Archive for February, 2011

Leading early-education franchise taps former AAMCO exec as new VP of Franchise Sales and Development

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) has been ranked the #1 childcare franchise for 10 years in a row by Entrepreneur magazine, but it’s not resting on its laurels. The nearly 400-unit early-education leader has been preparing for 2011 and beyond by carefully bolstering their corporate staff to improve its franchise development division. Anthony Padulo, a 30-year franchising veteran and Certified Franchise Executive, is the latest addition to the company and will head Franchise Sales and Development in 2011 and beyond.

“We’re thrilled to have such an experienced member of the franchising industry join our ranks,” said Joseph Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc. “Tony has a long history of success in his former positions and will play a major role in continuing and accelerating our national growth strategy in 2011.”

Padulo got his start with Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., parent of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, which was a relationship that lasted for 22 years. For nearly a decade, Padulo served as Vice President of New International Business Development, and was responsible for launching the brands in over 30 new countries. He spent his last three years at the company as Vice President of New Business Development and Franchise Services, guiding franchising activities as well as overseeing development of non-traditional units. Most recently, Padulo served as Vice President of Franchise Development for auto-care franchise AAMCO, where he formulated national franchise growth strategy and oversaw the addition of many new units across the U.S.

“Goddard Systems, Inc. has already proven itself as a successful franchise system with a strong network of franchisees,” said Padulo. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of building upon GSI’s existing growth strategy to accelerate national growth.”

Ranked in the top 100 franchise opportunities on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500® list, GSI has captured the dominant share in the dynamic and growing early childhood education market through a combination of its strong franchise system and the proprietary FLEX™ Learning Program, which enriches children’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development while providing the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. For more information on Goddard Systems, Inc., visit http://www.goddardschool.com/About.gspx.

“Recently ranked as one of the fastest growing industries in 2011, child care will continue to grow and be in high demand for years to come,” said Padulo. “I am looking forward to working closely with the experienced executive team at Goddard Systems, Inc. to fuel new growth in underserved markets throughout the country.”

Leading Early-Education Franchise Taps Former Huntington Learning Centers, Inc. Exec as New COO

In its continuing efforts as the leading early education franchise in the nation, Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) has hired Dzana Homan, former CEO of Huntington Learning Centers, Inc. as Chief Operating Officer. An experienced franchisee and franchise executive, Homan will bring years of business leadership experience to the well-known Goddard School brand.

“With a solid background in business, education and franchising, I feel that Dzana will add a tremendous amount of experience and leadership to our team,” said Joseph Schumacher, president and CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc. “As a fresh new voice in the company, her vast knowledge and understanding of franchise development and technology will be an asset to our brand’s growth strategy moving forward.”

Homan’s extensive career in franchising includes versatile positions at key -education franchises. She began her career as the Learning Center Director at the Los Angeles franchise of Futurekids, Inc., a computer and technology learning center concept serving preschool through twelfth grade. Homan helped grow the Los Angeles Futurekids location and increased her interest in the franchise. Futurekids LA became the system’s largest U.S. franchise and, as a result, Homan was promoted to the corporate team where she held multiple executive positions within the company focusing on franchise operations and system development.

Due to her success at the company, Homan was appointed as Futurekids’ president and CEO in 2003, followed by a move to the CEO post at Huntington Learning Centers, Inc. five years later. Through her past leadership positions, Homan brings knowledge as a premier provider of technology assessment, professional development and technology curriculum for leading schools and learning centers across the U.S. and in 65 countries around the world.

“Goddard Systems, Inc. has established a robust franchise system that has already been highly successful,” said Homan. “I’m looking forward to building upon that foundation to accelerate the growth of the brand nationwide.”

GSI’s education and business philosophy is continuing to gain national traction; the company opened 39 new locations in 2009 and another 16 in 2010. By positioning locations in top-tier markets across the nation, GSI is now located in 34 states with over 370 schools in communities across the nation. Homan will be a strong leader in directing future growth for GSI, supporting existing franchisees in daily operations and developing new franchisees to further fuel the brand’s growth.

“Goddard Systems, Inc. is a progressive company that has the potential to alter early childhood education and childcare for generations to come,” said Homan. “I am thrilled to join such a trusted and loved brand where I can contribute my experience in franchising to propel the brand to the next level.”

Leading Childcare Franchise Ranked #1 in Industry and 87th Overall Franchise Opportunity in U.S.

For the 10th straight year, Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the nation’s largest childcare and early education franchise with over 370 schools in 34 states across the country, has owned Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500. This year’s rankings were no different as the chain was not only No. 1 in its category for the 10th consecutive year, but also in the Top 100 at No. 87 in overall top U.S. franchise opportunities.

“Our success can be credited to our dedicated franchisees, the support of a committed corporate staff and especially to the continued loyalty of the families we serve in communities across the country,” said Joseph Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc. “We are pleased to be recognized yet again by such a prestigious institution and look forward to our opportunities in 2011.”

To determine rankings for the Franchise 500, each company is evaluated on its financial strength and stability, growth rate, size of system, percentage of unit closings and years in business and franchising. GSI. rose 34 spots from its 2010 ranking to break the top 100 this year. Its continued growth is fueled by an all time high demand for childcare and an increased focus on the importance of education.

In 2011, GSI. plans to continue its national expansion and has brought in key franchise executives to strengthen the organization’s leadership.  With new executives in franchise development, marketing, and operations, the company plans strengthen its already formidable franchisee support system and broaden brand penetration.

“GSI is augmenting its top management in order to provide the level of support GSI is famous for,” said Schumacher. “With the additions of franchising veterans Dzana Homan as COO, Vic Yeandel as Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and PR and Tony Padulo as Vice President of Franchise Development, we’re preparing for a decade of exceptional growth.”

Goddard Systems, Inc. has captured the dominant share of the childcare market, which Entrepreneur ranked as one of the top ten franchise industries to expand in 2011, through a combination of its strong franchise system and the proprietary FLEX™ Learning Program. Franchisee support systems include real estate assistance, opening assistance, on-going training, Quality Assurance program and professional development. For more information on Goddard Systems, Inc., visit http://www.goddardschool.com/About.gspx.

What Clay and Gina Did Before Goddard

Clay received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering. He was involved with chemical plants and explosive manufacturing. “Engineering is a heavily regulated industry,” says Clay. “It is all about getting the details right. Goddard is the same way.” When Gina was pregnant with the couple’s first child, they decided that it would be best to move and go back home to Rhode Island. After moving back, Clay got a job as a consultant. “The Goddard team knows that details matter and we need to have diligence on day to day issues.”

How Clay and Gina Specifically Found Out About The Goddard School

Clay saw The Goddard School in Entrepreneur Magazine and was ranked as a very high performance school. After seeing the article, Clay investigated further and found that many of The Goddard School franchisee’s were just like himself. “I started thinking that my community could really benefit from a high performance child care facility,” said Clay. After speaking with many franchisees, Clay knew that The Goddard School was the right choice for himself and his family. Clay and Gina opened their location in August 2006.

Why Clay and Gina Became and Love Being Goddard School Franchisees

“I was impressed with the consistency and uniformity of each school,” said Clay. “All of the owners have such interesting backgrounds.” Not only were Clay and Gina impressed with the assortment of owners who had similar backgrounds to themselves, but they were also impressed by the process that The Goddard School used to determine if they were a good franchisee fit. “Goddard has a great professional home office and everyone is very down to earth,” Clay boasts.

Community Involvement

It’s important to Clay and Gina that their school feels approachable and welcoming to all of the families within the community they serve. They host monthly open houses and continue to partner with other local business owners to build a positive relationship in order to understand how they can better fulfill their community’s needs.

How to keep your employees focused and motivated
By Erik Cassano

Smart Business Philadelphia | February 2011

If you work for Joe Schumacher, introductions are the appetizer at lunch.

When Schumacher gathers his employees together for a lunch meeting at Goddard Systems Inc., he makes sure that accountants sit with operations people, his legal staffers sit with marketers, and so on. It’s one of the most effective ways he encourages communication and prevents silos at the franchisor of The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development, where Schumacher serves as CEO.

“We want people from different departments at the same table,” he says. “One of the great pieces of feedback we’ve gotten is that everyone seems to like that. They had an opportunity to talk to other people that they normally wouldn’t have talked to.”

Schumacher oversees 115 direct employees and must set uniform standards for 368 franchised schools around the country, employing between 20 and 25 people each. Therefore, this means that promoting good communication and reinforcing the organizational direction of Goddard Systems are daily tasks for Schumacher.

He follows through on these tasks by facilitating an ongoing dialogue between levels and locations within the organization. Whether it’s corporate leadership speaking with a franchisee or different franchisees in different states speaking with each other, Schumacher wants the exchange of words and ideas to become an everyday occurrence underneath the Goddard umbrella.

“It’s really the biggest challenge for any franchise company, aligning the franchisees and the corporation as to the direction you’re heading,” Schumacher says. “The economy has certainly made everybody focus more on the core issues facing the company and the values of the company. The way to answer the challenge is to ensure that everyone has a voice in the approach that the company is taking. That includes franchisees and employees and making sure that everyone has a chance to be heard.”

Reach out to your people.

From the time they sign the contract to run a Goddard School, franchisees are taught that communication is a major priority within the organization. When possible, Schumacher meets with each new franchisee personally and emphasizes the need for an open dialogue among all areas and levels of the Goddard system.

Schumacher and his staff also employ liaisons to help franchisees with their transition into the system, offering new additions a resource on how the organization does business as well as a sounding board for any issues the new franchisee might encounter.

“We do a lot to ensure that both our franchisees and our employees have methods for communication and understand that we have an overarching philosophy that encourages communication,” Schumacher says. “When a brand-new franchisee comes into our training class, I tell them that we are focused on communicating back and forth. We might not always agree on every issue, but I promise your voice will be heard.

“As part of that, we have a pre-opening process manager, and that person’s job is just to deal with people from the time they sign as franchisees. Then we have a franchisee liaison to act as an independent sounding board, someone who is not related to any department, who reports directly to me and can talk to franchisees about any issue the franchisee feels is important.”

Once new franchisees receive their initial training, they are encouraged to maintain contact with corporate management whenever they have an idea or issue to address.

“Franchisees are encouraged to call or e-mail anyone internal in the organization, up to and including me, on any issue,” Schumacher says. “We don’t want you to have to go through seven layers of management to reach us. So franchisees will regularly call me about both good things that are happening and things they might have some concerns about. Our policy is that calls and e-mails are answered within 24 hours, even if we might not have an exact response. I might not always have the answer of a more complicated problem, but I will connect with you and tell you on the matter.”

Turning a communication strategy into reality takes good execution from the upper levels of management. You need to be able to set the example from the top. But before you get to the blocking and tackling of rolling out a strategy, putting the priority in front of your people with words and messages can go a long way toward setting the ground rules of communication.

“The most important thing is making sure all of the constituencies understand that this is a priority for the company,” Schumacher says. “I regularly tell both franchisees and employees that I need to hear from you. This is my job as CEO, and this communication is the most important part of my job. Overall, whoever your constituencies are, you need to be making sure they understand that communication is important to the company, whatever they say won’t be taken personally by management, and they’ll be able to identify issues without fearing retaliation.”

From there, you need to have people in place who can help maintain your strategy’s momentum. That is the role of Schumacher’s franchisee liaisons. At your company, it might be your human resources department or corporate communications specialist. But someone in your organizational hierarchy needs to be trained on greasing the cogs of communication on a daily basis.

“Those two liaisons give people a specific point of contact,” he says. “If they don’t know who to talk to, they can go to those people and be directed to the right person.”

Make a lateral pass

Corporate management plays a vital role in communicating with your people in the field, ensuring that they stay focused on your organizational objectives and feel empowered to carry them out. But that is only a part of the communication equation.

Your dialogue needs to be lateral. Your salesperson in one part of the country needs to develop a working relationship with salespeople in other parts of the country, allowing them to share ideas and get a better grasp of what is and isn’t working among the company ranks.

At Goddard Systems, Schumacher has taken the step of formalizing peer communication among his franchisees. As part of a systemwide mentoring program, more experienced franchisees are given the opportunity to coach new franchisees on being a part of the Goddard organization.

“It’s somebody else they can call or e-mail to talk about issues,” Schumacher says. “We do the same things for our schools’ education directors, with a mentoring program in which more experienced directors get mentors, as well.”

Franchisees with high-performing Goddard locations are selected as mentors for the program. In recent years, more than 40 new franchisees have been mentored in the program. Schumacher estimates that about 20 franchisees received mentoring in 2010, due to a drop in the establishment of new franchises.

If you operate a business with multiple people in the same market, it is often advantageous if you can connect those people and allow them to find common goals. Even if you have locations or salespeople who might be competing with each other in a given market, if they are finding common areas of motivation, it will serve to strengthen your company overall.

Schumacher has encouraged Goddard franchisees in individual markets to find common ground in the marketing of the Goddard concept to the surrounding community. Some local schools have unified on creative marketing concepts.

“Our Denver market decided they wanted to sponsor the children’s play area at the Colorado Rockies baseball stadium, so they unified on that initiative,” Schumacher says. “They’d have things like ice cream socials and open houses to attract enrollment in their areas, so they tried to do that as a unified force, as well. There are 13 schools in the Denver area, so they tried to do the open house and socials on the same week.”

Schumacher wants his franchisees to take any opportunity to get together and talk shop, whether it be a formalized meeting or a less formal interaction.

“We put on an excellent business and social program, but even if they were just OK, the best part about any meeting is when you have franchisees coming together and talking with other franchisees about common issues,” he says.”

Know your role

As the person in the top spot of your company, your job is one of support and motivation when it comes to your team.

You can speak about having an open-door policy, about the standards you want for your company, how you want your employees to represent the company and the resources you’re willing to provide for them, but as you’ve been taught since grade school, actions speak far louder than words. Which means it is imperative that your actions follow your statements and employees don’t get the sense that you’ll say one thing and do another.

“A lot of your job is to set the tone,” Schumacher says. “It is important that the entire company, whether employees or franchisees, know that communication and adhering to the mission of the organization is key. That’s why living what you say is important. If I bloviate about the importance of communication but don’t tell people things or tell them to come back later, it becomes apparent that what I’m saying is just words, that I don’t take it very seriously.”

You need to realize the difference between leadership and management. You have elements of both in your role. You are a supervisor who manages others and a leader who seeks out new opportunities and charts a course to reach them. But you can’t let your supervisory role cast a shadow over your role as leader. If you try to control too much from a process standpoint, you run the risk of micromanaging, which can be detrimental to the trust factor in an organization.

If an employee has an idea and wants to run with it, accept it or decline it. If you decline it, explain why. If you accept it, give the employee resources and benchmarks, but let him or her take the creative lead.

“It’s often a criticism of upper-management types that they’ll sort of steal people’s ideas,” Schumacher says. “I try to make sure that if somebody gives me or the company an idea about something, they get recognized for it. Whether it’s in a meeting or communication or wherever, I try to make sure our managers understand it’s a better sign if a manager celebrates people and allows them to be recognized for the contributions, as opposed to the manager taking the credit.”

Recognition is one last vital part of the communication process. It stimulates ideas and encourages employees to come forward with new ideas in the future. It helps reinforce a unified, goal-focused company. And there is a difference between putting a bonus plan in place and actively recognizing someone. Both forms have their place, but neither is a catchall.

“Everybody, if not needs, then certainly wants recognition,” Schumacher says. “It’s easy in any company to feel like you’re laboring in the dark and that nobody really knows what you’re doing or how important it is to the company.

“That’s why monetary and nonmonetary recognition serves different roles. I think a simple recognition, intermittent and unexpected, often goes a lot further than money. But the two have to work together. You’re not going to have people happy about a gift card or a pat on the back if they’re not getting paid well enough or they’re not able to make bonus. That’s why it’s probably better if the money stuff is basic and expected, while the nonmonetary stuff is more unexpected and intermittent.”

How to reach: Goddard Systems Inc., (610) 265-8510 or www.goddardschool.com