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Oct, 22 2009

Economical education ventures

In India, education is the second largest household expenditure after food. As per the Education Franchising Report 2009, there are around 1,200 franchisors in the country having over one lakh franchisees, out of which approximately 32 per cent are in th

Education services, which have always been in demand, have attracted many entrepreneurs to foray in. The ever-evolving nature of education has given way to various low-cost concepts such as pre-schools, test-preparation centres or hobby classes which have been successfully explored by many franchisors. Setting up a pre-school or an English training centre has always been a business inspiring model due to its ease of operations, less area requirements, easy availability of teachers and low-cost of business attracting many aspiring entrepreneurs to enter this domain. Though the entry is easy, as neither the cost incurred is high nor the word ‘education’ is alien to anyone, yet it requires a lot of hard work and brain storming to devise systems that would work. What if the success is guaranteed by taking a franchise of these low-cost businesses, making them more viable? Following are a few low-cost franchise concepts in the education sector:

Pre-schools

Pre-school segment has particularly been a growing phenomenon in the last decade and most of the players have taken franchise route to make their presence across the country. Few working hours, lesser teaching faculty, no extra classes are a few factors that make a pre-school franchise both low-cost and less taxing. Besides that, spending time with the tiny tots is an add-on. Eurokids, Kidzee, ABC Montessari, DPS playschools, Shemrock, Bachpan, A Play School, Pinnacle Kids are some of the players offering low-cost franchise opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs. Highlighting the importance of Eurokids franchise over starting off one’s own, Amit Singh, National Business Manager, EuroKids avers, “Though the investment is more in the franchise venture as compared to an independent start-up, but a EuroKids franchisee can leverage on the brand strength of EuroKids that helps him attract more admissions which get translated into higher revenues. Thus, the investment gets justified.” Further, the training and support which the franchisor provides ensures the success of the franchisee.

Spoken-English schools

With increasing globalisation, fluent English has become a necessary pre requisite for a job aspirant. Tutors providing training in spoken English have been there in existence since long but with the use of technology in spoken skill enhancement, the players like Veta, British Academy for English Language, Russell’s etc have certainly created a difference. Moreover, the fact that such an opportunity comes at an affordable investment makes it an exciting option for the prospective franchisees.

Counting benefits of their low-investment franchise concept, Major KV Rajan, Executive Director, Veta avers, “Being a risk free operation for both the franchisee and the franchisor, it facilitates faster expansion.” Further, attributing the successful expansion of the company to its low-cost franchise format Major Rajan claims, “How else we have done over 250 centres nationally and internationally?”  However, greater attrition rate of trainers due to lesser salaries results in frequent training activities.

Coaching centres

It’s the world of competition that we have entered in. Joining coaching classes to compete with the huge number of aspirants in various entrance examinations or taking up courses to be better armed to face the competition has become a usual practice. While some of these courses help aspirants take up several courses in India and abroad, others help students to develop personality and recreational traits. However, some franchisors have seen an opportunity in such courses and devised formats for entrepreneurs to take up their franchise. NGPA College offers CA entrance coaching whereas Dalimit is into study abroad, immigration and foreign exam training services. SIP Academy on the other hand, offers three different formats, viz., MIKids, ABACUS & Brain Gym and Global Arts, to enhance the child’s mental ability and creativity, in turn increasing accuracy and speed. These programmes  prepare the child better to face the competitive world with confidence. As these institutes do not require huge infrastructure,staff or huge investment  to take off. However, these institutes require human assets in the form of qualified, experienced and dedicated teachers. Counting the advantages of their low-cost model, Amarjeet Sharma, Franchise Director, NGPA College says, “Our low-cost model ropes in quality teachers even if they are not paid huge amounts.”

Support system

NGPA provides all sorts of training to staff and faculty. It also supplies books, study material, test series and power points relating to books, besides various promotional materials like pamphlets, brochures, magazines etc. While speaking about the training and support their company provides, Dushyant Bachkaniwala, Director and Founder, Dalimit Associates Group informs, “We have frequent franchise checks, training and customers’ feedback system to ensure quality of services.” SIP too offers support for strong local promotions, branding and quality delivery of the programme to its franchisees.

Ideal franchisee

As all the above mentioned concepts are low-cost and easy to start, they are primarily dominated by unorganised players. Most of the franchise companies prefer offering their franchise to such players who have the experience of running their own coaching or tutoring centres, thus converting them into their franchisees. Besides that, teachers and  people with educational background are also among the preferred choice for most of the franchisors. Fifteen to twenty of franchisees of Eurokids are the ones who turned their own pre-schools into Eurokids franchise, using the old space and other resources with certain modifications. Also, many main-schools converted their pre-school divisions into Eurokids franchise. 90  per cent of the Dalimit franchisees are first time business owners, whereas, NGPA prefers experienced people in the education line to be its franchisees. Veta, on the other hand, seeks middle aged entrepreneurs who could devote more time to the centre. SIP Academy seeks educated women looking for a business opportunity. “We had to keep the franchise fee low to encourage the right profile of people and avoid slow expansion during initial stages,” informs Dinesh Victor, MD, SIP Academy India Pvt Ltd.

Caution

Education is a sector destined to grow even in a downturn as parents do not mind spending on education of their children. Therefore, the accountability of what these institutes offer also gets multifold even if these concepts come at a low-cost. The franchisee should also be equally passionate about the concept and not just go for the franchise due to its low-cost. Constant check on quality is a must to examine the difference between what has been delivered and what is expected to be delivered.

Parents’ feedback, detailed training to the trainers, attending franchise meets at regular intervals, class audits, performance of children, tracking the reasons of drop-outs are a few other means to enhance the quality of operations.

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