There’s a growing demand for franchises that capitalise on the British trend for investment in child development
More than ever, people are looking to invest in the children’s service sector because they recognise the longevity of the industry, the potential for growth and, in many cases, the ability to make a difference in children’s lives.
Before launching Code Ninjas in the UK, my team and I spent months observing and researching the UK market. We have since witnessed first-hand the continued demand for opportunities that capitalise on the growing British trend for early years investment.
The market remains robust
It’s an exciting sector to be in right now - while economic variables impact almost all other sectors, the children’s services market remains robust.
The UK is among the world leaders when it comes to people’s desire and ability to invest in extracurricular and enrichment activities for their children. Brands in this sector provide a range of services, from early years sensory, learning and development to premises-based coding centres like Code Ninjas and one-to-one in-home tutoring. With opportunities ranging from owner operator and multi unit to management style, there really is something for everyone.
Why now is a good time to invest
The sector is growing and has done so consistently for the last decade. According to the 2018 British Franchise Association NatWest franchise survey, the number of personal services franchised units - of which children’s services is a part - has more than doubled since 2008.
Increase in consumer spending
At the heart of this growth is two things: firstly, the increase in consumer spending UK-wide on such services. While the economy has been rattled over the last 12 months or more, this isn’t an area in which parents are willing to compromise - quite the opposite, in fact. Now, more than ever, people are prepared to spend more on their children’s development outside of the classroom.
I’m a father myself, so it’s easy to understand how and why this has become a necessity rather than a nicety. Pressure for good grades and competition for rankings among peers seems to sit uncomfortably with growing class sizes and the inevitable inability to provide any personal, one-to-one teaching in schools as a result. We also understand, whether we’re parents or not, that as technology advances at what is sometimes an alarming rate the skills and knowledge needed by future generations reside outside the current curriculum.
In a similar vein, in our digital age soft skills are seen as just as important, if not more so, by some. So parents look for afterschool programmes and clubs that not only teach tangible skills, but also support their children with confidence building, problem solving and teamwork.
All of this perfectly encapsulates the reasons why we refer to Code Ninjas as an ‘edu-tainment’ franchise and is shown in our tag line, ‘Kids have fun, parents see results’. As far as the kids are concerned, it’s about the experience and having fun, but in fact they’re learning vital skills for life.
Increase in awareness
The second reason behind such growth is that the sector is benefiting from an increase in the awareness of and the desire to pursue franchising as a route to business ownership, particularly among younger generations.
While attracted by the autonomy and flexibility of business ownership, many prospective franchisees are also highly motivated to make a difference, whether that’s in their own communities or in the lives of future generations. Combined with the sector specific growth and economic robustness, children’s services franchises become even more appealing.
Scope for growth?
If you’re considering investing in a franchise, you need to ask yourself some basic, yet fundamental, questions around your own skills, knowledge, commitment and financials. But when it comes to a children’s service franchise, there are one or two other aspects that prospects ask me about all the time. One of the main ones being: “Is there much scope for growth in the children’s services sector?”
There’s a risk that people can view what they see as a children’s franchise as something a bit flowery or not a serious business opportunity. Don’t fall into this trap. Running a successful children’s service franchise is hard work and requires a lot of dedication, but the potential for growth is limited only by your own ambition.
It’s important to consider in advance whether you’re going to remain as an owner-operator or if you intend to run the business as a management style operation once you’re established. If you’re serious about growth and making an impact in your community, you’ll need to be able to identify, recruit and lead people who share your vision and values for the business.
Empathy is key
Another question I get asked is: “Does it matter if I don’t have kids?” Not having kids of your own shouldn’t influence your decision when it comes to investing in a children’s service franchise. However, what you will need to succeed in this industry is a significant level of empathy with your customers and an understanding of their motivations and buying decisions, something you wouldn’t rely on quite so much in a business to business franchise, for example.
At the end of the day, your business is going to be directly involved in a very personal, very emotive aspect of people’s lives: their kids.
Having a passion for improving lives - whether through learning, confidence building or enrichment - cannot be underestimated and will be something a franchisor looks for in you. It’s something all Code Ninjas franchisees share and is so important to us and the success of our business that it forms part of our recruitment process.
The children’s services sector is a unique landscape to work in. Empowering future generations can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally. With commitment, skill and the support of a great franchisor, there’s no telling what you can achieve.
David Graham is the CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas