Education Jan, 18 2013

Nurturing global leaders of tomorrow

By Namita Bhagat
Nurturing global leaders of tomorrow

Tapping into the latest trends in early education, Oi Playschool is fast emerging as a brand, to reckon with, in the preschool education segment in India. In an interview, Rengarajan M, Head of Oi Playschool shares the award-winning brand’s expansion plans through franchise route.

Namita Bhagat (NB): Brief us on the origin and development of ‘Oi Playschool’. What is the brand’s mantra for success?

Rengrajan M: Oi Playschool incepted in 2010 with its first company-owned and company- operated centre in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. It expanded to various locations of Hyderabad before the brand took the franchise route as a part of its expansion plan in December 2011.  It has been growing at a faster pace since then with more than 50 centres in multiples cities. Looking at its immensely faster growth, Brands Academy has conferred the ‘Most promising playschool brand in South India’ to Oi Playschool. Our success mantra is that we are committed to create global leaders in partnership with parents through our early childhood program.

NB: Share the brand’s current presence in India?

RM: As on today, Oi Playschool has five company-owned centres and 45 plus franchise centres.

NB: When and why did you opt for franchise business model?

RM: Oi Playschool opted for franchising in 2011. In today’s marketplace, the window of opportunity for a new or unique business concept closes quickly. A well-planned franchise development program permits multiple units to be opened simultaneously, gaining the competitive edge on any would-be competitors. Franchising better assures that qualified managers are operating the additional units. Franchisees are motivated by their ownership of the business and the capital they have invested. A business demands a great deal of time, effort and sacrifice. With capital at risk, franchisees are usually much more motivated than employees.

NB: Could you share the brand’s expansion plans? What all cities will be targeted?

RM: As part of our first phase of expansion, currently our GOTO markets are Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Very soon we will start expanding to new markets as well.

NB: What are the capital and area requirements for taking ownership of Oi Playschool franchise?

RM: The franchise facts for Oi Playschool brands are: A capital of Rs 10-15 lakh and an area of 2500-3000 sq ft are needed. The preferred location would be an independent bungalow /row house / ground floor – owned or leased situated at a residential area that is convenient in approach. It should have space for the visitor vehicle parking, preferably less noisy with green surroundings and safe and hygienic for children.

NB: What are the attributes that you look for in your franchisees? What kind of training and support do you offer them?

RM:  Our potential franchisees should be passionate about the business with a good market knowledge, possess business acumen, awareness and organisational skills, effective time-management and communication skills. They should be open to advice and guidance. Oi Support System includes curriculum based on best practices of reputed international schools,  three level ‘Teacher Elevate’ training program to ensure effective teaching and learning, help and support in effective implementation and management of curriculum, superior support on infrastructure, learning resources and centre management, support for marketing and student acquisition.

NB: What are the core competencies of your brand that you feel will offer tough competition to your competitors?

RM: The brand’s infrastructure with a blend of the three most important aspects of a preschool – aesthetically designed child space, child-friendliness and functionality, spacious, bright classrooms with open air space for outdoor play, bright, colourful, soft texture with carpeted flooring and a clean, safe and sanitised environment and best Adult – Student ratio, smooth transition of the child from preschool to high school. Oi has a distinct edge over other preschools as every Oi graduate is provided a priority window to Oakridge International School, one of the highly acclaimed IB School in Asia. We consider parents to be our effective partners through our extensive parent interaction and involvement

NB: Share your overview of future prospects of playschool business/segment in India.

RM: If you look at preschools, it has a fairly low penetration as of today. A study says that preschool penetration in India is currently at about 20per cent. We are tapping into the broad trends. One is the increase in penetration; more and more parents are willing to send their kids to preschools at an earlier age than it used to happen earlier. Secondly, there is also a migration taking place from unorganised preschools to organised preschools. Organised preschools can add a lot more value.

Related: 'Fostering growth through franchising'

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