Famed for offering innovative and well maintained programs for children, Little Elly has become the most promising brand in the rapidly growing Indian preschool education space. In an interview of Vittal Bhandary, Managing Director of Liitle Elly, shares his views on how franchising has helped in brand’s growth.
Priyanka Rai (PR): Share with us the inception, growth and success journey of Little Elly?
Vittal Bhandary (VB): I and my wife Preeti first ventured into pre-school business in Kuwait by the name of Salmiya Playschool. It got the highest ranking among the Asian expats within a year of operations. When we came to India, we started Little Elly on the same line of Salmiya play school – Kuwait with some modification and new ideas suitable to Indian conditions. More centres were opened the following years to reach out to the kids of different economic and social backgrounds of Bangalore City.
PR: What is the speciality of little Elly’s education program?
VB: Little Elly is a concept based preschool where children can learn in a dynamic challenging environment, which fosters in them strong moral values and a passion for learning. The unique feature of our syllabus is that, it is innovative, thematic and skill based. Our ELP (Early Learning Program) in collaboration with Glen Tree UK is a multimedia approach to introduce children to basic skills and concepts. It is a combination of Montessori and Exploratory methods, which makes learning a fun frolic and enjoyable task. We provide children free and caring environment that help them to discover their full potential. Our approach for different curriculum according age and learn by doing differentiate us from other brands.
PR: What inspired you to take the franchise route?
VB: The success of the 1st centre of Little Elly was the motivating factor for further expansion. Quite frankly, expansion is a necessary part of owning a business. Franchising is the ideal way to expand any business today, but it's not something to embark on lightly. Our expansion through franchising primarily means ‘exposing Little Elly to many more children in every neighbourhood’. With the success of our stimulating method we were able to compete.
PR: What are your future plans?
VB: We plan to develop successful franchisees network across India. At present, we have 62 centers and around 12 new centers will be operational by the end of this year. By end of March 2013, I am looking at 100 centers. We want to be the most admired preschool brand in whole of south India by with 500 centers in next five years.
PR: What strategies has the brand adopted to deal with competition from other preschool brands?
VB: Competition is always healthy and keeps us on toe. It will force us to innovate and maintain the unique identity of our brand. However our experts’ team is continuously working hard to deliver the best and enhance our facilities to our children. They also recommend us for required changes in curriculum and training standards for better results.
PR: What are your basic requirements from aspirant franchisees?
VB: Franchisees should have the passion to work with little children and must be prepared to learn and understand the ins and outs of the business. They should be willing to take advice supportively. Beside, franchisees must be capable to do hard work. If a franchisee puts in hard work at the beginning, success is more likely to follow. Hard work is necessary to keep the franchise running well and to keep staff and customers happy with the franchise business.
PR: What is the scope of franchisees in your business?
VB: I feel there is a huge potential in this business if the franchisee is willing to work hard and abide by the dos and don’ts of the business. I advise all the aspiring franchisees to take this business seriously giving total focus.
PR: Share with us the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee? How can these be overcome?
VB: The biggest challenge in our industry is getting the right faculty and an appropriate location. However, our robust training programme for teachers (classroom, as well as on online) will help the franchisee to overcome the problem of finding right faculty. Through our network we will also help the franchisee to find the right location.