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Education 2010-05-09

Promising success in mentoring kids

By Abha Garyali Sub Editor

The increased competition is giving rise to many mental problems among school kids. Promise institute has come up with unique child development programme to render a healthy education environment for the young kids. In an interview Gulraj Shahpuri, Director, Promise shares the success of the brand and future strategies.

Abha Garyali (AG): Brief us about the inception and success of ‘Promise’.

Gulraj Shahpuri (GS): Parents now-a-days look for solutions on how to raise the children in this stiff competition today. They are desperate to give their children an ‘edge’ and are tired of hearing about how overburdened their children are. Promise centres have been established with the aim to help parents understand these objectives and find new ways to reach them.

AG: Tell us something about ‘Promise’. What is its USP?

GS: At Promise, our aim is to take care of the overall development of the child through weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions, personality development workshops, and counselling parents. This provides an extraordinary benefit to the parents, who are eager to find desperate solutions. What we do (personality development, counselling, and mentoring) is certainly not a fad but a trend. As a result of these solutions, Promise™ students are quite prepared for their lives ahead.

AG: When and why did you opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?

GS: We have been into this business for about five years now, and we began franchising approximately two years ago. There was an enormous pressure on us to take our concept to the national level. We realised franchising was the only way to achieve the type of growth we were targeting. It took us a few years to come up with a franchising formula which industry observers called ‘The Golden Formula’ as it is based on low investment, low headaches, and very high profits. Our motto is: “We don’t need investors. We’re not money minded. Nor do we need people who simply want to utilise their commercial space. Our franchisees need to be the right type of people, whom we can call our family members.”

AG: What can you foresee about the future of ‘Promise’ in India?

GS: Promise is often referred to as ‘the next big thing in education’. According to our expansion plans, there will be more than 200 Promise centres throughout India by 2012. We are currently ahead of our targets and have been very fortunate with our growth so far. Our goal is to work very hard for each new franchise centre before moving on to the next. It is a great feeling for us that our franchisees want to open their second or third centres. Promise is now entering the next phase of its growth strategy by appointing Master Franchisees in the major metropolitan cities throughout the nation and tying up with preschools, schools, and finishing schools to leverage synergies.

AG: Is there competition from other brands? What are your views about it?

GS: As this segment is largely untapped (supplementary education for Classes 3rd to 10th), we have been enjoying it, and will continue to enjoy it, on our own, for some time to come. It has been a segment that has been largely ignored up till now, but we have been active in organising it. We have been eager to explore the potential of personality development for young children and have been waiting for others to join us in our efforts to prepare the youth of today to become the pillars of tomorrow’s society. Since nobody else has made a sizable impact till now, we are proud of our franchisees that are opening centres throughout India.

In a way, not only are we waiting for competition, we are welcoming it, and hoping for tie-ups. We want Promise™ to always be associated with success: success for its students and success for its franchisees.

AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which cities in India? In which all countries have you expanded so far?

GS: We have thirty-five franchisees presently and the number is growing. Primarily, we are in the metros of India, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and in the mini-metros such as Patna, Goa, Bhopal, etc. Since we only started franchising about two years ago, we are still in the growth phase of our overall strategy.

Our franchisees are lucky (just as we are lucky to have them) because our goal is to help them succeed by giving them high degree of support in terms of opening a second, third, and fourth centre. Not only that, they should encourage others to replicate their success and even, one day, become Master Franchisees. This is all turning into a reality, as most of our franchisees are already interested in opening more centres or take on the roles of Master Franchisees.

AG: What are the qualities that you look for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?

GS: In terms of what we require from potential franchisees, all they need is about 350 sq. ft of rented space (as our monthly costing does not assume that one has a space of their own), as well as some capital for setup and the franchise fees. This is typically about Rs. five lakh, which includes everything, from the centre setup costs, computers, and to the look and feel of the place. The best part is that each month, the franchisee takes back a part of their initial setup cost (inclusive of the franchise fee) as depreciation, so in a few years, they have recovered their entire initial investment.

AG: In what ways do you support and train your franchisees?

GS: There are five key factors that help us maintain uniformity throughout our centres, and help the franchise to succeed. These are complete setup support, master mind (software) training, centralised content development, continuous staff training, and continuous monitoring and mentoring.

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