Uncertainty hasn’t hindered growth among Toddler Sense’s franchise network
Brexit has been a relentless and contentious subject in recent years and has continued to dominate our headlines daily. As we know, most businesses across the country are feeling a certain level of uncertainty around what to expect in the future. With the recent changes in Parliament combined with the volatility of the ongoing negotiations, it’s no great surprise.
In the world of franchising though, life is no different. Across our 380-plus nationwide franchise network, Brexit has been met with the same uncertainty, frustration and bewilderment as it has in the rest of the business world.
Yet interestingly, having analysed our own data, even given the current climate franchisees don’t appear to have been discouraged enough by Brexit to allow it to impact their own businesses, with continued and steady growth across the network over the last three years. This could be for a variety of reasons - from the individual determination and entrepreneurial spirit often found in franchisees to the consistent buoyancy of the preschool franchise sector.
No signs of slowing down
Having additional revenue streams in franchising also helps during periods of economic uncertainty because it means all of your eggs aren’t in one basket. Merchandise sales for the preschool sector have remained steady throughout the franchise network and offer new channels to market.
The emergence of franchisees opting to purchase and lease their own physical buildings within which to operate certainly indicates business growth. In short, franchisees in this industry are showing no signs of slowing down.
Of course, it helps to be operating in a robust and progressive sector. Parents have always had a keen interest in early education, helping to lay the foundation stones for their child’s future learning. If they can attend a class each week that will help to stimulate and develop their child’s abilities, while also providing an opportunity for the parents to get out of the house, it’s a recipe for success from a franchise perspective and is the reason why the sector is so lucrative.
Additionally, with the closure of many children’s centres and weigh-in clinics, plus the drop in funds for health visitors, parents may not have the same reasons for getting out and meeting others that they used to. So attending preschool classes can be a breath of fresh air, offering them the chance to spend quality time with their child, gain some new ideas and meet new friends.
Prepare but don’t become consumed
That said, it’s important for franchisees to be aware of the impact Brexit could have on their businesses in the future. Nobody can rest on their laurels and preparation is always the best policy.
However, franchisees shouldn’t allow the unknown to consume them because that’s counterproductive to progression. Franchisees are currently taking a positive view with their ‘business as usual’ mentality, even in these uncertain times, and that is to be encouraged and admired.
Many franchisees are using the ‘waiting period’ of Brexit to their advantage. Where other businesses may delay decisions or put future plans on hold, franchisees are taking on more opportunities, expanding their services and growing their customer bases. Whether it’s developing new partnerships or investing in branded products to support their income, well-researched programmes delivered by reputable franchisors provide solid foundations and consistent support for franchisees moving forward.
With Brexit looming, many people are facing redundancy or considering a career change. Franchising can offer a viable opportunity to people who may wish to start their own business, but don’t want to be held back by fear of failure or talk of recession.
It’s a scary and vulnerable time for people to start a business from scratch without financial backing, guidance or any physical branding and reputation to thrive upon. Franchising is a less risky option for many. It’s a tried and tested model, one that should provide materials, training, merchandise, partnerships, business and marketing support - and so much more.
Positive mental attitude
Despite periods of economic change, if a franchisee sets out a strong business and marketing plan from the outset, follows the guidance from their franchisor and is willing to put in the hard work and determination that is vital to the success of any business, there should be no reason why that franchisee is not successful. Much of how we deal with the fallout from Brexit will be about mentality, positive attitude and clear focus.
Regardless of the times, it’s vital that franchisees invest in their businesses, but also need to ensure they have a budget in place so they don’t overspend. Regularly updating equipment, investing in marketing and updating skills and knowledge all contributes to successful franchise businesses.
Continuing professional development is also important right now. If you’re operating in the preschool sector as a franchise, you must ensure you are up to date with the current research and legislation related to children and parenting. Equally, you need to offer high-quality programmes and provide the safest equipment and products on the market.
Business as usual
In summary, franchises in this sector should - and are - demonstrating a ‘business as usual’ approach right now and that is exactly what we need to weather the storm.
There are no trends within our own network to indicate that Brexit will have a detrimental impact on our franchisees, but the air of uncertainty is to be expected - if we are told something enough times, we start to believe it.
Yet the truth is franchisees will be much more productive investing their energy in their own businesses and striving to move their business forward than becoming consumed by hype and panic.
Imogen Coleman is the franchisor of adventure play specialist Toddler Sense.