One of the most frequent question we're asked by people thinking of opening a preschool is – "Which is better? Taking a branded Franchisee of setting up my own school?" So, our answer is – "None! Neither of the options is better than the other. But, yes! One of them could be more suitable for you than the other." And the best way to find out which one is that ißs by asking yourself a series of questions that bring out the differences in both the models that would help you make that much more informed choice being. I have listed a few questions that we advise budding edu-preneurs to begin with:
The first question you need to ask yourself is – What to do I plan to achieve by starting a preschool? Is it my first step in entrepreneurship (I would like to start with a preschool and then get into something bigger like a chain of preschools or maybe a full K-12 school)? Is it for someone in the family (As we've seen in our experience - retired parents, Wife or Daughter / Daughter-in-Law)? In such cases, applying for a good franchise option would be a better option to choose.
Alternatively, if your vision is bigger or your motivation lies in building a great institution because you are passionate about education and love working with children and want to create a meaningful social impact with your ideas. Setting up an owned preschool is a very high involvement project. The journey from 0 to 1 is longer and more difficult but then from 1 to 2 and then so on becomes much easier and efficient.
Though the learning curve is shortened in a franchise operation as a good franchisor supports you with all the necessary guidelines and processes that help you set a new centre but they are not adequate for managing a multi-preschool operation.
Lot of people are under the popular impression that setting up your own preschool is cheaper as compared to a few established franchise brands. Our experience has found this to be true in some cases and not so accurate in some. The initial setting up costs can be higher in case of own brand preschools than a carefully chosen franchisee. The reason is that it is extremely difficult to accurately estimate costs such as the ones which are associated with setting up of administrative systems and processes, cost of getting new enrolments, cost of gaining parents' trust and cost of creating a robust academic framework. These tend to be higher compared to taking a franchise where such costs are lowered with economies of scale by the franchisor.
On the other hand, in the long run, a franchised preschool will be more expensive as you have to consistently shell out a sizeable share of revenue / profits with the franchisor as compared to a successful own brand if you're able to build a brand that parents trust and advocate.
In an owned preschool, you are the locus of all key decisions and initiatives. Your attention and focus is critical. In a franchise setting too all responsibilities eventually lie with you but you have the whole franchisors ecosystem (only in the case of good franchises) to guide & support you. This support helps you with a lot of groundwork and its planning.
Are you someone who learns really fast from your mistakes? Do you see yourself who can perform effectively & efficiently in the chaos that comes with any new beginning? Are you someone who likes to experiment and test ideas that you believe can change the status quo on a recurring basis? If your answer to these questions is 'Yes!' then you have the edu - preneurial strain.
On the other hand, if you are someone like to have ready structures and processes and can use these resources to create from, or if you would like to focus on perfect executions and not spend too much time and resources on making mistakes or if you prefer knowing the journey and the destination in the beginning itself then picking a good franchisee is the right choice. It will give you a proven template to exploit and help you quickly build a platform from where you can do incremental improvements. While setting up your own preschool, the destination might be clear but the journey is definitely a long and arduous one filled with a good mix of highs and lows, successes and lessons, thrills and disappointments and so on.
To summarize, the truth is whichever model you decide to use, parents choose preschools that exude excellence and high standards of quality, safety and deliver a better learning environment for their children. There's no easy answer but we hope these tips can help you take slightly more informed decisions.