childr en’s fr anchising
Kyle Gjersee, COO, Top Level Management
Is Child Care the Next Big Franchise Industry? For young, working families the choice between cities as opposed to suburbs has become an increasingly clear one. According to employment data reported by the Census Bureau, employment in city centers has been on the rise. People want jobs that are a quick commute from their homes, something city life is known for. As a result, a growing number of young families are taking root in city centers. While this growth will overall lead to healthier cities, it can take a while for the city infrastructure to catch up. Families like Alison Qualter Berna’s and Allison Schlanger’s have noticed this slump in development. Playtime has almost exclusively meant city parks for them. However, that’s not always a plausible solution, they realized that “there wasn’t a place to go when it rained, when it snowed and when it was 97 degrees.” The need for these kinds of family and community spaces is apparent and steadily increasing. Peter Harnik, the Director of The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence agrees, “Though parks are expensive to acquire and maintain in dense cities with high property values, their residents are even more in need of open spaces in which to exercise, unwind, and socialize.” Big cities seem to be at a loss when it comes to this increasing community need for public space. Many families have found the solution in the childcare industry, looking to afterschool programs, classes, and recreational activities. The President’s Council of Economic Advisors’ 2015
report on the Economics of Early Childhood Investments, found high quality educational resources for children can bring as much as an $8 economic return on every $1 invested. How do we then take what we know and apply it to our burgeoning cities? For many entrepreneurs this market need was an opportunity for them to make a difference in their communities. Alison Qualter Berna, and Allison Schlanger did just that, “the dream was to create a career that would merge our professional interests with our children’s lives, and a life where it was not only ok to bring our kids to work, but where their presence would add value to what we did on a daily basis -and so apple seeds was born.” apple seeds is a destination for young families to come play and learn in a safe and controlled environment. The response to their core concept of safe indoor play space and educational programs for younger children was so positive it led the founders of apple seeds
to believe this concept belonged in other markets across the country. When the franchise management company, Top Level Management (TLM), was hired to assist them in this effort, it became clear that franchising would be a natural vehicle to expand their business quickly. “Their core concept is solid, their business model is easy to replicate, staff employment is viable across the country, and this concept is needed in many markets,” says Colette Bell, CEO and Founder of TLM. Currently, the growth of franchise employment is exceeding the growth of employment in all businesses, as it has for the past four years. Locally owned franchises are becoming a great way to address community needs while also implementing quality control. And, in an industry like childcare, quality of the care is of the utmost importance. Expect to see more franchises like apple seeds begin to fill this need for indoor play spaces and educational programs in urban areas.