Kumon is the worst franchise to own here in the U.S. I quit a high paying job in Chicago in 2010 to start a Kumon learning center. Initially, everyone was friendly and painted rosy picture about the franchise. I went through the motions and finally got my center up and running after investing close to $120,000 in build-out, lease, furniture, training etc.
No sooner started my Kumon learning center, I was asked to spend $4000 on advertising. I was told that I could advertise anywhere. So I did, only to get into the cross hairs of another Kumon learning center franchise owner. My signs were taken out, posters ripped etc. The Kumon office intervened and "I" was told not to advertise by the same people who told me to do so in the first place.
The problem is that Kumon does not have assigned territories. So anytime a center can open anywhere even next door to you. It makes your Kumon center vulnerable to competition.
The rent I pay is over $4000 per month with CAM extra. In the first 12 months I just had about 60 students, and by the end of 2 years I just had 110. I am deep in the red, and am worse off than I was with a high paying job that I quit. The royalties are about 35% of the tuition. Tuition is $100 per month. I would like to increase it but other Kumon franchisees seriously undercut me on the price that one can do nothing about.
Older franchisees bad mouth newer franchisees like me claiming more Kumon experience and by putting some fake awards on their walls.
Management at Kumon is in total disarray. My field support manager provides me with no support. She comes once in a while, looks around, smiles and leaves. The staff are poorly trained to support franchisees. You call up the Chicago branch office and you are sure that your call will never be answered or returned. At the instructor conference this year, I heard that the problem goes right to the top. Recently the President Akira Hamanaka and Executive Vice President Atsushi Nose were fired from Kumon North America. This happened after all franchisees were promised better days to come at the conference by the President and CFO.
If you are reading this and are planning to open a Kumon learning center, take my advice and DO NOT invest your hard earned money in Kumon.
- Kumon is an outdated program and has not changed in over 50 years. It does not match the school curriculum and is below school standards in the U.S.
- Overall Kumon has a bad reputation among students and parents. Parents and students who quit the program usually never come back.
- If you complain about your student numbers with the Kumon staff, they blame the franchisee saying that "it is your fault that your students are quitting you."
- Older Kumon franchisees get a free pass. They can do whatever they want, even run a center from non-retail space.
- Older Kumon franchisees bad mouth new franchisees like me.
- There are no clearly assigned territories.
- There is poor advertising support.
- Management at Kumon is bad.
- There is no quality control in other Kumon centers.
- Royalties are very steep and margins slim to none.
- Kumon staff are inept, poorly skilled, arrogant and condescending.
- Worksheets similar to Kumon and of better quality are freely available on the internet.
- Many parents have switched to online learning on advice from their school teachers.
- Kumon has a bad reputation among Schools and School Teachers in the U.S.
- There is no resale value for one's Kumon center. I have been trying to sell my center but I cannot even recoup 10% of my investment.
- There are many, many better programs like EyeLevel, Aloha Math etc. which offer lower royalties and assigned territories.
- Franchisees that I met all hate the management and staff at Kumon.
- If you fall sick or are unable to run your center, the Kumon management will shut you down.
My advice is DON'T OPEN a Kumon learning center even if you are sold about it. You will regret it just as badly as me.
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