How to build a franchise business
Expert advice on how to build a franchise business in the children’s activity sector. Meet Katie Clunn, Managing Director of Jiggy Wrigglers, an award-winning musical activity group for babies and pre-schoolers. She talks about her story and changing her career to fit around her young family and how she’s inspiring more parents to create the life that they want too.
Careers for new parents
Before the birth of my first child (in 2007), I had built a solid career in the financial services sector. While on maternity leave, I had time to reflect on the direction that I wanted to take in my career as a new mum. I didn’t want to return to a full time career, as this would have taken me away from my son, and it wouldn’t allow me to have the family time that I wanted.
How to start a children’s activity group
I started to think about and plan my own ‘music mummy’ sessions for 0-5 year olds. Would I hire a hall or start small groups running in my own home, how much would I charge, what could I offer that others hadn’t thought of… what could I do differently? Just weeks before my first class was about to launch, I decided to take a trip to a new Jiggy Wrigglers group that had just opened near to my home. My little boy was getting to the age where he wanted more interaction and I was desperate to get out and meet other new mums.
Why collaboration is key
Jiggy Wrigglers ticked all the boxes that I had been hoping my business would. It was upbeat, fast paced, interactive and full of surprises. I didn’t have to sign up for a full term, it was ‘pay as you go’ and I got a cup of tea and a biscuit at the end. I immediately went home and set up a meeting with the lady that ran the class. I explained my plans and offered her the chance to take the business to the next level. Jiggy Wrigglers was established in 2008, and within two years of opening, it had grown to run more than 50 groups a week in Hampshire. Today it has spread all over the UK. We’ve won several awards and that makes us very happy. All of our franchises, leaders and staff do an amazing job, and that’s why our customers keep coming back and also why they recommend us to their friends.
Growing a franchise
When my business partner decided that her ‘Wriggling’ days were over, I took it as an opportunity to expand the business into the Jiggy Wrigglers our customers know and love today. I formed a sister company to manage and develop the franchise side of the business, while taking the opportunity to grow my own groups and sessions. The franchise model I have now developed has retained many of the brand pillars of the original business such as friendliness, accessibility and fun, but now it’s on a much bigger scale. We’ve added new and exciting programs for different age categories and refreshed the branding with four new characters forming the Jiggy family. We’ve even received kind words and recognition from some of our competitors. Since 2015, our franchise sales have doubled. Within the ever-growing industry of children’s activities, Jiggy Wrigglers stands apart from similar business models through its ability to offer, fun, upbeat and interactive programs through flexible and affordable franchises and classes.
The journey hasn’t been an easy one, I suffered quite badly with PND with my first two children. My husband was working away from home four days a week and at times I felt very alone because I felt like everyone else’s life was continuing and mine had stopped. This is something that I now know that many new mums struggle with. I spent every day changing nappies and trying not to upset a toddler. Who knew you could ruin a whole day by giving a toddler the wrong colour cup! It could be very hard to balance everything, counting down the hours until my husband was home, just so I could go and have a wee in peace, brush my hair or just sit in a dark room for five minutes to catch up on emails or recruit some staff.
Making tough decisions
In October 2016, we moved 160 miles from Hampshire to Shropshire. This meant my husband could be home every night and I could relaunch the business in a new location. Although I was eight months pregnant when we moved, there was a great mixture of excitement and trepidation. I had lived in Southampton all my life, it was where all my friends and family were, and where I had built the majority of my business links. Even so, we made the move and two months later our daughter was born (in the car en route to the hospital) and we couldn’t be happier. Jiggy Wrigglers has been the main factor to this. In May 2017 I set up my first classes in Bridgnorth, and in September welcomed our first Shropshire franchisee (Telford) and in January 2018 we expanded to Kidderminster and Wolverhampton.
What does the franchise offer new parents?
From the perspective of a parent, I could see that there were two key unique elements about being a Jiggy Wrigglers franchise:
- The first is that it allows you to work around your children. I now have three children (aged 13, 11 and 4 years ) and not only have they come to my sessions, they have been actively involved in the preparation for special events.
- The second is that being a Jiggy Wrigglers franchisee allows you to work the hours that you want to around your various family/ life commitments. This makes juggling nurseries and school timetables far easier and allows you to build a new career your way.
Get in touch
Katie will be running a number of virtual Discovery Den sessions where you can find out more about joining the Jiggy Wrigglers network.