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a note from the chairman

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Smith and I am the Chairman of Smith's School of English Franchises. I'd like to take this opportunity to explain our business philosophy.

When I wake up every morning in Japan I ask myself, "Why can't I drive a fire engine here, be a policeman, or do any number of other jobs?" It's because by law, foreigners like me are not allowed to do very much. The most common vocation is English teacher, and thousands of us work as such. Yet, all you have to do is look around your neighborhood, and you'll see that virtually all of the schools are owned and operated by Japanese companies. If native speakers of English are basically limited to teaching, then don't we really need to ask ourselves why aren't we running the show instead of just performing in it?

I asked myself this question. I realized I didn't know the answer, and decided to find out for myself if we could indeed run the show. The reviews are in, and the results speak for themselves. Today, Smith's School of English owns schools throughout Japan and has franchised many more. Yes, we can run the show and are doing it successfully.

Our franchisees make more money faster, work less hours, contribute positively to their communities and enjoy their lives with those they love here in Japan. That's what we're about.

I know many of you who are reading this still don't know who we are. That's because, until recently, we were a quiet company. It was only recently that we took our first steps towards getting the word out about our franchises. Now, we are moving forward aggressively.

Why franchises? Well, consider this: If you are a teacher at one of the brand-name schools, you are merely a business expense, a disposable asset. An outsider. A "gai-jin". And management, secretaries, and salespeople at those schools have seen so many bad examples of foreign teachers that more likely than not they've already attached those negative stereotypes to you.

Why would anyone work in an environment where they're disliked and not given even the most basic respect? Why? Is that the price of a person's dignity?

Let me give you a real-life example of how things are different at Smith's. Recently, one of our newer franchisees opened a new school. Did he have to slave away? He taught four days a week for a total of 17 hours per week. That's only 68 hours for the month. Did he have to teach noisy little kids, sullen high-schoolers, or apathetic university students? Not at all. He taught young and vibrant professionals who were eager to learn.

According to my calculations, total earnings for English teachers at the big, name-brand schools in the Kansai area are somewhere in the neighborhood of US 80 million dollars a year (100 yen to the dollar and assuming a base pay of 250,000 yen/month). A rough estimate of their schools' total sales comes in at around 700 million dollars, which means teachers get about 10 percent. The rest goes elsewhere. We at Smith's feel the teachers should be getting the money. Now.

The school that you are working for thinks this is a bad business philosophy. We're proving them wrong. By numbers of schools and student enrollment alone we are the largest monthly-tuition English conversation school in Japan. When we first started, we were ranked 169th among those schools that advertised. Of those schools, only 48 are left. What happened to them?

In recent years, Japanese-owned English schools in Japan have gone through recession, bankruptcies, closures, and mergers. In the middle of difficult times for others, we have grown. In size, in capital, and in influence. But more important to me is that a strong sense of dignity exists among our franchisees and employees whether Japanese or foreign.

Years after I asked myself why I couldn't run my own schools, I am now asking you another question: when will you? Contact us, and let's talk about franchises, your dreams, and your future.

Sincerely Yours,

Mark Smith
Smith's School of English