Names: Kathleen Naugle and Pamela Maxwell
Franchise: Kiddie Academy of Hamilton, N.J.
Number of years in business/Number of employees: Nine years / 28 employees
Initial Investment: The franchise fee is $120,000; Naugle and Maxwell invested $310,000 more for advertising, furniture, equipment and supplies.
When Kathleen Naugle and Pamela Maxwell were working for a prestigious investment management firm, they focused on advancing their careers. Meanwhile, they struggled to balance work and family, and they questioned whether “having it all” was actually possible. They knew the importance of childcare, and they saw how many options didn’t meet the needs of working parents -- especially high-achieving working moms like themselves.
The women wanted to create a childcare service that offered more than just the typical utilities. Many daycare centers and preschools they had encountered failed to provide individualized service and sufficient elementary school preparation. Naugle and Maxwell didn’t want to merely mitigate the grievances of working parents -- they hoped to eliminate them entirely. Franchising with Kiddie Academy aligned with their goals, because of both its curriculum and the respect and openness among its franchisees.
Naugle and Maxwell have made the franchise their own, personalizing their approach so that women with growing careers and growing kids get the care that works for them. “We recognize that the support we provide can make the difference between women continuing to move their careers in a positive direction or packing it in and staying home,” Maxwell says. “The support provided differs from family to family based on their current needs.”
If a parent needs to catch an early train to work, the staff can meet the child at the door so mom or dad gets a quick exit. Dance practice right after pick-up? They’ll make sure the child is wearing the right gear. If a parent plans on picking up their child a bit later than usual, the staff might offer an extra snack to keep hunger at bay. It’s no wonder Naugle and Maxwell have won “Life Essentials” and “Brand Champion” awards from Kiddie Academy.
Although opening a new business during the recession was challenging, Naugle and Maxwell maintained high-quality care, knowing that their investment would pay off in the future. Sometimes, providing the necessary level of support for customers and establishing the company’s reputation meant providing services for free, even when the business wasn’t profitable. “As many of our parents faced job losses during 2008, we found ourselves in a position to help,” Maxwell says. “We offered free part-time child care services to our existing customers so they could focus on their job search -- without a crying baby in the background.” This compassion attracted a larger customer base. Within a year and a half, the franchise had reached full enrollment.
Today, the women are looking forward by mentoring new franchisees to set them up for success -- and by keeping an eye out for expansion opportunities. After switching careers and philosophies, it seems that these franchisees really do have it all.