To say the child enrichment industry has grown over the past several decades is an understatement – 30 years ago, when I founded my business, the industry didn’t even exist. Other franchises, as well as mom-and-pop business, have since emerged to fill the field, and there are now a variety of brands offering enrichment programs for parents seeking after-school activities for their children.
I’ve found that the key to differentiating a product or service in this burgeoning industry is leveraging the inherent characteristics within a child-oriented business model. You can use them as tools to highlight the strength of your business, whether you offer after-school art classes, sports activities or other enrichment programs.
Respect Your Competition / Embrace Your Competition
The most common challenge we face as a child-oriented business is dealing with the true competition – time! There’s only 24 hours in a day and students only have a set amount of time to participate in whatever sports, academics, arts or other enrichment programs that are offered after school in their communities. That’s why Young Rembrandts offers a high quality and effective class for our students while saving parents time with a hassle free set up – classes are right after school.
It goes without saying that going above and beyond with marketing and technology will also give franchisees a leg up. We make it easy for schools to set up a class and parents to register. Our franchisees provide registration services, manage all classes, provided teachers and all the supplies, making it an easy hassle-free program for schools to offer and parents to register!
Know Your Market
In any business, it’s important to know your local market inside and out. Depending on your business’s market, your target audience may be smaller than you think, and using a narrow marketing approach can be the most efficient use of resources.
Over the past 30 years our business model has been fine-tuned so the marketing “guesswork” is removed from the equation. We know our business and we know our audience – thus allowing franchisees to focus their resources through effective marketing channels.
Love What You Do – It’s Possible!
Many owners in child-oriented businesses tend to be people who are interested in social entrepreneurship. We find many of our franchisees are motivated by the opportunity to do something fun and meaningful with kids that also offers a strong bottom line.
For me, it was always about doing something for kids that fulfilled a sense of special responsibility and bringing them something of value. Our franchisees are people who aren’t just looking for a casual way to get involved – they want a strong business, where they can make a very good living while doing good in the community and loving their job.
As technologies evolve, our goal as a franchisor is to create efficiencies for franchisees so they can remain focused on their business without redundancies. Franchisees want to know the quickest, easiest way to use platforms and systems to drive sales. For parents, they are seeking convenient, streamlined processes so they can get the kids registered, have all the information necessary and get on with their day.
I’ve found the best route with technology innovations and platform changes over the last 30 years is to see them as tools, not as replacements for the experience and curriculum we offer. The more we can share ways to use technology to train franchisees and support them in training their own staff, we’re able to free up time and resources for franchisees to focus on the growth of their business and spend time in their community and with their families!
Stay True to Quality
In the modern age, there’s often pressure to experiment with trends in children’s enrichment or education, such as new technologies or social media. Ultimately, the most important tool in the history of my business has been to stay true to my core concept – how to serve the children. When you focus on the product and making sure kids really understand and absorb the material, the happier the customers (both parents and children) will be.
Kids will always be kids, and are inherently similar on a developmental level across generations and cultures. They are hungry – they want to learn, they want to be successful. And parents talk – positive word-of-mouth as a result of a clear commitment to children’s wellness will grow your business’s reputation.
I’ve prided myself on filling a gap in art education since the day I founded my business. I encourage other child-oriented models to keep focused on the kids at the heart of their business. I hope they’re able to look back in 30 years and feel the same satisfaction and pride I do.
Bette Fetter is the Founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts. Bette founded Young Rembrandts in Elgin, IL in 1988. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Young Rembrandts has become a recognized leader in art education, offering a curriculum focused on teaching children to draw, using demonstration and a structured step-by-step process. Young Rembrandts teaches more than 40,000 students ages 3 ½ to 12 years old each week in 31 states and four provinces.