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How Kumon Maintained Its Spot As the Top Education Franchise In the Country This year marks Kumon's 23rd year at the top of its category, and its fourth consecutive year in the Top 10. Its consistent success underscores its resilience and ongoing appeal in the educational sector.

By Carl Stoffers Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the January 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Kumon

To view our entire 2024 Franchise 500 list, including category rankings, click HERE

Started Franchising: 1958

Total Units: 26,244

Cost to Open: $68.4K-$146.6K

For many businesses, the pandemic shutdown is becoming a distant memory. But for Kumon, the aftershocks are still being felt — and they're strengthening the brand.

It began with loss: Some franchise locations lost up to 30% of their enrollment during virtual classes in the pandemic. "With schools being closed, remote learning really exposed a lot of the learning gaps that kids have," says Craig Mayer, Kumon's Canadian Manager of Center Network Development. But by 2022, students were flocking back to their learning centers.

Although Kumon slipped a little in our rankings from 2023 — going from No. 6 last year to No. 10 this year — its overall outlook remains strong. This is its 27th consecutive year ranking in the Franchise 500, its fourth consecutive year in our Top 10, and its 23rd consecutive year as No. 1 in its category. Kumon has more than 26,000 locations worldwide, with about 1,600 of them in the U.S.

Related: Children's-Education Franchises Are Going Hi-Tech

Aside from continuously revising its curriculum to ensure students are challenged, the company recently unveiled a major project — a digital worksheet version of its current materials. The new platform, called Kumon Connect, lets students complete assignments on a tablet rather than on paper. Parents can see their child's progress, and instructors can offer support and adjust the study plan when necessary. Some 28,117 students across more than 1,200 centers in Canada and the U.S. now use the digital program.

To encourage franchisee growth, in the U.S., Kumon offers up to $37,100 in incentives that may include rent reimbursement and furniture. And the company recently added a referral program (with a bonus payment) to reward existing owners for recruiting new franchisees. It's working: Across North America in 2022, Kumon had 125 referrals and paid out 31 bonuses — but, Mayer says, "we expect the 2023 number to increase substantially as the prospective franchisees complete their training and open their Kumon Centers."

Related: How Kumon Rode the Choppy Waves of Childhood Learning to a Top Franchise Ranking

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Carl Stoffers

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Business Editor

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