Burnt-Out Teachers Are Flocking in Droves to This Top Tutoring Franchise The franchise has been #1 in the tutoring category for 22 years running by keeping an eye on what kids and franchisees need.

By Blaire Briody

This story appears in the January 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Kumon

Started Franchising: 1958 | Total Units: 26,527 | Cost to Open: $67.4K-$145.6K

Kumon's enrollment numbers shrank at the heart of the pandemic, but bounced back big. For the first time in three years, Kumon North America had 400,000 enrollments in 2022. And in October, it recorded the highest new enrollment in 40 years. This resurgence has landed Kumon in the Top 10 for the third consecutive year. The company has ranked in the Franchise 500 for 26 consecutive years and has been No. 1 in the tutoring category for 22 years running.

Related: Interested in a Children's Franchise? Here Are the Top 15.

In 2022, Kumon decided to try something different: It hired a marketing agency that specializes specifically in franchises. That ended up being effective for the company as it worked to rebrand and stand out among its competitors. The number of franchise agreement signings was very good. Advertisements targeted people of different backgrounds, and the website was updated with the goal of helping visitors reach the right point person. (The franchise department used to get calls from parents looking to enroll their kids, and it still does.) "Everything just pops a lot differently," says John Collins, vice president of the Center Network Development Department at Kumon North America. The agency also moved budget money around and advertised on LinkedIn.

One demographic that Kumon has been targeting specifically with ads is teachers. As teachers across the country leave their jobs in record numbers, Kumon is looking to them to come on board as franchisees. In addition to existing incentives, such as a fully refundable training program, Kumon is considering how to increase incentives for teachers in 2023. Kumon franchisees come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from engineers to attorneys, but the company has recently seen increasing interest from teachers. "These are people that love education, love children, and love making a difference," says Collins. "They became disenchanted with the state of the education system."

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

That current state of the education system — with test scores down, among other pandemic-related effects — has been good for Kumon, helping to fuel that increased enrollment and get the company back to its pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, it was on track to open 162 new centers and is continuing to expand its reach in North America after opening six centers in Panama in 2020. Guatemala and Costa Rica are next on the list.

"There is a huge need and desire to help the children in people's communities, knowing that a lot of these children are struggling right now," says Collins. "And Kumon continues to grow and grow."

View the 2023 Franchise 500 Ranking Now

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