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Franchise Model

The Franchise model: What can you learn from franchised activities businesses

March 24, 2022

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It’s not surprising if your first thought when you hear the word ‘franchise’ is either a question mark or KFC. Even with the impact of COVID-19 on your local high street, there are lots of successful franchises you’ll know of – Costcutters, and McDonald’s, to name a few. But what do these restaurants and retailers have to do with the activities sector?

Franchising has scaled many activities businesses. At its core, your business provides a type of licensing agreement to franchisees. They, in turn, have access to your knowledge processes and trademark. Franchisees often pay initial start-up fees and annual licensing – a cadre of investment you can use to grow and diversify your business.


What does that mean for your activities business?

Water Babies

For Paul Thompson, CEO and co-founder of Water Babies, franchising his baby and toddler swimming classes meant keeping a brand he’d worked so hard to develop central to the business. When he spoke to James Moore on The Drive Phase podcast, this was one of the main reasons he chose to franchise Waterbabies.

“Branding is a massive part of us. We live and breathe our brand. And we put a lot of effort into it. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that it resonates with our clients. They believe in our brand, not just at the surface but at a conscious level.”

Understanding your values and the importance of your brand is the first step to creating an operational manual for prospective franchisers. If you’re not excited about what you’re offering, then how can you put together an attractive prospect for franchisees? When customers and staff embrace your brand, you’ll have the perfect recipe to sell to others.


What’s the USP of your franchise business?

You will already be comfortable with talking about the USP of your activities business. Maybe you offer multi-sports, camps, and football, or you’re the most popular provider in the area. Equally, you may offer a level of flexibility to parents that outstrip the competition. What you bring to the franchisee relationship is 50% brand and 50% a professional operational manual for success.

When Water Babies co-founder Paul Thompson was considering this model, his business had grown in a very short time. He was looking to professionalise his operational structure to keep the USP that was his brand alive and kicking.

“At one point, we had just under 100 clients in a really short time. Realising that the model was working, we got consultants on board to put our package together professionally, and in just one year, we went from 4 franchises to 14.”

If you’re not sure, then the moral of this story is to get help. You don’t want to miss out on an important cog in your business because you’re too close to examine the big picture. Choose the types of people that can help you codify your business operations in a way that empowers franchisees to run a successful business.


Little Kickers

Christine Kelly, Founder of Little Kickers, an international pre-school football franchise, has scaled to 300 franchises in 32 countries. When she appeared on The Drive Phase podcast, she had found two gaps in the market. For kids and for parents. She had been searching in vain for a pre-school football class for her football-mad son and came up with nothing. So with her patented can-do attitude, she decided to start one.

She was also struggling to maintain a work/life balance. Franchising Little Kickers meant helping parents just like her embrace a new way to work.

“I thought there must be a gap in the market for other people like me, who’ve gone back to work after they’ve had kids but don’t like the fact that they don’t get to see their kids grow up. It really struck a chord with me. I wanted parents like me to be able to spend more time with their kids, but also to have something financially meaningful that would allow them to own their own business and make difference to their families.”


To scale or not to scale?

Scaling your activities business gives you the option to keep your investment low while you expand your business. It can take some of the pressure off you too. For many founders, managing 50 or 100 people isn’t a workable option. You’ll be running yourself ragged, even if it’s something you enjoy. Franchising gives you the opportunity to step back, take stock of your progress and build something that can expand your operation.

To find out more about scaling your business through franchising, listen to The Drive Phase podcast back catalogue. Now in our second year, you can get to grips with international franchises Water BabiesLittle Kickers, plus much more on our website, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

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