Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms’ Small Business Spotlight, where we highlight a local business owner and their community endeavors. This week we’re shining a light on Bill and Patricia Balatsos, owners of Club Z! Tutoring, Glenbrook. Bill chats about how and why he started Club Z!, helpful academic advice to parents and proudest accomplishments. Welcome, Bill!
Hi Bill! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now, what brought you to your current town.
Hello! My name is Bill Balatsos. My wife, Patricia, and our four dogs (Blaze/Bullet/Bones/Booker) currently live in Palatine! We both grew up in the northwest suburbs and decided this is where we want to eventually raise our family too. We love the community feel that is present and how great the schools are in this area.
Tutoring season is among us. Please introduce your endeavor Club Z Tutoring Glenbrook!
Yes! We are the proud owners of Club Z! Tutoring in Glenbrook. We opened our business in October 2020 in the middle of the Covid pandemic. This will be our second full school year in business, and we are so excited to be able to help even more students this year! Patricia and I enjoy serving the community as a local small business while benefiting from the support of a nationwide franchise.
What areas does Club Z! Tutoring specialize in teaching?
Club Z! Tutoring helps students as young as pre-K as well as many college students. We have tutors that accommodate all subjects for students K-12. Our tutors have experience working with students in English, reading, writing, math, science, and ACT/SAT test prep as well. We take great pride in being able to match students with a quality tutor for any need in their academic journey.
What was the inspiration behind the formation of Club Z! Tutoring from start to current?
Growing up, my parents were restaurant owners – we are Greek after all! I witnessed how rewarding entrepreneurship could be despite the long hours. In college, I focused on business and education with a bachelor’s degree in finance and my Master of Arts in teaching. This combination led me to teaching at the elementary school level before opening our tutoring business.
My experience in the classroom provides a unique advantage when it comes to matching students with the right tutor. I saw firsthand in the classroom how important individualized instruction was for every student. When it came to picking the location of our business, I wanted to be able to help students in an area where I knew families really cared about education and were willing and able to provide their student with the resources to be successful.
I started using a tutor when I was a student in 5th grade as math was getting more challenging. The ability to work with a tutor one on one was truly a game changer for me. Having someone that I could rely on to give me the extra time and support I needed when I needed it changed my attitude on learning and gave me the confidence to succeed. Reflecting back on these memories was the inspiration in opening a premier tutoring service for the North Shore!
Tell us about the Club Z! process from the time that a parent reaches out to getting a tutor in their home.
One of the best things about working with us is how easy the process is for the parents. We understand that families are busy and do our best to make it as easy as possible. Parents are encouraged to reach out with any questions via email or scheduling a time to speak via phone through our website if that is their preference.
Once they reach out, we learn as much as possible about the needs of the student. What do they need help with? Is this a new struggle or something they have dealt with in the past? What type of learner are they?
After getting a complete picture of the student and their needs, I connect with my staff to find the perfect fit for the student. The matching is done based on the student’s learning style, academic & scheduling needs, and personality. We strongly believe that students are much more likely to learn and enjoy sessions if they are able to form a strong bond with their tutor. Once a match is identified and the paperwork is completed, we have the student’s tutor reach out to the parents to schedule sessions. Then, it’s time to learn!
What qualities do you look for in your tutors? How do you find them? How do you “vet” them?
We find our tutors in a variety of different ways including referrals, online job postings, and social media. All of our applicants submit their resumes and strong candidates are then interviewed. We look for qualities such as patience, experience, and a general love of working with students. We perform a background check on all tutors before hiring them, and if all checks out, we welcome the tutors to our staff and go over expectations.
What is some advice you’d give to our parents about when to reach out for tutoring?
We encourage parents to be proactive. It is proven to be more effective for a student’s success when our tutors are able to start a school year with a student and be present for any challenges that develop along the way instead of trying to work with a student in a rescue situation. We encourage parents to NOT wait until their student is deep in their struggles. When this happens, it can deeply affect a student’s overall confidence and often has a negative impact on all the classes a student is taking.
Additionally, we encourage parents to be patient with their expectations when their student begins working with a tutor. As much as we would like to be, we are not miracle workers that can turn a semester long D into an A after a month of sessions. Working with a tutor should not be used as a Band-Aid. The best time to work with a tutor is when you are looking for your student to make long term progress and learn skills that they will eventually be able to use independently.
What has been your proudest moment about being a small business owner?
My proudest moments as a business owner are when parents and tutors share a student success story. I am thrilled when I hear from parents about the change in their student’s confidence and their attitude towards school. And listening to our tutor’s brag about their student’s accomplishments never gets old!
What was the most difficult roadblock you encountered with regards starting your business and/or opening your doors for the first time?
Making connections in the community was probably my biggest challenge. Opening a business during a pandemic required me to be creative in networking and build relationships online. I also learned that encountering roadblocks and making mistakes along the way is completely normal! We regularly ask families for feedback so that we can continue to improve.
What’s on the horizon for Club Z! Tutoring?
We are excited to keep growing our relationships in the community and being a resource for as many students as possible. We have seen tremendous growth over the past two years, but we know there are so many more families that need help.
Who would you like to thank for the success of Club Z! and why?
This is an easy one- our TUTORS! We are nothing without our staff of expert tutors and the countless hours that they put in to be effective tutors for our students. We appreciate all of their hard work and everything they do to help us be the tutoring service that families count on to help their student be successful.
How do our parents reach you to start the process?
Call us at (847)-440-3440 or email is great, too: email@example.com.
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