Eileen Huntington: Co-founder of Huntington Learning Centers merged her passion for education with the franchise business model to reate a network of more than 300 centers.

Author:Rose, Phil
Position:IFA ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
 
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Eileen Huntington is passionate about her work. A former high school teacher with a vision of enabling students to achieve world-class results, she and her husband Ray--then a corporate business analyst--opened their first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, N.J. in 1977. Within eight years they had opened 18 tutoring and test prep centers out of cash flow, all of them in the New York to Philadelphia corridor. As Eileen says, "We knew we were on to something big."

The next step was to take their concept nationwide. Eileen Huntington describes the decision to franchise as a "no-brainer" considering the success of the 18 existing centers. "Franchising was a great decision," she says--one that "has enabled us to grow to 300 centers in 41 states, help millions of students achieve their academic potential, and help franchisees achieve their lifestyle and financial goals."

Eileen is a vigorous advocate of the franchise business model. "The franchise agreement ensures that everyone plays by the same rules and helps guarantee quality, which is one of the keys to our success," she says. And she credits franchising with allowing Huntington Learning Centers to grow faster than another business model might.

By putting the franchisee first, says Eileen, financial results will follow. "The Huntington system exemplifies franchising because of our system of partnership and investment." Eileen also cites the consistent quality of Huntington Learning Centers as "a major reason why our franchisees earn 46 percent more revenue than our closest competitor."

To become a Huntington franchisee, says Eileen, "you must have at least a bachelor's degree and meet our financial requirements." Prospective franchisees are vetted carefully. While prior education experience is not essential, successful candidates must have sound business sense and team leadership skills. A believer in strong values, Eileen emphasizes that the single most important quality is "a commitment to our mission to give every student the best education possible."

The company's key competitive advantage is simple, says Eileen. "We produce results for students and our franchisees. With our individualized instruction and diagnostic-prescriptive approach, on average Huntington students increase one or more grade levels, respectively, in reading and math over a three-month period."

Eileen describes Huntington Learning Centers as not only a tutoring and test prep provider but also a "community-centric...

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