“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” Benjamin Franklin said. Preparation is the key to ensure that right decisions are made at the right time. A to-be franchise owner can substantially increase chances of early success by working on these three vital points: 1) market 2) competition 3) costs. Before investing in your new English language business, make sure that you assess these following critical factors.
1. Know the Local Market
The local market has all the information you need to choose the right location and know the potential for growth of your franchise business. You can conduct research of the local market by searching online, studying industry databases and surveys, and conducting your own surveys. Finding out the number of competitors in the area and their success rate can also give you a fair idea of the local market. To conduct market research, you may use these steps:
a. Define your target customer
Your target customer is a person who is most likely to use your services. Defining your target customer will help you to narrow down your research to just the specific group of people who are interested in English learning. For an English language franchise, the key criteria are:
- Educational background
- English proficiency level
- Economic status of families
b. Search by location
For an English language business, proximity of your educational center to other educational institutes, schools and universities is of immense importance. Even a good English learning institute located far from targeted customers can fail solely due to distance. Therefore, begin the research from around your education center and go farther away. Before investing, make sure you have the number of potential students. This data should be accurate because it is on the basis of this number that your other future decisions will be based.
2. Know the Competition
If you see that there is demand for English learning, you need to find existing businesses that are meeting this demand. It is best to first look at the English language franchises around your location. These are your biggest competitors, as they are more likely to attract local students. Gain information about them and know their success rate. This will help you to plan your journey.
Other than English language franchises, your other competitors are universities and educational institutes that offer English learning. By finding out how many students they receive, you will know how much of your market they are sharing. After you have conducted your research, ask: “why would students choose my business over another?” That will give you your unique selling point (USP) on which you can effectively market your business.
3. Know the Local Employment Costs
An estimate of the profits can only be made after ascertaining the costs. A fairly substantial cost is of salaries of teachers and of marketing professionals. A good English teacher in Vietnam, Taiwan and China earns up to USD$2,000 per month[i]. However, in the United States, the average salary can be $40,000-75,000 per year.[i] The Gulf countries of U.A.E, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar have higher salaries ranging from $2,000 – $5,000 per month (tax-free).[ii]
A recurring expense, employment costs will be a substantial expense (along with rental costs if you’ve rented the franchise area). Your location impacts employment costs, so remember to consider this cost when choosing the location of your franchise business.
Marketing is another major recurring expense. It is recommended that businesses that have been in business for 1-5 years should allocate 12-20% of their gross revenue on marketing each year.[iii] Initially, you need to spend more on marketing to create brand awareness. As your franchise becomes well known, your marketing costs will reduce. Since that will happen over time, it is wise to determine all marketing costs (branding, website, online marketing, traditional advertising, events), including those of hiring marketing professionals.
You can consider different locations and their impact on your total expenses, but when doing so also evaluate market size and competition. It is these three factors that will greatly impact the growth of your English language franchise and your path to success.