Claire Southworth and Steve Partridge
We first got involved with Water Babies when we took our own children to classes in Bristol. Having both previously worked in social housing, we did the classic ‘post kids’ thing of deciding that we wanted a complete career change; leading, hopefully to a new kind of lifestyle. When we began we were determined to make sure we didn’t get sucked into working all hours and, although the business was hugely demanding at the start, within its growth we’ve been able to organise our time in different ways and build a team to manage the business on a day-to-day basis. Two years in and we’re still not quite at the point of being able to surf every weekend, but, with time spent clubbing in Ibiza last year and skiing at Christmas, we’re not far off!
Having taken our own children, we knew that Water Babies offers something we personally really love, but also saw the company as having huge potential for growth. In terms of the benefits we feel we get from being part of a franchise network, these include support, shared knowledge and expertise (from both Head Office and the rest of the group); the strong common values and friendship we all share) and, not least, the knowledge that we’ll have a storming good time socially at the franchise conferences! We also really appreciate the benefits of being part of a bigger group when it comes to marketing, publicity and keeping our profile right at the forefront of the swimming industry. We also get a lot of business development advice and practical support from Head Office, who are always there, actively supporting everything we do.
We recently completed an industry quality accreditation mark, and despite our relative youth, we achieved a distinction and one of the highest marks ever scored. The assessment was extremely gruelling and our success was definitely, in part, due to belonging to a larger experienced and professional network. Moving forward, our aims are to ensure that every single person who comes into contact with us has a fantastic experience and that, if things don’t occasionally go to plan, we’ll do everything we can to put them right. On a more personal note, we think that Water Babies is pretty close to giving us the work life balance we were looking for, and for that - and so many more reasons besides - it’s the best business ever!!