Kumon North America Inc.

Kumon Exterior Center image

Kumon North America plans to open 100 new locations this year

to help more students learn.

By Alan Dorich

Kumon North America Inc. is in the business of unlocking hidden potential. When parents bring their children to one of its locations, “We’re looking to improve the potential for every individual student,” Tom Kuczek says.

As a result, Kumon helps its students build the self-esteem they need to do anything they try and take on new challenges. “They put those towards any other subject in their lives and as they progress through their careers,” he says.

Kuczek is the U.S. franchise recruitment manager for Kumon, which operates 25,000 supplemental learning centers worldwide and 1,500 in the United States. The company’s history goes back to 1954, when Toru Kumon, a father and math teacher in Japan, wanted his son, Takeshi, to develop a love for learning.

The elder Kumon also wanted his son to be prepared for high school and college entrance exams so he gave him short assignments daily. Those enabled Takeshi Kumon to master a concept before learning a new skill. By the sixth grade, Kumon was capable of solving calculus problems.Kumon Fact Box

Other parents became interested in the learning method, which led to Toru Kumon to found the company, which began franchising in 1958. Since then, it has helped students in 49 countries and regions.

“Parents want their kids to excel in their educational environment,” Kuczek says, adding that the company provides instruction to 400,000 children enrolled in its math and reading programs in the United States, Canada and Mexico alone.

The Right Staff

Kumon’s locations can be recognized by its “thinking face” logo, representing the eyes and mouth of children as they think and learn. “It also represents the Kumon staff, thinking about the children,” Kuczek adds.

Finding the right people to operate Kumon locations is a careful process, and candidates require certain characteristics. “Obviously, we look for people who love kids,” Kuczek says. “We also look for people that really love education.”

In fact, a substantial percentage of Kumon’s franchisees include former teachers and those who had a desire to be an instructor. “Their lives took them in another direction, so they come to us because they want to fulfill that passion for education in their life,” Kuczek says.

Kumon also provides its franchisees with strong support once they make their investment. “We have an extensive startup program,” he says. “We give them the furniture, a marketing subsidy, a basic construction subsidy and signage for the retail site.”

The company also provides franchisees with three months of extensive training at their branch location.  “They also come to [company headquarters in] Teaneck, N.J., for two additional sessions of training for a total of 12 training days,” Kuczek adds.

Kumon also gives franchisees a curriculum to teach that has been completely developed in-house. “We have a full staff that puts it together to make sure that it is still relevant,” he says.

Kumon worksheets cover everything from counting to calculus, and phonemics to Shakespeare. Each worksheet is continually fine-tuned to keep them relevant and effective in today’s world.

Franchisees enjoy financial benefits, as well. For example, “We have the lowest franchisee fee in the industry,” Kuczek says, noting that the franchise fee is only $1,000.

“We also are one of the lowest as far as the overall investment of the franchisee,” he says, noting that investments range from $69,428 to $140,626.

Location, Location, Location

Kumon opened 72 franchises in the United States in 2016 and plans to add 100 more this year. “We’re looking to hit a forward-looking goal of 500,000 students for 2020,” Kuczek says.

Finding the right locations is an important focus for Kumon. For this process, the company employs an analytics department of three analysts who review demographic data, such as how many households have children and the number of adults with degrees that live in a specific area.

“We have a large number of franchises in a number of large cities in the United States,” Kuczek says, noting that Kumon plans to branch out. “We’re looking to go rural.”

Kumon does not put franchisee restrictions on territories. “If we placed territorial restrictions, we wouldn’t be able to penetrate the market,” Kuczek says. “We want to be able to place new centers as the population grows in places like New York City.”

This prevents locations from being overwhelmed. “One Kumon center would not be able to serve 60,000 kids,” he says. “But we are sensitive to the placement of our centers. We take into account where our current centers are and the distribution of students before we place in new ones.”

Ranking High

A longtime veteran of franchising, Kuczek joined Kumon in 2002 and is proud of the company, which continues to see interest from potential franchisees. “Over 10,000 people a year inquire to become Kumon franchisees,” he says.

“Being the largest franchisor in the tutoring industry helps quite a bit,” he says, noting that Entrepreneur magazine

Kumon 2

has ranked Kumon as the No. 1 tutoring franchisor for the 16th year in a row. “We also gained the position of No. 11 in the 500 franchises that are ranked.” 

Kumon has its eyes set on growth. In addition to expanding its footprint in the United States, “We will be looking to expand into other countries,” Kuczek says.

The company also plans to implement an initiative for recruiting U.S. military veterans as franchisees, giving them the chance to apply their leadership skills to education. “We’re offering them a $10,000 subsidy to come into our franchise,” he states.


Important Initiatives

Kumon North America Inc. focuses on green initiatives in its facilities. “[We view] the preservation of the global environment as an important challenge to be met as we carry out our business activities,” it says.

The company promotes reduced energy usage to lower greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global warming. “Simple activities to reduce energy usage are practiced by all associates, such as adjusting thermostats, turning off lights in empty rooms and conserving power on electronic equipment,” Kumon says.

The company also promotes reduced paper use. “Kumon associates practice the use of electronic documents, paperless meetings, double-sided printing and optimization of the layout of documents,” Kumon says.


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