This post is the second of two parts. To read Part 1, please click here.
No Prior Educational Experience
Thomas said prior experience in education and working with children with special needs is not a requirement to be a franchisee. That expertise will come from the staff that is hired. Employees also go through a rigorous training period before working directly with children, she said. Neuro-academic teachers and sensory-motor coaches are required to have more than 20 hours of hands-on, supervised, in-center training.
Thomas said employment fluctuates at her center in the summer when she hires additional staff, but she generally has about 10 employees, including a center director, two assistant directors, a program director, two sensory-motor coaches, and two teachers. There is also a nutritionist for the center, who works as an independent contractor.
Finding qualified staff has not been a problem, she said, because funding cuts in local school systems have created a surplus of special needs teachers who are looking for work. Plus, Thomas was familiar with many educators and therapists who worked with her son before she discovered Brain Balance.
“I have found in my experience that employees find me,” she said. “I had a lot of people approach me.”
Marketing Brain Balance
Thomas has also had success attracting parents and children to her program. She is one of only two centers now open in Ohio and her business in Canton attracts customers from all over Northeast Ohio and from as far away as Columbus, several hours away.
She orders any print advertising and promotional materials, which are customized for her market, directly from a corporate website, but most of her business is generated through referrals from parents who have seen their children succeed with the program.
“Locally, we do a lot of grassroots marketing because our biggest source is parent referrals,” she said.
Thomas will partner with organizations such as Autism Speaks for special events where she will set up a booth to talk with parents and disseminate information about the Brain Balance program. She also attends kindergarten fairs when parents are enrolling their children into a school system at the beginning of the year to be sure they know about her business. She also does a lot of lecturing in her community to professional organizations such as chiropractors and pediatricians to educate them about the Brain Balance approach.
Paying It Forward