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For most investors, making money is the motivating factor for becoming a franchise partner with a company. Kristel Thomas’s reasons were much more altruistic. After seeing her son with learning disabilities show vast improvement following enrollment in a Brain Balance Achievement Center, Thomas wanted to do more to help him as well as other children like him and their families.
“It’s like being given a gift that you really want to share with the world. That’s how personal and how powerful it was,” Thomas said of her decision to become a Brain Balance franchisee in 2010.
A mother of four boys, Thomas, 40, was introduced to Brain Balance through the book “Disconnected Kids,” written by the company’s co-founder Dr. Robert Melillo. Her son, Louie, had been diagnosed with challenges such as developmental delay and language delay. Educated at Miami University of Ohio, Thomas put her career on hold to care for her child’s special needs. Living in Canton, Ohio, she went so far as to separate her family for three summer months to enroll her son in a Brain Balance center in Atlanta because none existed in Ohio. Her husband stayed in Ohio with two of their sons, while she took the other two to Georgia.
At the end of just three months, Louie was making great strides with the program, but Thomas wanted to return home and reunite her family. She and her husband Greg began discussing opening a Brain Balance Achievement Center in Canton.
A Growing Franchise
Today Thomas operates one of more than 50 Brain Balance centers nationwide and the chain, launched in 2006, is growing with 13 new centers expected to open in 2013. The centers have helped thousands of children between the ages of 4 and 17 reach their academic, social, and behavioral potential through a non-medical, brain-based program.
The individualized and customized program utilizes sensory-motor, cognitive exercises, and nutritional guidance to address the root cause of most neurobehavioral issues. The centers work with all kinds of learning disabilities, including ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s, Asperger’s, and autism spectrum disorders.
Being a Brain Balance franchisee takes a certain type of person, Thomas said. The owner/operator has to have a sincere desire to work with children and to help families.
“It’s not like running a Baskin Robbins,” she said. “You’re working with families, many of whom are in crisis, and you’re taking them from that place to a place of healing. You’re not just clocking in and clocking out.”
“I think what makes a successful Brain Balance franchise owner, you have to have a passion for working with children with learning disabilities. We’re not only working with the child but we are working with the family. It is intensive and it’s emotional so you have to know that about yourself.”
Operator Receives Intensive Training