San Diego Business Journal

Goddard Schools Bound for San Diego County

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Goddard School franchise is expected to arrive in San Diego with the opening of its first local childcare facility in Carlsbad in July.

Pennsylvania-based Goddard Systems Inc. plans to add nine locations in the San Diego region in the next two to five years, bringing 20 jobs per location for a total of 180, including owner-operators, school directors and teachers.

The early childhood development franchise, which caters to younger children ages 6 weeks through 6 years old, currently licenses about 390 franchised schools with more than 45,000 students in 35 states. Goddard opened its first California school in Ladera Ranch in Orange County in 2007, followed by a location in Rancho Cordova in Sacramento County and a planned location opening in San Ramon near Oakland.

Tony Padulo, Goddard Systems’ vice president of franchise development, said Goddard is expanding locally because of favorable demographics, where an estimated 250,000 children age 5 and under reside and the medium income is just over its target market of $75,000 annually.

“With 250,000 children age 5 and under and only 24 percent of those children enrolled in some form of preschool we feel there’s a great opportunity for a concept like ours in San Diego,” said Padulo, who described Goddard as an educationally focused franchise that offers a variety of curriculum around the philosophy of learning through play.

Founded in 1988, Goddard Systems typically adds 15 to 20 schools per year, according to Padulo, who reports that average revenues for a mature school open 18 months or longer has been $1.2 million. EBITA for such schools, or earnings before deduction of interest, tax and amortization expenses, is more than $220,000.

“Despite the economic downturn since 2008 our segment of the industry has really been recession resistant,” he said. “For the investment level we have, revenues for our franchisees at the school level have continued to be consistent and returns have been consistent.”

Goddard assists new and expanding franchisees with an in-house financing program and relationships with preferred lenders such as Wells Fargo and TD Bank that can offer loans with 10 percent to 15 percent cash injection. Loans secured by candidates are frequently Small Business Administration loans.

— Julie Gallan