In the fast lane
Award-winning franchisor “trained” for several years before diving into franchising, and while still making a splash in Australia is starting to go international.
An “aha!” moment sparked a thriving children’s services business, resulting in Jump! Swim Schools MD Ian Campbell being crowned Australian Emerging Franchisor of the Year 2016 at the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) Excellence in Franchising Awards.
It all started when he noticed a trend in Aussie swim schools.
“As a parent and a swim teacher, I noticed swim schools were designed for volume and were very intimidating for young children, which is not ideal as swimming is a confidence-based skill,” he says.
This led to him opening the first swim school in Grafton in 2010 and opened the first franchise site in mid-2014.
“We pride ourselves on the competency of the children’s swimming skills,” he says. Of his franchising title, he says it is like a validation for franchises that have had an impact on the market.
He says his brand is now powering through expansion, on track to open its 100th site this year. Twelve sites had scheduled January openings, among 60 schools launching in the first six months of this year.
Asked about the secret to his successful model, Campbell says he was training “for a good five years” before franchising. “The main strength of our model from a franchising perspective is that it is a simple business.”
He has found that if a franchise system works in regional towns, it can work in a bigger market. The model is about local families running franchises in their local communities.
Bookings are made in advance, and the business has a focus on being invested in the children’s future. From a consumer perspective, children feel welcome as opposed to the situation in public pools where they can feel intimidated.
The model is not restricted by seasonal considerations. “We’re fully protected from the seasonal limitations other pool facilities have,” says Campbell. This is because the target age range is from three months up, meaning the business is not competing with after-school programs.
Specialisation is the value-add franchisees provide, he says. “There isn’t a lot out there for babies.”
There are no signs of slowing down, with the franchise starting international expansion late last year. It has signed leases signed in Brazil, New Zealand and Singapore. Campbell says the model was adjusted as necessary to meet regulations in each region.
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