Maybe it’s just down to a lack of knowledge and understanding that so much nonsense gets talked about franchises but, whatever the reason, it’s time we put the record straight. That way you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with if you’re thinking about taking the plunge with a Swimtime franchise.
Let’s start with an encouraging fact: 97% of franchises are profitable, so it’s good to know the odds are in your favour from the outset. Now that you’re in a positive mindset, let’s get down to dismantling some of those misleading misconceptions.
Myth 1: You need previous business experience to run a franchise
Let’s be clear, we’re not saying business experience is a bad thing but it’s certainly not essential.
Most franchises provide multi-dimensional training schemes as a matter of course, as well as a range of follow-up training at the appropriate time. So, you’re likely to get plenty of support from the franchise operator to help you hit the ground running. At Swimtime, for example, you’ll enjoy full business KPIs including data to improve class profitability.
Rather than needing to reinvent the wheel, successful franchisees tend to be quick learners who are able to tweak established templates and adapt business best practice to take advantage of seasonal or regional opportunities whenever and wherever they occur.
While lack of experience might not be a deal breaker, there are certain qualities that we do see as a ‘must’. These include a good work ethic and a willingness to learn. Other important traits like clear thinking, flexibility and decisiveness are all skills that can be learned in any profession from education to retail.
We should probably let you into a little secret here. At Swimtime, we actually see a lack of business experience as a bit of an advantage. Working with a blank sheet of paper, there are no previous bad habits that we need to correct.
Myth 2: You should, at least, be an expert in the sector that the franchise is in
We’ll cut straight to the chase with this one. To take over a franchise at Swimtime, you certainly don’t need to have worked in a swim school before. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many people out there who do have such experience.
We just need to look at our own franchise holders to discover that a lack of previous experience within the industry isn’t likely to hold you back. Our current list of successful franchisees includes individuals who were previously in customer service, Jane McCahill and David Drury.
Again, it’s personal qualities such as a strong work ethic and a bit of business acumen that will be a better indicator of future success.
Myth 3: As a franchise holder, you’re not really your own boss
Of all the common myths about franchising, this is the one we hear most. While there may be the odd time when you wish you weren’t holding the reins, the fact is the buck does always stop with you.
Most people look on the ‘air cover’ you get from the franchisor holder as a positive rather than a negative. It’s almost like having a safety net that’s there for you should you ever slip. But, while the franchisor will be there to provide guidance and the voice of experience when needed, ultimately you will be the one making all the decisions and you’ll need to take full responsibility for them.
You will be asked to follow certain aspects of an established and proven blueprint like all franchise holders do to ensure you’re delivering a consistent customer experience. But that just makes sound business sense. Apart from that, though, you will be in sole control of the day-to-day running of your business.
If this is still an aspect that concerns you, it’s worth chatting things through with Swimtime, or the franchise you’re considering buying into, so you can find out exactly how much freedom you’ll have to run your business as you choose.
Myth 4: Buying a franchise can be a bit pricey
This one can be a bit like trying to work out the length of a piece of string. Yes, certain franchises can be expensive to buy into (usually for good reason) but others can cost as little as a few thousand pounds.
While buying into a cheaper franchise might be tempting at first, it’s worth remembering that, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So, as a general rule, you can expect the more expensive franchises to yield the bigger returns.
A franchise with Swimtime starts at £22,000 and this includes everything you need to operate and grow from day 1. This may seem like a lot of money, but it’s a small investment compared to the cost of starting your own business from scratch. And if you don’t have a lump sum ready to invest, that needn’t be a problem either. Swimtime franchises are eligible for a start-up loan from the British Business Bank.
5. Well-known franchises are always the best bet
They can be, but that’s not always the case. It’s easy to be won over by the success stories evidenced by the big franchise networks but don’t forget they have a much bigger pool of business case studies to choose from.
Sometimes buying your way into an up-and-coming franchise network can be a more lucrative option.
For a start, you know there will be none of the complacency that can sometimes slip in with the big boys. Instead, there’s likely to be a more agile approach and more of a willingness to listen to brave new ideas as the franchisor is unlikely to be set in their ways.
In the end, it really all comes down to you and the kind of business that best suits your personality and your needs. What works best for someone else won’t always work best for you. Big or small, established or new to the market, you should always look out for an organisation that has a product or service with a USP that gives it the edge over its competition. Without doubt, that’s the best way of ensuring long-term profitability.
Membership of the bfa (British Franchise Association) is something else to look out for. While it isn’t a guarantee of success, it does suggest the organisation has met the association’s membership requirements and, at the very least, indicates they can be trusted.
6: You can’t fail with a franchise
While we are, of course, firm believers in the franchise model, and we can cite many examples of Swimtime franchisees who have created businesses that have far exceeded their expectations, it would be wrong to suggest this is nothing but a licence to print money.
In business, success is never guaranteed and, as a franchise holder, you’re going to have to invest hard work and business skill as well as your hard-earned money to reap rewards. Even then, failure will always be a possibility.
In that respect, there’s little difference from buying into a franchise and setting up your own business from scratch. At the end of the day, the principles are essentially the same. As the popular saying goes, the harder you work, the luckier you are likely to get.
If you would like to find out more about being a Swimtime Franchisee, just follow this link. We’d love to hear from you and feel free to get in touch with no obligation whatsoever.