How MindChamps Dominated the Early Childhood Education Industry
The Importance of Stakeholder Ownership
Founded two decades ago in Sydney, Australia, MindChamps presently dominates the premium preschool space in Singapore. With over 30 centres located islandwide, they command a 38.5% market share in the premium range preschools in Singapore. Building on their leading position, they have expanded their overseas presence in the UAE, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, and will soon enter China.
Operating on a predominantly franchisee growth model, the rapid rate of expansion and dissemination of the brand into a growing number of stakeholders could easily have led to a loss of quality control, communication and brand identity. Yet, MindChamps remained a byword for top-notch standards in the eyes of consumers.
There are many variables contributing to the quality and perception of the brand. From franchisees who operate, maintain and lead each centre, to teachers as well as students and parents who number in the thousands—they all stand as individual testimonies who play a part in building a cohesive brand identity.
So how does MindChamps’ operating model ensure that each of these individual ‘brand ambassadors’ not only speak the same ‘brand language’ but are also “true” to the values and DNA as a quality education provider?
We have examined and broken down their approach to delivering strong brand consistency and results by attributing it to five factors:
As the customer, you want to know that you are getting the best in the market. Naturally, parents at MindChamps PreSchool would be especially concerned about seeing their investment reflected in the wellbeing and growth of their child. It was MindChamps’ consistent commitment to delivering holistic quality which convinced Elsie Liow, a mother of four preschool children to enrol all her children there.
As a first-time mother looking to return to work when her first child, Benjamin turned 18 months old, business owner Elsie’s primary concern was more for the safety and well-being of her young one. Then, it was MindChamps PreSchool @ Liang Court which impressed her the most with high standards of cleanliness and safety. By the time she had her second child just a year later, she had noticed unanticipated benefits in Benjamin’s growth under the range of programmes and activities at MindChamps.
She shares, “I feel very lucky, because my only criterion for a preschool at the beginning was to have a safe and clean environment for my children. But I’ve witnessed how passionate the owners of our MindChamps centre were towards the children and how they run the programme. I’m constantly updated with progress and activity reports, and there are many excursions, presentations and activities which promote learning through play. I’ve found that my children have grown to be more expressive and articulate.”
This commitment to quality among their franchisees stems from a strong network of support from the main offices. It’s not just frequent check-ins from the headquarters that ensure a tightly run ship in all their preschools, but also a clear sense of commitment from the head offices to its franchise owners, according to Joyce Sun, Centre Director of MindChamps’ first Chinese preschool in Tampines Central.
“Besides being founded on strong research, there are regular curriculum updates and trainings for teachers across the board. The franchise team is also always available for advice on running the centre, which helps us to keep improving and to stay ahead of the curve in providing quality education,” Joyce explains.
2. Personal Growth
Throughout their careers, teachers at MindChamps PreSchools receive up to 200 hours of extensive training and accreditation, regardless of their personal experience or qualifications. This investment in their teachers not only ensures consistent quality and practices across the schools, but also fosters greater dedication and commitment from them.
Audrey Fong, who has taught at MindChamps PreSchool since 2013, feels that she could work in this profession for “a very, very long time.” She shares, “I’m always learning and growing as a teacher. In my original role as a preschool reading teacher, I got to go to different classes and explore the different levels. Instead of a top-down teaching method, you grow and learn together with the students, which has really changed my perspective on education. In fact the longer you teach, the more you discover that there is still a lot that you can learn!”
Nur Afiqah, a teacher of five years, also enjoys the career development she experienced with MindChamps PreSchool. She shares, “It can get quite hectic as a teacher, and they are constantly giving me new and different responsibilities to take on, including organising the annual concerts —these can be a real challenge. But they have also been great opportunities to learn and grow my capabilities. I really appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given at MindChamps PreSchool and taking pride in my work and wanting to do well are what drive me to persist, even on the most trying days.”
MindChamps partners with like-minded and business-savvy individuals. While its model bases its strengths on strong research and a proven operating model which they administer through a robust support system of trainings and communication with their franchisees, there is room to expand their range and explore possibilities within the business.
Franchisee Joyce Sun is a model example. As the Centre Director for MindChamps’ first Chinese preschool at Tampines Central, it was her personal quest to improve her own children’s love of the language that led to her partnership with MindChamps.
Wanting to go beyond just weekly Chinese enrichment classes and activities to improve her children’s enjoyment of the language, Joyce sought to create a ‘living’ environment where the language would be used in everyday activities for students, thus creating a foundation for learning and communicating in Chinese.
Partnering with MindChamps was important to Joyce because of its “strong and good brand name, the research behind their work, and the support provided to franchisees”. Placing her own son in the inaugural batch, she soon saw a near immediate improvement in his receptiveness to and learning of the language. Joyce recognises MindChamps as an equal partner in providing cutting-edge education, and feels their partnership is defined by the similar beliefs in innovation.
As a matter of fact, a significant number of MindChamps’ franchisees are parents who witnessed the growth and positive changes in their children with the programme. Their personal experiences and faith in the brand and its curriculum convinced them to take up the opportunity and operate a MindChamps centre.
MindChamps’ 3 Minds model of education encourages enquiry-based, flexible learning. Nurturing and developing children beyond academics have always been a priority, and 8-year-old Sophia Nesterenko, one of their recent graduates, can attest to that.
In a candid conversation with the confident and well-spoken student who is a class monitor in school, Sophia still returns on occasion to visit her former school and teachers. She credits MindChamps for fostering good leadership skills, self-discipline and the confidence to interact with peers her age: “My teachers at MindChamps gave all of us opportunities to lead in activities, and I don’t think I would be good at making friends without what they had taught me.”
This culture of independence can be felt by the teachers too. In spite of the strong curriculum that is developed through frequent trainings with the headquarters, teachers are encouraged to develop their own methods of delivering the programmes. Nur Afiqah says, “While there is strong support, we are also given room to operate independently with a sense of personal responsibility in our various duties from operations and scheduling to teaching. And that has given me more ownership in my role to value-add.”
As the parent of four children currently enrolled in MindChamps PreSchool, Elsie briefly considered transferring her children to another preschool closer to home, following a change of address. Despite the convenience, she chose to stay with her MindChamps branch in Liang Court—after realising that the options provided by competing brands simply did not match up to her children’s experience at MindChamps.
“I’ve personally witnessed my children grow up in MindChamps, and they’ve really given me the peace of mind to work without having to worry about their development. They really work on nurturing a two-way communication between the students and teachers, and the focus has always been on learning through fun and engaging activities. I feel these have given my children the initiative and confidence to learn. I also like that there isn’t too much focus on academics—in fact, my children do not have any homework until they are in K2, where our goal is to prepare for a smooth, stress-free transition into primary school.”
Similarly, Nur Afiqah who’s been a teacher with the school since joining as a fresh graduate in 2012, finds that nothing quite compares with the MindChamps training and experience. “Over here, we have a very strong support network and learning opportunities that aren’t available in other education systems. They fully equip us with the best teaching practices, so that we can become the best educators.”
The emphasis that MindChamps places on these five factors: Quality, Personal Growth, Respect, Independence and Experience at every touchpoint—from franchisees, teachers, parents and students—sets the groundwork for strong brand identity and ownership at every level of the business. This, in turn, drives cohesive and consistent growth across the board, and an evenly balanced eco-system where each stakeholder group mutually fosters each other’s development and purpose.
This article is part of Influential Brands® series. InfluentialBrands® recognises Brand Excellence & Leadership in Asia. Through our unique channels and methods, InfluentialBrands® aims to be a platform and champion of brand thought-leadership. The programme is tailored to enrich brands’ relationship with their consumers through meaningful conversations and engagement.
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