Direct English Bulgaria signed their agreement in late 2015 and opened their first successful education franchise and dedicated training centre in Sofia last January.
Let’s discover the exciting experiences and challenges they faced in starting a new education franchise after signing a franchising agreement:
1. Tell us more about the history of Alexander Training Centre?
Alexander Training Centre already has more than fifteen years’ experience in the Bulgarian market, delivering language training to adults across the whole of Bulgaria. It was established to provide language and other educational services to children, pupils, students and adults. Beside English language tuition, other languages such as German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, French as well as IT tuitions (digital competence, computer literacy) are also taught according to demand.
2. How did you find the process and advantages of becoming a Direct English Centre?
We signed the contract in September 2015. I could compare the signing of a franchise agreement to getting married. Both sides not only like each other and wish to look together into the future but there are considerable responsibilities for both franchisor and franchisee. It’s a process in which the franchisee’s enthusiasm and desire to work is combined with the many years proven experience of the franchisor and their know-how. It is due to the franchisor’s professional virtue that the franchisee can overcome a number of difficulties during the process of developing the business and strengthening its position. Therefore each independent entrepreneur may enter into franchise relationships with little previous experience and even without any such experience. Thus they will save a lot of time, effort and money while guessing the right way. In other words, one does not need to reinvent the wheel.
3. What level of competition have you experienced? Does the franchise offer real competitive advantages? What are they?
In the conditions of growing competition we enjoy the privilege of using a product like Direct English which by its uniqueness would distinguish and set us apart in the language learning market. So in the ‘battle’ with our competitors we have 2 main and overwhelming weapons: firstly – our development through franchising and secondly the Direct English system which has no analogue and is easy to be used by a wide range of users.
4. How do you think the education sector has changed during the last 2 years?
During the last few years there has been a desire from customers to take advantage of tuition sponsored by the European Union, for example the Operational programmes Administrative Capacity and Human Resources. Of course both individual and corporate clients could be supported by that European solidarity but to a certain extent these funds compromise the principles of the market economy because on one hand direct sales in the market are reduced and on the other hand the managers of big projects as well as the corporate clients tend to use only a limited number of companies which provide language tuition.
5. What is the key lesson you’ve learnt during your experience with students and companies?
Clients need our attention, proper attitude, our interest in their progress – all these are steps that cannot be reversed when it comes to sales in the sphere of services as is the case with education. Regarding the companies we are in partnerships with or the staff of other companies whom we provide tuition to, our creed is always found in the clearly expressed principles of partnership, mutual understanding and reasonable compromise.
6. How did you find Direct English World?
I find it great. The students are very glad to use the whole package of materials and the teachers are enthusiastic to meet the challenge of this really unique system.
7. What is the #1 piece of advice you would give a first-time franchisee in the education sector? Does the franchise offer real competitive advantages? What are they?
Of course the franchise gives great advantages: the biggest one is the experience of the Franchisor. When someone buys a franchise, he purchases the years of experience and the proven methods of the franchisor. Another advantage is the Training – the training provided by the good franchisor should prepare the new owner in various aspects of the business. Other advantages may also be pointed out like advertising, ongoing advice, research and development. For example, the individual entrepreneurs cannot do extensive advertising. By becoming a franchisee the small-business person can afford this extensive advertising and will have access to products ready made by the franchisor.
8. What’s next for Direct English Bulgaria in terms of future growth?
Once we see the pilot school (Centre) settled down and in operation with good capacity we are going to the next step to recruit unit franchisees and/or establish new company owned Direct English Centres around the major cities of the country.
We at Direct English wish Jordan Andonov and his Team all the best with their future endeavours.