Our Mission, Support & Community Drive Franchisee Satisfaction
The Learning Express Toys mission is to “Inspire Growth Through Play,” a statement that we live each day through commitments to our Team, our Product, and providing a Wow! experience for every customer, every day. We call this approach “TPW”, and it drives our business both in and out of the store environment.
We believe in strong store support. We support each store as though they were our own and aim to bring the home office, vendors, and franchisees together into a world-class franchise support community where help is just a phone call, text, Facebook message or email away. Show me what you mean by strong Store Support.
One of the best parts of owning a Learning Express Toys franchise is the store owner Community, which, over several decades has become a family. The Annual Learning Express Convention in summer and the Toy Fair Expo in New York City in February offer excellent opportunities to meet and learn from the best in the industry as well as attend workshops put on by the Home Office. Tell me more about the Learning Express Community.
In the end, our mission, support structure and stakeholder community are the primary drivers of Franchisee Satisfaction. See what we mean.
"Inspiring Growth Through "
Every Learning Express Stakeholder is an integral part of our mission.
Learning Express team members are trained to engage the customer, demo product, dress up as popular costume characters, gift wrap, identify the perfect gift and provide a buying experience that isn’t possible at other retailers or online. True, it’s hard work, but it’s those store owners and team members for whom running a toy store doesn’t seem like work who are the best at their job.
Inspiring Growth Through Team
What Does Team Mean to You?
Team doesn’t just mean building a great store staff. That’s necessary, but only the start. Whether you are a store owner, a store associate, a vendor, a supplier or a member of the home office support staff, your contribution to the Learning Express mission is paramount to the success of all stakeholders.Mike Derse, Director of Business Development
What Does Team Mean to You?
Team means individuals working together and trusting each other to achieve a common goal. Sharing, supporting and encouraging each other and having each other’s back. It is not about titles – but about respect for their jobs, their company and the people they work with. Linda Peebles, VP of Training & Support
Always have the right products in the right quantities at the right price at the right time.
We understand that healthy, constructive play can make a profound difference in childhood development. Our buying program is designed to provide you access to a vast selection of world-class toys that cover a variety of categories and age ranges. With the right products, you can match the needs and interests of any child.
Inspiring Growth Through Product
Leading toy industry vendors discuss how the Learning Express Toys franchise has seamlessly blended a proven business model with franchisees’ entrepreneurial spirits.
What Does “Product” Mean to Us?
Our product mix is a curated selection from toy manufacturers around the world, toys that have passed the test of time, and toys that are whimsical and wildly imaginative. Our toys encourage discovery, curiosity, creativity, and have extraordinary play value. We complement our mix with items from other industries: jewelry, kids’ stationery items, fashion accessories, gadgets and personalized items. Ironically, these items have turned out to be some of our very best sellers!
We pride ourselves on the quality and uniqueness of our toy selection to ensure our shelves are well-stocked with unique and innovative products that encourage learning through play.
Sharon DiMinico, Founder & CEO
What Does Product Mean to You?
Our focus is to carry the toys that kids want. The key to being successful in retail is having the right product at the right price at the right time in the right quantity. And that’s where we can help!Lisa Visco, Sr. VP of Merchandising
Surprise and delight every customer, every transaction, every day.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest impact. Our free gift-wrapping, Birthday Box registry and free personalization services make shopping for the perfect toy an easy and enjoyable experience.
Inspiring Growth Through WOW!
What does “WOW!” Mean to You?
We “WOW” our customers with incredible events, the most exciting merchandising and over the top amazing customer service. We want every customer to feel this “WOW” with each shopping experience in our stores. You can see “WOW” in our advertising, social networking and especially our amazing Facebook pages! We want our customers to feel this “WOW” as they enter our stores and to also feel this “WOW” again on the way out the door so they will keep coming back!Steve Kessel, Regional Owner
How Do You Build a WOW! Environment?
Our stores are carefully designed to provide a hands-on environment where customers can experiment, play, and receive expert advice from well-trained staff members. In-store events, classes, and activities allow you to interact with your customers on a personal level, while providing first class customer service that will leave a lasting impression. You can also create a “WOW” experience for your customers through striking merchandise displays that stimulate a magical store atmosphere.
Bruce Schneiderbauer, Director of Store Design & Construction
WOW! Your Community
Learning Express Toys franchisees take great pride and satisfaction in being an integral part of their community. Franchisees often attend local events to interact with existing customers and establish connections with new customers. Participation in fundraising campaigns for schools and local charities enables our stores to give back and add value to their neighborhood.Jon Monahan, Franchise Development Manager
Treat every franchise as though it were your own.
New Learning Express franchisees typically have no retail management or business ownership experience, but our comprehensive Training & Support Program helps you open your Learning Express franchise efficiently and effectively. The Program starts well before you attend Home Office Training and months before we spend the three to four weeks in your store training you and your team.
Inspiring Growth Through Support
Store Opening Support
Using sophisticated demographic tools and years of experience, we will work with you to identify a great retail location and to negotiate a lease on your behalf. We’ll also take care of all the details so that that your new store boasts the Learning Express aesthetic. We provide all the build-out specifications, design your store layout, and assemble your fixture schedule so that all you need to do is place the order. We will also place your initial inventory order on your behalf to ensure that you have the most up-to-date product selection.
State-of-the-art demographic analysis tools help us advise you in selecting the right area to start your real estate search.
Location is critical. Our in-house real estate team will advise you in selecting the right location and negotiating the best business terms for your lease.
Brightly-colored walls, natural floors, and a clean fixture design create a warm, inviting shopping experience and define the signature of the Learning Express aesthetic. We handle all the details so you can concentrate on opening your new business.
Fill out some credit apps. That’s all you need to do before getting access to the nation’s best curated selection of specialty toys at special terms from approximately 200 different vendors, large and small. Our New Store Order (NSO) is as good as it gets.
Grand Opening Marketing
Get the word out! Our marketing department analyzes past performance to advise you in the most effective advertising channels and will help design and implement your marketing plan across print, digital and community-based media.
On-Site Grand Opening Support
After you complete your classroom training, we support you through your opening for three weeks, making sure that your inventory has been received and merchandised, and ensuring that you and your staff are comfortable with the day-to-day fundamentals of running your business.
Your Grand Opening is an exhilarating experience, but there is more to do to grow your business, and we are with you all the way.
We offer ongoing training and support that’s designed to help take your business to the next level. Additional first-year classroom training, webinars, phone calls, and visits from in-field support experts will give you the knowledge and confidence to grow your business.
An exciting marketing program is key to retail sales growth. Our in-house graphics department not only designs all of the materials for your Grand Opening, they produce ads, banners, email graphics, postcards, and catalogs that are available on our Intranet. On request, they also provide customized materials for your local needs. Social media is very important in today’s retail environment, so we train you to provide effective, engaging content for your customers.
Excellence in Marketing
Our dedicated in-house marketing and graphics teams help you promote your location through print, email and social media.
Buying & Inventory Management
The perfect product mix is important at Grand Opening to wow customers but it also needs to remain fresh, unique, and up to date to keep them coming back. Our buyers work full-time sourcing new product, negotiating vendor terms, and monitoring market trends to make sure the right products with the best terms in the industry are included in our buying program.
Item Sales Reports
System-wide data feeds our private intranet, which gives owners insights into what’s hot and what’s not.
Open to Buy
Our “Open to Buy” tool can help owners manage cash flow more effectively.
Best-selling product, contact information and terms are easily accessible and updated regularly by our buying department. You’ll have a team of experts at your side.
Home Office Support
We provide you hundreds of configurable reports, analyses, graphs and Excel formulas, but really it’s nice to know that you can just pick up the phone and ask an expert.
The Learning Express Intranet
Our robust Intranet provides franchisees with the data and analysis tools to optimally manage their business and determine which products and marketing investments contribute most to the bottom line.
The Learning Express Intranet
Your Support Team collects and analyzes data from across the nation in order to give you pertinent and timely advice based on facts.
Align all stakeholders to the Learning Express Mission & TPW.
Our franchisees communicate daily, sharing new product successes and ideas for effective in-store events, asking for and giving advice, and sharing solutions to problems. The shared entrepreneurial spirit of our owners strengthens each individual franchisee.
Inspiring Growth Through Community
The Learning Express Franchise Family
The Learning Express Achievement Program (LEAP) is one of the best ways that our stores share and learn about hot-selling product and best business practices nationwide. Available 24/7 on our intranet or in periodic digests.
Learning Express Convention
Our private annual gathering of storeowners, vendors and the Home Office provides a perfect way for franchisees to socialize, share, and build relationships. We teach training workshops, invite inspiring keynote speakers and host over 100 vendor booths, so franchisees can place orders at convention-only terms.
We kick off each year with a February visit to New York City. Toy vendors from around the world show off their newest and greatest inventions. Our private “Share the Fair” discussion group provides franchisees a jump-start on potentially hot-selling product.
Help at Your Fingertips
We don’t stop at official meetings or communications to spread ideas and best practices. Franchisees communicate daily through a private email network, Facebook group, text messages, conference calls, and even FaceTime.
Strong franchise systems create satisfied customers and satisfied franchisees.
In the end, the mark of a successful franchise system is the satisfaction of the individual owners and operators who live and breathe the franchise’s mission of satisfying their customers.
Inspiring Growth Through Franchisee Satisfaction
Personal and Professional Rewards
A Few Awards & Memberships
“Franchises that survey their franchisees realize that transparency and openness contributes to a trusting relationship. Franchisee satisfaction ratings show you whether or not a franchise opportunity is really as good as it appears and fits your values and vision by providing insight into a system’s culture, training, leadership, financial outlook, franchisee community, and much more.” Eric Stites, CEO of Franchise Business Review
In Our Franchisees’ Words
On His WOW Marketing Program
Giant displays and big store events that “wow” customers such as the World’s Largest Rainbow Loom.
“I love seeing customers stare in awe at our unique displays. When you work in an industry focused on toys, you have the opportunity to create some magic!”Rick Derr, Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich, IL
On Their Birthday Box Registry Concept
Kids fill their Birthday Box with toys. Family and friends can stop by the store to choose a gift from the box. This game-changing concept has been copied by hundreds of retail stores nationwide.
“Parents, family, and friends really appreciate the fact that this program takes the guesswork out of gift-giving.”Gary and Molly Fitzpatrick, Learning Express Toys of Ann Arbor, MI, Sylvania, OH & Maumee, OH
On Her Rainbow Loom Product Discovery
First store to discover the product in 2012, allowing Learning Express Toys to sell this amazing trend before any other retailer.
“I just knew it would be a huge success and was happy to share it with everyone. Our efforts as a franchise helped make it the trend it is today!”Cindy O'Hara, Learning Express Toys of Alpharetta and East Cobb, GA
On His School Fundraising Program
Stores hold private shopping nights or fundraisers where a percentage of the proceeds is donated to a local school.
“I love being able to give back to my community in a way that will ultimately benefit my customers.”Chip Will, Learning Express Toys of Andover, MA