The Decision Making Process at Smith’s School of English Otsu
Hello! This is Edward from Smith’s School of English in Otsu. I wanted to write a little bit about the difficult decision making process we have gone through at our small English school franchise in Otsu. The current global pandemic has changed all of our lives and lifestyles, and owning a small business can be especially challenging. For many small business owners, this can be a very lonely and scary time. We are fortunate to have great head office support, as well as lucky to live in a country with excellent civil support.
Let me start by saying this: I am not a business person. I am a teacher. Running a school has been a challenge for me; business decisions do not come easily. The global pandemic has forced us all to make many decisions in our lives and I have not enjoyed having to make them! Fortunately, my fellow franchise owners and team members have helped me to make these decisions.
Deciding to Close
In mid-April we made the decision to close temporarily. The national government declared a state of emergency (SOE), Shiga prefecture followed suit. At SSE Otsu, with help from franchise head office, we had already put into place an 8-point safety procedure to ensure the health and safety of our coaches and students. We felt we had done all possible and that our process was more than sufficient. But for the sake of public safety and to help as best we could to combat the spread of the virus, we decided to close our doors. On May 6th, following the national extension of the SOE, we made another tough decision: stay closed until the end of May. These were 2 very difficult decisions, but in hindsight we feel we made the right ones. Some of the franchises in our system opened, some closed, some went online. Head office gave us many options and advice about the pros and cons of each option.
We have been regularly observing statistics in 3 countries, as well as the general state of the world, since January. Japan has done very well in this crisis. The government has acted fairly well, if sometimes wish-washy. The people have been stoic and considerate and responsible. The economy has been maintained (ignoring of course the huge loss of tourism). Overall a job well done. Based on the current state of the country, plus recommendations from the government and our own head office, we feel it is safe to reopen from June 1st.
Support All Around
I am not a business person. These decisions are ones I did not take lightly, but also could never have made without support. I am lucky to have understanding students. None of them complained, many of them reached out to say that they understood our situation, some of them thanked us. Furthermore, we have helpful, hardworking and supportive head office staff. Their advice was key to our decision-making, their support was necessary for successfully closing (and in June successful reopening). Without our head office, none of this would have been possible. To them, and our students, we say simply “Thank You”.
Safe Study Environment
We look forward to getting back into the classroom. We have missed our students and are excited to hear their stories once again and support their various goals. We have done everything we can to make our school safe and we encourage all of our students to be safe commuting to our school. Let’s enjoy [safely] studying English together!