Discovery Point's Cliff Clark on 30 Years of Excellence
Discovery Point Child Development Centers is celebrating 30 years as a visionary leader in childhood education, with a rapidly expanding future as a national brand.
Atlanta-based Discovery Point was founded in 1988 by Diane and Cliff Clark to provide the best possible child care in the industry. From that single Snellville, Georgia location, Discovery Point has grown into a thriving franchise network with nearly 50 locations throughout the Southeast.
We talked early years, growth plans, and the Discovery Point difference with CEO Cliff Clark, as he reflects on three decades of providing safe, educational and nurturing environments to growing children.
Can you share the thought process when you started 30 years ago?
Clark: When we broke ground on the first Discovery Point, I was dating my business partner, Diane Alexander, who several years later - and after we opened several centers together - would become my wife. Diane had 20 years of teaching experience and a passion and love for younger children. She wanted to see basic care expand into a true education of the "whole child." It was Diane's vision to support children socially and emotionally, as the foundation for cognitive skills.
Is it true you originally had no plans to franchise Discovery Point?
Clark: Our original plan was to have just two centers - a "His and Hers" - but by the time we were building the second center, we had offers for the first. Our friends and customers wanted to know how they could become involved, so a franchise was born. Many of our owners started just like my wife and I--spouses, best friends, or business partners joining together with a vision to impact the industry. It is so rewarding to see couples, families, and now even second-generation owners, find success in the same way we did.
How has your business philosophy evolved over the years?
Clark: Our business philosophy has always been to provide the highest quality of care and education to children by requiring an "owner on site" model. We are not looking for owners that wish to run a business remotely, even though we do now have owners who own and operate multiple locations. Our most successful owners are invested in their communities and understand the importance of building relationships with their families, children, and teaching staff in all aspects of education and curriculum implementation. Over the years, we have seen the impact that one owner can make, not only in the center, but in the community.
In what ways has Discovery Point been a difference maker for children and the communities you have served?
Clark: In the early years, it was our own Discovery Point policies and operational procedures that raised the quality of care in our centers. More recently, much of that policy and practice is covered in state guidelines or accreditations, so our corporate focus is on individual owner support. Each owner has their own personal vision for childcare that they've been able to add to the Discovery Point brand. We have centers that focus on supporting children with special needs, centers that grow gardens, and make healthy eating and exercise a key element. Some centers offer more structured learning, others more creative and fine arts. Every center has a philanthropic mission, supporting such causes as Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, local shelters, and our annual, yearly school supply drive in memory of my late wife and founder Diane Clark. Diane's Devotion is our small way of saying "Thank You" to Diane.
Any lessons learned over the years that you believe have made you a better owner?
Clark: We have new methods and new tools to use, but the basics of business are always there. When we apply the latest technology available to the basic task of providing the best care possible, the result is a well-run and profitable center. We continue to learn every day, and that open-minded attitude enables us to take advantage of the tremendous advances in business and technology.
Can you talk about your approach to uniquely empower every center owner?
Clark: Our owners are entrepreneurs, independent thinkers with "big picture" goals. We support them best by giving them the framework for the business, tried and true operations and procedure. We provide monthly quality assurance support visits, with detail reports on everything from building maintenance to safety regulations. This frees our owners to work toward those personal goals that set them apart from their competitors. Discovery Point sets the standards that all centers must meet (as well as state guidelines), and we work closely with individual owners to allow them flexibility to tailor their programs to meet the needs of their particular customer base.
What does the future hold for Discovery Point?
Clark: We have great expectations for the company and the brand. We hope to see Discovery Point continue to grow and prosper, for the good of the company and each individual Discovery Point owner. Our plans for the coming years include expanding in existing and new markets we are not yet serving. We look regularly to find new markets where the Discovery Point philosophy can bring the same high level of quality to those areas.
Interested in being part of the fast-growing future of Discovery Point? Visit www.discoverypointfranchise.com.
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