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.