Like many in the industry, Hao Lam stumbled his way into franchising by accident. What led him to franchising was his passion for education and helping others. In 1988, Lam escaped political persecution in war-torn Vietnam, spent a year as a refugee in the Philippines and then went on to Canada where he spent more time developing his passion for education and tutoring.
By tutoring his classmates in calculus, he learned about his innate ability to help others understand complicated concepts. Before long, he was holding standing-room-only test-prep study sessions at night to ensure his classmates succeeded. He knew this passion and talent could be used for something bigger and something special in the education industry.
BrainChild Education was the first education center Lam opened in 1995 until he acquired and renamed the brand to Best in Class Education Center, where he is currently selling franchises nationwide.
“About six years ago, when I was coming up on 15 years in the education field, I started to think about how I could use my experiences to help people who have the same vision I do. I knew I had the means to inspire other entrepreneurs and educators to live their dreams and make a difference in their communities so I decided to start franchising Best in Class,” said Lam.
Lam admits he was far from a business expert when he first opened up shop. But with his passion and drive to succeed at the forefront, the Seattle-based brand has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Currently, the Best in Class Education Center franchise system has 48 locations in nine states across the U.S., and has received recent accolades including being a part of “2017 Top Franchises” from Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List and “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” from Inc. 5000.
What does it take to be a great leader? According to Lam, personal growth and learning are at the top of the list.
“I attend leadership seminars and conferences, peer-to-peer networking groups, and I’m constantly reading up on changes and trends. I actually make sure to read at least 30 minutes every day,” said Lam.
But a successful company doesn’t depend on the actions and intelligence of only one person. Lam knows his team is one of his best assets and will continue to keep the company moving forward.
“I have to keep building up a solid team. These people are in the trenches with me, and I need them to be as passionate, caring, and dedicated as I am,” said Lam.
While this is a high standard to hold, franchising requires a consistent strategy and passion across the entire system to thrive, but it also provides endless opportunity for global expansion.
Most leaders start their own business or take the reins with the hopes of making a lasting impact, but this can often be easier said than done. Lam has advice for other leaders looking to make a difference in their positions.
“If you want to make a lasting impact, you should establish a great company culture. It takes more than just creating the company’s mission, vision, and core values. You have to make sure you communicate your philosophies and goals to your whole team so that they understand it, and you have to give them effective strategies for living it every single day.”
The best leaders are able to teach and educate their team about how to produce the results they need, just like Lam has done throughout his entire career.