Running a franchise in Scotland with all the challenges such a large geographical area has to offer, was a relatively easy decision for Paul. Having been used to travelling whilst being a freelance consultant and prior to that, heading up the sales and operations for a contract management company, Paul was looking for a business where he could see potential for significant growth. In less than a year Paul has increased the number of swimmers having lessons with Swimtime Scotland from 150 to 650 and with more lessons becoming available in more clubs in the next few months, this number will continue to grow.
I chose the Swimtime franchise opportunity because this particular business model was already a proven national success within the leisure industry. Having experienced isolation and lack of support in the past, the initial and ongoing support on offer was very appealing and this combined with a strong brand. I knew we could make it a success. I did my homework and identified that in our particular area there is a high demand for the product we were investing in and having experienced the product first hand, over a period of time, our confidence grew and we knew that the model would work for us in Scotland. We also identified that we could provide a better product and service when compared to our competitors so having done the homework we started our franchise in July 2009 and began to grow our business.
We spent several days training at Swimtime UK Head Office experiencing and using our admin system, coupled with 2 days on the road with the Franchisor establishing contacts within new and existing clubs and generally getting to grips with what was expected. We were also given a full set of operational manuals to help us on a day to day basis. From day one we have been very happy with the level of the support. The Franchisor is well known in the industry and has great contacts that are put to good use, benefitting the business overall. This tied with their business knowledge, having grown the business themselves from teaching in one club and growing from there, they fully understand the challenges we face and provide appropriate, effective hands on support. Already knowing the Swimtime product well we knew this would be an excellent business model and a good investment for us. The Swimtime Franchise certainly gives you the support mechanism you need to make it a success and this was a key factor in us choosing the Swimtime Franchise.
We face challenges on a daily basis as any business does, and we have grown very quickly, but the greatest challenge we face is being able to recruit the number of quality teachers as we need them. As we increase the number of sites the demand for marketing and additional equipment can put a strain on the cash flow but this is usually a temporary issue, resolved once the new lessons commence. Challenges of this nature are often discussed at the quarterly franchisee meetings which are an invaluable forum for learning and sharing experiences.
Swimtime UK Ltd is continuing to expand as a business with more franchises becoming available. For anyone considering buying any type of Franchise I'd say it is paramount that you talk to existing Franchisee's about their business and the challenges they face. Then look at the product itself, the branding, the selling points and the longevity going forwards. Be honest and realistic in your expectations, and feel passionate about your product. By applying 100% effort right from the beginning and by making the most of the support provided by Head Office we feel that franchising has been a great investment of time and money for us. Our future goals are quite simple, to continue to grow the business by consistently delivering outstanding customer service, increase the number of swimmers, and attract more great teachers!