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Little Sunshine’s Playhouse Franchise Overview

Little Sunshine’s Playhouse Franchise Overview

( In Part Two of our interview with Rochette Dahler, the founder and CEO of the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise system explains the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise opportunity, the benefits it provides and what it takes to be awarded a Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise.

In Part One of the Interview with Rochette Dahler, Ms. Dahler explained her innovative childcare concept on the consumer level, and described the benefits it provides to parents and children.

Little Sunshine’s Playhouse large prototype

Top New Franchises: In Part One of this interview, Rochette, you shared an overview of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and the need it fills for parents and children. Give us an overview of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse, the franchise opportunity.

Rochette DahlerRochette Dahler: I opened the first Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool more than ten years ago, in 2002. My vision for Little Sunshine’s Playhouse was idealistic and pretty brash: I didn’t just want to provide adequate or even very good childcare… I wanted to completely reinvent childcare in America… to bring it to a level far beyond what others were even attempting.

I was (and continue to be) extremely passionate about early childhood development. I started Little Sunshine’s Playhouse by questioning all the limitations typical daycare providers seemed to accept as OK.

I asked: Why shouldn’t children feel like they are walking into a magical playhouse each morning?

Why shouldn’t children and parents be greeted with Red Carpet Service™ that facilitates fast, easy, and fun morning drop offs?

Why shouldn’t children be served healthy, nutritious meals, made with fresh ingredients from menus designed by meal planners and nutritionists?

Why shouldn’t parents be able to check in on their children on their laptop or smart phone, and watch their child at work or play via a secure video feed, any time during the day?

Why shouldn’t childcare facilities have state-of-the-art secured entry systems, with numeric pass-codes issued to staff, parents and guardians?

We started Little Sunshine’s Playhouse by challenging the accepted norms in the industry. If parents want the best care possible for their children, that’s exactly what we should provide.

Top New Franchises: Sounds ambitious. How did it work out?

Rochette Dahler: Well… [laughs] it wasn’t easy. We made mistakes. We learned many difficult lessons. We earned advanced degrees from The College of Hard Knocks. But through it all we stayed stubbornly faithful to our initial vision, and over the course of the next decade we tweaked, refined and streamlined our procedures and operations in a way that can only come from years of trial and error.

But our initial vision of providing an unmatched childcare experience has been validated and rewarded in each of the markets we’ve entered. The enthusiastic responses from parents and grandparents at each of our preschools in four (soon to be five) states validates our initial vision of challenging limitations and constantly innovating in order to meet and exceed even the highest expectations.

Little Sunshine's Playhouse ScottsdaleTop New Franchises: So the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise program is designed to give franchise owners the benefit of those years of trial and error?

Rochette Dahler: Precisely! The role of a franchisor, in our view, is to take a successful model, one that’s been refined and tested in multiple markets, and from it build a system of procedures and practices that enable qualified franchise owners to duplicate it with the same successful results in their home markets. The consistent quality and results of that systemwide execution is what creates our most cherished shared asset: our brand.

So while we value and welcome franchisee ideas and input, and while we welcome franchisees with childcare and business experience to share, the most important quality we are looking for in prospective franchise owners is an implementation focus. To be successful, franchise owners need to wholeheartedly share our vision and philosophy, and be committed to the faithful and enthusiastic implementation of our proven system. If they feel that they can pick and choose, or if they have a tendency to reinvent the wheel or tinker with proven procedures, the relationship will not work out for either of us.

Little Sunshine's Playhouse interiorTop New Franchises: What training and support do Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise owners receive prior to opening their centers?

Rochette Dahler: Our pre-opening training and support services are extensive. Franchise owners and their Program Directors receive thorough and intensive training both at our facility in Springfield, MO and on-site at their new centers. Our curriculum covers all aspects of developing and running a Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool including human resources, operation and management, marketing and public relations, educational procedures and regulations, and much more.

Additionally, we assist our franchise owners in site selection, and, in many cases we help secure the financing. We assist franchisees in their financing and have recently become SBA-approved to help facilitate government-guaranteed franchisee loans.

We also do competitor research, compile comprehensive purchase list for every item needed to open the school…and then we purchase those items for the franchisee and set them up inside the school, so that a franchisee can walk into their school on day one with a turn-key setup business.

In this early phase we also work closely with franchisees on press releases and other pre-marketing efforts. We send numerous, experienced professionals to help set up the school, train onsite, help plan and execute an aggressive Grand Opening promotional blitz and even host the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Every school and every franchise owner is part of our family, and we regard the success of every center as our highest priority. Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise owners enjoy an abundance of initial support, assistance and commitment from us as their franchisor.

As I mentioned earlier, we are adamant that franchise owners understand that their job is implementation of the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse system, and we are fully committed to go above and beyond to allow them to completely focus on implementation and meeting the needs of the children and their parents.

TLittle Sunshine's Playhouse Rogers ARop New Franchises: How does Little Sunshine’s Playhouse enable its franchise owners to focus on implementation in order to meet the needs of children and parents?

Rochette Dahler: Franchise owners build their businesses by being out front and visible, greeting parents, providing tours, interacting with the children and staff, and building strong and visible ties in the community. The last place we want them to be is in a back-office, crunching numbers, processing invoices or administering payroll.

So we unburden our franchise owners from many of the back-office and administrative tasks so they can focus on building the relationships that will build their business. We process their payroll, payroll taxes, bill pay, monthly quarterly reports, profit & loss analysis, and handle all revenue collections for our franchisees.

We provide a system where the employees of franchise owners can access electronic pay stubs, trainings, benefit tracking, and online teacher appreciation boards for special recognition of their staff. We track every phone call, tour and enrollment received at the schools and compile data in ways that show us and our franchises where individual schools can improve and achieve greater results.

We collect weekly classroom rosters from every school and provide feedback and strategy for best practice as a reflection of that roster, and offer relevant solutions to problems that we may find.

These time-consuming tasks are removed from a franchisee’s plate so that they can focus on school operations and marketing. Good leaders of schools should not sit in the office all day. We want franchisees spending their time training and building their team, building their brand in the local market, and then, of course, opening their next school.

Little Sunshine's Playhouse Springfield MOTop New Franchises: How else does Little Sunshine’s Playhouse support franchise owners on an ongoing basis?

Rochette Dahler: At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse, we understand that excellence is not a destination, but a continuous journey. We strive to guide, direct, coach, motivate and support our franchise owners to continually improve and optimize the performance of their centers and maximize the return they see from their personal and financial investments.

It is important to us that franchisees feel our support on a daily basis. Support and training are delivered in a variety of ways including: weekly video conference, monthly professional curriculum and suggestions for items to add to classrooms to support it, menu planning and grocery delivery order forms to simplify meals, unlimited phone and email support, intranet with a variety of resources for franchisees, bulletin board, chat room, Google analytics, operations manuals and forms, in person training both at corporate office and onsite at the school, quality assurance reviews, newsletters, annual group trips, group industry convention attendance, annual training convention for franchisees, telephone training for all new staff, new staff training videos, and it does not stop there….

We run our own Little Sunshine’s Playhouse centers, so we are involved with every aspect of running effective centers on a day-to-day basis. We face the same obstacles and overcome the same challenges as our franchise owners. So we strive to share the benefit of our knowledge and experience in every way we can. Our mission is not only to succeed, but to succeed together.

Little Sunshine's Playhouse Springfield MOTop New Franchises: What are the greatest rewards of owning a Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise?

Rochette Dahler: Prospective franchise owners must understand that owning a business, any business, is hard work and requires commitment, energy and perseverance. But, for the right person, the potential rewards are immense.

Our goal is to reinvent childcare by selecting and supporting quality franchise owners and empowering them to provide an unmatched level of service to parents and their children. To accomplish that goal, we know that we need to apply a disciplined business approach and a sound financial model that enables them not only to thrive in their local markets, but allows them to continue to expand into neighboring markets. We must all be businesspeople first, so that we can continue to expand and revolutionize childcare across America.

That being said, I believe the greatest rewards of owning a Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool are non-financial. Our children are our most precious asset, and they literally represent the future of our nation and the world. By positively affecting their early development, we positively impact our communities, our families and the world at large. How many people can honestly say that they not only were financially successful, but that they made a positive impact on countless lives as well?

Next to my family, this company has provided the biggest blessings in my life… and little of that has anything to do with money. It makes a difference when you operate a business that is cutting edge, that is reaching into the lives of so many families with long lasting positive impacts, and the community relationships and franchisee relationships that pull you through any hard times you may encounter in life. Little Sunshine’s Playhouse brought me to a place in life that I’m truly proud of.

I wake up energized each morning, eager to see how much farther we can advance our ambitious and important mission. Each morning, I know that I will overcome any obstacle in my path or challenge that awaits for two reasons. The first reason is that I have a great team of committed professionals behind me who will not let me fail. The second reason is that our mission and our work is just too important to let anything keep us from doing our best.

That feeling is perhaps the greatest reward that franchise owners receive by being part of the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise family: to be doing important work with a great team behind you.

Little Sunshine's Playhouse logoRead Part Two: The Little Sunshine’s Playhouse Franchise Opportunity [Coming Soon]

For more information, visit: Little Sunshine’s Playhouse franchise and contact information [Coming Soon]

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