Evan speaks with Hao Lam, CEO and Chairman of Best in Class Education, a tutoring franchise, on ways to make training fun, interactive and memorable. Best in Class is located in 9 states and has 47 locations. Since being founded in 1995, the company has received various awards and recognitions, including “2017 Top Franchises” from Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List and “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” from Inc. 5000. Hao also serves on three boards for non-profit organizations, and is writing his memoir. You can connect with Hao by emailing him at [email protected] and can learn more about Best in Class Education here.
Announcer: Welcome to Training Unleashed, the show that will help you design and deliver training that’s off the chain and will make a difference. Now, here’s your host, Evan Hackel.
Evan: Welcome to another episode of Training Unleashed. We have a very special guest with us today, Hao Lam. He is the CEO of Best in Class Education Center. So, Hao, let’s just start off with a really simple question. What is Best in Class Education Center?
Hao: Hey, thank you so much for having me here. It’s such an honor to be speaking with you, Evan. Happy New Year.
Evan: Happy New Year.
Hao: Best in Class Education Center is a tutoring franchise. So we have over 50 locations in 12 states in the U.S.. So we’re currently in the U.S., but we will be expanding outside the U.S. very soon. So a little bit background about me. I was a licensee between 1995 and 2010, and I’m a sor between 2011 and present. So I have extensive experience on both side of the table. So in short, I was a see for 15 years, and I am a sor for seven-plus. That’s a little background about me.
Evan: And that’s a good thing, and I think I’m sure all of your franchisees appreciate the fact that you’ve been a see before because you know what is like on the other side. And a lot of people in training that have come up in training have come up because they were good at what they did and they were brought in to train. So I think there’s some relevance there. So there are really two things about training I wanna talk to you about. One is, how do you do the tutoring and what is the success of successful tutoring? And don’t answer that yet. And then the other one is, how do you train your franchisees in the things you’ve noticed to be effective? But let’s start to talk about the tutoring part. I know you guys do tutoring, and I know you tutor a lot with small groups of people. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works?
Hao: So, to begin with, we have a really robust training system for the tutor to begin with. So we need to train a tutor how to teach their student, like you said, student have different needs and all that. So they went through after they are on board, we welcome them, get all the paperwork, and then we went through a series of training, probably two or three sections with an online training, and also in-person training and shadow some of the existing teacher because for the online training, they only see some of the…learn the policy, learn some of the infrastructure, the terming, how to do with student and all that.
But when they shadow a teacher, then they actually have the hand on experience, and then we teach them how to deal with a student who are very, very advanced in the same classroom with someone who is average or need a little bit catch up on a certain topic. Because we don’t do one on one training, most of the training that we talk about is because of the efficiency, we do one to many. So we normally have a smaller group, Evan, like minimum three, maximum about six students.
Evan: At a time?
Evan: So they’re all learning the same topic.
Hao: Exactly… No, similar topic. Not exactly the same so we can do… So we have class that all of them are in a similar level and chapters, and we have mixed class so that we can train our teachers to bounce around and help individual students with individual needs. Because the tutoring is a different type of training, because if you have, for example, five second grader, some are little advance, some might need a little bit of help, some are just average going with the flow. So we need to have a system and an infrastructure and a process in place that we tailor-made to suit every individual need. But unlike other training, right, adult training, for example, franchise training, then a group of the new prospect of franchise will learn a similar type of materials.
Evan: Yeah. That’s very interesting. So how do you deal in this small group training with people that are super-fast and then other people are super slow? How do they balance?
Hao: Because we have individual materials for different students. For example, we use the same example again, you have five students who are all second grader. So each of, for example, our second-grade material have 48 chapter, right? So some is doing the first batch, the chapter four or five, and a couple of them are in the middle, and then some of them are little advanced. So instead of writing on the whiteboard everybody turn the page two and three, so we bounce around and help each of them out. So very likely we can group maybe two student in one chapter, the other, so we kinda bounce around and help them out. It is very important to teach them and help them practice and come back and check on them and make sure they master the concept.
Evan: Yeah. So, them demonstrating the knowledge is really key.
Hao: Exactly, exactly.
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Evan: Let’s now shift gears to your franchisees. There are two parts to training your franchisees, the onboarding for someone new.
Evan: And then you have sort of the regular everyday training, keeping skills up and bringing in new content or new product into the system-wide set. So let’s start with onboarding. What are some of the keys of success of onboarding new franchisees?
Hao: We build a course that lasts about five days. It’s a mix of training in the Copper head office and also training at the center. So it has to be a combination of both, right? So the theory part has to go first, but of course, they don’t know what is going on until we give them the red pen, go to the center, sit next to a teacher or a student, and start teaching the student, or sign up a parent. And also training doesn’t and should not happen only once. So it is very critical that we have training and we repeat the same training on a regular basis. So for example, we have a one-week training with the franchisee, they learn a 100% of what we taught them. When they go back, guess what? After their attendant and improvement and all the stuff and then grand opening, they lost maybe 30% to 40%.
Hao: At the grand opening, maybe they gain back. So that’s why 6 months later, or between 6 month to 12 months, we have other training opportunity. So we invite them to come back, and most of them do come back. They don’t have to come back for the entire week, but they come back for maybe the last two day to reinforce what they learn in the past and to make sure what they did in the center is correct to go, right?
Evan: One thing you said that I think is very powerful and I wanna take a second here and highlight it, is you start with why, right? So before you do anything, this is why it’s important, this is why we do this.
Evan: And I think that the why step is perhaps the most skipped step in training.
Hao: Oh yeah.
Evan: We wanna go to the how. This is what to do. And we don’t take the time to really explain to people why it matters, why it’s important, why they should pay attention. So I wanna commend you for that, I wanna highlight that for our listeners, because it’s really important you start with why.
Hao: You are absolutely correct, Evan. Like Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do what you do.” So before the training, before they were on board, we explain them the why we do what we do. And at the training, we let them know too. So whether…I think sales is the most important part of any training, right? In any business, we need sales, right?
Hao: So it is super important that we let them know that whether you pick up a phone and talk to the parent or when they show up at your center, express your passion about education. It is so important that people know that you are so passionate about what you do, you will treat every single student as if they are your own child. How can they not sign up? That’s the first lesson. Thank you. It’s the why. Why you do what you do?
Evan: Then the second thing you said that I wanna highlight, because I think it’s really critical is that you have them learning in several different moralities. So you’re explaining it, you’re letting them observe it and watch it, and then they get a chance, an opportunity to do it, and then you bring them back after they’ve done it and refresh them a year later. And I think that’s really, really, really important and that the blended training and… Expecting, I guess, what I would say is expecting that one shot and you’re done training isn’t really a great recipe for success.
Hao: Yeah, yeah. And then this not only happen afterward but even during training. So a lot of the time, how many times have you been to a training like the speaker was on the stage or in front of the class, and he or she talk for like two hours non-stop?
Hao: Right? So how can you learn if you don’t repeat what he said or do some of the exercises? So another very important component is… So let’s say, for example, I’ll take a profit statement for a minute. So every time I share a profit statement with a franchisee, I’ll have two tab. One is a sample, and then I won’t fill in the blank. I just have the line items. Okay, revenue, give me a few revenue sources, and then they’ll put in a number. Let’s talk about fixed cost. What are your fixed cost, right? The rent, the utility, etc, and then what are your variable costs? So do this as a group and you put it together.
And the other tab is blank. All right, now, put in your own P&L because when you train a group, your rent might be 2,500 and my rent in Silicon Valley might be 4,800. So at the end of the day your break-even analysis and mine are not the same. So you do it as a group so that they can see where the middle number is, and then give them 10, 15 minutes work either at a smaller group or individually so they can practice the concept and then take that home and use that on a monthly basis and report it to the team or the leadership team or to me. So, like you said, practice after work and during training are very, very critical.
Evan: Yeah. And this process, what you’re really highlighting, which is people thinking and doing is important. And I have been to many, many seminars where someone has spoken for two hours and you can’t remember what they said.
Hao: Oh yeah.
Evan: And just taking breaks and saying, “Okay, take notes now.” And one of the problems in learning, and this is just sort of a pet peeve of mine is people taking notes during the learning, because when they’re taking notes during the learning, what are they paying attention to? They’re paying attention to the notes. But by the time they’re done with the notes, they’re now behind and they’re trying to catch up. And just giving people time and giving people breaks to write notes so that they can catch up before you move on to the next topic is really important.
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Evan: Let’s talk about ongoing training for a second and let’s just say for just for instance, you have something new that you wanna bring into the system. How would you go about doing that?
Hao: Very good. It’s an excellent question. We always learn new program, products, policy and all this stuff. So what we normally do is we’ll make sure we test everything first and then we’ll run it with the team, we’ll record it, we’ll have it either on a webinar or slides or record it while we’re doing the… If it was technology, we’ll capture all the stuff and then we will set up a webinar. So we invite people to come in. It is really critical to mute everybody and not let them participate while you do the training. In the middle you can unmute them and let them talk. So, for example, we talk for 10 minutes, we let them have Q and A for 5, and we keep talking for 10 minutes.
So when we have the webinar, so we’ll run the PowerPoint or whatever program that we run, and then we’ll show them the procedure it is, how you do this, and then have step by step. Step one, step two, step three. Standard operating procedure are super important, they have to follow it. And then pause for a second, and then unmute them, “Hey, do you have any question? Would you like to participate?
Now, during my talk, they are allowed to type the questions so they can chat with me, but I don’t want him to talk because it will interfere, otherwise the training would go forever. So during that five-minute gap, then I would say, “Hey, Evan, thank you so much for your question. You had a question on this, let me clarify that.” So it is like a very structured training, and then every time I go into a meeting or a webinar, I won’t do it until I have an agenda.
It is super important if we were to talk for 25, 30 or 60 minutes, what are we gonna talk about the first 5 or 10 minutes and the next 5 minutes and all this stuff? So they will see it ahead of time, we will show them what to expect, what we’re gonna train them, how we’re gonna train them, what type of question that they wanna ask, and when they’re gonna ask, and how we’re gonna respond to it. So everything is very structured. So a lot of the time, the product is ready to launch, we’re ready to train them. It’s gonna take us time.
We spend a lot of time preparing for the training. We wanna very… Because the last thing you want, Evan, is after the training nobody have a clue what you’re talking about. I have no idea what you’re talking about, right? So the web training, it is super important that we talk. But in the action is important, right? We give them an opportunity to chat with us, we give them an opportunity to…
Evan: You’re engaging them.
Hao: Yeah, but it’s not like in-person training. I love your training, by the way, the op training, because there are a lot of in the action. It’s not like you’re standing in front of the classroom and you’d, have to group of 25, 30 people. You do a lot of exercise, you have a topic in mind, you’re well thought, you’re well planned. You took out a credit card and then you tried to charge it. I still remember that exercise. That was very meaningful. It’s very powerful. I’m sure every single one of us remember what you can…
Evan: I’m gonna just take a second and explain what you just said, because people listening don’t and won’t understand. So, what Hao is talking about it is, we do an ops training for people and franchising, and they’re all basically VP or higher ops people in their organization. And one of the things that happens in franchising is that franchisees feel like the franchisers are spending their money without consulting them.
So I went in the room and I said to everyone, “Pull out the credit card you use for business.” And I grabbed everyone’s credit cards, and I handed it to Cordell Riley who is the other host on our show and my partner. And Cordell had one of those squares and he pretended like he was charging everyone. I told everyone that we’re gonna charge $2,000 to their card, but not to worry that they were gonna get something that was gonna be worth far more than that and they were gonna be really super, super happy. You got to start to look at people’s faces and like, “I can’t believe this guy is doing this. He’s actually charging [inaudible 00:18:47].
Hao: Exactly. I still remember…
Evan: But I will ask you…
Hao: Yeah. I still remember one with the lady, she almost called her head office. You know, hey, someone’s gonna charge $2,000 on a company card.
Evan: You’re funny. One person would say they were consuming…
Hao: So, Evan, this is a great example that you make the training in the active and you make the training memorable. You make the training interesting. It is a good training.
Evan: Yeah, and this case, I think I use the term emotional, meaning…
Hao: Exactly, emotional also.
Evan: And you can sit there and you can talk about how they don’t like you making decisions without their input. All you what is not the same as getting them the exact feeling that their franchisees have. And which then led us to a great discussion on trust, and what are you doing that is creating trust, what are you doing that is not creating trust. And I do think that whenever people can create training that is gamified and that they’re aspects of it that are beyond just the normal talking to and things, it’s really powerful. We’re gonna run out of time here, Hao. But what I’d love to ask, and which I do with everybody is, what’s your one piece of advice to a training professional that you would give them and you say, “This is the one most important thing you should know?”
Hao: Thank you. And again, Evan, I would love to use your example. Make it fun and in the active. Just don’t talk and talk and talk non-stop. Make it really funny, make people participate, make it memorable, make it emotional.
Evan: Hao, you have a great franchise system, and I know that most of the people here listening are in the training business, and they’re not interested in buying franchises. But somebody might be interested because your franchises is a little different because you’re really a franchise system about training, etc. Could you just share with people if they’re interested in your franchise, how they would find out more about it?
Hao: Sure, sure. Thank you, Evan. Again, my name is Hao Lam. The website is bestinclasseducation.com. And my email is hao, H-A-O, @bestinclasseducation.com or you can certainly reach my direct line at 425-880-2688. Thank you, Evan. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Evan: Terrific having you on, and we will put that information in the description so people can easily see on it and click on your website to check out your company. I just wanna just say that I think what you’re doing and helping in kid’s education, and I know in my kids at times needed tutoring, it’s a wonderful thing. So I appreciate you being here. I also appreciate what your company is. Everyone have just a terrific day.
Hao: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here. Thank you again, Evan. Bye-bye.
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