The Educational Child Care Franchise Leads the Industry in Innovation, Curriculum and Values as it Eyes Crossing the 100-unit Mark
In 1997, when Guy and Julia Falzarano decided to open a daycare, the construction wasn’t finished on the building in time for the September school year, so the husband and wife had to act quickly. With ten children signed up, the Falzarano’s cared for five children at their home while a teacher cared for five children at her own home for a little over two months until the building was ready. On November 10th, 54 children were welcomed into the first Rainbow Academy location in Iselin, New Jersey. Twenty years later, the company is now called Lightbridge Academy and serves more than 3,500 children across 29 open centers.
Considering its unconventional beginning, the franchise brand has been experiencing unparalleled momentum and is forecasted to quadruple its size in the next five years and cross the 100-unit mark in 2018. Lightbridge Academy stands apart in an industry cluttered with similar concepts. With an outstanding reputation as The Solution for Working Parents®, a proprietary Early Childhood Education Curriculum and a Circle of Care philosophy, Lightbridge Academy differentiated itself from the competition. Its signature Circle of Care philosophy places equal weight on supporting the needs of everyone in a child’s life—including parents, teachers, center owners and local communities—enabling the brand to resonate with their market and tap into previously unseen potential within the booming educational child care segment. The brand’s strong momentum is evident across Lightbridge Academy’s entire franchise system, which has grown to 95 franchise units that are either open or in development. With plans to continue expanding across its core market, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, the brand recently included new territories to offer franchise opportunities in North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.
The Lightbridge Academy brand is now celebrating its 20th year of success in all child care centers across the system.
“We’ve been operating for twenty years, but we have only been franchising for six years, so we are still a relatively new concept in the franchise industry,” said Falzarano. “When looking for franchise partners, we are always wanting to ensure that everyone is aligned with Lightbridge Academy’s core values and vision. It is imperative that every location look and feel the same so that every family experiences our ‘WOW’ customer service and receives the best educational child care on the market.”
Outstanding customer service and finding ways to stand out have been a constant as part of Lightbridge Academy’s way of operating for decades, but its innovation and willingness to embrace technology have been major differentiators and also added value to the educational and customer experience. Lightbridge provides parents with ongoing communication throughout the day with its eCommunication app that gives updates on the child’s day and activities. The brand was also the first educational child care center to provide parents and grandparents with camera access into the classroom all day through its ParentView® Internet monitoring.
“We created ParentView® as a way to help eliminate the anxiety that parents experience when leaving their child for the first time,” said Falzarano. “People in the industry said I was crazy because they feared parents would be complaining all day, but I felt that if a parent is going to complain, then you’re not doing what you should be doing. We are in the trust business and what better way to build trust than through transparency. If parents see something they don’t like, you can investigate it and fix it – you need to make yourself vulnerable in this situation so that you can keep getting better, better and better.”
Those enhancements have helped launch Lightbridge Academy into the spotlight, receiving multiple awards and accolades this year. The brand was ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2017 Best Franchises for Any Budget Ranking as one of the Best Franchises For More Than $500,000, and it was also ranked on Entrepreneur’s elite Franchise 500 List. The brand also received a place on Franchise Times Top 200+ ranking for the first time in 2017.