The statistics certainly cause one to take notice: Sixty-five percent of mothers with children six years of age and under are in the labor force and more than 70 percent of single mothers have jobs outside the home, according to a 2002 study sponsored by the National Child Care Association.
According to the same study listed above, upward of 85 percent of the labor force will consist of parents by 2010 and the number of working women will exceed working men.
The child care industry generates an estimated $60 billion in annual revenue and that figure has been growing at a rate of approximately 10 percent since 1999.
But the incredible growth and potential that defines the nation’s child care industry today seems to be escaping the attention of many people, especially those looking for a proven business opportunity.
“We believe that a lot of people who buy franchises overlook the child care industry,” said Fred Harms, vice president of franchise development for Kiddie Academy®, a leading provider of education-based child care for more than 25 years. “We are looking to attract capable, experienced individuals who have sufficient financial resources along with the desire and vision to give back to their local community in a way that benefits everyone. But above all else, they have to have a passion for educating children. ”
Founded in 1981 and franchising since 1992, Kiddie Academy has become the nation’s third-largest franchisor in the child care industry with 88 locations (82 franchised, six company-owned) in 20 states. Approximately 60 learning centers are in development and Kiddie Academy’s® goal is to have 200 locations nationwide by the end of 2012.
Kiddie Academy provides education-based child care for children ages six weeks to 12 years old, including before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. Its proprietary, developmentally appropriate curriculum – designed by Kiddie Academy’s own team of professionally trained educators as opposed to using “off-the-shelf” curricula – promotes a balanced learning approach with a child-led philosophy that allows children to learn at their own pace.
While Kiddie Academy offers parents and their children the best education-based child care possible, its dedication and commitment to its franchising program shares the same vision. Franchisees benefit from established systems and methodologies – and most importantly, a full spectrum of development support services – that result in ahigh-quality, profitable business opportunity.
Because it has the systems in place to operate in a highly-regulated industry, the complexities of regulatory approval and licensing are no longer barriers to entry in an industry where the top 50 companies hold less than 20 percent of the market, according to MarketResearch.com.
“This is not the latest ‘hot’ concept. The demand for high-quality, education-based child care is only going to increase in the coming years,” Harms said. “And we eliminate the barriers to entry. It’s not necessary to have previous experience.”
As a result, Kiddie Academy® is attracting what can be called a “new era” of franchisees, where owners are involved in business ownership, but not necessarily in daily operations. State regulations typically require that centers be managed by a qualified director, who, in most cases, is required by state law to have a degree in education and a certificate in early childhood education.
“What we are looking for in our franchise owners are individuals who have the ability to manage and lead a director, as well as 10 to 20 part-time and full-time employees,” Harms said.
Kiddie Academy franchisees come from all walks of life. They not only have a passion for their business, but also their community. They include:
An individual who was formerly an attorney and also a police officer. “He realizes what an impact good early childhood development can have in a community,” Harms said. “He also has the leadership, vision and passion to make a difference in his local community.”
A former multi-unit fast-food franchisee and a former Wall Street broker who both were drawn to Kiddie Academy by the same benefits. “They both were attracted to the hours of operations (Monday through Friday, typically6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) and were also motivated to give back to their communities,” Harms said.
Two female executives and co-workers who worked previously in the financial industry. “They couldn’t get the type of child care they wanted for their own children and keep their high-paying jobs so they decided to open a Kiddie Academy and maintain their successful careers that way,” Harms said.
Child care professionals who understand and appreciate the value of Kiddie Academy’s systems and curriculum. “They have been in the business and have the passion for child care that makes our franchisees successful,” Harms said.
Kiddie Academy® is particularly well-suited for couples, where one spouse can easily maintain a current job while the academy is under development, a process that can take as long as 18 months. The concept also provides a strong opportunity for multi-unit ownership.
“These are people who are looking to do well for themselves and their communities,” Harms said. “Many of our franchisees are people who were simply looking for a lifestyle change or independence from the constrictions and continuous demands of corporate life. They take to our systems and support like the proverbial ‘duck to water.’”
Kiddie Academy’s® support services are unparalleled and include assistance with site selection, market demographics, the regulatory environment and academy design and development. The in-house real estate team can assist franchisees with development of a variety of facility types from leased space to a freestanding Kiddie Academy® and the in-house construction management team guides franchisees through completion of their academy. Approximately 40 percent of franchisees own their building and land.
Kiddie Academy utilizes the combined services of Buxton – an industry leader in using customer analytics for retail site selection – and Claritas – a leading marketing information resources company – to help identify prime sites.
“Our development group is second to none as far as its ability to locate a site and get the academy built and open on time. It is on par with franchise systems with thousands of locations,” Harms said. “Our methods are not only cost-effective, but when we get down to site selection and pinpointing a location on a map, we can provide estimates regarding the number of children by age groups likely to be available as potential attendees for the academy within two years.”
It’s not hyperbole to say that Kiddie Academy is alongside its franchisees every step of the way. Starting three months prior to opening, franchisees are assigned a specialist in new academy openings who assists them with all aspects of their business through the first year. Afterward, a Franchise Business Consultant helps to coordinate corporate support in areas such as education, training, marketing and finance. The consultants make a minimum of three visits to each academy every year to provide ongoing analysis, training and business guidance.” •