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Membership History

Associate Member
Joined 2022

Membership History

Associate Member
Joined 2022

Company Overview

Caterpillar Music offer award-winning multi-sensory music and movement sessions for 0 – 4-year-olds. Our first classes started in 2001 and proved very popular, leading to our first franchisees coming on board in 2003.

Based on Montessori principles, children learn through play in a friendly, relaxed yet inspiring music class. There are so many social, physical and educational benefits for little ones attending our sessions, which are also fantastic for grown-ups. Many families continue coming with their second, third or even fourth child.

In addition to our parent-child sessions, we also run tailored nursery sessions as well as birthday parties, special events and intergenerational sessions (where our regular parent-child music sessions are held within a care home environment and residents can join in with the Caterpillar Music fun).

Franchise Overview

Our franchisees herald from all different backgrounds – teaching, acting, customer-facing roles… their common passion is the reward that comes from working with babies, small children and their families. Most franchisees are parents themselves, attracted to the idea of running their own business, the flexibility of setting their own schedule and choosing to work term-time only or all year round if they prefer. It really does fit perfectly around family life.

Helen Simmons started out as a Caterpillar Music franchisee in September 2006 after the birth of her first son. She operated her South-West London franchise successfully for 12 years, employing Class Leaders during her busiest times as her own family grew. Helen was also involved in training and supporting new franchisees as they started their first music sessions. In September 2018, Helen bought the business, became the new CEO of Caterpillar Music and now leads the Head Office team.

Caterpillar Music are members of the Children’s Activities Association, and ambassadors of EWIF (Encouraging Women into Franchising). The business is currently based solely in the UK.

Training

Our initial training programme includes:

  • In-person Business Training (1 day),
  • In-person Class Training (1 day, covering all aspects of running classes, including lesson observations, health and safety and risk-assessment) and
  • Software Training (series of calls/videos).
  • Social Media set-up and guidance

There are:

  • Operations Manuals and policies, covering everything you need to know about running your business
  • a Software Guide
  • Email/letter Templates for contacting nurseries
  • a full set of our recently updated Lesson Plans, including hundreds of prop and activity ideas. (completely updated in May 2022 in-line with the new Early Years Guidance and including song and prop ideas collated from our whole franchise network).

The ongoing support and guidance from our Head Office Team includes:

  • a dedicated Head Office support helpline to assist with all aspects of running your business,
  • a software support helpline
  • a franchisee forum (for sharing tips and ideas with our established network of franchisees).
  • annual business reviews,
  • regular training webinars
  • an annual conference

Daily Life of a franchisee

A typical day might include running several music, movement and sensory sessions at a community venue, where parents/carers bring their little ones. There may also be a session or two in a nursery.

Other duties would include actively marketing classes to prospective customers (such as parents and nurseries) using both online and traditional marketing methods, responding to booking enquiries via email, phone calls and social media, liaising with venues/customers, invoicing, processing payments and book-keeping.

Chloe Tweed, Caterpillar Music Guildford

” I am very much enjoying what I have – a successful business, time for my family and, overall, happiness at both home and work. It doesn’t get much better than making children and babies laugh and smile four days a week!” 

My Caterpillar Music journey began in September 2015 when I was taking my then three-month-old daughter for a walk around the block, in a bid to get her to nap. I spotted a poster advertising classes on a local community centre’s notice board and it sounded right up my street.

I had been a West End musical theatre actor before I had my daughter and I love to sing. I made contact and found myself at a trial class later that week. I loved the class and so did my baby (despite falling asleep half-way through!), so we signed up for a half term. In fact, we signed up every half term for the next four and a half years, as my second daughter had arrived and joined classes at just two weeks old.

Just as I was getting to the point of (reluctantly) moving on from Caterpillar Music, a position was advertised for a Class Leader role. I didn’t want to go back to musical theatre as I loved being at home with my children, but I wanted to use my talents in some way and had often thought of starting a children’s music class. I just didn’t know how I could make it as good as Caterpillar Music! I went for the job and it was one of the best decisions I’d ever made.

I began teaching two classes a week on Friday 13th March 2020 and we all know what happened next. Things came to a halt as schools closed and lockdown hit. It wasn’t until September 2020 that I finally began to teach regular classes, albeit with lots of cleaning, social-distancing and reduced numbers in place. Still, it was wonderful to see people in ‘real life’ again and to see lockdown babies and their parents experience the joy of classes for the first time. The next six months was very up and down with lockdowns and home schooling, but I eventually got back into regular classes in April 2021. At this point, the previous owner of Caterpillar Music Guildford, my lovely friend Mez, had decided it was time for her to move on and asked me if I would be interested in buying the franchise. I hadn’t expected this news at all, so it took me a little while to digest whilst I discussed it with my husband.

Could we afford it? Would I make it a success? Did I want to take on a business? Could it fit in with family life? And mostly, would I be as good as Mez? I had big shoes to fill, but I had faith that I could make it work.

In June 2021 I became the official owner of Caterpillar Music Guildford. The takeover was very smooth, thanks to Mez and Caterpillar Music Head Office. I thank my lucky stars that I made this decision, it’s been nothing but positive!

I choose my own hours, I drop off and collect my children from school every day and I have time for hobbies and family life. I run ten classes a week which are all full with a waiting list. I have room for expansion in the future, but for now I am very much enjoying what I have – a successful business, time for my family and, overall, happiness at both home and work. It doesn’t get much better than making children and babies laugh and smile four days a week!

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