Nutty Scientists Educates Children In STEM Through A Comprehensive Franchisee Training Program
Alison Huff | Posted Monday, February 06, 2017 |
Nutty Scientists® is dedicated to enhancing children's education in the increasingly-important fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). With more than 200 interactive programs and activities, Nutty Scientists presents science in a way that turns an educational lesson into something that's fun and exciting, keeping children entertained while encouraging their interest in subjects that include biology, chemistry, astronomy, and environmental sciences.
Shery Christopher, Senior Vice President and one of the owners of the US expansion of Nutty Scientists. “The idea is to start them from pre-K up," Christopher told us, "so that by the time they get to 4th and 5th grade they have an interest and an understanding of what science is, and they’re better able to move through those levels of learning that children often have trouble with.”
The concept was initially developed two decades ago by Santiago Martin in Madrid, Spain. Martin was tasked with creating a business model for a children's enrichment program and worked directly with teachers and scientists to achieve this goal. He launched Ciencia Divertida, which translates to "Fun Science," and began franchising about a year later throughout Spain and other European countries.
Nutty Scientists is the US company owned by Martin's wife, Natalia, and Shery Christopher. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, Nutty Scientists offers franchises to the United States and Canada, while the international division in Madrid sells franchises in other countries.
Nutty Scientists currently has seven franchises in the US and plans to advertise more aggressively in 2017. “There were a lot of things I wanted to get into place," Christopher went on to explain, "as well as understanding how the franchisees were working, and what was working for them and what they needed before I felt comfortable in bringing on more franchises.”
With 33 years spent working in the franchise industry, Christopher used her extensive experience as a franchise consultant to build an effective franchise training model for Nutty Scientists when she took over in 2015. This required some revisions of the original system to ensure a smooth entrance into the USA market. This included accurate translations to American English, additional reviews performed by science teachers and ensuring that all programs were held to US national science standards, as well as current European standards were maintained. She also implemented new training and monthly calls and set up an expansive online program for franchisees.
Comprehensive Training For Franchises In The United States
During the on-boarding process, new franchisees are given assistance with paperwork, obtaining a business license, finding insurance locally, and every other facet of starting a franchise location. “For us, it’s important that they have step-by-step of everything,” said Christopher. To that end, Nutty Scientists provides an online intranet system with easy access to videos, scripts, branding, and marketing information as a comprehensive learning resource for all franchisees.
Franchisees receive five days of training at the Nutty Scientists headquarters in Arizona, where they are given thorough training of the methodology and management of the business, hiring instructors, marketing their business, using social media, purchasing and storing supplies, and seeing live activities to watch how the instructors work.
By the time they leave headquarters, franchisees are well equipped to handle the next steps. They'll reach out to public and private schools, the local YMCA, girl scouts, boy scouts, and anywhere they might present science activities to kids. Franchisees are also given a complete template for finding instructors to run the activities so they know exactly what to look for in a candidate during the initial interviewing process. “For me, it was important to have a training program that when the franchisee left, they felt like they had really learned enough to go back and get started,” said Christopher.
When the franchisee has found at least four to six potential instructors who are a good fit for the role, Nutty Scientists sends a Lead Instructor to train them at their location for five days. Instructors are trained in method acting and spontaneous acting because they'll be performing from scripts that are provided by the franchise. Instructors should be able to think on their feet because kids are, by nature, unpredictable creatures. As Christopher told us, "An instructor really needs to be able to manage the kids but still have fun with them."
New instructors will do two events with the Lead Instructor from Nutty Scientists to experience the process firsthand. Initially, the Lead Instructor performs a smaller event so the new instructors can see how it's done, while the roles are reversed in a second, larger event that allows the new instructors to take the reins.
Franchisees most often work from home. "“That’s what’s nice about this business" said Christopher, adding, "You don’t have a huge overhead." Activities typically take place on location at a school or other public building, and parties are generally held in a person's private home.
In terms of upholding the brand and philosophies of Nutty Scientists after a franchise is up and running, Christopher said, “The owners are very, very clear about how they run the operations." She recommends certain penalties for lateness, for instance, because a school or private party expects an instructor to arrive at an exact time, and not five or ten minutes late. As with any other business, an owner should maintain a standard of operations to ensure the growth and success of their franchise.
Continued Training In A Supportive Environment
Nutty Scientists' online system allows the franchisor to track the progress of franchisees and their instructors to see what they have done, the videos they have watched, and how much time they have spent on those activities. Christopher has also attended activities to provide franchisees with constructive feedback to improve their programs.
A private Facebook group allows franchisees to communicate with one another, which provides another level of personal interaction. Nutty Scientists also supplies franchisees with a tracking system and spreadsheet for every activity, including the materials needed and where they can be purchased for the best price. Whenever an activity is updated in the online lab, franchisees receive an email update.
New franchisees receive a kit with various materials, including lab coats and other items for their activities. “We don’t expect them to know science, but we give them a few books that we know are really helpful," added Christopher, who told us that the majority of their franchisees do not have backgrounds in science.
What they do have, however, is a passion for the brand, something that Christopher feels is vital for any franchisee. “People need to invest in a franchise that they can be passionate about," she explained. That, combined with an expertly designed training system, provides a rock-solid foundation for franchisee success.
About Nutty Scientists
Nutty Scientists® provides entertaining and interactive scientific activities for children in more than 40 countries around the world. Their programs encourage children to take an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects in a fun and exciting way. For more information about their mission, programs and franchising opportunities. Visit Nutty Scientist for more information.
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