Brain Balance Achievement Centers

Brain Ballance In Center Lobby

Brain Balance Achievement Centers is breaking new ground

in the childhood learning industry.

By Jim Harris

Brain Balance Achievement Centers franchisees are motivated by more than just the idea of owning their own business or making a profit. “First and foremost, they want to do good, and are driven by helping kids,” CEO Chip Miller says. “The child service franchising sector has grown, and there are a lot of opportunities, but not any where you can do as much good and make as much impact.

“Business-wise, we offer a unique opportunity with significant financial potential,” he adds. “There’s nothing else out there like what we’re doing; we offer a chance to get on the ground floor of not just a brand, but a concept for which there is a rapidly growing need.”

The franchise offers the Brain Balance Program, a non-medical and drug-free approach to overcoming challenges related to ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger’s Syndrome and other childhood learning and development issues Brain Balance Fact Boxfor children ages 4 to 17. “One in five kids have one of these needs, and most solutions that are out there don’t deal with these in an effective way,” Miller says.

Many Brain Balance franchisees are parents of children who went through the program. “Over time, what has happened is, as our franchise has grown, we’ve been so life-changing for families that six out of 10 of our franchisees were impacted by us as a customer and then decided to join us,” Miller says.

Many of the company’s franchisees are involved in community activities. “We’re a mission-driven company, so everyone is involved in community activities that help kids,” he adds.

An Integrated Approach

Dr. Robert Melillo, a clinician and brain researcher, began developing what would become the Brain Balance Program in the early 1990s while researching childhood learning disorders such as ADHD and dyslexia. “He wanted to look at these issues at their root without using medication, which is the typical answer for them,” Miller says.

Melillo developed a cutting-edge approach to correct imbalance in brain development, which he saw as the common thread among the learning and behavioral issues he studied. His approach uses three main activities – sensory motor stimulation, academic stimulation and a clean-eating nutrition program – to promote brain development.

“Families had previously gone to practitioners who do pieces of what we do, including occupational therapy and physical therapy,” Miller adds. “We have integrated these approaches under one roof and applied them in a way that helps kids progress.”

Melillo and partner William Fowler opened the first Brain Balance Achievement Center in 2006 as a way to share Melillo’s research with families. The pair also began franchising the concept, reaching 50-plus locations by 2013, when the company was sold to a private equity firm. Melillo remains a shareholder and adviser to the company.

Miller was named CEO of the company in 2014. Before joining Balance Achievement Centers, he helped grow Score! Educational Centers, a Kaplan Inc. brand, from 9 locations to 164 sites over an 11-year period. Several of the company’s other executives have similar experience in the childhood learning industry.

“We are a seasoned management team involved in helping kids and parents that has deep experience in supplementary education,” he notes. 

Offering Guidance

Brain Balance Achievement Centers today has 107 operating franchises in 32 states, with 17 additional sites anticipated to open soon. “With the pool of potential kids we can help growing at a rapid pace, we’re trying to get out there and make sure we expand rapidly enough to address this market,” Miller says. “We are building an industry; there’s nothing else out there like us.”

The company takes a hands-on approach to helping new franchisees. Once a franchise agreement is signed, the new owner is assigned a site development person who walks them through every step of opening a location. This includes site selection, insurance and construction.

New franchisees go through two weeks of training on business operations and protocols. The company also offers online webinars and videos covering every aspect of its operations.

“We attract some owners who have advanced expertise or credentials but it’s not required, and some of the people who have come to us with experience find there are a host of protocols we have that there were not exposed to previously,” Miller says. “We make sure that everyone gets exposure to our protocols; anyone can do this as long as they’re great with kids and have business acumen.”

Once a new location opens, franchisees are assigned a support manager who visits them a few times a year and speaks with them weekly on the phone. The company provides a branded marketing portal where a large array of communications and materials are available for local use. Also, the company provides a national and local website that is customized for each center. The company hosts an annual convention each summer for franchisees, as well as regional training twice yearly.

Seasoned franchisees also have the opportunity to help guide the company’s decisions, as they maintain a presence on three Brain Balance Achievement Center committees. “We very much have an open door policy and are always willing and able to take any call and get into the field as often as possible,” Miller says.

Making An Impact

Brain Balance Achievement Centers continues to expand. Some of that expansion will likely be in major markets including northern and southern California and the Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York City metro areas, where the company just acquired franchise territories.

Ultimately, the company has a goal of opening between 300 to 500 locations in the United States. After that, Brain Balance Achievement Centers could go global. “We want to expand internationally at some point, but we want to do it the right way,” Miller says. “The better we do as a company and the more centers we open, the better we’ll be able to help more kids and have a greater impact.”

 

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