Helen Doron English Master Franchisor for Tuscany and Umbria—and later National Coordinator for all of Italy. In fact, his involvement with the English Educational Franchise was quite unintentional.
Ambitious 45-year-old Raffaele is no stranger to business, having established his first company straight out of high school at age 18—a company that is still in existence today.
How did the consummate businessman from the telecommunications industry get involved with Helen Doron English? Accidentally!
Raffaele’s girlfriend at the time, who is an Israeli educator, was impressed with Helen Doron and the methodology. She decided that Italy was an ideal place to introduce the unique approach to teaching English to children. “So, it was her business and I provided the financial support.” recalls Raffaele. “My partners and I decided it was a good business and it was the right time and place to invest, so we became the first Master Franchise territory in Italy.” Unfortunately, Raffaele’s sweetheart decided to leave Italy, so Raffaele decided to move into the role of Master Franchisor.
Raffaele’s sister, also an English teacher, took over the teaching role and Raffaele headed the marketing and sales of Helen Doron English, alongside his many other businesses. At that time, the educational franchise was a minor part of his time commitment. He provided financial support for the first Learning Centre, which was in Treviso. Following the success of that school, they opened in Modena, then Lorenzo and San Marino, and started to grow Helen Doron English into a serious presence in Italy. Currently, there are 12 distinct Master Franchise areas in Italy, with more than 8000 students enrolled in 2013 in 67 Learning Centres and 10 Learning Studios. There are still franchise opportunities available in Calabria, Basilicata, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia.
“Although I became involved accidentally, I always knew it was a good business. If not, I never would have put my own money into it and encouraged my partners to invest as well. We continue to invest, as it brings us good results. Despite the economic crisis in Italy and the rest of Europe, we are really seeing some serious business growth. You need to be patient and confident that you are in a good business.”
The crisis did affect his other businesses, and he now spends at least 50% of his time growing Helen Doron English, as the opportunity is very solid. “Slowly, slowly I am spending more and more time with Helen Doron, which is why I recently accepted the National Coordinator position. I really believe we have excellent products which bring solid results.
“It is important to me to bring new ideas and share them, and with my business background, I think it is helpful to the other Master Franchisors on my team. We are a real community and we interact a lot and support each other.”
Raffaele’s business approach is quite unorthodox within the franchise system, but has been proven to work. “Through my previous business I met a group of ‘pure business’ managers from Prada, the international fashion brand. They approached us and said ‘we want to get involved in this educational franchise, but we want to buy at least 10 Learning Centres and make it our project.’”
This approach was new for Helen Doron English: that one person/business entity owns and manages a number of Learning Centres. “The advantage of this strategy is that these people from Prada have high-level business skills; they know exactly how to maximize their resources. They are excellent team leaders and we are lucky to have them. They started with one Learning Centre, creating a very effective business model. Their area is Florence, which is a major city in our area, and the potential is fantastic.”
This is an excellent example of why one of Raffaele’s favourite things about being in the Helen Doron family is that he can create and contribute new ideas, even though it is an international franchise. Helen Doron, Founder and CEO, and Anne Gordon, Vice President, Customer Business Development, are easily accessible and he appreciates that he can speak to them on a regular basis. He likes being able to contribute on an international level, unlike other franchises where the rules are more rigid and not open to suggestions. “It is important for me to contribute. In all of my professional experience, I was always involved in creating new products, from concept to production, so it is my personal passion. This franchise gives me some space. So, this is the perfect place for me to be.”
Helen Doron Master Franchisors come from every imaginable background, bringing a wealth of experience into the educational franchise network. Raffaele’s experience proves that no matter how and from where you become a member of the Helen Doron empire—even accidentally—you can become an integral part of teaching the world’s children English.