From left: Turtle Tots co-founders Caroline Sparks and Gaby Lixton.
Turtle Tots has received international recognition for its baby swimming programme, by being named amongst the best in family-friendly educational services by the Mom’s Choice Awards (MCA).
The MCA evaluates and reviews products and services that are scored on a number of elements including quality, educational value, originality, entertainment value and cost.
Turtle Tots says that it has become the first UK swim school to be honoured after being rigorously evaluated by a panel of independent MCA evaluators, who deemed its unique educational programme to be among the best for families.
Caroline Sparks, co-founder of Turtle Tots, said: “With my co-founder Gaby Lixton, we set up Turtle Tots in 2011 to share our passion for baby swimming, and today with more than 50 licensees across the UK and Ireland, and 200 swimming teachers delivering our programme, we are so proud to receive this international recognition.
“It not only validates the educational value of the programme, but it is also serves as an endorsement of all the benefits and joy our teaching methods give to thousands of parents, carers and our 13,000 little turtles each week.”
Seal of approval
Dawn Matheson, executive director of the U.S.-based Mom’s Choice Awards, said: “Our aim is to introduce families and educators to best-in-class products and services, like Turtle Tots. Parents and educators know that products and services bearing our seal of approval are high quality and also have a great value.
“The MCA evaluation program is designed to incorporate the expertise of scientists, physicians and other specialists; but we also engage parents, children, educators, and caregivers because they are experts in knowing what is best for their families.”
The Turtle Tots swimming programme begins from birth, or as soon as the parent is ready to bring their baby or toddler to classes. With specialised and progressive lessons, Turtle Tots teaches water confidence, building the first steps towards swimming unaided and a lifelong love of the water.
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Cover story: Turtle Tots honoured
Turtle Tots has received international recognition for its baby swimming programme, by being named amongst the best in family-friendly educational services by the Mom’s Choice Awards.
Barrel & Stone’s first standalone restaurant
The first standalone Barrel & Stone restaurant has opened at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, offering customers handcrafted freshly prepared stone baked pizza.
Camile Thai franchisee for London
The Thai food restaurant brand has announced that Rakesh Gopalakrishnan who has over 19 years experience in the hospitality sector, has become its first London franchisee after acquiring the Tooting Bec outlet.
The BFA had been at the heart of franchising … why is it no longer?
Emily Price, chief operating officer at the BFA, discusses the association’s current and future plans to ensure it will be at the forefront of UK franchising, representing and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Explore the potential of franchising in the North
A selection of BFA accredited franchises will be exhibiting at The Northern Franchise Exhibition at EventCity, Manchester on June 21 and 22. Visitors to the show can also attend educational seminars and workshops.
What is workplace culture and why should we care?
The BFA investigates why good workplace culture is becoming higher on the list for jobseekers as Chris Chidley, chief executive of Driver Hire, agrees that retaining talent is key to creating a healthy workplace.
Improve your chances of obtaining finance
Suki Dehal of Lloyds Bank Group, talks about the important steps you can take to improve your credit history in order to maximise the chances of obtaining finance.
New owner of Signarama UK
Signarama UK has been acquired by Anas Saltaji, the master licensee for Signarama Canada. Saltaji says he sees this acquisition as a long-term commitment, focusing on reinvigorate the current network and targeting 100 units as he aims to replicate his overseas success.
‘Do I really need a broker to recruit franchisees?’
Brian Duckett of The Franchising Centre responds to the question, as he discusses how to avoid those unqualified leads and how the European brokers network can help with international recruitment.
What is block chain and how will it impact upon franchising?
Mark Abell of Bird & Bird, talks about the basic nature of block chain technology and how it makes commercial transactions more secure and cost-effective, whilst having limitless potential for businesses.
Manage supply chain risk
Gordon Drakes of Fieldfisher, discusses the UK Government’s report on the insolvency regime and considers its proposals, and provides best practice recommendations for recovering goods in the possession of a franchisee that has entered some form of insolvency protection.
BFA code of ethics – the roadmap to ethical practice
Nicola Broadhurst of Stevens & Bolton, explains how the BFA’s Code of Ethics enshrines the key principles of ethical franchising in the UK, acting as a form of self-governance, which gives clear guidance on what constitutes fair dealing and good conduct for both franchisors and franchisees.
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Domino’s, Drain Doctor, Dream Doors, German Doner Kebab, Kall Kwik, Not Just Travel, Papa John’s, Razzamataz, Signs Express, Snap-on and TaxAssist.
Amadeus, the catering services company that operates franchises with Starbucks and Subway has added a further food and beverage franchise to its portfolio, Barrel & Stone.
This is the first time the brand has launched as a standalone retail unit, as it is usually seen in pubs and hotels around the UK within its network of Barrel & Stone ‘pizza premises’, operated by pizza ambassadors.
Amadeus has opened its 50-cover Barrel & Stone restaurant at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham, offering visitors handcrafted freshly prepared stone baked pizza, craft beer, gelato and artisan coffee.
Russell Hardiman, managing director of Barrel & Stone, commented: “We’re really pleased to be working with Amadeus and to have launched our first standalone retail unit at the NEC. People visiting the venue can enjoy a quality, authentic Italian offering, either by sitting and relaxing in the restaurant or using the grab and go takeaway offering.”
Marc Frankl, food and beverage director for Amadeus, said: “We are constantly looking to refresh our F&B offering for visitors to the NEC based on the latest trends in the food industry at large. With a venue like the NEC, which hosts over 500 events every year, visitors want something quick, easy and delicious to sustain them throughout the day.”
‘Street food theatre’
“With all of our brands and retail units now we are looking to bring the convenience and theatre of street food into the venue and our events. Barrel & Stone really appealed to us as a concept as it boasts premium pizzas with a street food feel,” added Frankl.
Amadeus already operates a Starbucks at the NEC and at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, where it also has a Subway store. The company has a growing portfolio which sees it catering at additional venues, including visitor attractions and outdoor events.
The children’s music class franchise, Monkey Music, has announced a new partnership with Izzy Judd, the musician, author and wife of Harry, the drummer in the band McFly.
Angie Coates, the founder of Monkey Music, introduced Judd’s new role as company ambassador to her franchisees at its annual franchise conference, where Izzy spoke of her belief in an early musical education and shared stories of her family time at Monkey Music.
Izzy also presented the winners of the Monkey Music Franchise Awards 2019 with their M’Oscars and entertained the audience playing her violin during the launch of a Monkey Music fund raising song ‘Music is a Gift’ for the music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins.
The other speakers at the conference included Dan Early, who hosted an interactive percussion session, Carys Jukes from the BFA and Andy Bird, professional coach and author who led a workshop on leadership.
Monkey Music offers music classes for children from as young as three months to four-years-old. The 30-minute sessions aim to captivate the children with a combination of songs, movement and musical games in a stimulating and friendly environment.
The company says that the ear is the first organ to develop fully in the womb, enabling babies to take comfort in the music of their mother’s voice at just 11 weeks. It adds that all children are born with instinctive musicality but only if this is encouraged early enough will a child fulfil their musical potential.
Monkey Music teachers are carefully chosen for their natural ability to communicate with and entertain young children and their carers, so they can experience a unique mix of musical fun and learning. The company currently has 48 franchisees operating in over 300 locations across the UK.
From right: Anas Saltaji, Adrian Strong (franchise support manager), A.J. Titus (Signarama president) with York franchisee Matt Nicholson and his team.
Signarama UK has been acquired by Anas Saltaji, the master licensee for Signarama Canada, where he has grown the network to 49 locations since 2012.
The signs and graphics company says that whilst its existing UK franchisees have been trading successfully, the company has had a slow few years in recruiting franchisees but this is about to change as Saltaji is planning to replicate his overseas success here in the UK.
Saltaji, who also owns the master licence for a co-working franchise, Venture-X, explains his intensions for Signarama in the UK: “Initially, my plan is to focus on the current network. I want to reinvigorate them, help them to grow and remind them why they became franchisees. I want to get them excited about their businesses again.
“Excitement is contagious. It’s not difficult to generate leads but if you can then take people to a store and they see excitement, positivity and all that wonderful stuff, that’s when they start wanting to be part of it.”
The Canadian entrepreneur is aiming to build the UK network to 100 units and says that this acquisition is a long-term commitment, which involves, amongst other things, a planned relocation of his young family.
Saltaji said: “In the long-run, I plan to split my time between both countries. My wife and children will come too, and we’ll build a life here, as we have in Canada. It’s important to demonstrate my commitment to the UK franchise and all those who choose to join us. I want franchisees to know me, to trust me and feel that I’m passionate about their success. I can’t do that remotely.”
The company says its existing 10 Signarama franchisees that operate stores across the UK are cautiously optimistic about their new leader and are grateful for his candid approach to business and his ‘back to basics’ strategy for growth.
Mark Squires, the Harrogate franchisee, said: “We had a national meeting recently, and I think we all came away feeling positive afterwards. Anas shared his intentions and his goals for the UK.
“He made it clear that he wants to build up our confidence and satisfaction, before launching into any recruitment activity. He wants to replicate his success in Canada, here in the UK and, having shared his first five-year plan with us, I certainly feel more confident.”
Tracy Clark, the Milton Keynes franchisee, added: “I’ve been a franchisee since 2005 and since then, I’ve built a business of which I’m extremely proud. I welcome the entry of someone like Anas to the brand; there’s no denying the positive impact that his experience, both in franchising and the signage industry, will bring to the network. He knows the model, understands the business and has a proven history of growth and success.”
Saltaji comments: “The beauty of having Signarama in Canada is the resources that I can utilise here in the UK. I have an internal team dedicated to marketing, finance, product and business development. And their roles now encompass the UK franchise. I also have a strong network, some of whom turnover multi-million dollars a year and they are all incredibly excited to welcome the UK franchisees into the family.”
Signarama was established in the U.S. in 1986 and has more than 900 franchisees in 60 countries. The company offers customers custom-made outdoor and indoor signage including window graphics, banners, illuminated signs and vehicle graphics.
From left: Simon Rumball, Jo Mooney-Clarke (customer services), George Rumball and Nigel Toplis.
Kall Kwik has its youngest centre director, 29-year-old George Rumball, who has become the new franchisee restoring the brand to businesses in the City of London.
Rumball’s one-stop shop for design, print and online services, Kall Kwik City, has already seen an investment of over £10,000 in signage and digital equipment for the premises that previously operated as an unbranded stationery store for the territory of Bishopsgate.
Kall Kwik said that Rumball knew about the commercial potential of the brand after working as account manager for Kall Kwik St James almost 10 years ago, after beginning his career on the production side with JP Morgan. From there his career progressed with experience in print sales, marketing and communications.
Having kept in touch with the St. James’ centre, he learnt that the Bishopsgate outlet was for sale and seeing the store’s potential he decided to buy the franchise. The outlet was subsequently renamed Kall Kwik City with Rumball’s father, Simon, joining the business as print manager.
George said: “I have always been ambitious and love selling. Print is in my blood from the early days of working in the JP Morgan print room to trailblazing personalisation of print at Inc Direct. I have always hit my targets and enjoy networking so setting up my own business was the logical next step.
“It is such a great location with premises just around the corner from Liverpool Street. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to inject a new lease of life into the centre and bring the full range of Kall Kwik services to local businesses.”
New generation of owners
Nigel Toplis, Kall Kwik’s managing director, commented: “Kall Kwik has reached an exciting phase in its 40-year life as a new generation of owners begin to join the network. George was an outstanding member of the St James’ team and I am sure he will be an outstanding centre owner as he follows his ambitious business plan. We wish him every success and welcome him to the Kall Kwik family.”
Kall Kwik is part of The Bardon Group (TBG), a specialist franchise operator with multiple franchise brands within its portfolio. Starting life as Recognition Express over 30 years ago, TBG now also includes ComputerXplorers and Techclean.
If you’re serious about growing your franchise business to a much higher level, there are a number of issues to consider carefully. There are many pitfalls that franchisors looking to scale to 50 units upwards can fall foul to.
These hazards along their journey to growth can be minimised or avoided by focusing on the four key topics below. The journey is never going to be 100 per cent smooth sailing, but with these key features in place, you’re in a far better place.
First, franchisors need to think about the stepped approach to growth. Often, franchisors find that they hit points in their growth cycle, typically the points in between six and 20 franchisees, where their time is split between running their own business and running the franchise network.
This point is often where they need to employ members of staff. The exact point depends on the type of business, but typically retail businesses or other premises-based businesses, require full-time employees and support teams at an earlier stage than a ‘man-in-a-van’ franchise.
The second issue franchisors need to think about when looking to scale towards becoming a national network is the investment required, both within their central infrastructure and also for the recruitment of franchisees on an ongoing basis.
The payback time for a franchisor is typically once they’ve reached sufficient scale to have a centralised head office. Very broadly, that’s usually the point at which franchisors become BFA full members.
Because of that, they need to make sure they’ve got sufficient investment, not just to fund the initial set-up, but to also make sure that they can continue their recruitment efforts and continually reinvest in the promotion and marketing of the brand until they are at critical mass.
Thirdly, once franchisors reach 50 outlets, there are a number of different challenges that come up. One is the limiting factors on their growth, in that the franchisor needs to start considering how they promote their opportunities on a regional basis rather than a national basis, because they might find they are saturated in certain areas of the country.
They are also likely to be approached by overseas investors if they’re making a dent internationally. It’s important to take advice and guidance on how to grow internationally on a structured and proactive basis, rather than responding positively to the first inbound enquiry that comes in.
Finally, my overriding advice is that franchisors of all shapes and sizes, but in particular bigger franchisors, need to remember that they are in the franchising business, not the trade or service that they actually deliver. That needs to be remembered when it comes to all aspects of the business, from promotion right the way through to operations.
By Emily Price – chief operating officer at the BFA
Companies all over the world are assessing their relevance in today’s markets, ensuring products and services are fit for the consumer and implementing plans, processes and teams that support agile development environments and the British Franchise Association (BFA) is no different.
It is no secret that in recent years the BFA has come under fire for its ‘dated operation’ and to be honest I’d be inclined to agree with the statement.
The challenge for the current BFA leadership team and one we are pleased to accept is the transformation to a business that aligns as the natural strategic partner to any franchisor and their franchisees, delivering strategies that add significant value and facilitating market leading campaigns that put UK franchising on the map and in the minds of the next generation.
What’s our ‘why change’?
First and foremost franchising standards are everything, without them franchising would struggle to maintain the low failure rates, perception would hugely impact people’s appetite to invest and it is highly likely that consumers would think twice about where they spend their money.
That’s not to say that we believe franchisors are not capable of operating to high standards without the BFA, but it is certainly true that many require support and guidance to help them navigate the ups and downs of franchisor network development.
Of the 99 per cent of franchisors applying for membership some require a form of adjustment to their core framework in order to obtain accreditation and many go on to seek advice and guidance throughout the duration of their membership with us.
We don’t just keep our eye on the UK, the BFA sits on both European and global franchise councils to ensure we are well versed in opportunities and threats that arise globally and could impact the UK industry.
The UK developer accreditation has been born out of identification of unethical franchising trends globally, so in order to protect the UK industry we now liaise with international brands looking to enter so they fully understand the landscape and expectations in the UK.
Knowledge is power and with power we can influence
This message is critical to the future of franchising and whether you are a new franchisor, or 40 years into your network development, this is the reason to consider joining the BFA.
We have numerous examples of mistakes being made to the detriment of the industry and this intelligence drives our educational strategies, so what are they?
Free online education for franchisees and franchisors to support their knowledge of franchising prior to deciding on investing. This results in higher quality entrants.
Classroom and evidenced based training to help franchisee support teams, resulting in better franchise understanding and development structures.
High quality member conference programmes which deal with leadership, culture, sales, performance management, digital strategies and everything impacting the success of franchise businesses. Without dealing with the generic business trends franchising cannot expect to compete.
Industry surveys to identify trends, and support the strategic decisions of people operating in the sector. We also use this to present franchising in the media.
The Franchise Gym is set up to help maximise business performance in franchising, offering franchisors and their networks low-cost flexible solutions during development and change projects. Although in pilot phase this will officially launch this year in September.
The BFA, in collaboration with The Franchise Trust have built an employability programme to support different demographics into the workplace to secure a future in franchising. Our members and their franchisees will have the opportunity to support this initiative and see a collective franchise industry reduce UK unemployment.
If the BFA’s education could influence the UK’s academic agenda franchising would be in the minds of all youngsters going through this system – so that is what we are doing. An interactive video for school children, college franchise fairs, lecturer sessions in universities and potentially a new franchise module being designed by the BFA and a leading business school – watch this space.
Promotion for all who commit to the cause
The cause is the opportunity to build a strong industry that self protects within the collective to provide enviable circumstances for growth. In order to provide an ethical and fair approach to this there are a few rules:
If you wish to be involved you must practice what you preach and support the industry at large, this requires your commitment to the association to further broaden the reach and representation.
In recent years we have transformed the PR agenda to communicate not only in franchising but into businesses, sectors and regions to drive a growing awareness. Although we do promote the association through these channels we use evidence based case studies and our member brands to substantiate our messages.
Franchise guides have been produced and targeted digital campaigns run to expand reach using only our accredited advisors and franchisors.
Our website features numerous materials for people to be inspired by franchising and we are producing more opportunities for franchisors and their franchisees to benefit from the resources and partnerships we are building – our new website will be live in October.
This is of course the age of partnerships and this means that we are working hard in the background to create valuable opportunities that benefit franchising and our members – you will see some of our projects come to fruition over the coming months.
Is the BFA team up to the job?
The association’s management team has 80 plus years of experience in franchising both at the coalface as franchisees, leading strategies for franchisors and of course driving standards and education in the industry as confidents, advisors and influencers.
We are on a journey of transformation and want the industry to join us in leading the direction. So in answer to the question posed in the title of this article – the association no longer sits at the heart of this industry, it is at the forefront representing, innovating and leading the way, ready to support the next generation of franchisors, franchisees, business leaders and influencers, and help current members do the same.
My final thought
A quote from Henry Ford, ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’
Neighbourly, the home services company, hosted its third European Reunion in the UK in Manchester, which brought together over 350 franchisees from four countries across its service brands.
This year’s event themed ‘First Class’ celebrated the success of its franchisees from each of the brands in the UK, Ireland, Austria and Germany at an awards ceremony, and gave franchisees the opportunity to network and share best practice.
Neighbourly also announced its new plans for all of its brands in the year ahead, which now total eight after recently acquiring the UK kitchen makeover franchise, Dream Doors.
Mike Bidwell, Neighborly’s (a holding company of 22 service brands including the U.S. and Canada) chief executive and president, said: “Neighborly has had another strong year of performance, continuing to execute on our plan for growth in Europe and North America. We are now the world leader of franchise brands focused on repairing, maintaining and enhancing homes and properties.
“This year’s European Reunion has been a fantastic success for not only ourselves as a franchisor, but for all our franchisees. It has been one of the largest gatherings of franchise owners in Europe, and we wouldn’t of wanted to be anywhere else, Manchester, the home of culture, music and sport.”
Neighbourly in Europe consists of eight brands – Aire Serv, Bright & Beautiful, Countrywide Grounds Maintenance, Drain Doctor, Dream Doors, and Mr. Electric, plus Locatec and Rainbow International in Germany and Austria.
The Neighbourly Reunion Award Winners 2019 were:
UK Franchisee of the Year – David, Denise and Mike Baddeley (Drain Doctor)
Philip Young (Countrywide Grounds Maintenance)
Julie Dunne (Bright & Beautiful)
Martin and Alex Smith (Dream Doors)
The Norwegian gym chain, HITIO Gym, has signed its first UK franchise agreement, as part of the company’s international expansion programme.
Combining a traditional gym and studio offering with combat sports training, HITIO was founded in 1998 by Per Christian Pedersen and Fredrik Bjertnæs and has grown to a network of 32 clubs across Norway.
The company explains that it has a distinctive format that aims to bring people together through physical activity by targeting a large customer base including families with children, who can exercise at the same time.
HITIO’s offering of martial arts-focused group classes, which include boxing, taekwondo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing and HITIO Tiger, a programme for children aged five to seven years old, are aimed at developing focus, concentration, discipline and self-confidence through fun and motivating training.
The UK club will open in South London this summer by BGB Fitness, an investment group specialising in fitness facilities.
Matthew Blair, director of BGB Fitness, said: “We explored franchised fitness solutions in the past but until now didn’t find anything as unique as HITIO. The concept addresses a real gap in the market by targeting both adults and children.”
“This is something that we feel very strongly about and with child obesity an ever-increasing concern for the UK, HITIO gyms are a fantastic way of engaging families in health and fitness, by providing a real sense of community that is often missing from franchised gyms,” added Blair.
Mark Chambers, chief executive of HITIO, added: “We were really impressed by Matt and the BGB Fitness team; not only with the experience and expertise that they will bring, but their passion and enthusiasm for the HITIO concept was evident from the start and this is really important for us as we grow the brand.
“The fitness industry is booming and there’s nothing in the market that offers a concept like ours; with sites already confirmed in the UK, Spain and Portugal and with Sweden and Germany next in our sights, it’s a very exciting time to be a part of HITIO.”
HITIO says that as part of the extensive support provided to the franchise, all senior members of staff and instructors will also embark on a training programme led by HITIO’s central team in Oslo, in line with the brand’s commitment to maintaining its core values and delivering a community-led experience through each franchise.