Jay Thakur signed to open a Lightbridge Academy in 2015, a decade after his father Mukund launched a business focused on senior care. Thakur joined the marketing department before becoming the director of operations at a pioneering senior care business providing skilled nursing home care and cultural events to Indian senior citizens in New Jersey and New York.
“They’re both service sectors and my partner and I like serving the community and focusing on providing great customer service,” said Thakur. “A lot of older folks are kind of like children and children are like older folks. They’re actually really similar in a way, and this gave me the motivation to run both child care and senior care businesses.”
Thakur chose Lightbridge Academy over its competitors because he felt that the team at the home office was really supportive to its franchisees, and he says that in his researching other child care franchises, he noticed that Lightbridge Academy stood out as a “high care” concept and its technology and security appealed to the working parents.
“We know that it is very important to the parents that we enroll and they love to be able to remotely watch their children in the classroom. My own daughter is enrolled in a Lightbridge Academy center, and I sit at work and can watch her on my computer,” Thakur said. “There are also biometric finger scanners you have to use every time you go into the building. Lightbridge Academy is really ahead with its technology, which is attractive because that’s what everybody wants.”
Thakur notes that one significant difference between the senior care and child care sectors is the abundance of regulations in the healthcare industry because it’s dealing with people’s health and medicine. This can sometimes be the overwhelming aspect of running a senior care business. Opening a Lightbridge Academy, with the support of the home office team, was a welcomed change, and the child care regulations were less difficult to manage.
“Lightbridge Academy’s team is really here for me whenever I need help. Business coaches are readily available and can be reached at any time,” Thakur said. “They walk you through what you need to know, and prepare you for anything you might encounter, like understanding what qualities to look for when hiring staff. We were not familiar with operating child care centers, but the training and support that they provide made me confident about the future success of our business.”
Due to the nature of the industries, it isn’t surprising to discover that Thakur isn’t the only Lightbridge Academy franchisee with a senior care family business. Another franchisee, Joe Negrao, is also in the senior care industry. His father launched a senior care business more than two decades ago. The first senior living facility opened in 1995, and there are now four locations across Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.
Negrao also immediately found similarities between his family’s senior care business and Lightbridge Academy.
“You’re responsible for a lot of lives, so you always have to take that seriously. Both of these businesses have to be about more than just the paycheck. You need a heart to do either one of these jobs,” Negrao said. “Everyone loves their parents and their children, and they want the best for them. They rely on us and it is a big responsibility.”
Negrao says that in Pennsylvania, personal care homes and schools are both monitored by the Department of Public Welfare, so he was already used to the regulatory aspects of the business when opening Lightbridge Academy. He also notes that an advantage of Lightbridge Academy over personal care homes is the hours of operation, it’s only from Monday to Friday, and during the workday. It is a major benefit to be closed at night, weekends and major holidays.
“For personal care, you are providing continuous service so you can never be short staffed or closed, so there’s a big advantage in the child care center because it’s not open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Negrao said.
But regardless of the hours, Negrao says that the key to the success of each business is hiring employees that truly care. Because Lightbridge Academy was founded as a family business, he felt a real connection. Negrao notes the accessibility of Founder Guy Falzarano and his son David, the Vice President of Area Development, in addition to the foundation of strong values held across the system being huge draws to the brand.
“We’re right there with the Falzarano’s. It’s not a company that’s just so big and we’re just one number out of 1,000 schools,” Negrao said. “After going through Lightbridge Academy’s training, my wife and I feel that they truly offer the most comprehensive early childhood curriculum and it’s superior to its competitors. Another strength that sets us apart is that we are local. Our family lives in the area, and families coming to our center interact with us directly.”
Both the Negrao’s and Thakur’s family senior care businesses have prepared them for success as Lightbridge Academy franchisees. Not only do they understand the importance of providing the best care possible, but also hiring a team that shares their core values and have a deep desire to serve the needs of the entire community.
To learn more about Lightbridge Academy franchise opportunities, visit http://www.LightbridgeAcademyFranchise.com.