With the philosophy to inculcate value based education to the children, SMARTKiDZ through franchising has popularised the concept of play schools in India. In an interview, AS Ganesh, MD, SMARTKiDZ shares the success story of his company.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Could you please shed some light on the inception of SMARTKiDZ?
AS Ganesh (ASG): We started this company in January 2008 with only one school. However, today we have 40 schools spread over in various parts of the country like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. We got ISO 9001:2008 Certification from TUV of Germany, which is the third largest certifying body in the world. It is one of the fastest growing chains of play schools that emphasises on the overall development of the children. SMARTKiDZ ensures to provide value based education to prepare the children morally to face the challenges of modern day living. We offer them practical and judicious combination of academic excellence, extra curricular activities and character building through a play way method. We also ensure that the curriculum and style of running the centres across the nation remains the same.
RK: When did the company started franchising? What has inspired the company to take the franchise route?
ASG: We started franchising in 2008 itself. We have opted for the franchise route as we were highly impressed with this business model and have realised that it is the best way to expand the business successfully.
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees?
ASG: We usually look for entrepreneurs that have the flair to nurture young minds, and capable enough to manage and run the play school. An aspirant must have an area of 1800- 2500 sq. ft to start the business of play school in a thickly populated residential area. The aspirants must be a graduate at least, so that s/he can efficiently take care of the administration properly.
RK: What is the break-even period for SMARTKiDZ franchise?
ASG: The break even period is achieved within a period of three to four months.
RK: What investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?
ASG: The franchisee must be capable of investing five to seven lakh rupees in operating the business of play school.
RK: What kind of support and training does a franchisee get when partnering with you?
ASG: We help our franchisee in every possible way. Right from the selection of the place to the setting up of the play school, we give a complete hand holding to our franchisees. We also recruit the teachers for our franchisees, and train them accordingly. Franchisees are given training for running the business successfully. Marketing support is also provided to promote the business of the franchisees at the local level.
RK: How many play schools you presently have?
ASG: Presently, we support 55+ franchisees across India.
RK: Any advice for the entrepreneurs?
ASG: The major benefit for an aspiring entrepreneur to enter the sector of play school is that it requires low investment and returns are very much assured. We strongly recommend our business for housewives as the timings are limited and they can easily manage and operate the play schools.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
ASG: Our aim is to reach a target of 100 centers by the end of the year 2011 throughout India. To start with, we are focusing more on the southern region followed by western regions. We also have started marketing in Maharashtra, and Gujarat. So, we are hopeful that in the coming six to eight months, we will have centres in each of these states. After expanding the brand in these regions, we will expand in central India followed by northern and eastern part of the country.