How have investors adapted to the pandemic? What opportunities have arisen? What are the benefits of franchising during such a period? How will center-based English language training be impacted by the new normal?
Panelists Natanael Wright (President & Owner, Wall Street English France & Spain), Kish Gill (President & Owner, Wall Street English Indonesia), and Enrico Cesenni (Co-owner and CEO, Wall Street English Myanmar & Vietnam) discussed the future of education and other questions in a recent webinar hosted by Lex Baker (Director of New Business Development) on April 14, 2021.
Watch the on-demand video of the panel discussion on “How Investors See the Education Market in 2021 and Beyond,” or read a synopsis below.
How Investors Have Adjusted to Online Learning through Covid Times
Like many industries, the language education industry was heavily impacted by the pandemic. Center-based learning models often struggled to adjust to the new normal of online learning and the future of education. Wall Street English was able to leverage its blended learning model and quickly switch to online delivery, a transition that also presented new opportunities for growth.
“The pandemic catalyzed much-needed innovation, both as a franchisee and at the franchise level as a whole,” explains Kish Gill. “So we’re actually well positioned now to capitalize on the market opportunity and double down on digital.”
Ultimately, this mixed model of language education has led to “an improvement in the engagement of our learners,” as Natanael Wright explains:
“We’re going to end up stronger after the crisis, with a better offer for our students.”
New Opportunities Created by the Pandemic and the Future of Learning
For the event’s panelists, expanding online learning capabilities helped them to improve their overall market positioning. (Learn more about the specifics of the shift to online here)
Through its hybrid approach, Wall Street English Indonesia was able to gain deeper access to a new market. “About 20 to 25% of our sales now come from people who live outside the cities in which we have centers,” Gill explains.
“Business profitability has been incredibly resilient in 2020,” Wright continues. That success, combined with the ability to deliver online language training, encouraged him to expand his business and take ownership of the master franchise for Wall Street English Spain in late 2020.
Enrico Cesenni recently also enhanced his company’s interests in the franchise through the acquisition of Wall Street English Vietnam in the midst of the pandemic. Scalability is a key part of Cesenni’s business philosophy. “I think as we progress it’s important to give the team that you’ve built new challenges and opportunities to grow,” he explains.
The Benefits of Franchising in Challenging Times
“One of the benefits of franchising is the ability to learn quickly,” Gill says. “When you’re trying to innovate, the quicker you can get up that learning curve, the better. Learning what our network partners had tried helped us figure out what would work in our market.”
Gill also emphasizes the importance of development cost sharing between centers and partners. “The brand is accountable for ensuring the product is well maintained and continues to be innovated on a global basis,” Gill explains. He then adds that the sharing of best practices and general support from the franchisor are also significant benefits, especially valuable in unstable and challenging times.
For Cesenni, part of choosing to invest in a Wall Street English franchise came down to the well-differentiated product. He then explains:
“There aren’t many products that focus on adults and the flexible structure they need to study at their own pace and level.”
The Changing Role of Learning Centers in the Future of English Training
Students still need and want learning centers, as a survey conducted in France demonstrates. “We asked our fifteen thousand students, what is it that you’d like going forward?” Wright explains. “Ultimately, 75% of the students told us that they need a center.”
Gill agrees, adding that learning a language is often best in-person for one important reason. “Language learning is ultimately about self-confidence, which means speaking to human beings,” he says.
Centers might have to adapt, however. “I believe our centers are probably going to become smaller,” Wright says. “More like showrooms, where people can come and test and purchase classes, and where students who want to take lessons in person can.” Gill agrees:
“In my view, the centers will look more like a café, where people are happy to come and hang out and meet our teachers or make friends, all while speaking English.”
How Online Language Training Providers Can Succeed in Future
How can language training companies set themselves apart? The webinar panelists agreed on the importance of service quality and products that achieve results.
“Wall Street English is much more results-oriented than other programs,” Wright explains. “If you don’t progress, is the company willing to give you your money back? At Wall Street English we do, because we believe in the method.”
“One of the key values of Wall Street English is its ability to connect a person to their journey,” Cesenni adds. “Some people want better careers, some people want to study abroad, so it’s really about how we can help them accelerate their journey and get to that point.”
Why Now Is the Right Time to Invest in the Education Industry
“I believe it’s THE time to invest in the education industry,” Wright says, and the other panelists agree.
“Embarking on the Wall Street English journey is a great long-term opportunity,” Cesenni says. “With competitors in a state of flux, this is a good time for somebody who has some financial resources and a lot of grit to build something.”
“I think now is the best time to be getting in on the education space,” Gill adds, partly because the edtech space is set to grow exponentially. “The pandemic has increased awareness of the importance of English to stay competitive in a digital world. And it’s a great time to be picking up assets that have a path to a digital turnaround.”
View the full recording of the panel discussion by submitting your details in the form below. If you’re interested in learning more about franchising opportunities at Wall Street English, get in touch with us here.