Child-focussed business is booming
Every parent wants their child to have the best opportunities to meet their potential. The year 2020 has taken a lot away from new parents but one franchise business is determined to continue to offer a much-needed service throughout their local communities.
Jiggy Wrigglers have come through this year by adapting and reaching out to customers to offer support during this very difficult time. The franchise system allows those with very limited business experience to run a highly successful activity and a vital support to many.
Jiggy Wrigglers takes little ones and their parents on an exciting musical journey, which will help develop their sensory capabilities while offering a fun and social activity. The classes are for children age 0-5 and feature lots of games and activities set to music. One of the most important aspects is the support and social interactions, vital for new parents.
Being a new mum, launching a new business was probably not the first thing on her mind but for Alice Kew, attending a baby show in 2016 changed everything. “My eldest daughter was a few months old and we went to a baby event just to have a look around and found a Jiggy Wrigglers class,” says Alice. “I loved the energy that the leader had and it seemed fun. A few months later I saw that Jiggy Wrigglers were opening a Jiggy Babies class in Andover and I attended the launch of this class under the previous franchisee. It was an incredibly successful event, with lots of people and the feeling once again was that of fun. I attended every so often with my eldest daughter, and then five months after my youngest daughter was born in February 2019 I saw that there was a vacancy for a leader. I applied and sure enough I began my journey with Jiggys. I took over the franchise in February 2020, which was a year to the day that I joined the company.”
Although Alice understood how to run the classes, operating the business was a whole different matter. However, the support that was offered enabled her to quickly get things moving. “A franchise was definitely the best method into business for me,” Alice explains. “I am confident in my skills, but I am the type of person who benefits from being part of a team. Being a franchisee allows me to have control over my own business, but also to be a part of something wider, something that has a good reputation and support system behind it. Being able to make my own decisions but also be supported and consistent allows for the brand to grow and people will feel confident attending classes when they have heard of it before and can see just how many other areas are flourishing as well. The things that attracted me initially were the element of fun, the reputation of the company in my local area, and the flexibility it provided for my life.”
Although Alice took over almost at the start of the COVID crises, with the support of Katie Clunn, Managing Director of Jiggy Wrigglers, she has been able to successfully pivot. “The COVID pandemic has been devastating for a lot of people and businesses but I am a determined person. I believe that people still needed us, they needed that familiar face there for them and so we began online classes. We did some videos for YouTube and we ran weekly online live classes during the first lockdown which were successful, and now in the second lockdown we have continued to do much of the same. I changed our spare room into a Jiggys Studio and invested in equipment that would enable me to smoothly run from home such as a WIFI booster, zoom subscription, a tripod and lighting. Interactivity is paramount at a time when we are shut in away from our loved ones and so video calling was really the only option for me. I like to still see the children and make them feel part of the class, even if it’s behind a screen. I offered the hire of kit for free to everyone who booked so that the children can have a bag and really feel part of our sessions.”
This loyalty and support of the brand means so much to new parents. Many experts believe that these type of groups are so important to help with feelings of isolation and loneliness. “A lot of parents that come to groups currently have gone through a lockdown either pregnant or with very young children,” explains Alice. “They are still unable to meet up with friends, and some may not have had the opportunity to make friends due to the pandemic. Allowing parents to attend our groups allows them the opportunity to be with others and talk to them, and friendships are often built from the groups they attend. Even if they lack confidence, myself and my leaders will always take the time to talk to them about their week, check in on them and provide support to them if they should need it.”
The Jiggy Wrigglers franchise offers a rewarding and flexible career opportunity. The pandemic has reinforced how important it is to have fun activities for young children to participate in. The structure and social interaction of the classes are just as valuable for parents who are also looking for support.
Katie will be running a number of virtual Discovery Den sessions where you can find out more about joining the Jiggy Wrigglers network.
Q & A with Alice Kew, franchisee Jiggy Wriggglers Andover, Hampshire and surrounding villages
What’s your background?
My background is mainly in Early Years and entertainment. I was involved in Musical Theatre since the age of four and this inspired my love of music, movement and performance. I qualified to Level 3 in Early Years in 2012, and then gained my BA(Hons) in Children’s Development and Learning in 2015. I absolutely love working with children and it is something that I am incredibly passionate about.
How do you manage the work/life balance?
This year it has been a struggle for everyone because the situation was so unexpected, but I think this is why being a franchisee is of such benefit. You are able to devise a schedule that works around you. Typically we do classes every morning, and then the afternoon is for swapping kit around and any urgent admin. I have my youngest daughter with me every day still as she doesn’t start preschool until February 2021, so we either do the kit together or I wait until both my girls are in bed. I do answer messages and emails in the evening often, but that is due to the nature of the business. Most parents are busy in the day, so choose to ask questions or make contact in the evening when their children are in bed.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a Jiggy Wrigglers franchisee?
I love seeing the children grow and develop through classes. Particularly the children who start in the Jiggy Babies classes and then move through to the mixed age group sessions. Watching them grow and building bonds with their families is the absolute best feeling. I love that we are pay as you go, there is no commitment for anyone to return after one class and yet they do keep coming back. They choose you and that to me means the world. We have increased from five weekly sessions in one town, to ten sessions per week in two different towns since I took over the franchise and the demand is there for more still. I don’t think it could get more rewarding than that.
What advice can you offer anyone considering a franchise?
Make sure you do your research on the local area and what other similar businesses are around, but ultimately if you are confident in your skills but need that level of support and guidance, it’s definitely the best move. Being your own boss but part of a team simultaneously is just fantastic.
What are the benefits of being part of Jiggy Wrigglers franchise?
The support, guidance, a readymade and proven successful programme, training and start up are huge benefits to being part of this network. Also the freedom to be flexible and run a schedule that suits your life is just invaluable.
What are the key things you have learned in business?
I’m still learning every day, but I think the main thing I’ve learnt is that good communication really is the most important thing when running a business. Good communication with the families who walk into your classes, with the venues that you run classes in, with the other Jiggy Wrigglers franchisees and with your family. Taking over a business takes up a lot of your time initially and so it’s important to keep communication open so that people understand where you are at. It’s easy to get consumed by the business but it’s equally as important to remember why you are doing it. Giving yourself some down time really helps to keep focused I have found.
How do you stay motivated?
I am a motivated person in general, but my motivation comes from seeing the smiling faces in classes, speaking to parents who have been recommended our classes, and by being able to still take my daughter to school every day. I am motivated to achieve so that I can provide for my family whilst still being there for them.
Plans for the future are to increase our classes across more of my franchise area as this is not currently fully utilised, to run events to bring local small businesses for children together in one place, and to really keep the quality of sessions at the very top of our game. My current leaders are excellent, and I aim to keep the standard exceptionally high going forth so that we are as successful as we can be.
JoinJiggy Wrigglers Andover and Hampshire