Good chemistry can spark a chain reaction that has some pretty spectacular results. Certainly, Steven Speilberg and Albert Einstein could attest to that. But when good chemistry is mixed with a little razzle-dazzle and some sound business judgment, the result is a successful franchise--The Mad Science Group.
The Mad Science Group, the top-ranked children's learning program franchise in Entrepreneur's 1998 Franchise 500®, is a Canada-based franchise conceived in 1985 that teaches its franchisees how to provide "edutainment" to groups of children who delight at a staged science show lasting 60 to 90 minutes. The fun starts when instructors, who are trained by the franchisee, work with flash paper, lasers, cotton candy machines and various other props to elicit laughs as well as illustrate scientific principles. Corporate presentations and birthday parties are good venues for Mad Science franchisees, as are the weekly Mad Science after-school programs that are taught in eight-week stints.
Todd Maddocks is a franchise attorney and small-business consultant. You can reach him at TMaddocks@aol.com
The franchisor is seeking franchisees with proven sales ability and a burning desire to build a business. Introverts need not apply, as this is a business best suited to those who love theatrics and education.
As a franchisee, your biggest challenge will be finding and training qualified instructors while making sales calls and confirming bookings. Because you don't operate out of a storefront, business won't just stumble through the door. It will be up to you to become a salesperson and public relations expert in short order.
The franchisor's earning claim found in Item 19 of the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) was out-of-date at press time and only featured the sales results of six locations. Though franchisors are not required by law to report earnings, that's not much to go on, especially since there are now 86 locations in operation. Further investigation, however, showed that one of the chain's top franchises expects to gross more than $500,000 this year. According to Gino Beccherini, director of franchise sales, new franchisees can anticipate first-year sales of $55,000 to $100,000.
According to the UFOC's Item 7, the total investment for this franchise ranges from $55,850 to $61,500, which assumes you'll operate an office out of your home and that you can survive without a salary for at least the first three months of operation.
The franchise fee is $23,500; the equipment package, which must be purchased from the franchisor, costs an additional $25,000.
There appears to be a way for a new franchisee to level the playing field, however, if you insist on learning the details of some of the addenda to the franchise agreements that have been signed in the past. When you're negotiating for a franchise, it's fair to request the franchisor to disclose what types of deals were offered to others and why. One contract point you may want to negotiate is the size of your protected territory, due to the fact that the disclosed standards for determining the size of this area are nebulous at best.
Mad Science offers potential for those who wish to make a relatively small initial cash outlay, who want to work out of their homes and who like to educate others. The company is seeking franchisees in Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The Mad Science Group, (800) 586-5231, fax: (514) 344-6695