In 2008, Jason Pullukat, left the reliability of a corporate position at Kraft foods to open a The Goddard School franchise in Chicago (Lincoln Park), IL, which serves children aged six weeks to six-years-old. Pullukat explains to Franchise Business Review what transitioning from high-powered corporate powwows to owning a school franchise was like and how franchising has impacted him.
Why did you make the move from working for someone else to franchising? I came across The Goddard School in an in-flight magazine and it really sparked my interest. I looked into the franchise and found it had a very successful background and history. It seemed like a great opportunity to become a business owner with turnkey guidance and support, particularly since I was already familiar with the business since my mother has owned and run Montessori schools throughout my life. In addition, I knew there was a need for quality early-childhood education in Chicago. Parents were leaving the city for the suburbs to obtain it for their children.
What does the Goddard School offer? We specialize in play-based learning and all of our lead teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree. We also have private playgrounds, library resources, and organic and local lunch options. In addition to the core curriculum — math, science, writing — we offer enrichment programs like sign language, yoga, music, manners, world cultures, art history and foreign languages like Spanish and Mandarin.
What advice would you share with people considering purchasing a franchise before they sign the dotted line and once they own it? Do intensive research. Find out what other franchisees are saying about their experiences. Also, going from having a regular paycheck to knowing that every dollar you earn is based on how you perform is an adjustment. In addition, choose your location carefully. We chose ours because there were many young professionals in the neighborhood who we thought would stay instead of leaving for the suburbs because of The Goddard School being available to them.
What experience did you have prior to becoming a franchisee that you have found particularly helpful? I have a background in business and supply chain management. It’s been helpful when it comes to running the business, which is my role. Our educational director handles the curriculum.
What is your work/life balance as a franchisee? Today I really can set my own schedule, so I find it easy to maintain a healthy balance between my work life and family life. When I opened the franchise, things were a lot busier as we were ramping up to open the school for enrollment, hiring new staff, setting up, etc.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a franchisee? Ensuring staff and families stay happy each day by consistently checking in.
What kind of support have you most appreciated from your franchisor? Everything was laid out very clearly with steps and resources. I was provided with guidance regarding every aspect of the school, from opening to enrollment, to marketing and public relations, to communicating with family and staff and much more. Additionally, I have a dedicated support system with The Goddard School that is always available to me if I have any questions.
What kind of support did you get from fellow franchisees when you first opened your franchise? When I first opening my franchise, I had a “mentor,” a local school franchisee, who was available to discuss any issues and questions I had about best practices or when I wanted to seek advice in general.
What is it that you like best about owning your franchise? I have the opportunity to control my own success and have time to spend with my family. In addition, I spend part of my day playing with kids. While working for Kraft, I was either in my office or flying to meetings. I certainly did not have the pleasure of hearing the laughter of children running around the playground while working.
To see how The Goddard School’s franchisees, including Jason, rate it in a variety of crucial areas including leadership, culture, training and support, financial outlook, and franchisee community, click here.