I first heard of Kumon from a cousin of mine who enrolled her 2 young daughters at a Kumon center in the Philippines. When their family moved to Canada a few years later, I learned that her daughters were so much more advanced in math and reading compared to other kids in the same grade level.
This gave me a very good first impression of Kumon but I’ve never considered opening a Kumon franchise myself — it just doesn’t seem like a good fit for me. But with this blog, I’ve decided to look into as many different industries as I can, with the intention of giving my readers as many ideas as possible. I’m glad I did because it gave me a good reason to learn more about Kumon.
I ended up being very impressed with the company and I can see this being a great opportunity for the right franchisee. The things I like about the Kumon franchise opportunity are:
1. Offers a Much-Needed Service Using a Proven, Effective System – Kumon Math & Reading Centers offer an after-school program on these two areas of study to children from 3 years old (staring with the Junior Kumon program) all the way through to 12th Grade. The center provides each student with an individualized program taking into account the current skill level of the child.
The program is effective because it makes sure that each child fully understands one concept before advancing to the next, laying a solid foundation for more advanced topics. This builds confidence among students and makes them enjoy the learning process more.
2. No Teaching Experience Necessary, But There Must Be a Good Fit – The Kumon franchise requires a greater fit compared to most other franchises. Although a teaching background isn’t necessary, the franchisee must enjoy working with children. This is not a purely money-making endeavor, it’s also an opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of children. The right franchisee will take this opportunity and responsibility very seriously.
3. Low Investment – It was named the #3 Low Cost Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2011. The franchise fee is only $2,000, and the total initial investment ranges from $36,538 to $145,250. A typical center is about 1,200 sq. ft in size and needs just 2-3 employees to run, says Entrepreneur magazine. (Update: According to Nicole Smith, president of the International Association of Kumon Franchisees, 6 or more staff per Kumon center is more common.)
But I do have one concern:
Possible Impact of Technology on the Business Model – As I mentioned before, as a former UPS Store franchisee, I experienced first hand how quickly technology can impact certain profit centers and transform entire businesses. The swift adoption of online shopping and online shipping directly with the major carriers put a dent on our store’s shipping revenues.
Another example is the tax preparation business. A lot of people who used to go to H & R Block locations for their taxes now use Turbo Tax software and the like to do it themselves.
With the quick adoption of tablet computers like the iPad, I can’t help but wonder if cheaper and more convenient tutorial programs eventually gain traction with parents and their children.
But it’s really encouraging that Kumon has embraced new technology, particularly social media, to engage with their customers and potential franchisees. At the time of this writing, they had 18,404 Facebook fans and 619 Twitter followers, and they update their accounts frequently throughout the day. These are the highest numbers I’ve seen for a non-food franchise company.
This gives me the confidence that they will take advantage of future technological advances to better engage with their customers and possibly offer alternative learning opportunities that leverage new technology.
And, in my opinion, for as long as there are traditional schools, there will be a need for an after-school program of some sort. The social aspect of going to a formal after-school program and interacting with teachers and other students enhances the learning experience for most children.
I think Kumon is one of the few franchise opportunities out there where the owner can make a difference in the lives of children and earn a profit at the same time. For the right franchisee, this could be the most rewarding and fulfilling business opportunity.
Check out my review of the Sylvan Learning franchise opportunity.
Are you a current franchisee of Kumon? Is your Kumon franchise profitable? Do you work for the Kumon franchise organization? Can you share anything about the profit potential of the Kumon franchise?