When Cliff Clark and his late wife, Diane, set out to build and operate a couple of childcare centers back in 1988, they had no idea their dream would evolve into something much bigger. But after opening the two original, very successful Discovery Point Child Development Centers in Gwinnett, friends and others in the community took note and began asking how they could join in the business for themselves.
As servant leaders, Cliff and Diane not only recognized the high demand for quality childcare but also saw a real opportunity to provide others with a path to entrepreneurship through turnkey franchise opportunities. Thus, Discovery Point Franchising, Inc. (DPFI), was born. The company supports its franchise owners from site selection and construction of the buildings to providing its proprietary curriculum and ongoing teacher training after the centers are open. There are almost 50 independently owned and operated Discovery Point franchises located in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.
A Focus on People, Process and Technology
The leadership team in the corporate office understands the importance of having a technology partner who can guide them in getting the right people, processes and technology in place to support their mission and growth. In 2017, Cliff turned to Jennifer Holmes at MIS Solutions to learn more about their technology solutions. Surprisingly, what came out of several discovery calls was that Jennifer and Cliff had a lot in common. Both are Georgia Tech graduates, both run family-owned companies and both are visionaries who share a passion for growing businesses and empowering people and entrepreneurs. Through their initial conversations, Jennifer learned that Cliff was ready to look beyond the tools and platforms and instead focus on people and process in order to make technology work and support his business needs.
Like many small businesses, DPFI was working with a single IT person who came onsite every couple of weeks to patch as needed and fix issues when they popped up. But without having a team of proactive engineers monitoring their systems, the company suffered with network instability, sluggishness and sometimes extended downtime while waiting for their IT guy to get around to fixing the issue. “We needed a responsive, more trusted partner that we could rely on,” said Andy Hardy, marketing manager for DPFI. Having a proven process in place is a crucial element of any successful strategy. Cliff had already created a repeatable, efficient business model for childcare franchises. What he and his team have built over the years is a process that can be replicated again and again. MIS also has a proven process to ensure that clients’ business needs are met consistently.
Business Alignment Leads to Greater Efficiency
Having a partner they can trust and one who is in alignment with their business and systems has been a huge relief. It has allowed the Discovery Point team to focus more of their time on their normal daily tasks than on technology issues. “MIS knows us well and knows how we operate. That familiarity is key,” said Andy. “They are there for us when we need them and they have the ability to step in and know exactly where everything is.
“The support team at MIS is very friendly, very helpful, have good follow-up and keep good notes. That’s something that I’ve always been impressed with – good notes on each ticket. That process helps in making revisiting an issue super easy. When they call us, the notes have already been reviewed and they’re ready to dive in and solve the issue.”
Focus on Community
Another commonality of the two companies is their owners’ shared passion, commitment and investment in the communities they serve, especially those organizations that focus on children and education. DPFI established a philanthropic program, Diane’s Devotion, in memory of co-founder Diane Clark. The corporate office and the childcare centers sponsor a Back-to-School Supply/Backpack drive at the beginning of each school year to help children in need. DPFI also sponsors the Northside Gwinnett Medical Center’s Sports Medicine and Concussion Care-A-Van. It travels to games, sports leagues, park centers, childcare centers, and family events to provide baseline concussion testing that aids in proper diagnosis and treatment in the event of a head injury.
“What struck a chord with me is how Cliff and his team have a purpose much bigger than their core business. And when you work with people who share the same values, it clears the path for a mutually beneficial partnership,” said Jennifer.
With the support in place to help them get the most out of their technology, DPFI can continue to provide a proven system for childcare operators to succeed and grow.
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