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Kumon is the worst franchise to own here in the U.S. I quit a high paying job in Chicago in 2010 to start a Kumon learning center. Initially, everyone was friendly and painted rosy picture about the franchise. I went through the motions and finally got my center up and running after investing close to $120,000 in build-out, lease, furniture, training etc.

No sooner started my Kumon learning center, I was asked to spend $4000 on advertising. I was told that I could advertise anywhere. So I did, only to get into the cross hairs of another Kumon learning center franchise owner. My signs were taken out, posters ripped etc. The Kumon office intervened and "I" was told not to advertise by the same people who told me to do so in the first place.

The problem is that Kumon does not have assigned territories. So anytime a center can open anywhere even next door to you. It makes your Kumon center vulnerable to competition.

The rent I pay is over $4000 per month with CAM extra. In the first 12 months I just had about 60 students, and by the end of 2 years I just had 110. I am deep in the red, and am worse off than I was with a high paying job that I quit. The royalties are about 35% of the tuition. Tuition is $100 per month. I would like to increase it but other Kumon franchisees seriously undercut me on the price that one can do nothing about.

Older franchisees bad mouth newer franchisees like me claiming more Kumon experience and by putting some fake awards on their walls.

Management at Kumon is in total disarray. My field support manager provides me with no support. She comes once in a while, looks around, smiles and leaves. The staff are poorly trained to support franchisees. You call up the Chicago branch office and you are sure that your call will never be answered or returned. At the instructor conference this year, I heard that the problem goes right to the top. Recently the President Akira Hamanaka and Executive Vice President Atsushi Nose were fired from Kumon North America. This happened after all franchisees were promised better days to come at the conference by the President and CFO.

If you are reading this and are planning to open a Kumon learning center, take my advice and DO NOT invest your hard earned money in Kumon.

- Kumon is an outdated program and has not changed in over 50 years. It does not match the school curriculum and is below school standards in the U.S.

- Overall Kumon has a bad reputation among students and parents. Parents and students who quit the program usually never come back.

- If you complain about your student numbers with the Kumon staff, they blame the franchisee saying that "it is your fault that your students are quitting you."

- Older Kumon franchisees get a free pass. They can do whatever they want, even run a center from non-retail space.

- Older Kumon franchisees bad mouth new franchisees like me.

- There are no clearly assigned territories.

- There is poor advertising support.

- Management at Kumon is bad.

- There is no quality control in other Kumon centers.

- Royalties are very steep and margins slim to none.

- Kumon staff are inept, poorly skilled, arrogant and condescending.

- Worksheets similar to Kumon and of better quality are freely available on the internet.

- Many parents have switched to online learning on advice from their school teachers.

- Kumon has a bad reputation among Schools and School Teachers in the U.S.

- There is no resale value for one's Kumon center. I have been trying to sell my center but I cannot even recoup 10% of my investment.

- There are many, many better programs like EyeLevel, Aloha Math etc. which offer lower royalties and assigned territories.

- Franchisees that I met all hate the management and staff at Kumon.

- If you fall sick or are unable to run your center, the Kumon management will shut you down.

My advice is DON'T OPEN a Kumon learning center even if you are sold about it. You will regret it just as badly as me.

Monetary Loss: $100000.

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Anonymous
#1313061

Kumon is the absolute worst franchise in the world.They wanted $600 a month to teach my two children math and reading only two times per week ($150 per subject per month).

Then when I observed a kumon class in action it became clear that it's just like sitting in a school classroom with barely any direct help from anyone working at the kumon center unless you are stuck and raise your hand and wait for about 10 minutes before someone (usually a teenager working at the center) comes over to help. What kind of tutoring is this? Isn't tutoring mean one on one teaching and not merely sitting in a classroom like the student has already done all day at school? I also looked at the worksheets and they seem pretty easy, even for a child/student.

I asked the center instructor why ipads were not being used to teach instead of these flimsy cheap looking paper worksheets and he told me that Kumon Instructors have basically given up waiting for any modern technology to be introduced as a learning and teaching tool as they were promised that a tablet like product would be rolled out 5 years ago and so far nothing.

The Kumon classroom itself is more like a noisy playground than anything else as children throw things at each other and also chase each other around the classroom. The instructor apparently has no idea how to handle this, as he retreats into his office many times during class time, especially when it gets loud and unruly.

Parents are also...

Not at this center, as the instructor permits conversations (that are sometimes very long) all throughout class time. Since these conversations with parents take place in the main classroom and not in the Instructors office so that the instructor can presumably keep one eye on what is happening in the classroom, this is highly distracting and noisy for serious students who are relying to study their materials. The study environment is therefore horrible as a result of the poor judgment of the instructor. I really don't know if he is simply afraid to enforce rules that will benefit his students or if he is merely clueless in terms of the impact of this chaos is having on the classroom.

I don't really care what the reason is.

All I know is that I am not paying $600 per month for my children to be part of this type of disruptive environment that one simply cannot learn in.I have oy had one experience at this one kumon center but I give the center and the instructor a grade of F- which in my part of the world is a failing grade.

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Anonymous
to Anonymous #1313867

I have been trying to sell my center for nearly two years and it is virtually worthless in terms of getting any kind of resale value from prospective buyers who are few and far in between.The problem with the kumon business model is that it cannot be traditionally valued.

This has created tremendous headaches for me as no one will make me any type of decent offer because they don't believe that students will remain in the program for very long. This means that my business is virtually valueless if potential buyers are looking at valuing it in this way. I don't want to just walk away because I have put in an incredible amount of time an effort building my kumon franchise. If kumon would just find a way for us Instructors to be able to keep our students then there might be more identified tangible business value that someone is willing to actually pay for.

As things sit today no one recognizes this which is reflected in the low offers that I am receiving. If I had any idea that I would have this problem when I first decided to.olen a kumon center then I would have taken a pass and have opened a subway or a pizza franchise, as you can actually build and sell this type of franchise for real money. I have asked for lots of help.and assistance towards selling my center but have received nothing in return. The first poster of this board also mentioned that they were relying to sell their center and could only receive offers that were approximately 10 percent of...

Welcome to the club as I am in the exact same situation. I am extremely upset and disappointed because of how trapped that I feel.

Next time I will be more careful with the type of business that open.So far this entire experience has been one big disaster for.myself and my family.

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Anonymous
#1312459

My wife opened a kumon franchise in a large US city and could never gain any traction in terms of gaining enough new students to make her kumon franchise work.Kumon did absolute nothing to help her to get new students except telling her to print flyers and put them on car windshields in parking lots.

Her actual center was in a run down mall and her lease did not contain a non-compete meaning that a mathnasium moved into the same mall. Kumon had apparently not noticed that her facility lease did not contain a non-compete clause. In addition, Kumon advised us not to incorporate, telling us that it was a waste of money to bother. Since we ate both not very business save, we listened to this advice and are still paying for it, as we personally still owe creditors one year after the center has closed.

It seems like any advice that we received from kumon was the exact opposite advice that a business professional would have provided. Even though we are still kicking ourselves to this day for.not first consulting with a business or accounting professional before proceeding forward with our Kumon franchise, we still blame kumon for the bad advice that they provided. For example, they told us that the mall had many potential kumon students closeby which proved not to be the case. We should have asked for supporting data but we trusted that Kumon was telling us the truth.

We lost lots of money to say the least and are literally still paying to this day. If...

Everyone please beware of what kumon tells you.

I really don't believe that Kumon employs enough experts in different areas of starting and operating a business in order to truly help their franchisees. We are so disappointed, stressed out and out of.money that I really don't know how we will ever truly recover from this disaster. The lesson is not to trust anything kumon tells you and to go out and seek professional advice. This was, you can potentially avoid a kumon nightmare like we experienced.

I do blame kumon for our troubles more than anyone else. They should have been there supporting us with proper advice and guidance. After all, isn't this their role as a franchisor?

Finally, Kumon never returns our calls anymore.This is a very sad situation for my family all thanks to kumon.

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Rtimmons
#1309925

Everyone on this site should be aware of the fact that Kumon does not require their Instructors to be qualified educators and teachers which is a little known and unspoken fact.Before taking your child or children to a kumon center you should request to see a formal copy of the Instructors educational and teaching qualifications.

Chances are that they will have nothing. Does kumon really just take anyone off the street to teach in their centers. It unfortunately looks that way.

Please spread the word that Kumon Instructors are typically unqualified from a formal teaching standpoint.I would therefore keep my children as far away from a kumon center as possible.

Anonymous
to Rtimmons #1309988

RTimmons you raise an excellent point which I am.now going to add to my why I hate kumon list:

-Better competitors out there who actually tutor properly versus this independent self learning garbage.

- Competitors and tutors don't only teach math and reading like kumon only does but they also teach languages, science, and the very important test prep.

- Kumon is a joke amongst educators and the academic community.They view kumon as a get rich quick scheme on the part of the company and at the expense of students.

- The Kumon classrooms are often dirty and messy with teenage staff making and eating meals during class which is very unprofessional.

- I have seen many Instructors talking on their cell phone during classroom hours which is very unprofessional. Take your personal calls on your own time and not time that I am paying for! - there is no study showing that Kumon students do better in school versus other students. There is no proof of concept that the kumon method actually works.

- Paper worksheets, pencils, and erasers serve to transform a kumon classroom back into the 1950s. I find it ironic that siblings are waiting for their brothers or sisters using their iphones and tablets while their sibling is using pencil and paper. What year are we in? Where is the technology that both parents and students expect these days?

Is the kumon product itself so weak that it can only be delivered via paper? Once again, a...

One last thing.I give kumon an F- as a company and as a so called learning product.

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Anonymous
to Martin Alderson #1310034

Martin, I cannot disagree with anything that you have written.I write for a well known consumer blog and was tecently looking good to write a story comparing national tutoring companies.

I ended up ranking kumon close to the bottom of my rankings (for reference, Mathnasium finished first in my final rankings with Tutor Doctor finishing second). Since kumon categorically rejects the traditional "tutoring" model in favor of a uniquely positioned self professed approach of self learning and independent study, this approach weakens their offering in terms of dramatically reducing the tutor-student face time to a negligible level. Meanwhile other tutoring companies emphasize the amount of one to one learning time, which is perceived by the market to be more value added in nature. In addition, Kumon handicaps itself by only offering math and reading as subjects while a competitor such as tutor doctor offers math, english, ESL, languages, and test prep.

It is important to note that most tutoring organizations are branching out into a full range of test prep offerings as this represents a highly lucrative market that Kumon is completely shut out of. In addition, Kumon also ranks at the bottom versus competitors with respect to use of technogy. While all tutoring companies have embraced technology (tablets, computer, iphone) Kumon has categorically rejected all technology in its product offering which makes them very unusual. It is well known that they use paper...

These are just some of the reasons why I ranked kumon near the bottom of my comparison of national tutoring companies.

I will not provide a link to my blog out of respect for this forum, but it is easily found via a Google search.Happy reading!

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Anonymous
to J Vesey #1310232

I actually enrolled in the kumon potential franchisee program which meant that my goal at the end of the process was to become a kumon instructor and have my own center.Kumon certainly does their best to brainwash all potential franchisees by emphasizing that you will be helping students and making money.

They never mention any negative aspects of owning a franchise in their training program. You have to travel to head office located in Teaneck, New Jersey two times (two weeks in total) where they teach you about how to use their computer systems and about the kumon method of instruction. Every guest speaker that they have speaks glowingly about how amazing kumon is, and no challenges are ever discussed.

I am a former teacher so I remember asking around at lunch to the other trainees what their backgrounds were.

Out of approximately 30 trainees, not one was an educator or teacher like myself. There were a lot of unemployed people looking to do something different with their life. Although I respect this, I am not sure if educating children in math and reading is an appropriate career choice for the sake of the students. I was honestly shocked at the lack of qualifications that the trainees had, which could somehow me made better by listening to a few lectures on reading and math.

It took me 4 years of college to earn my credentials and not a few lectures. We all had to complete worksheets prior and after the training in Teaneck which I...

Another issue with the trainees was the kumon requirement that you cannot hold down a full time job and be a kumon instructor.

Since the majority of the trainees viewed opening a new business as a very risky proposition, a lot of them planned on keeping their jobs and just stating to kumon that they were no longer employed, as apparently kumon never actually checks, and does everything on the honor system.

Finally, Kumon makes all Instructors write a math and a reading test which everyone must pass. The funny and shocking thing about this is that each trainee is provided with an unlimited amount of opportunities to pass. This means that you can have a kumon center instructor teaching your child with no formal educational or teaching qualifications in addition to not yet having passed the kumon reading and math tests.

For me, this represents zero quality standards and if the public ever found out this would make kumon look hihhly unprofessional from an instructor training standpoint. Apparently Instructors who have not yet passed both the reading and math tests pay a higher royalty until they pass both kumon tests - and that's if they ever bother taking and passing the tests, as it is not a requirement to open a center. The only requirement is having enough money.

When I found out about all of this and verified these facts with Kumon, I immediately dropped out of the Kumon training program.

I cannot work for a company that permits these very low standards.

I sure will not be taking my son to kumon, and I am spreading the word as much as possible about the low standards that Kumon has for all of its Instructors.In my opinion, simply shameful.

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Anonymous
to J Vesey #1312687

I am very upset at Kumon as the company recently forced our beloved instructor to relocate from a really nice church basement to a space that is literally on the basement level of a local large shopping mall.When the center was in the church basement there was a family friendly atmosphere where parents could sit at the back of the room and observe their child in class.

In this new center there is a parent waiting area where you cannot even see into the classroom. In the church center we parents were able to interact with the insteuctor whenever we wanted to. Now, we barely even get to see her because she has her own office and spends much less time in the classroom itself. About 10 parents got together and asked the instructor why the center had to be moved as we all preferred the smaller more intimate church basement versus a cold and sterile mall that is surrounded by doctor and dentist offices.

We were told that Kumon forced her to move to commercial.space or else the company would not renew her 5 year franchise agreement. Kumon was actually threatening to shut her center down if she did not agree to move. In addition, because the monthly rent of the center has increased from $500 to $4,500 our Instructor had no choice but to increase monthly tuition from $100 per subject to $125 per subject just to partially cover some of this dramatic increase in facility rent. Unfortunately we are not from a high income area meaning that a number of families had to...

Since one of kumon's primary guiding mandates is to bring education and learning to as many children as possible around the world, it is very hard to understand why they did this, as it has resulted in the opposite effect. We all wrote letters to kumon protesting this move but not one of us heard back from the company. Does kumon really need to force Instructors to abandon their community centers and church basements where the learning atmosphere is comfortable and family friendly? We simply don't understand what Kumon is thinking by forcing franchisees to relocate to strip malls or other types of malls that lack warmth and an environment that is conducive to learning.

Malls simply have way too many distractions, noise, and people to properly learn in. Shame on Kumon for forcing excellent Instructors to relocate to terrible and expensive learning and teaching environments. We all simply do not understand the logic of forcing this condition on Instructors when the old or traditional way was working so very well.

Bring back the community centers and church basements kumon.We miss them very much!

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Anonymous
to J Vesey #1312945

I am the parent of a 9 year old who attends a nearby kumon center twice a week for tutoring.The center used to be located at my church but the instructor was told to move into a mall or face closure.

The mall where the center is now located is very nice and it actually gives me time to browse and shop while my child is in the center doing their kumon. I have no complaints about the new location of the center but I have many complaints about how the center seems to be run. First of all, the instructor absolutely refuses to open on a Saturday despite a majority of Kumon parents asking for this. This would be so convenient for all of us but the instructor says that they require "two days of rest" each weekend so that they will never be opening on a Saturday.

What happenned to the motto "the customer is always right"? Opening on a Saturday would be so convenient for us parents that I simply cannot believe that this cannot be done. Since the center is currently oy open on Tuesday's and Thursday's the instructor already has 5 days of rest. About ten of us parents searched for the nearest kumon center that opens on Saturdays and the closest one ended up nearly 12 miles away from our current center so moving to this center is out of the question from a travel standpoint.

Another issue that a majority of kumon parents have at this center (including myself) is the fact that the parent waiting area has no window so that we can look into the classroom and...

A third issue related to the fact that it seemed as if the center was cleaned only once a month, as the floors always seem dirty (no matter what time of year) and the center itself is messy with papers scattered everywhere in piles, and there is even some writing on the wall.made by students that hasn't been wiped clean for who knows how long. I thought that the while point of moving into retail space was for kumon to present a more professional and consistent brand image. Cleaning the center once a month definitely doesn't help in this respect.

Within the past few months about ten parents have taken their child out of the center mainly as a result of the instructor refusing to open on Saturday's along with a reluctance to spend the required funds to put in a one way window in the parent waiting area.

I have left my child in Kumon for now, but I am looking into private tutoring as well as at other tutoring companies.

It is sad that one stubborn and frugal insteuctor has cost herself at least $15,000 in annual tuition fees (10 students left times $150 monthly tuition) instead of just opening on Saturday's and installing a $5,000 window in the parent area.I hope that Kumon finds out about all of this as thus one insteuctor is singlehandedly hurting the kumon brand image and continues to lose students.

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Anonymous
to J Vesey #1313014

I am also a blogger and recently examined the pros and cons of supplemental education franchises in the United States.Please google me to check out my work.

Tutor doctor franchise came in first by a mile for the following reasons:

1) tutor doctor comes to your home and does not make you take your kids to a center two times a week. This saves time and money versus franchise operations such as kumon, mathnasium, and sylvan.

2) tutor doctor offers intensive one one one tutoring versus a classroom environment such as kumon provides. This means that your child is receiving direct knowledge transfer and teaching instead of being one of many in a classroom where individualized tutoring is impossible to achieve.

3) tutor doctor offers tutoring in math, english, languages, sciences (biology and chemistry) in addition to test preparation. This large breadth of offering is unmatched by any other tutoring company that I could locate.

It must be noth3d that Kumon only offers tutoring in math and English and mathnasium only in math.

4) from a cost standpoint the it is actually less expensive to go with hiring a direct tutor and paying an hourly wage to have tutoring done in your home versus paying a monthly tuition fee and having to drive two times per week to a kumon center. This analysis excludes the opportunity cost of your time travelling g to a center and then waiting around until your child finishes the right classroom time....

In summary, private tutoring including the Tutor Doctor franchise is far superior to kumon and all other supplemental franchise companies out in the marketplace. There is no comparison in terms of level of effectiveness, breadth of subject offering, time and money saved that Kumon ranks incredibly low on the ranking that I put together.

That being said, for some reason kumon has a strong brand image which attracts students. Whether it is the fact that they advertise on television or that they have been around for over 50 years, Kumon is by far the most overrated tutoring company on the United States. I assume that the same can be said for kumon in other countries, such as Canada and Mexico. One thing is for sure.

Kumon is one very overrated tutoring company that underperformed when it actually comes to delivering value for the dollar to parents. I would stay away from kumon as you do not get your money's worth. But you are likely paying for all of their television advertising.

If you need tutoring for your child or children avoid kumon and choose a company such as tutor doctor, or even just hire a local college student who advertises tutoring services.Just make sure that all tutoring is performed from the safety and comfort of your home, as studies have indicated that home represents the most optimal study and learning environment that for a young mind.

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