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10 Things To Consider Before Investing In A Children’s Sector Franchise

10 Things To Consider Before Investing In A Children’s Sector Franchise

Stuart Wynne, managing director of The Rock Project, has some expert advice if you’re considering investing in a franchise in the children’s sector

Stuart Wynne, managing director of The Rock Project, has some expert advice if you’re considering investing in a franchise in the children’s sector

Despite the old adage ‘don’t work with kids and animals’, children’s franchises are popular and successful. Fun and varied, these businesses offer the chance to have a lasting, positive impact on a child’s life and that, for many people, is reward in itself.

Added to this, the boom in children’s after-school activities means these franchises can also make great business sense.

Working with young people takes a lot of energy, but it’s also a fantastic buzz. When I started The Rock Project with my wife Lowri, we thought we would be helping children learn to play as a band. But watching their developing confidence, as well as their musical skills, made us want to open more and more schools.

It’s an incredible buzz to see that growth and know you played your part.

If you’re thinking about opening a children’s franchise, it’s very important to do your own due diligence:

Visit the office

If you have an interest in buying any franchise, take the time to visit the head office before signing on the dotted line.

Meeting the managing director and support staff on their home turf, rather than a flashy hotel, will give you a good feel for the type of organisation you’re buying into.

Ask yourself: Is everyone enthusiastic, are they helpful and does this look like a well organised workplace? The ‘feel’ of the office will give you a strong indication of the ethos of the organisation and whether you’ll fit in.

Speak to franchisees

Before you buy into the brand, make sure you speak to several franchisees to find out how they feel about the business.

Get an understanding of the level of support they received in the early days and the amount of commitment they have personally put into their business.

Visit some sessions

Once you’ve spoken to a franchisee, go along to some sessions to see the business in action. Ask yourself whether this is something you want to do and can picture yourself doing.

You don’t have to be a former teacher

Believe it or not, previous experience of working with kids is not essential. We say The Rock Project is actually a management franchise, as a good deal of time is spent on managing staff and parents, as well as the children.

If you’re good at building relationships, have leadership skills and are outgoing, you will be fine with a children’s franchise. Some of our most successful franchisees had never worked with children before starting their The Rock Project business.

They did, however, have good organisational skills, clear goals and the enthusiasm to keep the students’ attention.

Buy a business, not a dream

Take time to make sure the franchise is something you want to do before you part with any money.

It’s very easy to get swept along by the idea of running your own franchise, especially when the 9 to 5 is less than inspiring. The reality is that whatever franchise you buy, your rewards will bear a direct relation to how much energy you put into your business.

Stick with the programme

When you buy a franchise, you’re paying for a blueprint to success.

Let the franchise manual be your guidebook at all times. The process laid out is built up over many years of experience creating a successful business in different parts of the UK, if not the world.

The franchisees who have the best businesses invariably follow the processes laid out to them and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The process is as important as the brand and marketing, so ignore it at your peril.

Keep in touch

Both in the early days and once your franchise is up and running, it’s important to keep communicating with head office and all the support staff. Keep picking their brains, asking for help and advice - after all, that’s what you’re paying for.

In my experience, the franchisees who keep in touch are the ones who do well. At The Rock Project, we have an online forum so that franchisees can share advice, ask questions of each other and get tips 24/7.

Starting a business for the first time can be lonely - you’re in charge and it’s up to you to make sure everything goes swimmingly. The beauty of a franchise is that you aren’t completely alone, as you have a team at head office and fellow franchisees to speak to, bounce ideas off and ask for guidance.

Building relationships

When running a children’s franchise, you have two sets of customers - the kids and their parents. It’s important to build a good relationship and have positive communications with both, but remember who pays your standing order.

Parents are paying you as an investment in their children and, like any investor, they need to know it’s paying dividends. Any progress the children are making should be communicated back to parents. It’s easy to take customers for granted, but the best businesses maintain frequent feedback.

Choose staff wisely

At The Rock Project, you will be employing people before the first session opens and it’s important you choose them wisely. All staff or freelancers must be DBS checked, they also have to show enthusiasm and the ability to think on their feet.

The ability to engage with the kids and keep their attention is crucial. We employ a number of musicians and it isn’t always the best persona musically who gets the job. They need to be able to teach the skills, as well as lead by example.

Sell yourself

Whatever business you get into, you must now become a sales person. What’s more, you will have to sell the concept not just to parents and kids, but also to any staff or freelancers and others.

For instance, The Rock Project often runs sessions in schools. Having the buy in of the head or a teacher in the school often means they will freely promote The Rock Project in their communications to parents, on social media and even let franchisees run special assemblies.

This kind of endorsement can give a huge boost to a franchise.

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