fbpx

Membership History

Full Member
Joined 2014

Membership History

Full Member
Joined 2014

Company Overview

Puddle Ducks delivers nurturing, fun swimming classes to babies and children from 0 to 10 years across the UK. Babies can join our swimming classes from birth, developing into confident swimmers without even realising they’re learning to swim. By engaging each child’s abilities and natural affinity with water, Puddle Ducks offer simple steps to a lifetime love of swimming. Each activity is adapted to suit each child, nurturing confidence so that children become happy swimmers before they start school.

Franchise Overview

Puddle Ducks have been teaching children to swim for 16 years and have been franchising for 11 years. Our network of territories stretch across mainland United Kingdom and there are a number of territories available for sale and also potential resale opportunities.

Puddle Ducks are proud winners of numerous awards in recent years based on anonymous feedback from franchisees, including the Smith+Henderson 5* Franchisee Satisfaction Award for the past 6 years.

Training

A total of 14.5 days classroom-based and practical training is provided, taking place in Cheshire and on-site within the franchisee’s own territory; plus an additional (minimum) four shorter days where the franchisee will practice running classes at Duck HQ or a franchise local to them supported by a trained teacher. There will also be a total of around 10 days of self-study during the training period.

Daily Life of a franchisee

A Puddle Ducks franchisee has a wide variety of activities every day, from teaching babies and children to swim to marketing their classes, taking sales calls and customer service. Franchisees will also work with pool owners and operators to set up new classes within their territory.

Carolyn Sharpe

Franchisee Name: Carolyn Sharpe

Franchise Area: Newcastle Upon Tyne

When did you start your franchise?
Launched November 2010.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was an accountant for a national supermarket. I was on maternity leave with my first son and decided that I needed a better work-life balance.

Why did you choose franchising?
I attend baby swimming classes with my son and realised that they offered a great business opportunity whilst also addressing my work-life balance.

I was particularly interested in franchising as it means that you have an established quality product and support when it comes to issues such as safety, insurance and the technical aspects of running classes – something which I felt that I couldn’t do on my own.

What research did you do?
I spoke to a number of different swim schools including partnerships and franchisors to evaluate all of the potential opportunities. I also researched the competition and territory and felt that there was a gap in the market which I could fill.

What in particular attracted you to Puddle Ducks?
In particular, I was impressed with the quality of the lessons which Puddle Ducks provide – they were something which I felt that I couldn’t replicate. I also felt that the two founding directors – Jo & Tracy were very impressive – they were very professional but also very warm and positive. They are dedicated to their franchisees and really supportive about running a successful business whilst maintaining a work-life balance.

What training and support do you receive?
I received full technical training (how to actually teach the classes) and also business training. The technical team provide fantastic support and great advice (e.g. when you’re looking to recruit new teachers).

Personally I like to just get on with running my business but the support is always there when you need it and Puddle Ducks head office is very responsive to franchisees needs

How has becoming a franchisee impacted upon your life in general, outside the business?
My life outside of the business has changed massively. In the early years I still worked lots of hours to really establish my business but now I’m able to take more time out – I only work school hours and during term time. I also take time out a couple of days a week, so I’m really able to get the work-life balance which suits me.

Please summarise your experience of franchising to date and your future goals.
My experience with Puddle Ducks has been just brilliant. It is hard work but you really do get out what you put in and I’m now reaping the rewards, both financially and personally.

My future plans are to really develop my Swim Academy classes for school aged children and also to focus more attention on the further lying parts of my territory.

What would you say to someone thinking of buying a Puddle Ducks franchise?
Go for it! Work out what you want and establish if it is achievable. You need to really work on your business planning process to ensure that can achieve your goals.

Cate Woodrow Smith

Franchisee Name: Cate Woodrow Smith

Franchise Area: Derbyshire

When did you start your franchise?
September 2009.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
Industrial sales – a very different environment to Puddle Ducks!

Why did you choose franchising?
I wanted to achieve a better work/life balance, ideally term time only as my daughter was approaching school age. I looked at franchising as I wanted to ensure that I had the support I need to set up and run a business. It was also the best way to offer a product which remains fresh.

What research did you do?
I got advice on the facts and legal implications of franchising so that I was fully aware of implications of what I was doing. I also met a number of franchisors to find out what their opportunities were and to work out what would work best for me.

It’s also vital to find out about your market so I spent time researching my area – the competition, the market potential, the pools which were available etc. It’s big step to buy a franchise so I had to make sure that I knew what opportunities (and threats) there were.

What in particular attracted you to Puddle Ducks?
I had previously taken Olivia to swimming classes when she was a baby and loved it, I even looked in to training as a teacher at the time. When I watched some Puddle Ducks classes I could see how much fun the classes are. I remembered how much I loved being in the water and how important it is to teach babies and children to swim.

What training and support do you receive?
We get great support from Puddle Ducks head office – they really do listen to franchisees and try to support them in any way they can. The support from the network of franchisees is brilliant – both nationally and locally. I regularly meet up with my neighbouring franchisees to talk through what we’re doing and help and advice each other.

What challenges have you faced so far?
When I first joined Puddle Ducks my passion was to teach and actually running the business was a bit of a weakness, but with the training and support I’ve received from head office and fellow franchisees, I have really developed these skills and now have a business which suits.

It’s also been a challenge to manage and lead an ever growing team – I work really hard to build good relationships with the team and make meetings as interesting and interactive as possible.

How has becoming a franchisee impacted upon your life in general, outside the business?
I have grown a lot as a person, learning many new skills. I now have the work/life balance where I want it to be and that has made a huge impact on my quality of life. I do something for me every day, such as an exercise class and then I come into the office. I’m also able to take time out during school holidays and spend quality time with my daughter – that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do in my previous job!

Please summarise your experience of franchising to date and your future goals.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I run a fantastic, rewarding business doing something amazing – teaching babies and children a vital life skill whilst having lots and lots of fun.

I wouldn’t have done it any other way – franchising gave me the confidence, skills and support to make a real success of it.

What would you say to someone thinking of buying a Puddle Ducks franchise?
Do your research and be positive! It’s a competitive market place and you need make sure that the opportunity is something you can be passionate about. Be prepared to put your heart and soul into– in the early days you will eat, sleep and breathe baby swimming but the rewards are there for you. You might take some knocks along the way but as you start to succeed more doors will open for you.

Liz Gabriel

Franchisee Name: Liz Gabriel

Franchise Area: Nottinghamshire, North Leicestershire & South Yorkshire

When did you start your franchise?
We launched in January 2010.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was a buyer at a national pharmacy chain.

Why did you choose franchising?
I decided that I wanted to run my own business where I was able to be in control and implement my own plans and actions rather than have to report to somebody else.

I liked the idea of franchising as you can take & run with a proven model but still be your own boss.

What research did you do?
I did a lot of research online, including the bfa website and spent time reviewing each of the opportunities I was looking at to ensure they were sound investment opportunities. I also went to watch some classes to get a feel for the quality of the products.

I also wanted to ensure that whatever business I chose would allow me to spend time with my children.

What in particular attracted you to Puddle Ducks?
When I joined Puddle Ducks there were only a few franchisees operating but I was really attracted to the brand – I thought the ethos and style was a great match to the target market. I also met Tracy & Jo, the founding directors and I was really impressed with both their professionalism and integrity.

What training and support do you receive?
As it was ‘the early days’ when I joined, there weren’t any franchise managers (as there are now) but I did receive business training and of course training to teach the classes. Personally, I found the swimming training the most difficult and needed more support. The support I received really helped with this aspect of the business.

What challenges have you faced so far?
My swimming qualification was a challenge as it was different to anything I’ve ever done before, but with Puddle Ducks’ support I achieved the qualification. From a business point of view finding the right kind of pools can be tricky (and can limit your growth) but if just you get on with it you can find the right locations.

My business has grown well and consistently over the last five year. I have a good re-enrolment rate and I put that down to building a great team with good teachers and running an efficient and effective business.

How has becoming a franchisee impacted upon your life in general, outside the business?
The impact has been huge! I’m my own boss with full autonomy and in control of my own destiny. I work when I want to and can fit it around other aspects of my life. However it is something that can be difficult to switch off from and you can find yourself thinking about it 24/7.

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives!

What would you say to someone thinking of buying a Puddle Ducks franchise?
I would recommend it! You have to be self-motivated and a self-starter if you want to succeed but you do get out what you put in. You need to be careful and ensure that the business suits you – work out what your expenditure is likely to be and the expected the financial payback.

Nicola Wilson

Franchisee Name: Nicola Wilson

Franchise Area: Lincolnshire

When did you start your franchise?
January 2010.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
Before buying my franchise I worked for my local county council in an Early Years function. I also have experience of sales within the Airline industry.

I also worked part-time as a swimming instructor.

Why did you choose franchising?
I’d been thinking about running my own business for some time and felt that by running a franchise I could offer something better than I could do on my own. The product offering is tried and tested, you’re kept up to date with industry and market developments there’s more support. All in all, my business is more secure than it would be if I were running independently.

What research did you do?
I read a number of books about franchising, spoke to friends who already run franchises in different industries, researched opportunities with the bfa and also discussed options with my accountant.

I researched baby swimming and Puddle Ducks in Lincolnshire and realised that there was a gap in the market here which I felt confident that I could deliver!

What in particular attracted you to Puddle Ducks?
I was really attracted by the flexibility that is offered – it’s family-friendly and enables you to spend more time with your family.

The quality of the product is fantastic. One of my friends attended Puddle Ducks classes in Cheshire and I went along to watch some the lessons. As I was already a swimming teacher I was amazed at the quality of the teaching and felt that I could deliver the business in my area – it inspired me to take the plunge!

What training and support do you receive?
One of the best areas of support is from the network of franchisees, Puddle Ducks have an online franchisee forum where we can all help and support each other. It’s like a big family, where I know that I can pick up the phone to anyone at any time – you couldn’t do that if you were working on your own.

I also work closely with my neighbouring franchisees. We keep in touch all the time and regularly meet up to discuss business and support each other.

What challenges have you faced so far?
There have been lots of challenges – from launching a new business to unexpected hurdles to overcome such as pool closures and staff issues, but the support I receive from head office and the network means there’s we always find a solution.

I’ve learned not to stress too much and keep issues in perspective. Whenever something crops up I treat it as a learning opportunity.

How has becoming a franchisee impacted upon your life in general, outside the business?
It can be quite hard to switch off at times, I love the flexibility that Puddle Ducks gives me – it’s family friendly. By structuring the hours I work around my family life, I’m able run a successful business whilst still spending quality time with my children as they grow up. During school holidays I can work in the morning or evening as necessary and still spend the days having fun with the children!

Please summarise your experience of franchising to date and your future goals.
Overall I absolutely love it! Whilst I probably work more hours than I originally intended, I want everything to be perfect and I reap the benefits for that extra effort – that’s very different than working for somebody else. You gain a great insight into your own strengths & weaknesses and find ways to work around them. You also find areas that you are interested in but had never previously experienced, such as finance, so you really do learn a lot about yourself and business in general.

This year I’m looking to really focus on increasing profitability, delegating more to my fantastic team and growing my business both geographically in my region and also the products I offer with Swim Academy classes (for primary school age children) and aquanatal classes.

What would you say to someone thinking of buying a Puddle Ducks franchise?
Go for it! Speak to any Puddle Ducks franchisee and they will tell you the same thing – you’ll never look back!

Resales

Request more info for latest resale options.
Expert Advice
Latest News
Puddle Ducks are hosting their first Virtual Discovery Day
18 September 2020
Franchise fundraisers ‘dive’ deep into their pockets for charity
7 January 2020
Puddle Ducks franchise launches first ever TV ad campaign
17 December 2018

Request More Info

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to browse this site, you give consent for cookies to be used. For more details, please read our Cookie Policy.