Scott Groza is the co-founder of the Groza Learning Center, a company that provides students, pre-K through college, with specialized academic help designed to student’s specific learning needs. Since founding the center, Mr. Groza and his devoted team of inspiring educators have overseen the academic development of countless students, implementing the most up-to-date, well researched, and proven techniques into their private and group sessions. Operating out of world-class facility in Pacific Palisades, the Groza Learning Center facility features small classrooms, individually themed tutoring rooms, as well as a “retreat” space for students to enjoy. These unique design elements reflect the center’s philosophy regarding the joy and inspiration that should always be associated with educational pursuits.
The Groza Learning Center has enjoyed sustained success over the years, with growth being so significant that the center has had to relocate and expand the facility in which it currently operates.
Where did the idea for the existing Groza Learning Center come from?
My wife, Christy Groza, grew up with a sister who had learning disabilities. She witnessed over the years while growing up together what a negative educational experience her sister was having—having to see specialists in boring professional buildings, their parents constantly trying different approaches to help her, and the family attempting (and all too often failing) to work with teachers who were not always willing to see her potential. The inspiration for the existing learning center, with its themed rooms and “retreat” space, was to provide a place her sister didn’t have growing up. A place where students wanted to go and learn. Somewhere they would look forward to coming; and a place where tutors or teachers are looking forward to seeing them and excited to work with them.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We provide a full range of academic services at the center, including everything from our accredited day school to our late-evening academic tutoring, so I rarely keep the same hours on a daily basis. This helps ensure that I remain involved in overseeing all aspects of our academic programs and that I am able to get to know each one of our students on a more personal level.
How do you bring ideas to life?
One word: Students. Most of our creative ideas spring from the necessity of having to meet a specific need of a student or group of students. And to bring an idea to life is more of a necessity rather than a desire. I am fortunate to be surrounded by creative teachers and students who, as a team, continually fuel one another’s passion for academics. It’s fun to problem solve and make breakthroughs, and often this is done by implementing something different that no one else has tried.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
While we do offer test preparation as a part of our comprehensive program, I must admit I am excited to see a general move away from the sometimes disproportionate value placed on standardized testing. This type of testing certainly has its place in education and we absolutely use diagnostic tools at our center to help determine an area that may represent an academic weakness, but I also feel that a more holistic approach is necessary when evaluating a student’s academic accomplishments.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
When my wife and I started the center, we were just helping kids who were struggling, and it was so rewarding and joy-filled, that it grew organically. In terms of being productive, I think one habit that is so important is to never lose sight of what we are doing—helping students and families who are in need. As long as we keep that in mind, we I will always find my job rewarding and feel productive.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
We had to move to a larger facility relatively early on, so I would have chosen a location better suited for the kind of growth we ended up experiencing. Of course, that is the benefit of hindsight, because we did not project that level of growth so early in the process. I also would have focused more on developing our social media presence right from the start, as our Facebook and Instagram accounts have been an incredibly helpful communication tool.
What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make a point to interact with all the members of our team as much as I can, all of our students, and all of their parents. I have found that establishing this kind of open communication right from the start makes it far more likely that I will receive honest feedback about our programs so that the appropriate adjustments can be made. The worst thing you can do is to become too insulated from the people responsible for making the company a success or a failure.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our growth was simply a matter of our continued commitment to achieving student learning goals. The success of our students and their word of mouth recommendations have by far been our best marketing tool.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One thing that was hard for me, and many business owners from what I’ve heard, is the process of starting out and having to “do it all” to being comfortable delegating and getting help. It’s a big shift in thinking that any entrepreneur must embrace to grow professionally, I think.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A potential growth area seems to be digital tutoring services for students who are unable to travel to our learning center, so perhaps a business based on this kind of tutoring would be something that would work well if done properly.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I treated one of our longtime students and their parents to Kings games this season. The student had made such great progress over the years and was a big fan of hockey, so when he was accepted to his first choice of colleges we all felt it was appropriate to reward his efforts by sending him to the game.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We have a number of diagnostic programs we use to help develop specialized academic programs for our students, and we use just about every type of technology available to help our students achieve their learning goals.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have recently read EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsay and find his perspective helpful and refreshing. The idea of having a heart and an organization geared driven by humble service resonates with me and is how we try and shape our culture here at Groza Learning Center.