She never planned on becoming a franchisee. But after seeing what Brain Balance did for her son, she knew she’d found her calling.
Katie Morton and her husband, Chris, tried a lot of different solutions to help their son Elisha overcome his challenges. Some things were a little helpful, and some things made no difference at all. By the age of 7 he had been diagnosed with severe ADHD. “We just were feeling kind of stuck,” Morton says. “He was really struggling with reading. He really struggled with attention and focus. I was a little bit at my wit’s end as far as behavior. I had a great little guy but he would just get really frustrated.” Enter Brain Balance. The personalized drug-free program designed to strengthen brain connectivity flipped a switch in little Elisha — and brought an unexpected change in Morton, too. Though she hadn’t planned to become an entrepreneur, Morton was so deeply affected by the positive changes in Elisha that she knew she’d found her calling. She shares her story in this Brain Balance franchise review.
When did you become a Brain Balance franchisee and how did you get into it?
I wasn’t planning on becoming a franchisee, so I didn’t look at Brain Balance from an “I want to open a franchise” standpoint. It’s something that kind of grew as an idea as I watched my son go through the program. So I came to Brain Balance first just as a mom, as a parent going, “my kid’s hurting, he’s struggling, we’re hurting.”
Even at age seven, leaving the park, putting down a toy, having to stop doing what he wanted to do, just to get with the normal rhythms of life was hard. I heard about Brain Balance from a coworker, and when we brought Elisha in for his first assessment the staff didn’t treat him like he was a burden or a frustration or like they didn’t know what to do with him. It really just felt like, okay, you get me, you get my kid.
How did that feel?
I thought, we can find some help and some hope here. And I watched him go through his journey, just continuing to experience victory after victory. The maturity and growth — it was just like watching your child bloom.
I watched my child do things that I’d only dreamed he would be able to do, not knowing if those dreams were really going to become reality. I watched him really become the 7- to 8-year-old little boy that he could be. And we stopped getting notes and phone calls home from school and he was able to read and catch up with his class. He ended up not needing medication and not needing a special plan for education. By age 8 or 9 he was just going to school like any other kid.
Your mother, Debbie, is a co-owner with you. How did she get involved?
We’re working to help the body and brain work together, making the right and left brain share information better. My mom’s part in this journey as a partner with me is that she found some similar things in the early nineties.
I knew there was a body-brain connection because I had watched my brothers really improve through what my mom did with them way back in 1995. I mean, even when I found Brain Balance, I remember calling my mom and being like, oh my gosh, he’s doing things like what you did 20 years ago. It’s just way more developed and way more put together and so much more advanced. And so it was really a burst, a sense of mission and calling.
Can you elaborate on that?
Sometimes your greatest place of giving back comes from your greatest place of pain. And I feel like that’s kind of where we are with Brain Balance. We’re able to serve families that are in the same places where we’ve been. We get it. We understand. And we know that their child doesn’t have to stay there. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck. Parents don’t have to watch their children struggle every day and go, what could I do differently? What do I need to do? What else can I do to help them learn or grow or make friends? Or how do we stop having the meltdowns? That freedom and seeing their child really thrive is possible.
What was your career before you took your child to Brain Balance?
I was a business manager for a small business and I worked as a bookkeeper in a private school.
You obviously saw your son go through this incredible transformation, but what made you take that leap in your mind from “this has been a miracle for our family” to “I want to do this for a living and help others.” What flipped that switch for you?
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are a really small percentage of our population and so you kind of have this feeling of, okay, I’m leaving the security of my W-2 job. There’s definitely a switch in that, but it felt worth it to take that leap and take the risk for the benefit of helping kids.
My mom has a background in behavioral health nursing and has her degree in counseling and had her own practice for a while. And so we felt like our skills were complementary. I had some foundational pieces there around business management so I felt that our skills could align well. It was a good season to make a change if we were gonna make one and the time just felt right. We really took the leap because there were kids out there that could be helped and we felt like we could help them.
What year did you invest?
We signed our agreement in 2013 and we opened in May of 2014. We just have one center here in Columbus. It grew really quickly. One of the things we’d really love to look at is doing some school-based partnership where we could align Brain Balance and try to work out a pilot program where we could have children experience the benefits of Brain Balance through an afterschool program at their school.
Did you look at other brands at all?
No. Over the years we had knocked around the idea of, oh, it’d be fun to do a business together. We love each other, we have a good relationship. People go into business for a lot of different reasons. For us it was more a matter of we really wanted to do Brain Balance, and to do Brain Balance required us to become business owners. We chose to own a business because that was the path to being able to bring Brain Balance to kids.
What do you find most rewarding about being a Brain Balance owner?
Watching my kids faces as they grow and mature and watching their family’s faces. Watching children experience victories. There’s really nothing like it. Sometimes these things seem small in the moment that they happen. But for that child, it’s a big win.
For instance, one of our kids had grown a lot and his attention and his academics were better. He was making friends and being invited to sleepovers for the first time. And all of that was amazing. But he was still struggling to learn how to ride a bike and he was a couple months out of his Brain Balance program.
And we get this email one day saying he’s riding a bike. Just in that moment, to think how much that meant to that child and how much it meant to the parents to watch their kid be able to break through a barrier that they thought was pretty fixed. Sometimes it’s big things like not needing a support plan at school anymore and being able to read that book without frustration. And sometimes it’s just small things like being able to respond to a peer’s social messages and nuances so that they can finally get invited to birthday parties.
How old is your son now?
He’s 14 now. He’s a freshman this year.
Were his changes permanent or did he go back to Brain Balance?
That journey can look different for each family. Our first time through Brain Balance was definitely life-changing. Elisha’s needs were such that he did need some additional sessions and that was also something that we could provide for him through our own center, which we were grateful for.
But even if he hadn’t, the changes that he experienced from his first session were permanent. So I had a child that couldn’t read, and after Brain Balance he could. I had a child that couldn’t pay attention, and after Brain Balance he could.
You’re probably pretty self-sufficient by now, but what kind of support do you get from corporate?
The support level that franchisees need and feel they need can change and mature. You know, even a mature franchisee depends on good marketing collateral. The franchisee can decide where they want that collateral placed. But part of the reason that a franchise system is so effective is because you don’t have a hundred people making the same flyer. You have one marketing department making a great commercial or making a great piece and then the franchisee has the freedom to use it well in their market. So I would say marketing vision and continual operations support are huge.
Can you tell me about the roles you and your mother occupy in the business?
My mom right now works primarily as a center director and also a program director. That means she works with families to help them learn about Brain Balance. She’s kind of like the parent coach, just like our kids have a coach. Your program director and your center directors are really more folks that are coming alongside parents and they’re saying, here’s the path that we’re going to walk with you and here’s where you are in the journey. Here’s where we need to go next and here’s what’s happening for your child along the way. And really just being an encourager.
Mine is more of an executive director role focused on overall business management and oversight. It’s really what I see as the team support role. Does my team have everything that they need to be successful?
Are you able to meet your business goals or are you on the way to meeting your business goals with your Brain Balance franchise?
I would say yes and yes. Goals are something that in order to keep vision and mission and a sense of momentum growing, you want to meet them and then extend them. So we have been grateful that each year we’ve been able to meet our goal. Usually that goal is centered around the number of lives impacted — total number of kids enrolled and how happy the families were with our services that year. So we’ve been able to hit our enrollment goals each year and we’ve been able to really see that our customer service goals of family satisfaction have also been hit. That just means that the next year we go, okay, this year was good, but how do we make next year just even that much better?
Is there anything else you think a prospective buyer ought to know about owning a Brain Balance franchise?
Because we’re specifically working with kids that have some different needs and for families, we’re really working with warrior mom and dads. Typically before they get to Brain Balance many of them have already been through a pretty good round of diagnostic testing, medication supports. They’ve already looked at going the distance in whatever way they need to for their kid. It’s important for franchisees to realize this business is hard to do if you don’t value the mission.
Brain Balance can be a strong option looking from just a business perspective, but you’ve really gotta have heart. We’re in a community to make a difference. We’re here to see a life changed.
Brain Balance franchises are unique, sustainable and high-demand. We use an integrated, drug-free approach to help children live their best lives. You can explore our website or fill out a form to request more information.