Name: Nicki Smith
Location: Bath and surrounds
Franchise: The Creation Station
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
I needed to find a change in work life which would enable me to spend more time being a Mum. Long hours and shift work were making home life difficult and I needed a change. Having run a business for many years, I thought I would find it hard to give up control of my workplace and therefore for businesses would enable me to keep that control. Owning a franchise though, would also give me the support network that is invaluable when starting up on your own.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was a manager for a large chain of pubs and restaurants for 11 years.
How did you raise the finance?
Partially through a loan, partially through selling share options.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I attended a 3 day training course initially, which introduced me to the business and gave me the necessary background and resources to set up the franchise.
Ongoing support includes regular support calls, updates and news from our Head Office, a large bank of resources and documents available 24 hours online, queries and problems resolved by the team through emails and phone calls, annual conferences, social media forums and training for any new initiatives.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
A typical day always revolves around my own children - school runs, nursery drop-offs, weekly classes, homework and normal daily parenthood! ......interspersed with emails, phone calls, class prep, running classes or events and raising awareness of the business through social media, local marketing or visits. So, I guess there is no typical day!
What challenges have you faced?
Time is always a challenge and I have had to accept that working in the evenings once childrens' bedtime has been tackled is a necessary evil.
Not having the security of a monthly wage and dealing with the peaks and troughs of cashflow has also taken some adjusting to!
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has introduced me to some fantastic people - both children and adults, and integrated me much more into the local community. This has improved mine and my family life.
I have also gained a lot of confidence in my ability to run the classes and events - getting compliments on your classes when you have no teaching history, is a real buzz!
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
I use social media all the time and have developed a loyal and involved following which enables me to get my news and messages across cheaply, effectively and when I find a moment to do so!
I also always offer an 'Early Bird Discount' for customers wanting to book for the whole term and this means that I have the security of knowing my classes will be busy, before the term starts.
What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
I love the way that we appeal to all ages. Today I have run classes which have had children from 4 months old to 9 years old. Everyone has had a good time and parents love that they can bring all their children to the same class. This is also true of our events and parties, which makes occasions really popular and memorable.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Hard work, resilience, energy and a 'never say never' attitude!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Think for the long term. Building a business rarely happens overnight, no matter how good the business model is. Don't lose sight of your end goal and why you chose to buy the franchise in the first place. Make sure you are happy to work by yourself and are comfortable holding yourself accountable for your decisions!
What are your plans for the future?
There are still many opportunities in my area/territory and as soon as my children are in school, I will be able to dedicate more time to searching these out. I want to take on some staff, but continue to make a big impact on my own business. Most importantly, I want to be able to continue running my franchise, making a profit AND being there for my children when they need me.
Would you do it again?
Yes...but with much more savings! ;-)