Top 10 American Franchises

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Value of Education Franchises Grows During Pandemic


Franchises in the education industry received a substantial boost from an unlikely source: the pandemic.


Education enrichment franchises were already experiencing strong growth before COVID because of the increased competition for spots in leading universities and parents’ desire to give their kids an edge as they pursue secondary education and enter the job market. When COVID forced schools to close and pivot to virtual learning, parents scrambled to not only prevent their kids from falling behind but also to give them every advantage moving forward.


A spike in demand for education enrichment services coincided with The Great Resignation, which led to an unprecedented number of employees leaving their jobs in search of more meaningful work.


“Many entrepreneurial-minded individuals seek to change their lifestyles by opening their own business, and they appreciate that franchising offers a proven business model, established systems and extensive training,” says Mike Shim, senior vice president of field operations for Kumon North America. “Kumon experienced a tremendous increase in interest from teachers, especially, who want to have greater control over their schedule and their future but want to use their classroom experience to continue to make a difference in the lives of children. The corporate support is a big draw, as this is a first business venture for most of them.” 


Kumon, the top education franchise in North America, added 65 new centers in 2021 to total more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. This year, Kumon anticipates extremely strong growth in California, Texas, New Jersey and New York, as well as Canada. After-school enrichment programs like Kumon are worth $23.5 billion in the U.S.


National data backs up the trend of teachers leaving schools for the private sector: 

  • 300,000 teachers and school-related staff left their fields between February 2020 and May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • 55% of teachers said they would leave education sooner than planned, up from 37% last August, according to a 2022 National Education Association poll.
  • 44% of public schools in the U.S. reported full- or part-time vacancies at the start of last school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.


Many of those teachers are turning to Kumon; in fact, they are driving the company’s growth. They seek new career opportunities where they can continue to both use their training and experience and do what they love – teach and make a difference at a high level – outside of the school system and with an eye toward building their own business for the future. Just like others who are leaving their jobs to open their own small businesses, teachers want to have more control over their schedules, cut out bureaucracy and be their own boss.


Former teacher Georgette Kankwende, now the owner-operator of Kumon Center of Fort Worth-Woodland Springs, was thrilled to trade in her 80-minute-per-day commute to the school where she worked for a five-minute drive to her own business, which opened in January 2021. 


“Enrollment has been really good,” Kankwende says. “I could tell in the first three months that there was a need for Kumon in my area, and it really hasn’t slowed down at all. We now have more than 150 students.”


The need for education enrichment services is expected to continue. The education consultant McKinsey & Company reports that the lingering effects of the pandemic persist. For K-12 students in the 2021-2022 school year, that translated to being an average of five months behind in math and four months behind in reading. 


School districts have not revised their expectations; they still expect students to know the same things they would have been taught pre-pandemic in spite of numerous education disruptions, including school closures and remote learning. 


“COVID and virtual schooling set a lot of students back, and parents are really starting to notice that,” Kankwende says. “School just isn’t enough for some kids. They really need supplemental education.” 


Kumon Center owners say they are limited in the number of students they can serve without sacrificing customer service or social distancing, so the increased demand for education enrichment is resulting in not only healthy enrollment at existing centers but also a need for more centers.  


“We are actively recruiting teachers and others to become Kumon instructors because we have a critical need for more centers,” says Shim. “We know that teachers are confident in their ability to work with children but may be hesitant to start a Kumon Center because they don’t necessarily have experience in running a business. We allay their fears by explaining our extensive training process, which includes everything they may need to know to run a Kumon.” 


Additionally, Shim says, startup costs are a concern for many new small business owners, but Kumon’s staff does all that they can to make building new centers affordable for franchise owners. The franchise fee for Kumon is only $2,000, and Kumon offers thousands of dollars in incentives to help offset many of the costs of opening a new center – including providing funds for marketing, signage, furniture and more. 


“We keep costs low so that Kumon Instructors can launch their businesses in the best possible financial shape,” he says. “Our team is here to help Kumon Center owners succeed so that we can meet the needs of more families.”

John Collins is Kumon North America’s vice president of Center Network Development.