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Apr, 03 2016

SUSTAINING PRE-SCHOOLS STANDARD IS NO CHILD’S PLAY; THANKS TO THE AUDIT

Committing towards the standards set by the brand, the franchisors do visit the franchisees. Let's have a sneak peek into the pre-school category that has swelled up due to its high quality standards of education and regular audit exercises.

A franchisor would always want its franchisees to maintain the standard set up by the brand - precisely the reason why franchise brands include the clause of audits in their franchise agreement. The franchise audits do not only help franchisors to strengthen their network but also protect franchisees to run their centres from brand dilution. Let's have a sneak peek into the pre-school category that has swelled up in the decade and half due to its high quality standards of education and regular audit exercises.

TO check with the complete acquiescence by its franchisees, pre-school franchisors conduct audits, once in a year. Also, regular training and support are also offered by the franchisors to their franchisees to fix the discrepancies occurring between both the parties and rectify the deficiencies in requisite skills.

Prajodh Rajan, Co-founder and CEO, EuroKids Preschools says: “It is crucial to manage uniform standards of delivery for customers across the length and breadth of the network. We use the services of external agencies to conduct mystery audits at regular intervals to monitor various facets of our franchise centres across the country.”

While Kidzee believes that their excellence in service delivery is the reason why they have been adjudged the 'Most Trusted Brand' in pre-school category. “With more than 190 parameters of service and process excellence, we keep a regular check on service delivery across entire network and continue to win awards and hearts for our service,” quips Sukhvinder Singh Bindra, Business Head- Kidzee.

What are audits?

Franchise audits of pre-schools refer to the periodical checks conducted by the franchisors to ensure complete compliance by the franchisees. It ensures proper functioning of the operations, centre setups, monetary obligations, etc., by all franchisees. The audits can be prescheduled or impromptu where the franchisor visits to any of his franchise units. Another education giant, Educomp's, Little Millennium Preschools conducts audits that give a detailed analysis about the franchisee's centre, with a view to improving specific existing practices. “Our endeavour while conducting audits at our centres is to 'guide' and not to pass a verdict. Our effort is towards empowerment and progress of our franchisee schools,” says Raman Bajaj, MD, Educomp Child Care Pvt Ltd.

Hi-tech audits

Some franchisors have their in-house team of auditors, while others outsource the external agencies for the same. Most franchisors bear the cost of conducting the franchise audits themselves as they conduct surprise or mystery audits.

Auditing is no child's play and involves a lot of strategy, evaluation and sound knowledge of core business. Jitendra Karsan, CEO, Safari Kid India says: “Preschool business has to be operated like any service sector business but demands more sensibility. We have weekly audits on quality, continuous support for training teacher and other key personnel.” Safari Kid India has its own app where daily, weekly and monthly reports are generated on the basis of the inputs provided by each of its centre.” Raj Singhal, CEO, Footprints Preschool said, “We use biometric system, CCTV camera, phone, visit in person, anonymous survey of parents, support portal to audit above mentioned activities.”

Enhances franchise system

Franchise audits lead to knowledge-sharing and implementation of the best practices, besides bringing awareness of organisational processes. Amol Arora, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Shemrock shares: “Auditing is important for any quality franchise system. Franchisees are basically entrepreneurs, always thinking creatively. Sometimes they deviate from the system not knowing about its repercussions. Normally, franchisees could end up cutting corners, however, any quality franchise system will have enough checks and balances to ensure that such deviations are avoided.”

Supporting the franchise business model as apt expansion tool for pre- schools, Hazel Siromoni, Managing Director, Maple Bear India asserts: “I believe franchising system certainly will assist the edupreneurs if the brand has a sound process system at all levels including operational, academic, overall maintaining the quality of school. This enables a 360 degrees of quality assurance specially to the parents which is what Maple Bear experience has been.” Also, Maple Bear conducts a detailed audit process annually in their centres towards the end of the academic year.

AUDIT BENEFITS

 Franchisees can fetch various advantages from franchise audits as the franchisor set certain standards for the brand.

 Franchisees get to understand their weaknesses, which can be rectified by the recommendations from the auditors. They also come to know to utilise their resources.

 Franchisees may discover certain facts, which they might not be aware of via communication with the auditors.

 Through audits, many franchisees get to deviate from standards unintentionally.

TYPES OF AUDITS

State Managers

For almost every state, pre-school brands have a state manager who regularly visits & audits the branch.

Auditors in Head Office

They audit the branches on the basis of any indicators that the pre schools may have received from the different sources.

External Auditors

External auditors give an outsider’s perspective on the school operations that is impartial.

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