As one of our most seasoned and most successful LearningRx franchisees, Donesa Walker, of Shreveport, Louisiana, has a wealth of knowledge and insight to share with current and future LearningRx center owners. We recently sat down with Donesa to hear a little bit about her history with LearningRx, as well as her outlook for the future of her business.
LearningRx: How long have you been a LearningRx franchisee, and what initially drew you to the business?
Donesa Walker: I’ve owned a LearningRx center officially for 14 years. I was drawn to this business in order to change brains. Before LearningRx, I was a Dyslexia specialist who was tired of seeing every program I was using be a two-step dance for my students: we would take two steps forward and one back, like a really bad square dance. They were frustrated and I was frustrated. I wanted to see real-life change and the love of learning come back into their lives.
LRx: What is your favorite thing about being a LearningRx franchisee?
DW: Hands down, my favorite thing is seeing how brain training one family member makes a difference for the entire family! If you can decrease homework time and frustration, or help a sibling focus better during dinner time or game night; if you can help a mom prioritize her to-do list, or make sure a child is able to perform their best in school and sports, that doesn’t just impact the individual who’s gone through the one-on-one training. It has a ripple effect that impacts the entire family!
LRx: What do you think makes you successful as a LearningRx franchisee?
DW: My passion for brain training is contagious. I love what I do, and it shows in my center, my community, to my staff and my clients. I have made it a top priority to be known as “the brain place” in our community, and I know that if you go anywhere in town and ask someone about LearningRx, they will say, “oh yeah—the Brain Place!” I work hard on getting our name out in the community, supporting families as well as other small business owners, so that we are top of mind for families who are looking for help for someone they love.
LRx: What was your biggest business win of 2021?
DW: Like I said before, supporting other businesses has brought me business and sustainable income. It has increased referrals and made me a household name. I am able to work with other professionals in the area to increase referrals, which convert at a high rate. Interactional business is a way that I boost employee morale and work with local businesses. Each month my employees receive a gift card or service from a local business from massages to plants for gardens to a honey baked ham for their Christmas table! By partnering with local businesses in blessing my employees, that local business gets 15-20 touchpoints about LearningRx in the next 30 days…they see my employees come into their business in their LearningRx shirts, passionate about what we do. We host partnering events at our center, too, such as pop-up shops for our moms and employees who have a “side gig.” This allows our clients’ families to shop and the vendor family to make money. This interactional business, along with in-house referrals from happy clients, keeps my phones ringing and my appointment book full.
LRx: What have you done to generate consistent business?
DW: There are always things to do to grow; I consider this planting “seeds” for more business later. In seed times, we as a team pull together to boost business. This is a time to challenge ourselves to reach out to former clients by sending a notecard checking in, always including a coupon for services to pass along to family, friends, and neighbors. Seed planting is simply fueling gratefulness. We show our clients an attitude of gratitude from the initial “thank you for taking the time to choose us” to the thank you card our grads write in their last session. We mail those out to the individuals who supported them through their programs. Seeds can be saying ”thank you” to other local businesses, such as pediatricians and dentists, who serve our clients, or to local churches to support their congregation. These notes are our way of supporting our community and planting seeds. We also volunteer to read aloud in local classrooms in person or virtually; we partner with local bookstores to do book giveaways to support literacy locally. These are just a few examples of seed planting!
LRx: Can you tell me a story about a recent graduate that really stood out to you?
DW: Wow! It’s truly hard to pick one. We have had so many truly amazing stories. One that is awe-inspiring is Daniil. Daniil dropped out of high school at 17 due to poor choices and life decisions. He wanted to go to the military but scored a 17 on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), so there was no chance. His mother was from Kiev, Ukraine and had married an airman which brought them to the USA. Now they were divorcing and the only way they could stay in the United States was if Daniil went into the military, but he couldn’t with those scores. A local sponsor had donated a scholarship to LearningRx to help a young person change their life, as their own son had experienced incredible change through LearningRx. Daniil attended LearningRx for 75 hours and graduated after 6 months of intense, one-on-one brain training. He went to the recruiter again and scored a 93 on the ASVAB! The recruiter was so shocked thinking that he had cheated. The recruiter called me astounded when I told him what we do and how Daniil now has a different skill set! Daniil is enrolled in military and is going to be a translator. His mom and sister get to stay in America. This is life change for all of them.
LRx: If you could only give one piece of advice to a new franchisee, what would you tell them?
DW: This is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do in your life. Small business is certainly a challenge but the reward is intangible. It’s more than money…it’s true reward in the heart.
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