Kal Patel is no stranger to being an entrepreneur. From hotels and restaurants to convenient stores and wholesale distribution, there aren’t many industries that he hasn’t tried his hand. But when Patel was looking to get involved with a business that would allow him to stay closer to home near the rest of his family in New Jersey, he decided to look into something new: child care.
Recognizing that the demand for top tier child care services among parents is climbing, Patel started looking into franchise opportunities. That’s when he came across Lightbridge Academy and its unique Circle of Care philosophy that places equal value on the needs of children, their parents, the community and the teachers who care for them during the day. Patel realized that Lightbridge Academy offered him the unique opportunity to enter on the ground level of a rapidly growing brand, so he signed on to open his own center.
“It was important for me to join a brand that wasn’t too big or oversaturated—I needed to know that the opportunity for me to grow as a business owner was there in the long run,” said Patel. “To say that growth potential is still going strong would be an understatement. Even as Lightbridge Academy opens its doors in new markets, there’s still the opportunity to open more centers in different communities.”
Right now, Patel has four Lightbridge Academy centers with two of those locations are already open for business, and the other two expected to launch in 2017 and 2018. Patel has been able to expand so quickly because of the brand’s one of a kind positioning within the child care industry—Lightbridge Academy is the only brand that ensures the lines of communication between parents and their centers are always open through digital platforms like its ParentViewâ internet monitoring system and eCommunication app. But he says that Lightbridge Academy’s business model has also given him another competitive advantage.
“Not only does Lightbridge Academy give me the ability to succeed as a business owner, it also allows me to build equity in real estate. By owning some of the properties that my child care centers are located in, I’ve been able to get involved in the real estate industry as well,” said Patel.
While the first center that Patel opened in Clifton is under a lease, he has made an active effort to own the other locations that he operates. And Patel has been able to expand alongside the Lightbridge Academy brand by using his profits from existing centers to invest in the real estate and infrastructure necessary for new centers.
“Franchisees like Kal highlight the unique ways in which Lightbridge Academy enables its owners to grow. Our system is designed to help our franchisees thrive in multiple ways, including involvement in the real estate side of the business,” said Brenda Febbo, chief marketing officer for Lightbridge Academy. “We encourage that type of innovation and strong entrepreneurial drive among all of our owners. It’s then our job to support them to success in their businesses as they continue to grow.”
Lightbridge Academy currently has 25 centers that are up and running, and plans to bring that number near the 40 mark by the end of the year. The brand is already well on its way to making that development goal a reality—with its eyes set on expanding in key target markets like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New York throughout 2017 and an affordable initial investment for new franchisees that ranges from $502,750 to $686,250, there’s no doubt that this year will extend Lightbridge Academy’s Circle of Care to new communities at a rapid rate.
“There are two things that franchisees need in order to be successful in the child care industry. The first is to have the drive and passion to grow as an entrepreneur and business owner. The second is a strong corporate partner. There’s no doubt that I’ve found that in Lightbridge Academy,” said Patel. “The brand has been there for me throughout the entire franchising process—they’re just as invested in my success as I am. That’s why I’d recommend Lightbridge Academy to any other parent or potential business owner. You’re not going to find a brand that does child care better.”