‘On the Leading Edge,’ Kiddie Academy Climbs Franchise Times Top 200+ Rankings
Millions of parents need child care and increasingly, as our newly released Franchise Times Top 200+ segment numbers show, they want that care to include education. It’s double-digit sales increases all around for this year’s top three early education and care provider concepts, with Kiddie Academy’s 22.2 percent bump in 2016 leading the way, followed by The Learning Experience (17.4%) and Primrose Schools (13%).
That increase translates into $203 million in systemwide sales last year for the Abingdon, Maryland-based brand and carries Kiddie Academy up 26 spots on our Top 200+ ranking, from No. 269 to No. 243. Chief Development Officer Josh Frick attributes much of that growth to the franchise’s robust franchisee pipeline and an overall increase in demand as more parents not only “need to and want to work and need a place to put their child,” but are looking for care that can serve as a foundation to building their kids’ education.
As it grew last year to 188 locations, Kiddie Academy sought to be “first and foremost” in technology, Frick says, something that sets the brand apart as, for example, it gives parents access to live, streaming videos of students in classrooms through the WatchMeGrow app.
“We view technology as a key differentiator within our space,” says Frick. “We’re going to be on the leading edge.”
Frick notes last year also brought increased internal corporate support of franchisees in areas such as sales, real estate and construction, along with marketing support that helps ‘zees manage their leads— i.e. parents—and keep them engaged through the process.
“This isn’t a decision that’s like buying a cup of coffee, it’s their child,” says Frick of the sometimes drawn out decision-making process for parents that requires continual follow-ups by the franchisee.
As part of its growth plan, Kiddie Academy is focused on adding to its multi-unit owner base—already about 50 percent of franchisees own more than one location—and expanding into new markets, offering incentives such as reduced franchise fees along the way.
“People choose us because we’re not a publicly owned company so we have greater flexibility in making smart decisions for our franchisees,” notes Frick. The franchisor also places a premium on its strong relationship with its ‘zees, with Frick adding, “that’s the heart of our culture.”