Anirban Bhattacharya is working as the Associate Vice President – Partner Schools with Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group. He is currently spearheading the complete operations and expansion of Franchise schools across pan India. Anirban has more than 18 years’ experience in the education sector in various domains and capacities. In the past, he played an important role in setting up K12 Schools in North India and Higher Education initiative wherein he was instrumental to set up colleges in pan India. He has been associated with some reputed education organizations in the past. He has also helped many students in achieving their goals and creating an aspirational future being an expert career counselor throughout. His edu-perineurial stint with various education companies equipped him with hands-on knowledge about start-ups and intrinsic understanding of various business models.
The school franchising model is powered by prudent commerce and visionary edupreneurship that have the combined potential of transforming education both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Since time immemorial, quality education has mostly been the preserve of the elite or the well-heeled with deep pockets and wherewithal for accessing the best teaching instruction. The modern era, however, has democratized education. Smart business models that are aimed at cost-division, risk mitigation, and service affordability have taken education from select centres of learning to the far-flung areas. The school franchising model has been one such catalyst for growth in the education sector. It involves a symbiotic partnership between an established school brand and an aspiring edupreneur through a mutual agreement which involves the extension of multiple support services – including the brand image – by the franchisor.
Often dubbed as a win-win model for starting a new school, school franchising does have its risks alongside the opportunities.
Risks & Challenges of School Franchising
No venture in life is free from risk. The success of the school franchising model hinges on the meeting of the philanthropist minds, aligning of the goals, a common vision of providing growth within quality education ecosystem and a calibrated approach towards the recovery of capital expenditure and managing the operating expenditure. All the prerequisites must be met for the school franchising model to yield the desired results.
Imperatives of A School Franchise: Starting a school franchise involves several imperatives regarding land acreage, built-up area, initial investments, and follow-up investment. These requirements differ for K-12 schools and preschools and also depend upon the location of schools (tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3 cities). Fulfilling these imperatives is the initial challenge of launching a franchise school.
Unrealistic Expectations: Even the most formidable of partnerships can fall through on the back of unrealistic expectations of return on investment (ROI) and payback period. A proper understanding of how the school franchising model works helps to tide over the misgivings and creates practical and realistic expectations for both partners.
Market Unpredictability: Unexpected market upheaval such as the one observed during the Covid-19 pandemic can scuttle the best laid plans for school launch and operations. But such happenings are exceptions rather than the rule. Likewise, a sudden spike in market competition because of the entry of new players requires a realignment of targeted growth.
Benefits & Opportunities of School Franchising Model
In the comparative analysis of risks and opportunities of the school franchising model, the benefits outweigh the challenges by a wide margin. The pre-launch support and post-launch support extended by the franchisor in the case of greenfield or brownfield school franchising projects ensure not just a successful launch but also smooth operations and steady growth over a period of time with constant support.
The Pre-Launch Partnership Support extended by the franchisor includes:
- Architectural support: Complete hand-holding of the franchisee in the school construction and design, as per the guidelines mandated by CBSE or other boards
- Identifying and training high quality human resources: The franchisor actively facilitates the hiring of teachers, support staff and backs it up with periodic training for operational efficiency
- Financial projection and school planning: The franchisor draws upon its long experience to make correct financial projection and feasible school planning
- Sharing detail process manual: A detailed operations process manual to facilitate a successful launch is shared with the franchisee
Post-launch Partnership support service includes:
- High launchpad for franchisee: The brand legacy and reputation of the franchisor secures a high launchpad for the partner school
- IT and auxiliary support: Information Technology and other complementary support to create a digital ecosystem in the partner school
- Quality check and comprehensive audit: Annual or biannual audit to ensure quality maintenance, upgradation of staff, and best learning outcomes for students
- Assistance in affiliation: The franchisor provides necessary guidance and assistance for affiliation of the school with the recognized affiliating bodies/institutions
- Marketing, branding and communication: A 360-degree support in marketing the school and creating a robust profile through social media networks and the media
How School Franchising Fits with the Vision of NEP 2020
The National Education Policy 2020 envisions universal knowledge for learners from all strata of society. The ideal of equitable and inclusive education that is holistic, integrated, engaging and at the same time of global standards can be accomplished through the school franchising model. Established school brands bring the advanced pedagogical practices such as design thinking, computational thinking, social emotional learning in school ecosystem to nurture not just academic prowess in today’s learners but also make them emotionally strong, resilient and mentally innovative.
From the quantitative point of view as well, school franchising is the model that will drive the growth of education in India, especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities where quality education, infrastructure and facilities are currently lacking. The country presently has a base of around 250 million school students which is expected to grow to 300 million by the year 2030, according to FICCI’s Envision India 2030 Report. School franchising will be instrumental in meeting this burgeoning demand in the coming years by taking quality education to the cities and towns where access to education is still in nascent stages. The human capital thus created will power Indian’s growth and emergence as an economic superpower with a potential to become a 9 trillion-dollar economy by 2030.
The future is wide open and the path is clear. It’s that of school franchising.