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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 2 weeks ago

Classy moves: Tutoring, test prep company on the rise

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Education franchise Best in Class targets Tampa Bay for further growth in 2019.

Best in Class, a Seattle-based supplemental education company, could see substantial franchisee growth in the Tampa Bay area in 2019 as it looks to add new partners in areas like Spring Hill, Clearwater and Lakeland.

The company debuted in January 2017 in Florida when Nirjhar Shah opened a Best in Class franchise in Tampa. Shah added a second location, in Land O’Lakes, and then Rajitha Nidadavolu came aboard with a franchise in Brandon. Best in Class is now about to open its fourth Florida location, in Pembroke Pines, says Sharon Peterson, the company’s vice president of recruitment and development.

“We have several other prospects who are rather far along, especially in the outlying areas around Tampa,” Peterson tells Coffee Talk. “We project two to four grand openings in 2019 between the Tampa and Orlando markets.”

Florida has been fertile ground for Best in Class, founded in 1995, to help students from pre-kindergarten to high school. It has about 60 locations nationwide, 10 of which are company owned, and added 17 franchise locations in 2018. Growth has been organic, Peterson says, with about 60% of franchisees operating more than one location.

“The big factor behind our growth is the curriculum,” says Peterson. “Many of our competitors are stagnant when it comes to curriculum development.”

The Best in Class model has proven popular with educators who want to try their hands at business. To bolster recruitment from schools and universities, the firm offers a “teacher incentive program,” Peterson says, that knocks $3,000 off the franchise fee for licensed teachers and child-care professionals. Best in Class then helps them absorb the business skills they’ll need to get up and running. “We hold their hands every step of the way,” says Peterson, particularly in vital decisions like real estate site selection.

Financially, the franchises represent potentially solid investments — especially compared to average teachers’ salaries. Peterson says the franchise-owned locations average $178,302 in annual revenue. Franchise startup costs range from $63,000 to $125,000.

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