Committed to the cause of quality pre schooling, ‘Shemrock’ has become synonymous with high quality early childhood education in India. In an interview, Amol Arora, MD, SHEMROCK & SHEMFORD Group of Schools shares his views on how franchising has helped in brand’s growth and success in India and internationally.
Priyanka Rai(PR): Share with us the inception; growth and success of Shemrock. How has been your experience in the entrepreneurial world so far?
Amol Arora(AA): It all began with a vision. In 1989, Dr. D.R. Arora and Dr. (Mrs.) Arora while searching for a preparatory school for their daughter realised the dearth of quality nursery schools. Being educationists with an entrepreneurial heart, they founded SHEMROCK as per their vision and expectations. It is a model school which provides child-friendly harmonious environment with a focus on the satisfaction of the child's inquisitive mind through concept clarity. As the concept became popular, we decided to grow its network to avoid children travelling long distances to enjoy the benefits of high quality early childhood education. We are the first school franchise in India. The success of Shemrock pre-School chain has prompted the promoters to embark on establishing a nationwide chain of Senior Secondary Schools under the brand ‘Shemford’ which are futuristic schools empowered by our unique in-house research based school system, ShemEduMax™. Today, Shemford is considered to be one of the fastest growing school chains in the country.
PR: What inspired Shemrock to take the franchise route? Share the brand’s current presence.
AA: As Shemrock’s concept and philosophy became known and was readily accepted by the target Group, we felt a need of similar preschool concept in other areas as well. Since, we could not be physically present at our every branch, we thought of franchising it to someone who could take up the project with the same dedication and passion. So, we opted for the franchising route in 1992. Today after establishing a nation-wide presence of 175+ preschool branches, the organisation has also forayed into international markets. With the launch of Shemrock branches in Nepal plans are afoot to register presence in SAARC countries and the Middle East.
PR: What is the brand’s USP that makes it different from other pre-schools?
AA: Shemrock is committed to the cause of quality pre schooling. Our model is unique and is a centralised research based organisation, which enhances the teaching-learning process in each school. Our R&D department researches the best practices in school management, teaching techniques, assessments, assignments, activities etc. and transfer this know how through various means. We provide on-site and offsite trainings to enable our handpicked teachers to deliver world-class education in every school. We are the only organisation with a 100 per cent management focus on supporting our preschools and schools.
PR: Where do you see the brand in five years time? What are your plans till the end of 2012?
AA: I believe that we would be managing our schools with more than double the present preschools and senior schools in India and overseas. We intend to grow nationally and internationally in the next few years. By the end of the fiscal year, we would be managing our schools with more than 40 preschools and 10 senior schools in India and even abroad. All the branches would be franchised.
PR: What strategies has the brand adopted to deal with competition from other pre- school brands?
AA: We provide great standards of education and any prospective parent who is looking out for better educational facilities for their child is our target audience. Our marketing team persistently backs the advertising and connects with them in a very positive way. Shemrock continuously holds off and on open events to get connected with the audience. Our marketing team is proactive on various modes of communication (print, electronic, online etc.); and is very well connected with potential audience.
PR: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in this business?
AA: As they are do not have a strong system and are not able to support their associates well, they encounter the closure of operations really soon. An entrepreneur with high level of dedication and who is passionate about shaping the education sector with innovation and advancement can succeed in the years to come.
PR: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by aspiring franchisees?
AA: Or franchise should be reputed and financially capable besides having passion for education field. He should be actively involved in branch function. For Shemrock preschool, a cpital of Rs 6-7 lakh (excludes real estate costs), For Shemford brand, an investment of Rs 2-3 Cr. (includes real estate costs) is needed.
PR: Share with us the challenges that can be faced by your franchisees? How can these be overcome?
AA: In the case of Shemrock, the initial fixed cost is low and the can reach the break-even point very quickly. The challenges in this sector include the lack of good teachers, and need of better training systems and refresher sessions to help in making them well – versed with the current education system. Other key challenge is the mushrooming of new brands those does not have a quality control system and good curriculum adversely impacts the image of the current industry players.