It’s now been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic introduced us to disruptive changes for our lives and businesses. Adjusting to these changes required us to think differently and act quickly to address the needs of Franchisees and customers.
Many things we have now that we didn’t have before will continue to yield benefits long after the pandemic ends. Those things include:
–Health EssentialsSM – In addition to protocols that already met or exceeded required standards, we added enhancements to further ensure the health and safety of students and staff and give parents peace of mind.
-Virtual Learning – This includes training, tours and teaching tools like Zoom, webinars and videos to support business continuity and social connectivity.
–At-Home Curriculum – We pulled activities and resources to share with families whose children were home due to restrictions.
While the list above includes many of the tangible assets that arose from the past year, there were also many valuable observations we gleaned. We recently asked several Kiddie Academy leaders to reflect on what they’ve learned during the past year.
Greg Helwig, Chief Executive Officer:
The biggest takeaway for businesses and business leaders is flexibility. Whether that’s adapting quickly to new forms of technology for employees to work remotely, new ways to meet current consumer demands or how to survive with less. Business owners can learn who their most valued employees are and how to spread a “can-do attitude” throughout the workforce.
Broc Silberzahn, Vice President of Franchise Development:
The franchise applicants we’re speaking with are entrepreneurial and see this period of perceived risk as a unique opportunity to invest when others might be more cautious. In past economic downturns, high-quality, educational child care, as an industry, has been quick to recover. We’re seeing signs that that should be the case now, too. The interest rates are at historically low levels and could remain low for the foreseeable future. The demand for service remains high, and may even increase with the closure of smaller, independent providers across the country who did not have the support of a proven franchise concept like Kiddie Academy. Those closures, while unfortunate, may also result in more available real estate for Franchisees looking for locations to house new Academies.
Jeff Brazier, Chief Development Officer:
It’s been inspiring to see a renewed sense of community emerge throughout our franchise system. Owners quickly realized that they could rely on support from our corporate team to help them understand things like the Payroll Protection Program and other government programs. They also got help from corporate and from each other about ways to keep them connected with customers.
Joy Turner, Vice President of Education:
We learned that we needed to provide suggestions for alternative ways our Academies could engage with families. We developed webinars for Directors and Franchisees on how they could support and connect with families while at home. We shared resources such as our at-home activities that could help to extend learning while not being able to be in the classroom. We provided Academies with resources such as information on conducting virtual lessons; links to websites with read-aloud books and educational games; developed virtual tours so future enrollees could “visit” Academies that were otherwise restricted to staff and students; and much more. We also provided suggestions for how to connect virtually with enrolled families and for them to connect with each other through parent Zoom meetings and social media.
Samantha Stupak, Digital Marketing Manager:
We learned just how much our customers appreciate the services we provide. Our Net Promoter Score – an overall indicator of our customer satisfaction – rose during the pandemic. Many written reviews specifically call out the Academies and teachers serving their family during the pandemic and how much it meant to them to have the support.
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