Hi Trish, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to set up Swimkidz?
I live in Reading with my husband and two dogs!! I had a career in the corporate world managing a call centre for a large utility company and then moved on to be a Human Resources Manager in a financial services company. The experience I gained in these companies was very wide ranging but taught me first and foremost about putting the customer first. Whilst I enjoyed this part of my career I felt there was something missing and I looked for something which would combine a passion of mine with an opportunity to be my own boss.
My daughter, when she was younger, swam competitively up to national standard and during my time taking her to training I started to get into swimming myself and joined a Masters swimming program. Drawing on these experiences it became the obvious choice to set up a swimming school for babies, toddlers and children. I started Swimkidz in Berkshire after researching the market and finding that the whole journey from baby to 10 year olds was not being offered by any other swim school.
After a short while Swimkidz expanded out of Reading and spread down the M4 corridor. I had to start to train additional teachers in my methods as I wanted to ensure that the quality was consistent. I became a Swimming Teachers Association tutor to ensure the basics were taught and then added the innovative Swimkidz program onto it.
It soon became obvious that due to the demand that was increasing each term I needed to look at it in a different way. After considering various options Franchising Swimkidz became the obvious choice to ensure the sustained growth and most importantly the quality of lessons and customer service.
I was very fortunate that we have developed a fantastic customer base and the parents have really bought into the structure of the lessons and the approach we take.
What are the benefits to an individual who wants to become a Swimkidz Franchisee?
There are a number of benefits to becoming a Swimkidz Franchisee, from an individual’s perspective the benefits include:
- A very good return on investment
- Fantastic job satisfaction
- Control of your own business
- Flexible working opportunity
- Full training in National and International swimming qualifications
- Business training and continued advice and support from a dedicated team
- Bespoke systems, processes, social media and website
- Strong brand image
Most importantly all of our current Franchisees work every day with a smile on their face because they enjoy their work so much. Working with mums to be, babies, toddlers and children and teaching them a lifesaving skill with key measurable stages is a very rewarding career. The majority of our current Franchisees are parents to young families and find the flexibility of running a Swimkidz Franchisee a real benefit in achieving a work life balance.
What do you see as the future for Swimkidz?
There is very clear vision of the future for Swimkidz which is to build on our success to date by continuing to deliver high quality swimming lessons through a network of fantastic and enthusiastic Franchisees both Nationally and Internationally.
It is very important to me that the quality and value for money we deliver is maintained so we are looking for a sustainable growth. This will be supported by the Swimkidz team who will look after current and new Franchisees because we want this to be a success for everyone involved. We have a family feel to our business and this also comes across to our customers it is important that new Franchisees have the same passion.
We will also be working with other great organizations like mumandworking and the British Franchise Association to promote the flexibility of being able to run a business that fits with family life perfectly.
It looks like the hard work you have put in is paying off for you now, what is the most enjoyable part of what you do?
I have to pinch myself every now and again when I look at what we have achieved in such a short time but it has taken a lot of hard work to achieve it.
I have deliberately continued on an area under my direct control as a Franchise. This is primarily so that I can experience the challenges that our Franchisees come across and develop solutions to these. It also has a personal benefit of seeing our customers experience the lessons myself and gives an immense amount of personal satisfaction from their positive feedback. The babies, toddlers and young children are a joy to watch while they are having fun bonding with their parents.
I have only been able to do this by having a fantastic team to help in supporting the Franchisees both Nationally and Internationally. This was demonstrated recently when we successfully launched Swimkidz in Thailand. The work that the Country Manager and the whole team carried out has delivered a very successful business with very satisfied customers.
For the younger ones especially, the most important things that we teach aren’t actually the swimming skills. The water safety and water confidence skills are much more important. When a child who is not confident in water falls in, they generally go into shock and aren’t able to call for help or to help themselves. But a water confident child will have experienced the feeling of falling into water and will know exactly what to do. We practice these kinds of skills right from the first lesson because we believe they are so important. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children so we really feel passionately about how important it is.
What are the three most important things to successfully run a Franchise?
We look for people with the following:
- Passion. It is important that people coming into the business enjoy what they do and this is helped if they have a passion for swimming.
- Commitment. Owning a Franchise takes dedication to customer service and ensuring that the structure of lessons and principles of Swimkidz are followed.
- Customer Focus. Customers are the backbone of our Franchise and it is important that people have the right attitude to customers so that the service they receive is exceptional.
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