From Parents to Franchisees
Fascinated by the vast improvements demonstrated by their children enrolled in Little Neuro Tree – Singapore’s 1st Multi-Language Brain Development Programme for children aged three months to six years old – drove three parents to spread the programme’s benefit in the best way possible – by becoming Little Neuro Tree franchisee themselves. Franchise Asia spoke to Ivy Lim, one of the partners of Little Neuro Tree (Hougang Centre) to find out want made this child development programme so different and her mission as a franchisee to promote it.
What attracted you to become a Little Neuro Tree franchisee?
Prior to starting the Little Neuro Tree (LNT) franchise, my two partners and I, being parents ourselves, read a lot on children development and exposed our children extensively to right-brain and whole-brain development programmes. We became firm believers on the benefits of whole-brain stimulation for young children when we witnessed the positive changes in our own children from such early exposure. We were quite enthusiastic to share these benefits with other parents.
When we chanced upon LNT, we were attracted by their added dimension of language immersion. While attending classes with our children at LNT, we felt that LNT’s whole brain stimulation method was inline with what we believed an early childhood whole-brain stimulation should be – a child’s left and right brain are completely utilised through fun, meaningful and hands-on activities to develop the cognitive, emotional and physiological aspects of the child’s growing mind. We were also impressed with the unique tri-lingual approach of the programme. Incidentally, David (David Ng, CEO of Little Neuro Tree Pte Ltd) had plans to expand the business and we decided to take up the opportunity to become LNT franchisees ourselves.
What are some of the improvements that you have noticed in children enrolled in LNT?
We saw a distinct difference between children enrolled in the LNT programme and others who are not exposed to the method. Some of them include improvement in memory skills, better absorption, superior recall, longer attention span, increased confidence and many more. We also have children who picked up their second or third foreign language effortlessly. The main reason for this is because LNT classes are conducted in a fun and exciting way without any stress implanted in children at a tender age.
As we highly value their emotional well-being, we make it compulsory for a parent to accompany his or her child in learning. This contradicts the separation anxiety that a child experiences when attending a conventional school programme. Having a parent to study and play along helps the child to concentrate on the fun part of learning. The bonding is an additional boost for the child to learn faster and better. LNT does not conduct stressful tests or assessments. Instead, LNT allows children the freedom to play, have fun and effortlessly learn as much as they can, without the anxiety to prove themselves.
How much did you allocate as your business capital? And how long did it take for you to recover your investment?
Around S$250,000 in total. We did not apply for any loan for this purpose however. We have yet to recover our initial investment but have managed to break-even our operating expenses after a year and three months in the business.
What are some of the challenges faced before and after starting your franchise business?
Looking for a strategic location was a challenge initially before we started our franchise. Either the location was not ideal or the rent was too high. Eventually we settled here (Hougang) to tap into the high young parents concentration of the Sengkang/Punggol neighbourhood. After we started our franchise, as it was still very new then, we also faced challenges in introducing the brand to parents and in changing the mindset of parents who were accustomed to conventional type of learning. It was also a paradigm shift for many parents to enrol their children who were below three years old into the programme. But the children’s progress and improvement, other parents’ endorsements, backed by scientific data and evidences helped them to understand the LNT process better.
As there are many other child development programme in the market, how do you convince the parents to choose Little Neuro Tree?
There could be other child related programmes in the market, but as far I know, this is the first multi-language brain development programme for children aged three months to six years old in Singapore. Other programmes are usually conducted in one language. Ours is a unique tri-lingual programme using brain stimulation technologies to build knowledge, confidence and love for learning. Classes are conducted in English, Chinese and Japanese or Malay – which adds another dimension in a child’s learning.
The easier way to convince parents new to the programme is through the words of other parents who have seen changes in their children themselves. For this reason, we conduct many previews and road shows at and around our centre to reach out to parents who want to know more on our method of teaching. We currently have 150 children enrolled in our centre, mostly through word-of-mouth and online recommendations. Many parents are becoming aware of the importance in starting their children early, especially in Singapore.
So far, are you satisfied with the support and training offered by the franchisor?
Being a totally new franchise, we believe there is room for growth, like getting the back-end system in place, integrating effective brand building strategies, etc. However, at the end of the day, it’s all about teamwork to meet our most important goal of all – which is ultimately LNT children’s positive development.
What is your advice to others who are interested in franchising?
Do your homework and due diligence well in selecting the right franchise to start. It is important to weigh in all the pros and cons of a new brand versus an established brand. Don’t seek franchising as an easy option to become successful. Although franchising provides a framework, it’s a full time occupation. It’s a very hands-on business. Passion is the driving force behind this business and you need lots of it, especially to sustain your interest when your business is going through hard times. There is no short-cut to hard work though.