Most companies have a philosophy, vision, mission and core values. But very few actually foster and reinforce them on a daily basis. Since 1997, that’s exactly what has made Lightbridge Academy different from the rest—they’re not just in the day care, child care or preschool business. They are in the trust business.
Today, Lightbridge Academy has become a place where parents, children, staff members, the community and franchise owners come together as a family to create a truly caring educational environment. Because of the nurturing culture, Lightbridge Academy has become a beloved staple throughout their home state of New Jersey. Now, based on their ongoing success throughout the Northeast, the brand is targeting Northern Virginia’s wide open territory to reach more families than ever before.
To help raise awareness about the brand’s expansion efforts in the region, on April 8 and 9, 2017, Lightbridge Academy will be attending the annual franchise expo at the Dulles Expo Center. Franchisees interested in developing the brand throughout Northern Virginia will have the chance to learn more about the opportunity in a no pressure environment.
“Busy working parents in the DC metro and Northern Virginia areas share the same high level of stress found in New York/New Jersey market. Lightbridge Academy is known as The Solution for Working Parents® and we believe that our programs and services will be a perfect fit for parents needing support for themselves while also desiring a high quality of care and education for their children,” said Guy Falzarano, the founder and CEO of Lightbridge Academy.
So far, the brand has already made significant headway expanding, including new foothold locations in eastern Pennsylvania, the boroughs of New York and suburbs of Washington D.C. In fact, in 2016, Lightbridge Academy celebrated the opening of new centers in three states, and franchise agreements were signed in four mid-Atlantic states. In addition to its 13 company owned centers, the brand has sold 86 franchises. A total of 25 centers are open, and by the end of 2017, the brand expects to have nearly 40 centers up and running. And those successful development efforts aren’t random—this past year, Lightbridge Academy expanded in key markets within Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York.
“We hit tremendous milestones in 2016. Between opening up our first center in New York to securing leases in Virginia, we’re seeing healthy growth in attractive markets across our entire franchise system. Franchising has helped us rapidly grow our brand into attractive new territories,” said Mark Mele, Lightbridge Academy’s senior vice president of franchise sales.
Mele has every reason to believe that Lightbridge Academy will only continue to grow in the years ahead, too: demand for child care centers is booming. Between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of parents reporting child care as a necessity rose from 49 percent to 57 percent. To date, an estimated 14.5 million children in the U.S. are in some form of child care arrangement. This puts Lightbridge Academy in the position of providing an always-in-demand service, meaning that there is—and will always be—a constantly renewing consumer base.
“This impressive growth is the culmination of 19 successful years in business, extensive planning and testing our franchise model to build a strong franchise system. Our regional expansion was a strategic decision to grow out from our core in New Jersey while establishing a network to offer superior support to our franchisees,” Falzarano added. “Our Circle of Care philosophy balances the importance of each and every member of the Lightbridge Academy family - our parents, staff, communities we serve and our hand-picked franchise owners – are interconnected and equally important in ensuring that every child receives the highest quality of care and education.”
Northern Virginia serves as a natural extension for the growing company. With a total state population of eight million, of which 509,665 are under the age of five, Virginia has many developing and underserved markets in need of quality child care. Washington D.C. Metro, Richmond Metro and Virginia Beach Metro are three key areas that Lightbridge Academy is targeting. From Fairfax County to Prince William and Loudon counties, these areas are diverse, affluent with high numbers of young families and are expected to continue to grow—attributes that go hand-in-hand with the need for quality child care.
As Lightbridge Academy continues to expand their unique child care franchise concept, the company is looking for franchisees who not only will embrace the company’s core values but also possess strong leadership and business acumen, believe in the brand and demonstrate the desire to follow a proven system. The total investment for new franchisees ranges from $502,750 to $686,250, depending on the size of the facility.
“We are seeking purpose-driven franchise owners who have a personal mission and a higher aim than just making a profit. The franchisees that thrive with Lightbridge Academy are those who are looking for more than the corporate grind—they want to make a good living while also making a difference. They have true compassion and a deep understanding of the stresses that busy parent’s experience. They have a genuine passion for early education and the well-being of children,” Mele said. “By finding those franchise owners who truly embody and live out the Lightbridge Academy culture and values, we’ll continue to successfully expand throughout Northern Virginia—and beyond.”