When GEOS went under, I suggested that the event to the die-off of the dinosaurs where the large schools would give way to the small, furry schools. Richard Smart has an uplifting and positive piece in The Japan Times on some thriving, smaller schools.(Pay no attention to the jaded guy he quotes throughout the article, though.)
For example, he describes Tower English, a drop-in school where mothers pay 500 yen a week to play games with their children. There is Primrose English School in Ibaraki Prefecture, a school built onto the owner's home that boasts plush carpets and warm colors. Another teacher offers tailor-made mini-courses.
What is common among all of the examples is that they have an angle. They have something unique to sell that fills a niche. Moreover, they are local and know their students, and have built up trust and goodwill. It's also important to point what they are not doing, and that's teaching in a Starbucks with photocopies from an old textbook. When you can sell yourself or your idea, you are in a position to thrive as opposed to simply getting by. And when you are in charge and calling the shots, you are doubly motivated to do a good job.
It's been a while since I've seen something positive about eikaiwa in the newspaper.