Franchise Chatter (FC): For those unfamiliar, please tell us about your different swimming classes and programs (method of instruction, cost, duration, etc.)?
Rita Goldberg (RG): We have group classes, semi private classes, and private classes. We cover all ages from 3 months to 99 years.
We encourage a twice a week program. Costs are charged on a monthly basis and vary slightly with each location. Average lesson works out to approximately $16 per class. Lessons are 30 minutes and courses are ongoing year round.
We are committed to “survival” skills first and “swimming” skills second. Initially, we teach all our students to roll onto their backs so that if ever they are in any difficulty, they can breathe and be heard. Drowning is known as the “silent” killer as most untrained swimmers float face down blocking airways and sound.
FC: How is your business model different from those of other swim school franchises?
RG: With our model, the franchisee is not required to build a pool, enabling them to open the business with a very small amount of capital and within a very short time period. The use of existing pools makes it quick to open, and makes it flexible to both grow and add further locations.
Our franchisee is NOT purchasing the use of one pool per area but will be encouraged to open programs in multiple pools within their purchased demographic area. We rent pool time on an as needed basis, so costs are extremely low. We pay either a flat daily rate, a monthly rate, or a percentage payment.
FC: Can you describe the ideal franchisee for a British Swim School?
RG: Currently, we have two franchisees that are diametrically opposite but are both doing a terrific job! One is a mom with a business background (a terrific businesswoman!) who enjoys teaching swimming. The other is a passionate 28 year old swim teacher who is learning to become a businessman also. We hope to attract both personalities.
I do hope that we appeal to Aquatic people who perhaps will recognize that they could make a career out of opening a great Swim School. The empty nester that is looking to return to the business world and the service Vet may also find a wonderful future in Swim Schools.
This franchise could attract a wide range of people and personalities. Here are some ideal qualities for our prospective franchisees:
Experience with child service franchises
Experience with swimming and swimming lessons
Passionate about education
Have capital to invest or obtain financing
Commitment to excellence
Business, management, and/or sales experience
Strong standards of excellence, honesty, and integrity
FC: What is the ideal neighborhood and territory for a British Swim School?
RG: Heavy population of young families. Income level of around $65k plus.
FC: Describe the process for securing a suitable swimming facility for each franchise. What kind of assistance can franchisees expect when it comes to securing an appropriate location and dealing with the facility owner?
RG: We look for warm pools in, or close to, suitable area demographics. We use lists of possible pools obtained from the City or County. Health clubs, fitness centers, hotels, schools, university pools are all possible.
We initially approach the site manager and request a meeting with a decision maker. We follow up with a synopsis of the British Swim School and
how we could partner with them in a mutually beneficial way.
We will always try to physically be with a franchisee for the first pool(s) needed.
FC: What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses?
RG: Our franchisees must provide a great teaching program that is effective, non-traumatic, and lots of fun, and at the same time try to give the best customer service possible. Also, they must constantly be aware that we are guests at the facilities and conscientious at doing all that is needed to keep our hosts happy.
RG: We have weekly conference calls and reviews. We just hosted our first conference in Florida, where ideas were discussed and shared.
We also intend to provide their goods at a low cost. At this time we have T-shirts, swim caps, award ribbons, goggles, etc. We are constantly looking for new sources of revenue from additional merchandise. As we grow, our purchasing power will increase.
We have templates of printing material to avoid set up costs. We help with ideas on incentives for parents to recommend us and to increase the awareness of our program, therefore increasing revenue.
FC: Is this a seasonal business? Are there any unique challenges to running a swim school that your franchisees ought to know in order to keep their expectations in check?
RG: This is a year round business. There are some fluctuations in participation depending on geography more than season. In Florida, winter is less busy. In Maryland and Chicago, it does not seem to be a factor. This may seem the wrong way round, but is proving to be correct!
FC: Can you tell us a bit about the initial investment to open a British Swim School? What are the major operating expenses? What is the profit potential for your franchise?
RG: The initial franchise fee is $25k. We estimate that a further $10k to $15k will be needed to cover advertising, marketing, rent, insurance, pool props (i.e. goggles, swim caps, kick boards, etc.). Legal fees and living expenses will obviously depend on the franchisee.
Profitability depends on the ambition of the franchisee. Cash flow is almost immediate and it is entirely possible to be profitable in a very short period of time. As stated in our FDD, our Maryland franchisee grossed $241k in 2010. She did this with one pool and now has three additional locations within her franchise area. We do have an Item 19 for prospective franchisees to look at.
FC: What are your goals for British Swim School in the next few years and how do you plan to grow your business?
RG: British Swim School saves lives. And the more successful franchises we can add, the more lives we will be able to save! I would love to have British Swim School be the best, most recognized company in the Swim world, providing great quality life saving skills to all across the country.
I will be getting the word out by many different avenues (i.e. trade shows, computer sites, word of mouth, etc.). I want to have great franchisees who want to earn a great living, doing a great service and loving it!