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.