The economy can plummet and gas prices can skyrocket, but
one thing remains constant: Kid-focused businesses are continuing
to grow. Even as purse strings tighten, spending on kids--from
their tutoring to their art classes--remains generous. "Parents
will scrimp on items for themselves to get the best for their
children," says Jennifer Ferguson, consumer insights
and research director at Creative Consumer Concepts, an integrated,
kid-focused brand marketing agency. Ferguson also notes that
the market is being fueled by doting grandparents who have
become increasingly involved in their grandchildren's lives.
Child enrichment and child fitness businesses in particular
are enjoying healthy bottom lines. Having tapped into both
segments, Albert Diaz, 49, and his wife, Maria Fernanda Diaz,
40, are perfectly positioned to ride the wave. In 2003, they
opened a FasTracKids franchise, which offers a specialized
curriculum in 12 subjects. They were so encouraged by the
success they experienced with educational enrichment that
they shifted their focus to physical enrichment. Two years
ago, they introduced their Rye Brook, New York, community
to JW Tumbles, a children's gym specializing in physical development.
Because of the well-tested programs already put in place by
the franchisor, the couple has been able to open two additional
JW Tumbles locations and expects sales for the three locations
to reach $1.5 million this year.
But as tempting as it might be to buy a franchise and wait
for parents to show you the money, don't think of the industry
as child's play. The Diazes are successful because they're
completely hands-on in their business. Not only do they make
sure their clients enjoy the experience from start to finish,
but they also make it a top priority to learn names and keep
the facilities spotless--and they train their employees to
uphold the same business practices. Says Albert, "People
will try something once, but what's going to keep them coming
back is the whole experience."
And if you want your business to stand the test of time,
make sure you're sufficiently capitalized to get through the
growing pains. With the average JW Tumbles location measuring
in at about 2,500 square feet, Albert estimates that startup
costs for the franchise range anywhere from $150,000 to $225,000,
and he recommends having an additional $50,000 in working
capital to handle the first year.What are the trends in kids'
businesses? Kids increasingly want to have a positive impact
on the world and the environment, so businesses that can empower
kids might enjoy broad appeal, says Ferguson.
And don't forget about moms. "This is the first time
we have had four generations of women becoming mothers at
the same time," says Ferguson. "Tap into a mom's
desire to be a good mom with a product that works for kids
and the whole family."