“Children have an amazing capacity to learn languages.”
Dawna, a parent and linguist, knows the joy of learning a new language. Having studied several languages including French, Spanish and Cantonese, she wanted her children to experience languages from a young age. When her son was three, she set out to find a Mandarin language playgroup for him to join in Sydney, Australia – but she was out of luck. She decided to change that by founding Mandarin Stars in 2008.
The venture started small with a single playgroup of around twenty kids. Now, over a decade later, it is a flourishing franchise business teaching Mandarin to around 2,000 kids across Australia and Europe. Through after-school programmes, holiday programmes and classes in various childcare centres, kids interact with Mandarin via activities like arts and crafts, short stories, singing and puppet shows. Dawna says it is vital that children see learning languages as fun, as that’s what makes learning stick.
After experiencing steady growth over their first five years, Mandarin Stars franchised the business in 2013. This brought up a few issues around how to successfully scale and streamline operations. For a while they were using US-based software to manage enrolments and some other processes. But in 2019 began looking for a provider closer to home. They searched for what was available in Australia and New Zealand and decided on Enrolmy.
It was a tricky time for them to switch due to Covid. Not only did they have to get to grips with new software, but they needed to offer online classes too. Of this experience Dawna says, “It was nerve wracking moving from one system to another especially during Covid” but remarks how responsive Enrolmy’s customer service team was in getting them set up and answering their questions.
Despite the stress of forced change, their online classes were a hit, and they continue to offer them. This means they can reach even more kids, including families across remote regions of Australia, and even in Europe. In 2020, they had students attend from Los Angeles and received enquiries from Mumbai and Malaysia.
Their usual term classes run across ten-week blocks, four times a year. Before Enrolmy, this set up caused some cashflow challenges. They would send out an invoice for the following term and would receive 95% of the payments by week ten. Now, parents can book and pay at the same time which means, “we now have 95% of our payments by week three”. This has done wonders for cashflow.
Besides having a love for teaching languages, what else has contributed to their success? Dawna says, “Systems and processes, having an enrolment system [that allows us to] quickly ramp up and scale the business and [leave us to] get on with our work.”
Enrolmy has played a significant role in automating operations. Dawna says, “What I love about Enrolmy is parents can self-serve. This takes away a lot of the pressure [from us] of managing the process.”
By allowing parents to take control of their own booking and payment processes, Enrolmy has freed up time and resources which Mandarin Stars has redirected to “teacher training – empowering the teachers to do their jobs well [by giving them] the confidence and capacity”.
What’s more, with Enrolmy, parents are better equipped to find the information they need about classes. This is great news for franchise owners, as instead of fielding dozens of daily queries they can focus on their core activities – upskilling their teachers and selling and delivering classes.
Mandarin Stars also recently launched their new website, which integrates beautifully with Enrolmy. Caregivers can now search and filter for activities based on location, days, and age range. They are then presented with attractive booking tiles based on their search criteria, which they click on to take them straight to Enrolmy. This makes for a smooth and easy booking process, especially for large franchise businesses like Mandarin Stars.
The other benefit is that they can bring in new franchises more easily. “It’s definitely a value-added service as part of the franchise package,” Dawna says.
Enrolmy love helping providers like Mandarin Stars grow, and can’t wait to support them to reach new heights.