Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is the franchisor of The Goddard School. The Goddard School preschool franchise delivers a high-quality, play-based learning program to families all over the United States. The Goddard School’s AdvancED and Middle States-accredited F.L.EX.® Learning Program reaches more than 70,000 students in more than 525 Goddard Schools in 38 states. While each Goddard School is individually owned and operated, they all share the same passion and vision for early childhood education that has been set forth by GSI.
Goddard desperately needed a framework for managing lead recruitment and customer data. Their existing systems lacked many features needed to support their business goals. JBS built and launched the Franchise Management System (FMS), written on Microsoft .NET and hosted in the cloud in Azure. FMS provides a centralized platform for better management and visibility of data across hundreds of schools. This new cloud-based system provides a secure, streamlined, centralized administrative management of the operation of the schools across all their franchisees. Our success with GSI has been based on providing a highly skilled, dedicated team who understand the goal of the cloud initiative and its impact on the franchisor, franchisees, parents and students.
Each franchisee school used distinct local copies of a commercial off-the-shelf software package for the management of their data. The schools were struggling to get custom features and a uniform experience across the 525 locations due to limitations of the off-the-shelf software. The software lacked rollup reporting and could not handle enrollment, registration, class schedules and billing digitally. It also hindered their ability to pull and analyze data, integrate reports, and automate processes. Given the high interest in attending Goddard Schools, Goddard desperately needed a framework for managing lead recruitment and customer data. GSI leadership decided to move towards a custom cloud-based web application where schools could benefit from a shared system, tailored to meet the needs of Goddard’s unique approach to early childhood education.
How JBS helped
JBS’ extensive experience in creating web-based applications proved to be an ideal fit for the goals of GSI and after working closely with GSI to ascertain user needs and business requirements, we built and launched the Franchise Management System (FMS). The FMS system, written on Microsoft .NET and hosted in the cloud in Azure, provides a centralized platform for better management and visibility of data across hundreds of schools. The system was launched in 2009 and refinements have continued through 2020.
FMS provides the schools with the online tools to manage data on customers starting with the initial contact, continuing through the process of following up with potential customers, scheduling school tours, and maintaining regular contact with potential customers that were not ready to commit. Then when customers decided to enroll their children, FMS managed the gathering of all the data required both for internal use and for regulatory reporting requirements. FMS includes online class scheduling and full support for managing the billing and accounting aspects of the school/parent relationship, and tools to give school administrators and franchisee owners greater efficiency and results in managing the customer recruitment process.
Some notable further enhancements are:
- Support for automated recurring payments.
- A parent-facing portal where customers could review their account data, update contact information and make payments online.
- A Web API that feeds data to other systems used by GSI such as their customer-facing website; and extensive reporting capabilities including the ability for individual school owners to see statistics on how their school compares to other schools in the same market, region and chain-wide.
- Class Lists that are used to model how children move through various age-grouped programs/classrooms as they age and are used by the schools to see where they will have openings for new students.
- A Calendaring function for both tours and children’s programs
FMS has grown to be a family of applications and now includes a native mobile application, called Time Clock, that runs on iOS and Microsoft Windows-based tablets. The tablets are mounted on the wall at the schools where parents use the app as a virtual time clock to check their children in and out each day. This provides the school with clear statistics for both their own attendance tracking and for reporting to state agencies on their teacher/student ratios and eliminated a cumbersome paper-based sign-in/sign-out system.
Prior to FMS being released at Goddard, each school had different processes, systems and disparate repositories that didn’t talk to one another. This cloud-based system provides a secure, streamlined, centralized administrative management of the operation of the schools across all their franchisees—allowing for real-time visibility into each school, a uniform experience across all locations and easy-to-use online tools for GSI, the franchisees and parents.
Schools can easily provide a snapshot of the number of leads in the recruitment process, number of students, their schedules and the ability to better assign children to either mornings/afternoons programs. Pro-rated billing is automated which eliminates the extensive time administrators had to spend manually calculating invoices. The platform allows for franchisees to evaluate and identify areas in schools that need fixing or that are working well.
JBS has been the strategic application development partner for GSI for more than 10 years and we are proud of our long-term partnership. Our success with GSI has been based on providing a highly skilled, dedicated team who understand the goal of the cloud initiative and its impact on the franchisor, franchisees, parents and students.