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The Goddard School

COLORADO

Scott and Abby Hussey, owners of The Goddard School
Source: The Goddard School
Scott and Abby Hussey, owners of The Goddard School
Description: Childcare and early childhood education
Owners: Scott and Abby Hussey
Years in business: 8
No. of franchise units owned: 1
Startup costs: $706,700 to $750,700; $150,000 cash requirement
Franchisor fees: Included in start-up costs
2015 revenue; 2016 projection: $2.3 million, $2.4 million
2016 projected annual growth rate: 4.3%

Serendipity and an in-flight magazine led Abby Hussey to a $2 million-plus business.

Working as a loan officer for several Colorado banks wasn't a career that offered the work/life balance Hussey wanted once she began having kids. She began researching franchise ideas, but nothing clicked, which was not a big surprise when franchise ideas she was pitched included a Bouncy Castle franchise concept. Then she stumbled across Goddard School on a trip to Philadelphia, visiting a friend whose children went to the early education center. On the flight back home to Colorado, she was thinking about it when she opened the Hemispheres in-flight magazine … to an ad for Goddard School. "I said 'What the heck?'" Hussey recalled.

"We wanted to make an impact on the lives of the children in our community," Abby said. The couple's professional skills in management, accounting and sales and marketing helped. "It was exciting to think we could relay our skill sets into owning our own business within our community," she adds. "Our boys had gone through an early care and education program, and we knew how important that foundation was."

It also helped that her husband Scott, an IT executive with Austin-based tech start-ups, had a stable income (he would eventually become co-owner of the Goddard School franchise.)

Additional resources for franchisees

The couple needed all the financial support they could get from Day One: Hussey opened the Centennial, Colorado Goddard School in September 2008, just as the world economy was going over a cliff. The couple originally anticipated that the business would break even by the six-month point, if not become profitable. But as the world descended into the biggest recession since the Great Depression, it took Abby and Scott 12 to 18 months before they made a profit. This year, the couple's Goddard School is on track for at least $2.3 million in revenue (when a school is operating at or near 100 percent classroom capacity, revenue will be similar to the previous year).

Abby said one of the biggest challenges is attracting great teachers and retaining them. "That's the name of the game, that makes for happy kids and parents and that helps enrollment," she said. "This is not a transaction-based business, not food service or cable. Owning a private preschool is simply a people business."

The parent brand has been there for the couple every step of the way. In the early years of building their Centennial, Colorado-based school, the challenges included attracting and retaining the ideal staff and "not knowing what we didn't know," Abby said. "It was important for us to surround ourselves with industry experts and know that the Goddard School leadership would always be there for us." She added, "I can still call Joe Schumacher [Goddard CEO] on his cell phone today and he knows exactly who I am and where my school is. It still has nice small company feel to it."

"Our initial and ongoing success are a result of being present and engaged in the daily operations of our school, being open and available to our clients at all times, being timely with our responses to prospective clients and genuinely caring about our staff, children and families we serve."

"We wanted to make an impact on the lives of the children in our community." -Abby Hussey

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