Bringing Primrose to a new area comes with many challenges, but with the right knowledge and support from the Primrose Real Estate Team, it can be much easier. We sat down with Lauren Briles, Franchise Owner of Primrose School of Greenville – the first Primrose school in South Carolina – to discuss the experience of pioneering Primrose in a mid-sized market.
How did you begin your career in real estate?
My mom was a broker in Austin, Texas, so it is kind of in my blood! Initially, after I graduated from Furman University, I worked in advertising. I later switched to real estate and was an agent for about three years before starting The Briles Company, where I was the owner and a residential broker. I also teach real estate classes at the Wyatt Institute in Greenville.
How did you realize that Greenville was a good market for early education and care?
As my husband and I were getting ready to start our family, my entrepreneurial acumen led me to realize that there was a need for high-quality child care in the downtown Greenville area. We had a lot of friends that were on waitlists for child care all around the city. A couple of our friends would commute from downtown Greenville out to the suburbs each day, solely for child care, and then travel back to downtown for work. They were spending two hours in their car every day to get care for their children – it was really the only reason to go outside of the city.
How did you sell the idea of bringing a Primrose to Greenville?
Greenville’s demographics didn’t line up perfectly with typical Primrose sites. So I presented to the Real Estate Team and eventually brought some team members to Greenville. I drove them around so they could see firsthand that this was a market for Primrose. But the big thing was that I was not building a Primrose unless I could do it in Greenville. It was always about the community. With that came the challenge of fitting it on the smaller site that I picked out, because it had to be in downtown Greenville, due to the huge demand for child care within the city.
What was the site selection process like?
Because of my real estate background, I knew what I was looking for. Sometimes it can be hard to locate enough land to build these facilities, but I had spent a good bit of time driving around and knew the area. It just takes a lot of effort and getting through the weeds to know what’s going on in the market — and off the market! My first site was property that was never on the market; I just called the seller and asked if they would be interested in selling to build a child care facility. You have to stay diligent in locating the right property.
What advice do you have for those who are selling or searching for a site?
Sometimes, you might need to think outside of the box for site selection. For example, my second school is being built on a site where I had to demolish a building before moving forward. In Greenville, I am becoming known as “The Retaining Wall Queen” because both of my sites have large walls built in order to utilize the whole site. You must expect the unexpected and overcome each hurdle! There may be some unique challenges that have to be overcome to accomplish building a Primrose. Be flexible and understanding with each site’s trials – and know that no one can foresee what that entails.
Anything else that you might want to add? What do you see in the future for you and Primrose?
I think Primrose and their Real Estate Team do a phenomenal job of trying to be there whenever we need them. Because I’m already knowledgeable in real estate, I didn’t rely on them as much. But if I was not as experienced, they would have played a much bigger role in the whole process. I’ve very much enjoyed it and I’m glad to be part of that process. I’m opening a second school, three miles from our first, because of the demand in the community. We know that to bring more businesses in, we need to have high-quality child care for those parents.
Primrose is actively looking to expand in markets all over the country, including 200 mid-sized markets. If you think Primrose could be a good fit for your project or site, Visit us at ICSC RECon booth S464Q.