How three tutoring franchises are shaping our kids’ education

By Sarah Stowe | 24 Apr 2018 View comments

The tutoring segment is growing fast, and franchises are in there offering alternatives that can lead to a brighter future for Australia’s children.

Parents across all demographics want the best for their children, and that includes education. For many, that may mean employing tutors to help with everything from a preschool head start to university admission exams.

The segment is growing fast. According to IbisWorld, annual revenue generated by tutoring has increased over the past five years to $1.15 billion. The research company also predicts that an increasingly competitive school environment will continue to drive growth.

“More parents are choosing to invest in what’s known as the ‘shadow education system’ to complement their school learning,” says SAM, or Seriously Addictive Mathematics, director Sonja Oosthuizen of Western Australia.

For franchisees seeking opportunities in tutoring, SAM offers a range of skills areas and age groups. For example, SAM caters for students from four to 13 years old, while the Kumon tutoring programs for English and maths attract everyone from preschoolers to high-school students, and another franchise business, Begin Bright, has centres that provide school-readiness programs and primary tutoring.

“We find that parents and caregivers are valuing and recognising the importance of supporting early learning,” says Begin Bright MD Paula Bedford.

Franchisees do not necessarily need a background in education to join this vibrant sector.

“It’s true that former teachers and educators may be particularly suited to running a SAM franchise, but such experience is not essential,” says Oosthuizen. “All our franchisees, and the trainers they employ, undergo extensive training to ensure the program is delivered at the same high quality to all our students. They all need to be passionate about education and enriching the lives of children, and must have excellent communication skills. Our franchisees should also have business acumen and a drive to succeed.”

Begin Bright draws franchisees from business and investing backgrounds as well as education.

“Our franchisees are talented, driven and dedicated professionals with a passion for contributing to the growth of our youngest learners,” says Bedford. “We have all the systems in place that will enable them to hire a team of qualified teachers while they focus on building their business.”

Kumon franchisees are all trained in the Japanese learning methodology. Once they qualify, they work directly with their students. As the program encourages students to become self-learners, no extra tutors are needed.

“Our product and franchise structure is unique so our recruitment process is highly selective,” says Kumon Australia and New Zealand PR manager Esther Head. “Our franchisees must have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, be highly proficient in maths and English, and be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. They must be business savvy and highly organised and, of course, enjoy working with children.

“We also look for passionate and positive leaders who are committed to fostering strong relationships in their community.”

Franchisees who do not work as tutors can set their own business hours. Those who do tutor usually hold classes after school and at weekends, so the hours will not suit everyone, says Head. But there is room for flexibility in terms of how the working day is structured, and as with any franchise, the amount of time spent in the business will influence its profitability. Kumon has established it takes a minimum of 30 hours a week to run one of its franchises successfully.

SAM and Kumon franchisees have the option of working from commercially leased premises or hired venues, such as a community centre or library. “About a third of Kumon franchisees work from commercially leased premises, and these support more than half of our enrolment numbers,” says Head.

All Begin Bright franchisees work from a commercially leased base. “We understand this can be daunting, so our team is available to help new franchisees find suitable premises in their preferred location if necessary,” says Bedford.

Wherever their location however, tutoring franchises seem set to thrive. As long as parents are too busy to help with homework, want to engage a talented child or have their eye on a selective school or sought-after university course, they will continue to invest in programs designed give their children a competitive edge.

KUMON

Kumon is the world’s largest after-school education program with more than 4 million students enrolled in 50 countries and regions. The first Kumon office opened in Sydney in 1984 following a trial with a New South Wales primary school. Within 10 years there were offices in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and in 1995 Kumon expanded into New Zealand. As of September this year the program had 53,000 students enrolled across Australia and New Zealand.

  • Number of units; 317 in Australia, 30 in New Zealand.
  • Investment levels; Up to $20,000.
  • Capital investment; Up to $5000.
  • Extra set-up costs; Similar to the initial costs involved in starting any business, plus the relevant checks needed for working with children.

BEGIN BRIGHT

Begin Bright launched as a school-readiness and primary-tutoring centre in 2008 and has been franchising since 2011. It has grown to more than 30 centres throughout Australia, now delivering 63,000 sessions a year. Cognition Education Group acquired the franchise last year and provides with access to experienced educators and learning designers. It also has corporate infrastructure to support and enhance the programs.

  • Number of units: 30 in Australia.
  • Capital investment: Up to $70,000, including franchise fee which may vary depending on location.
  • Extra set-up costs: All costs are included in the capital investment.

SERIOUSLY ADDICTIVE MATHEMATICS

The SAM mathematics learning and enrichment program was established in Singapore in 2010 and launched in Australia last year.

  • Number of units: Seven centres across Australia and more than 100 in 16 other countries.
  • Capital investment: $20,000 to $150,000, depending on site and location. Initial fees are minimal so most of the capital goes toward fit-out, marketing, further training and working capital.
  • Extra set-up costs; Non-commercial location from $10,000; commercial location from $50,000.