Imogen Coleman, franchisee and programme development director at Toddler Sense HQ, explains what you need to succeed in the preschool franchise sector
Franchise businesses within the children’s activity sector continue to increase at an astonishing rate, as more individuals look to capitalise on this substantial and lucrative high growth market.
For many, the lure of being your own boss, obtaining a greater work-life balance and running a business with the backing of an already established brand is hard to resist.
But working in the children’s sector is not child’s play; it’s fast paced, constantly changing and leaves little room for complacency - even if you have the added benefi t of a recognised brand behind you.
Over the last decade, it’s no secret that the children’s franchise sector has boomed. It’s an extremely competitive market too, where only the strongest will survive.
Any business that’s linked to the nurture, growth and development of children, by its very nature, involves a degree of complexity. With evolving research and studies, not to mention daily debates linked to well-being, safety, education, mental health, diet and learning, one cannot afford to rest on their laurels when it comes to building a successful franchise business. The competition is simply too vast to sit back and blend in.
Of course, competition is also a good thing because it means there’s demand from parents, both from a franchisee perspective and a consumer perspective. Those interested in working in the children’s franchise sector will have a far greater number of options from which to choose and can often find a programme to buy into that fits themselves and their family.
In a highly competitive market, it’s always important to stand out from a crowd, but this means considering a few important points:
Is the franchise you’re interested in or have invested in current with the market?
Are you up to speed on the latest developments in your sector?
If you’re a new franchisee, it’s also good to always ask yourself: are you becoming complacent with your vision or business?
A business or performance can always be improved upon, providing it’s well researched, delivers high quality programmes/services and focuses on innovation, creativity and new ideas that are of a high standard and going to be beneficial for parent customers and their children.
Skills and qualities
If you’re interested in working in the children’s franchise industry, you have to possess certain skills and qualities.
Firstly and most importantly - and it may sound obvious - you need to love working with parents, children and their families, as without this attribute you’re unlikely to succeed.
You also need to have effective interpersonal skills to be able to communicate effectively with your customers, staff members and other companies.
Equally, you need a good level of business acumen too - attending internal business training courses or an external one can help to build knowledge and expertise. However, many of these skills can also be developed organically over time.
Delivering a complete experience
From a skills perspective, having passion and believing in what you’re delivering is vital (in any sector). You are the person who will make the franchise truly successful.
Being organised, approachable and empathetic are all great qualities to engage with your customer base. Equally, being compassionate and a good listener will go a long way.
It’s worth remembering that many parents are not simply attending a class, they’re looking for a complete experience, to meet other parents, to gain support or just to get out of the house for some ‘me time’.
Ensuring you’re fully trained within the company’s training schemes, being reflective on how you could improve your business and continual professional development training can all contribute to your overall skills and knowledge, which will help you build your business.
As a franchisee, I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, but for any franchise strong head office support from the franchisor is vital.
Training, guidance, support, programmes and great products will all help a franchise business to grow. Having a wider support network of other like-minded franchisees and feeling part of a community and team, while being able to run your own business, can do wonders for future success and be a great life experience too.
The children’s franchise sector continues to be a growth area, especially over the past decade. This is for many reasons, but two of the main reasons are:
- Internet and social media. Extensive research and studies are now readily available for parents via social media or the internet, which enables them to learn about the development of their children.
The learning capabilities of a newborn baby all the way through the early years stage is quite amazing and parents are aware of the importance of preschool education, so are keen to integrate their children into a variety of activities.
In turn, this also supports parents with the social aspect of making new friends and helping to reduce the likelihood of mental illness, such as post-natal depression.
- The rise of the gig economy. The increase in people wanting to set up their own businesses has risen to an all time high.
Whether they have not wanted to return to work after having their baby or want a complete career change, the idea of running one’s own business is appealing. Being part of a franchise even more so, because it’s fully supported and has a proven business model and brand to work from.
Many people turn to running their own business as a way to achieve greater flexibility, as it gives you the opportunity to choose the hours you work and fit your career in with your family life. But it can consume you at times.
As you grow, it does take up more time, so you have to ensure you set that time aside to spend time with your family without losing focus on the growth and development of your business.
When you have your own business, you never switch off completely. But that is also the joy of being your own boss - you can grow as much as you want to and if it gets too much you can review and reduce your workload with careful planning.