Where flexible working works - Jobs for mums

We talk to Mandie, CEO of children's French Language Class Les Puces

Hi Mandie, tell us all about yourself and what you do!

I’m Mandie Davis and I am the founder and CEO of Les Puces.  We provide early years French classes to pre-school and primary aged children.

In 2014 I had a 9 to 5 job which I loved, but which took all of my time and energy.  My children and I had moved back from France, my husband stayed in our house there, and we saw each other when we could…. which really wasn’t enough.  Each summer I would fly the children back to France at the beginning of the holidays, come back to work and then collect them at the end.  I was missing out on freedom, family time and sadly, me time; so one day I gave it up! 

I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, but I spent some time thinking about it.  I had loved teaching English to the children in France when I had lived there, but I knew how expensive it was, in both planning time and money, to provide really good quality classes.  So I thought I would do the same here in the UK, just bigger and better!  I went on courses and learned how to set up a company and run a business, and I launched Les Puces in January 2015 - to provide teachers with fantastic materials and innovative projects so that they could teach the children whilst still having fun in the classes themselves. 

I have had many sleepless nights, mostly worrying about the investment in the early days and whether it would work; now it’s more about supplying the demand for the classes and managing to keep on top of all the emails and admin.  The business is getting too big for me to cope with (and remember I still want that ‘me’ time!) so I decided that the best way to grow, was to share.  Franchising Les Puces means the method can be accessed by more children and schools, faster than I can control the business myself.  By having motivated, likeminded people running their own Les Puces businesses across the UK, I can concentrate on providing the materials, writing the books and working with the creative team  whilst supporting my franchisees.

What makes Les Puces so successful?

The people involved behind the scenes.  We have a team of illustrators, musicians, translators and creative people who are constantly producing such beautiful work, for which I am incredible grateful. 

I see teachers’ eyes light up when they see the amazing materials that they will be working with.  The special design of our teachers’ books for example, simply makes their lives easier and makes taking the lessons fun for them.  Because there is virtually no lesson planning, they can get on with their lives and because we are buying materials and books for hundreds of children now, they in turn benefit from the beautiful books and projects they take home each half term.

We are able to make the classes competitively priced and when parents see how happy their children are to attend, and how fast they are learning, they are happy too.  It’s a ‘win, win, win’ situation!

Who would make the perfect Les Puces franchisee?

Someone who wants to succeed, for themselves.  I’d like to work with people who want to build a business based on respect for the people they are working with and providing a service to.  I believe that the business world is changing and that it’s not all about the bottom line.  Having said that, Les Puces has been structured so that a franchisee should be able to grow a highly profitable and fulfilling business.

It helps if you have some experience of the world of education, and even better if you speak French - but neither of these things are essential. 

What are the benefits of being a Les Puces Franchisee?

Owning the Les Puces franchise means you are a pioneer of this new learning method which we strongly believe will become a standard which schools will request, and parents will be looking for.   Working from home allows you to set your own working hours and build your business around your lifestyle and commitments.  We do expect you to operate your franchise as a full time business, but we don’t question what hours you put in - it will become obvious how hard you are working as you will be reaping the benefits.  We believe we have an incredibly low franchise percentage fee, and we are also offering generous areas for our first pilot franchisees - it’s imperative that you are a success in order for us to go further and spread across the UK. 

MFL is in crisis in secondary schools, universities and for new teachers.  Language acquisition is starting to create a social divide but we believe that this basic human skill should be available for all children to learn.  We give lots of free printouts away on our website and make our songs available for streaming.  All of this encourages parents and teachers to identify with the Les Puces method and branding.

I now have a successful Les Puces business, and by making mistakes along the way, I have the formula to make this work.  By becoming a director of your own Les Puces business, you can start ahead of the game and build a business that should quickly reap rewards.

What training and support is available?

Our initial training programme is run over two sets of 2 days.  You will learn how to set up your business, run your accounts, marketing and sales.  You will receive starter packs for 20 teachers, lots of stationery, banners and leaflets to help you to spread the word in your area.  We even work on your image and supply professional photos to help you to progress into becoming a new company director.  We also come to your area for one day to help you on site.

What would be the number one bit of advice you would give a mum who is looking to become part of a bigger business?

Make sure you are ready to enter another new phase in your life - and that your children are ready too!  My children have got used to seeing me work from home and, whilst that has many benefits, my work can also get in the way sometimes too.   Talk to your family about what you are planning to do and get them to understand that the decision you are taking will affect all of them.

Once you are up and running try and make time for the family and find a space in the house to run your business from.

How can I find out more?

You can find out more information by

Visiting our website – www.lespuces.co.uk

Emailing us on mandie@lespuces.co.uk

Call us on 01892 457135

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