Kelly Chen came to the United States from China in 2003 with the ultimate goal of furthering her own education and beginning a new life. She attended San Francisco Community College and studied accounting and child development, but it was her own children who really inspired her to become more and more interested in child development.
When Chen’s son was in second grade, she wanted to help her children enhance their school studies, so she began searching for supplemental education programs in the San Francisco area where they were living. Through her internet research, she came across Best in Class Education Centers, and was intrigued by what the company had to offer.
“My parents were business owners,” Chen said. “And as my children were becoming involved in sports and extracurricular activities, I always thought owning my own business would be a great way to move away from accounting and into a role that better allowed me to spend time with family.”
Chen opened her first location in San Francisco’s Excelsior District in January 2015. More than two years later, Chen decided to reinvest in the brand—in March 2017, she opened her second location in Milbrae, California. What motivated her most to open her second location was the success she was already seeing with each of her students participating in the math and English enrichment programs.
“Many kids in our community need our help, and it makes me happy to see our programs working for them,” Chen explained. “As a mother of four, I know exactly the way parents want their kids to be cared for. Each of our families come from different situations. Some parents work full time and don’t have time to help kids with homework, and others have a hard time speaking English so they can’t help their kids out.”
Chen wanted to make parents feel comfortable when dropping their kids off or encouraged to come to her for help. But it was the individual successes she saw her students achieve that truly made her want to open her second location. As fourth and fifth grade kids have minds of their own, they oftentimes tell their parents they don’t want to go to Best in Class at first – but experiencing those same children falling in love with the program and their teachers, and seeing grades drastically improve, is what makes Chen’s job energizing every single day.
Chen was also the very first franchisee to take advantage of the brand’s Teacher Incentive Program. The two-year-old program offers uniquely qualified educators the chance to put their training to work while also being a business owner. Through the incentive, teachers receive discounts off the franchise fee and waives the royalty fee for the first three months of each center’s opening.
At its core, Best in Class is about helping students achieve their personal best while equipping them with the tools needed to prepare them for a lifetime of learning. Chen’s new location in Milbrae is one of four new openings the brand saw in Q1 alone. Capitalizing on this growth, Best in Class expects to see continued expansion throughout the rest of 2017 in both existing and untapped markets, including the first Best in Class Center coming to Michigan by the start of summer.
California in particular remains an important market for Best in Class. With the addition of Chen’s location in Milbrae, the state is currently home to 12 centers. And yet, despite the brand’s strong presence in California, Best in Class has yet to see a ceiling in the region, and Northern California remains wide open for future development.
“It’s through passionate franchisees like Kelly Chen that we’re able to continue developing successfully nationwide,” said Hao Lam, Best in Class’ Founder and CEO. “We’re continuously looking for entrepreneurs who have the same passion for the industry and expect to open at least 20 new locations by the end of the year.”