Dive in and Develop a Profitable Business as a Swimkidz Franchisee

This month we talk to Trish Hare, founder of Swimkidz, who turned her passion for swimming into a successful business. Trish has developed a proven franchising model over the years using their innovative Swimkidz program to offer structured, progressive and fun swimming lessons and exceptional customer service. 

Tell us about yourself and your business?

I’m Trish Hare,  the owner of Swimkidz, prior to this I had a successful career in the corporate world in both operational and customer facing roles. The experiences I gained during these periods has been invaluable in the success of Swimkidz.

Swimkidz were established in 2009 in Reading, Berkshire.  I have always had a passion for swimming both for personal fitness and teaching little ones in a learn- to- swim programme.  In addition I swam with and coached a Masters swimming team.   One of my daughters competed to national level so my involvement in the swimming world was expansive.

After researching the lessons which were being offered at this time I decided to set up Swimkidz to offer an alternative swimming school for expectant mums, babies, toddlers and children in the Reading area. A rapid growth of the company followed, due to the quality and exceptional customer service that was being offered. In 2011 it became obvious that Franchising the business was the best way to keep up with this demand and to be able to expand Swimkidz with like-minded people, so we explored this avenue.

What inspired you to start your own business?

My children had always shared my passion for swimming and I had very strong ideas on the most effective teaching methods for babies toddlers and young children which involved the parents in their child’s aquatic journey. After researching what was being offered in this field I decided to put those ideas into practice and updated my formal qualifications and developed the structure of the lessons taught by Swimkidz.

Once I had taken the plunge I started lessons in Reading with a handful of customers and the feedback I received from the parents and the happiness that I could see on the babies faces inspired me to expand this further in Berkshire. Within 2 years I was teaching along the M4 from Cardiff to Cobham and all stops in between, this assured me that what we were doing suited the market and customers kept coming back and recommending us.

I was fortunate that I had gained some exceptional teachers during these two years who shared the Swimkidz passion and they became my first Franchisees, they are still with Swimkidz and have successful businesses teaching the Swimkidz way.

What makes your business successful?

There is several factors which have made Swimkidz the success it continues to be but I believe at the top of this list is the people involved and their approach and attitude. This applies to the Franchisees we have, their teachers, teaching assistants and administration staff. We all strive to promote a culture of inclusivity where everyone feels the same passion for what we do and have the same voice when it comes to sharing ideas.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Loving what we do and being passionate about teaching little ones a valuable life-saving skill.  Although it’s tough at times to keep up with the demand and ensure your business is future proof the rewards far outweigh this.  I am fortunate enough to work with a great team of franchisees who share the same passion and together have successfully taught thousands of little ones to love the water and have trained hundreds of teachers who are now part of our successful network.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

  • Bespoke database to make administrative tasks simplified so Franchisees can focus on what they love doing best!
  • Comprehensive Operations manual which guides you through every aspect of the business.
  • Comprehensive swimming training and regular refresher training which goes beyond the national and international standards set by the STA (Swimming Teachers Association) and Swim England.
  • Business management training.
  • British Franchise Association Affiliated Member
  • A family run and owned business created for like-minded people who operate in the area they live in and know.
  • Access to our in-house  team of professional underwater photographers
  • Starter pack which offer everything you need to start your own business.
  • Teaching a programme from pre-birth to around their 10th Birthday allows an expandable revenue stream.
  • There are many more benefits Swimkidz offer to enable franchisees to run a successful business around the needs of busy family life which are not listed above.
  • Who is typically suited to being a franchisee?
  • A positive, self-driven, motivated individual with a passion to succeed.  We can certainly teach you everything else.  

What training and support are available?

As well as exceeding the swimming training needs for national and international standards we have an excellent on-boarding programme and continual professional development and workshops.  We have regular review and team meetings in addition to our all inspiring annual conference.

What hours would I need to work?

Initially you will need to put in a lot of work to get things up and running.  How many hours you wish to work is dependent on how big you wish to grow your franchise and how fast.  Our largest franchise currently teaches in excess of 1000 children a week, this is delivered through a dedicated team of teachers and support staff.

What has been your own experience as a mum returning to work?

The majority of our franchisees are Mums who didn’t want to return to a regular job where they had set hours and days, this is why the franchise opportunity appealed to them.  It provides them with the opportunity to grow their businesses to suit their own lifestyle and goals.   

What advice would you give to someone looking to buy into a franchise?

Do your research, spend time with the franchise you are seriously looking to be part of but most of all to know and understand the brand.  A franchisor will be looking someone who is passionate and excited to be part of their team.  Also check the franchise agreement out with a Franchise specialist lawyer and ask as many questions as you can think of before signing up.

How can I find out more about becoming a franchisee?

There's more information on our website or you can email us franchising@swimkidz.co.uk and arrange a call back.  We will gladly give you as much information about the opportunity over the phone.  If it’s still something of interest we will invite you to an informal meeting where we can explore options.

Where can I find information about your classes?

You can visit our website www.swimkidz.co.uk

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