The 3 things you need to do before buying into a franchise: Research, research and research

Franchising is a business model that’s become increasingly popular in recent years, but there are over 900 organisations to choose from in the UK. It’s vital that you do your research to find the one that’s right for you before taking the plunge.

Married couple, Xaveon and Vanessa are new Swimtime franchisees, recently joining the largest independent swim school in the UK. They provide a great example of the level of homework that should be carried out by potential franchisees before deciding on which network to join.

Vanessa explains: “It’s a big commitment, it’s a big decision, so we spent quite a lot of time researching the different options available to us.” 

A relationship formed in Paradise

The ambitious husband and wife team first met in St Vincent’s in the Caribbean where Xaveon was born and raised. Vanessa went to do three months of volunteering work on the island and ended up at the same swimming pool where Xaveon ran swimming classes. A romance blossomed and they were married in the Caribbean in 2019, before Xaveon moved to join Vanessa in the UK just a few days before the first Covid lockdown.

Xaveon had always dreamed of starting his own swim school but moving to a new country added to the challenge: “I basically had to start over, but the ambition to have my own business and my own swim school was still there. I had a lot of things to figure out being in a new country so I had to learn a new way of doing things. It’s a more relaxed industry in the Caribbean, it’s very different here and my qualifications were American so I had to redo all those.”

Appeal of the franchising model

After a period of teaching swimming in private schools, Xaveon began to warm to the idea of franchising: “…the structure is already there and you get support and guidance going forward as well, so it was appealing that we wouldn’t have to do it alone.” That’s when the couple started looking at the merits of different swimming franchisors.

A franchise is based on a proven business model. In most cases, the blueprint, honed over time, is tried and tested. A good way to short-circuit the amount of research you need to do is to talk to existing franchisees to get a feel for the way things are done and the general trustworthiness of the organisation. This is a route that Xaveon was keen to explore: “We also spoke to Keri, one of the existing franchisees, which gave us a real feeling for the network and he was really helpful. We got a real taste of what it would be like to be a part of it - which none of the other franchisors offered.” 

Think local

Having been attracted by the Swimtime brand, people and reputation, the couple then made a study of what was going on in the local area. 

While the franchise that you're thinking of joining may have several competitors nationwide, what will be more relevant to you is how many of them are doing business in the area you’re setting up in. The less competition you have in your own patch, the better.

Meeting the boss

The couple were particularly impressed when they met Rachel Brooks, Swimtime’s Managing Director. “She took her time with the process, made sure we understood what we were getting involved in which we really appreciated. All the others made it feel more like a sales pitch and we didn’t like that. It felt more professional with Swimtime.” 

Xaveon liked the fact that Swimtime was a member of the British Franchise Association, which is a body that’s widely recognised as setting the highest ethical standards within the industry. “Speaking to other franchisors and finding out about the BFA, we had to learn who was part of that.”

A decision from the head and the heart

So, after all the research they carried out, what ultimately convinced the couple that Swimtime was the right franchise for them? 

Vanessa went more with her gut: “For me it’s about the feeling. We talked to a few people and then we talked to Rachel and she was so prepared. She covered so much that others didn’t, so it felt more professional.”

From the very start, Xaveon was drawn by the quality of the Swimtime product “I’ve always been hot on standards. It’s not just about making money for me, but I would always prioritise the quality of the service over the money. This really came across for me with Swimtime, that there was an emphasis on the progress of the children, the quality of what we would be offering.”

Xaveon also liked the way the business was run: “I was impressed by Franscape, the digital platform used to make bookings easier. This was important for me because everywhere I had worked previously, all this was done manually and, for me, it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work.”

Good luck to our new franchisees!

So, now with all that research behind them, the real hard work begins and Xaveon and Vanessa are looking forward to getting stuck in. This has been a lifetime’s ambition for Xaveon and we’re convinced that the couple have the passion, commitment and drive needed to make a success of their new venture. We wish them all the luck in the world!


If you’d like to find out more about Swimtime and our successful franchise model, please just follow this link. We’d love to hear from you and we’ll be delighted to answer any questions you might have with no obligation whatsoever.

Published by Swimtime: (updated: )