Lightbridge Academy Tackles Staffing Challenges as It Expands to New Markets | Franchise Information

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As Lightbridge Academy seeks to develop, they plan to maintain tackling frequent points within the trade, together with staffing, by way of numerous strategies.

Youngsters’s training and daycare franchises, like nearly each enterprise sector, are being impacted by ongoing staffing shortages. As firms akin to Lightbridge Academy search to develop their footprints, how they overcome these challenges is on the forefront of choices for each the franchisor and franchisees. 

Lightbridge CEO Gigi Schweikert, who was promoted from president in 2021 after Westerly Group and Elmsley Capital purchased a majority stake within the firm, has been in early childhood training for greater than 30 years, together with serving because the director of the United Nations Early Childhood Care and Studying Centre. Lightbridge, she mentioned, is “an ideal match for me from a enterprise viewpoint and from an early childhood training viewpoint. Franchising offers everyone the possibility to open a enterprise, which is essential to me.” 

As 68-unit Lightbridge seems to be to enter new markets, Schweikert is utilizing her experiences to seek out the suitable locations and folks. Understanding the wants of the neighborhood, exercising persistence and constructing relationships are her objectives for enlargement. 

“I actually consider that in enterprise, you actually are a instructor of different individuals,” she mentioned. As Lightbridge works to seek out the suitable individuals, it’s discovered success by calling consideration to its advantages and paying what Schweikert referred to as “affordable wages” because it goals to create areas the place employees are appreciated. 

For franchisees Nish Patel and Charles Johnson, efficiently staffing their places is paramount to their total success.  

Patel, who along with his enterprise companions owns 11 Lightbridge Academies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, has been a franchisee since 2016. Wages begin at $18 an hour for lecturers at his group’s places, although there’s loads of room to develop.

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Providing aggressive wages and different incentives, franchisees for Lightbridge Academy in markets new and previous are confronting the staffing scarcity head on.

“We wish to empower and promote from inside so we make investments a variety of money and time into our lecturers to additional their training,” mentioned Patel.

Staff are capable of tackle new roles and challenges, which helps with decrease turnover, and Patel famous total that “Lightbridge Academy has been capable of retain their employees effectively.”

Johnson opened his first location in 2021in Gallatin, Tennessee. As the primary Lightbridge Academy within the state, he had a distinct problem to take care of: breaking out into the brand new market. 

“The model wasn’t well-known, however since we’ve opened, we’ve been growing the enrollment,” he mentioned. 

Now with two places open, he attributes the early success to the corporate’s help heart, which offered mandatory advertising help and assets to lift model consciousness. Staffing, nonetheless, “might be our greatest problem proper now,” he mentioned.

As an trade that’s ratio pushed, that means there can solely be a sure variety of youngsters per instructor, these workers are important, however Johnson famous it’s necessary to additionally steadiness labor prices. As wages rise, tuition prices typically go as much as offset the rise, which may have an effect on enrollment numbers. 

Johnson, who signed a five-unit franchise settlement, mentioned wages for the lecturers at his places are between $14 and $18 an hour. Different methods he’s retained workers embody “gentle compensation,” akin to providing free breakfast on Monday and lunch on Friday. An incentive program was launched, with rewards akin to present playing cards for constructive Google critiques or excellent attendance.


As for places, Lightbridge’s help heart seems to be to going to the place the demand is, whether or not that is a standalone location or an addition to an present area.

In the case of discovering places to place down roots, Lightbridge goes the place the mother and father are, and the corporate is versatile with its actual property necessities. Not all places are standalone buildings; some are on the primary flooring of condo buildings, whereas others make their dwelling in workplace area or strip malls. This flexibility has been helpful as buildout prices elevated 41 % for brand spanking new places.

“We’ve already been working and utilizing versatile constructing fashions and discovering our websites to serve households and their youngsters,” mentioned Schweikert. “That provides us an enormous leg up in overcoming that problem.”

Primarily based in New Jersey and with places concentrated within the Northeast, Lightbridge desires to push west, together with into Texas and Ohio. The price to open a Lightbridge Academy ranges from $621,233 to $824,150 for a leased heart and $2.6- to $5 million for a bought heart.