Educational Outfitters offers investors a one-of—a-kind franchise opportunity.
By Kat Zeman & Alan Dorich, Knighthouse Media
It’s the first and only franchise opportunity of its kind. Educational Outfitters, a Chattanooga, Tenn.-based franchisor and retailer of school uniforms, is a fast-growing business with a bright future. “We’re growing stronger and faster than we ever have.” says Julie Batycki, VP of operations and development. “We’ve grown tremendously in the last three years and 2018 will be our largest growth rate that we’ve seen.”
With more than 35 locations throughout the United States that serve thousands of private, public and charter schools, Educational Outfitters plans to open two to four new locations annually. “We want to continue our current growth trajectory and become the largest school uniform retailer in the United States,” Batycki adds.
With proven sales and marketing strategies, the company operates in a growing market with minimal competition. It is already one of the three largest retailers of school uniforms in the country and is the only one that can claim being local to the communities it serves. “We are the only school uniform franchise that exists,” Batycki says. “All of our competitors are company-owned. We are local owners in local markets. That’s part of what gives us that friendly customer service and creates a warmer feeling than our competitors.”
Of the dedicated school uniform retailers that exist in the market, most are operated by store managers rather than dedicated local owners. Educational Outfitters prides itself on building strong relationships between its local owners and schools as well as between its national operations and apparel suppliers.
The company offers expert advice to schools that want to develop a uniform or dress code program. Its stores carry a full selection of school uniforms and dress code apparel, have availability throughout the school year so that damaged or outgrown items can be replaced and can customize any item with in-store embroidery and screen printing. It also offers convenient in-store fitting and alteration services.
Making An Investment
Entrepreneurs that wish to open an Educational Outfitters franchise should expect to make a total initial investment between $82,080 and $198,150 depending on the market. That includes a $29,500 franchise fee. According to its website, the company also charges a royalty fee of 5 percent of weekly gross revenues.
“Somebody who invests in an Educational Outfitters franchise will be somebody who wants more of a family feel business,” Batycki says. “It’s somebody who probably has kids and enjoys spending time in schools and churches.”
The company offers a comprehensive start-up program that includes two weeks of training, site selection assistance, lease negotiation strategies, design and construction guidance, grand opening campaigns, market research and development and general operations. “We offer very large exclusive territories,” Batycki says. “You could have multiple stores in a city and it doesn’t cost you anymore. You already own the territory.”
Franchisees also have access to the company’s Preferred Purchaser Program, ongoing training, field support and assistance with advertising and public relations. In addition, they receive referrals from the company’s national web site.
Educational Outfitters has developed highly effective sales and marketing programs that help franchises secure school accounts with minimum expense. It offers training on how to spend marketing dollars most efficiently and has created specialized sales programs for schools that already require uniforms and even those that do not.
Franchisees are also encouraged to develop additional revenue streams. In addition to school uniforms, Educational Outfitters provides several complementary revenue streams including career wear, corporate logo apparel, promotional products, custom embroidery, athletic uniforms, gym wear, spirit wear and letterman jackets.
“Our biggest challenge is finding the right franchisee in the right market,” Batycki says. “We’re definitely a niche business. The market must have enough children and private schools. The right person has to be outgoing, personable and enjoy building relationships with the community.”
Philanthropy is an important part of Educational Outfitters culture and is woven throughout much of what it does as a local and national business.
The company gives a percentage of every dollar earned back to its partner schools, and it directly contributes to a variety of academic resources, technology, facilities, playgrounds and student scholarships every year.
In addition to donating financially to their partner schools, Franchise owners often donate quality clothing to Catholic Charities and other non-profit or faith-based organizations, serve on Chambers of Commerce, coach youth teams, serve their churches and ministries and volunteer in schools.
“In partnership with Project 61-3 Ministries we take our obsolete inventory and it’s shipped out to orphanages and schools across the world,” Batycki says. “In the four years of this partnership we have sent product to 37 countries and six continents.”
The company also works with schools to create new fundraising opportunities with items like custom embroidered shirts and outerwear, screen printed T-shirts, tackle twill lettered spirit wear and custom logo promotional products.
Educational Outfitters is a two times winner of Franchise Business Review’s Best Franchises to Own award and a five-time recipient of Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 ranking.