An interview with Anna Lobunova
What makes the Mortimer concept so attractive, and why is it successful in countries all around the world? The following interview with Ukrainian master franchise partner Anna Lobunova will shed some light on these questions.
Anna Lobunova and her partner Inna Azarova have started as Mortimer franchise partners in Ukraine in 2010. Shortly after, both acquired the master franchise license and have built a growing network of Mortimer English Clubs throughout Ukraine.
1. When and why did you decide to become self-employed?
Anna Lobunova: The idea of self-employment has been in my mind since my graduation from University. After I gave birth to my first daughter I understood, that it was about time to stop thinking about it and finally doing so. I needed more flexibility in my working schedule and even though I understood that self-employment did not mean a smaller amount of work, self-employment changed my daily schedule quite a lot – I am a lot more flexible now.
I don’t need to ask for permission of my boss to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment or to visit her in kindergarten. I can decide by myself when to work: Early in the morning, during the weekends or to do most of the work on Monday in order to have more free time on Tuesday.
Additionally, I wanted to face the challenge of organizing and managing something by myself. I don’t like to do routine work and self-employment is always a challenge and never routine for me.
2. Which reasons were the decisive factors to become franchise partner of MEC?
Anna Lobunova: Most important factors for me were a good quality in teaching materials, experience in Germany, a high number of franchise partners and a more or less low initial investment – that’s what I was looking for. MEC fulfilled all of the named factors. But, above all, I remember that during my first visit at the headquarters in Germany and after getting to know the staff and managing directors I understood that I wanted to work with the people in this office! And I am still very happy about that decision!
3. Which educational background did you bring along?
Anna Lobunova: I have a Master in finances and I have some experience in financial reporting.
4. Was the job you are doing today always your professional aim?
Anna Lobunova: In general, yes. Now, my main functions are managerial functions: organizing the educational process, establishing systems of control, accessing and motivating my staff, etc. Before I started my cooperation with MEC my job also contained managerial functions but in financial departments. I have always been interested in the processes of management.
5. How does the collaboration with other franchise partners / master franchise partners work?
Anna Lobunova: When we were launching our clubs we really needed a lot of ideas from other franchise partners. Now, we have a lot of own ideas. What we now need is information about marketing strategies from the other master partners and the headquarters in order to learn how to obtain new franchise partners of our own. I really appreciate it whenever the headquarters gives us such info. Sometimes, we do not implement the ideas right away but in general we pick them up sooner or later – of course with some adjustments to the Ukrainian market. All such advices are really helpful.
6. What type of support do you receive from the headquarters? Do you feel comfortable with it?
Anna Lobunova: I think I receive all types of support needed: very good advices concerning the process of teaching, good marketing ideas, all necessary images for advertising, etc.
All questions which my partner, Inna Azarova, or I address to the headquarters are answered right away and all answers are really helpful. I also like our conferences via Skype with Karola Scheer and Jürgen Nauditt a lot.
Furthermore, I think that the master partner meetings are really important. And I am eager to visit the master partner meeting this upcoming November.
7. Were your personal expectations met?
Anna Lobunova: Yes, all my personal expectations were met. And I feel myself being full of plans for the future cooperation and development of the Ukrainian market.
8. How many students/franchise partners have you got at the moment?
Anna Lobunova: In spring 2013 about 700 students visited Mortimer English Clubs in Ukraine and we, Inna Azarova and I, had 6 franchise partners. During the summer 2013 we acquired 4 new franchise partners, whose clubs are inviting new students from September 2013.
9. Which are your professional goals in the future?
Anna Lobunova: My professional goals are:
1) Having 20 successful FP in 3 years.
2) Being the biggest franchise system in children education in Ukraine.
3) Being recognized by parents in the 10 biggest cities of Ukraine.