Serving the Russian community

Posted on | July 21, 2013 | 3 Comments

Another 7 months have passed since my last post. Time flies. Last few months have been really life-changing to me and my wife. We have opened a school.

My wife has this dream of opening a Montessori school for many years. We are not rich and don’t have much experience running a business. So for a long time we had been scouting around looking for some small and inexpensive daycare business to take over. We finally found one last October. It was a licensed after-school daycare business which only opened in the afternoon during weekdays. We thought it has potentials to expand its operational hours and we could eventually start some Montessori programs in the morning time.

Here is one problem though. The owner of the school was Russian, and naturally all the parents and students are Russians. But we are not.

Almost all the people who heard that we were going to take over a Russian school thought that we are crazy. I believe the previous owners were expecting some Russians to take over their business, and not a Chinese couple. To make the story short. We went ahead and purchased the business. We officially took over the school on the 1st of May.

How are we going to keep the Russian students with us? We don’t have the confidence but we do have some plans. Many people advised us that we might as well start anew and forget about the existing students.

But who would be our new target customers? The mainstream community? Who are the mainstream community anyway? In fact, it could be dangerous to go for the mainstream community (if there is such one clearly defined). A lot of public schools have started to provide cheap after-school programs, and more are coming. They are serving the mainstream community. Our after-school program has to be somehow special.

I scouted around the areas and combed through Russian magazines and newspapers, as well as Russian community directories both online and offline (yes, they are all in Russian). There seem to be only a handful of licensed Russian after-school programs around the area. This seems like a niche market, and so we have decided to keep the existing students. Not only so, but we want to improve the service. I have this hope that one day it will become a well-known Russian school in the area. Yes, crazy idea, I know.

There are two main reasons I brought this up here in my blog. Firstly, it is my update which I owe to my readers (if there are still any left). During these few months, I have also been thinking a lot on multiculturalism and its true meaning here in Toronto. Since multiculturalism is a main theme of this blog, I am hoping to share them in the near future. Secondly, as a startup business, we are facing many difficulties and must make many crucial decisions. I humbly need ideas and opinions from my readers.

My first question to my readers: if you were me, would you keep the existing students, or start targeting new customer segments?


3 Responses to “Serving the Russian community”

  1. Keith
    July 21st, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    Congratulations on your new business! I hope things go well for you and you get lots of new customers.

    I definitely think you should try to keep your existing students. The main benefit of buying a business is that you don’t have to start from scratch. So you would be crazy to ignore the current customers.

  2. edwin
    July 22nd, 2013 @ 5:32 am

    Thanks Keith. You are always a faithful reader of my blog. I hope things on your side also go well.

  3. Petra
    November 8th, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    Nice article wish you good luck. :)

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