to parents and researching scholarships. And that is all BEFORE I meet with a student later in the day.
What does Class 101 do as a company to help you succeed in the business?
The corporate office has been great. The training on the computer platform was just the beginning. They have helped me understand how to market my business and how to organize the financial side of the company, and they have given me solid advice when I have a question about a student’s situation.
To what do you attribute your opening success?
I taught third grade for many years, and my connections in the community were key to my first month’s success. Now I am beginning to hear from friends of those students. Word of mouth has been a big part of my success. Having raised three kids in this area, I had an immediate base of friends with children, and that definitely helped me launch my business.
What makes Class 101 different than your competitors?
We have so many services. We help underclassmen by meeting with them to discuss activities for a resume, advising on which classes to take year to year, and SAT and ACT test prep. A huge part of my work with underclassmen is creating a college list that has been specifically created for that student’s interests. By the end of junior year, a student should have seven schools that they are planning to apply to and know why they want to apply there. Senior year starts as soon as school gets out from junior year. We help seniors with essays, applications, searching for scholarships and assisting with financial aid applications. Then, we help parents with financial aid forms, meeting a budget, and making sure that the financial part of the equation is discussed beforehand so that the student is happy AND the parent is happy.
Anything else you want to add?
Class 101 is a service-oriented company that is focused on helping young people and their families. The parents hire us because they trust that we will have their student’s best interests in mind. I am honored to be representing a company with strong values and beliefs.
Join Our Growing National Network of College Planning Franchisees
If you’re passionate about helping young people and would like the chance to make a living while helping families save thousands on college costs, Class 101 may be the business opportunity you’ve been seeking. We’re enjoying unprecedented nationwide growth and are looking for new franchise owners.
This growth and momentum is gaining industry recognition, earning Class 101 several spots on go-to rankings for the franchise industry. Franchise Gator named us an Emerging Franchise to watch for the second year in a row. The popular franchise opportunity portal also named Class 101 as the 13th fastest-growing franchise in the nation in 2018 on its annual Fastest Growing list, up from 15th place in 2017. Entrepreneur also has recognized our college planning franchise as a Top Franchise Opportunity for Less than $50,000.