Meg Fareham Business owner

Riding the Corona-Coaster as a Jiggy Wrigglers Franchisee

 

All Aboard!

16th March 2020, this was the date I unknowingly took my seat on the Corona-Coaster and, boy, was I in for a ride I’ll never forget!  The Corna-Coaster left the station as I watched the Prime Minster announce that the UK Government were now asking everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and avoid social venues.  I turned to my husband and said “is that me?  Is it Jiggy Wrigglers?”.  The Corona-Coaster was heading fast into the first drop!  I had to make the heart-breaking decision to close all my groups with immediate effect, As always, I had to put the health & safety of my customers and their families first.  As hard as it was at time, I honestly didn’t think it would be for long, a month, six weeks maybe.

 

Going Up!

So what could we do if we couldn’t wiggle in person?  Team Jiggys are always keen to find ways to support and stay in touch with our customers, so it wasn’t long before the Corona-Coaster started climbing to its first high…Jiggy Wrigglers on YouTube!  Okay, so it was pretty weird at first, filming myself, on my own, delivering a session to the wardrobe in our spare room, but the reaction from customers was amazing!  There was so much excitement and it was heart-warming to see the photos of all my customers joining in a home.  Filming YouTube content gave me a focus and a way to keep connected to my customer base.

 

Going Down!

But, this ride was only just beginning, as quickly as I hit the first high, the Corna-Coaster was beginning it’s decent to another low.  23 March 2020 England entered a National Lockdown, schools were closed, people were ordered to work from home, non-essential shops were closed.  I was now facing, along with many others, the daunting task of keeping my franchise running and home schooling my 2 children whilst my husband was at work.  Things suddenly felt a whole lot more serious and scarier.  Although there were 3 weekly reviews, we all knew things weren’t going to change quickly.  The prospect my franchise could be closed for months to come hit me hard.  I felt angry, I’d worked so hard to get my franchise to where it was.  I felt sad for the customers who were missing out.  I felt lonely, I missed adult company.  I felt scared, where would all this leave my franchise?

 

Up, Down, Up, Down

But as the weeks went by the Corona-Coaster treated me to some highs and lows at a gentler pace.  I was privileged enough to be asked to film some party videos and personalised videos which was definitely a high.  There were periods of lows where I missed people dreadfully, I missed social contact.  I went through periods of questioning my confidence.  Another high – I took part in my first ever festival!  It may have been virtual, but it was amazing!  As we came to the end of the Summer it finally felt like the ride was coming to an end, and as we all know rollercoasters end with a huge high!

 

The Highest High!

My ride on the Corona-Coaster hit the highest high on 14TH September 2020 when I reopened face-to-face classes.  It was amazing to be back wriggling again!  It was wonderful to welcome back pervious customers and to welcome new ones!  Yes, things were different, yes there were several restrictions in place, and yes, it all felt a bit strange.  But I was COVID-Secure and I was back!  September and October whizzed by in a happy bubble of being back doing what I love, interacting with my customers, building my franchise and getting ready to get off the ride.  But the Corna-Coaster had other ideas!

 

Didn’t see that one coming!

31st October 2020, the Prime Minster announces another National Lockdown for 4 weeks.  Suddenly I felt back at square one, after all the hard work and enjoyment of the last 2 months, and now this.  But this time Jiggy Wrigglers had a trick up their sleeve…this time we were prepared for Jiggy Wrigglers @ Home…online!  We were able to continue to offer high energy, fun filled sessions to all our customers via online platforms.  Take that Corna-Coaster!  I set up a studio in our spare room, set up my normal ‘jiggy table’ with my speaker and all my puppets and props and I was good to go!  This meant I was able to continue providing the class I love to all my valued customers even though I couldn’t see them face-to-face.

 

A Festive High

When I reopened face-to-face classes in December 2020 it was festive feels all the way!  I love Christmas and after such a difficult year I wanted to provide as much festive cheer as I could.  Every class was filled with festive tunes and I was lucky enough to finish the year with sold out Christmas sessions filled with customers old and new.  The Corna-Coaster was defiantly at a super high!

 

New Year, New Low

After such a high, I guess I should have been prepared for a low, but this one still caught me by surprise.  I’m a super organised person so I was all ready to go in the New Year, I had my kit washed my mats cleaned and my kit bags all packed and in the car.  I sat with my cup of tea at 7pm on Monday 4th January and listened as the PM plunged England back into a National Lockdown.  I even had my husband rewind the bit about school closures as I was sure I’d heard the words “remote learning until half term”.  Bam!  Straight in there with a minimum of 6 weeks in lockdown, no messing around.  Again, I had to close my face-to-face classes, it was heart-breaking.  Was this Corna-Coaster ever going to let me off?  So I took a minute, dusted myself off, set up my Jiggy Wrigglers studio in our spare room again and set about taking my franchise back online.

 

Heading Towards the Exit.

It’s now been a year since I unknowingly buckled up my seatbelt on the Corna-Coaster and it finally feels as if I’m heading for the final high before I can get off the ride.  22nd February the PM announced the roadmap for heading out of Lockdown.  For the first time Parent and Child groups were listed in their own right, I can reopen my face-to-face indoor classes on 12th April.  For the first time there is mention of ALL restrictions being lifted.  From 21st June, if the Corna-Coaster, doesn’t decide to go round again, normal life will resume.  There’ll be touchable bubbles blown.  The toybox will be back.  Jiggy Bug can nibble the shakers as the children say hello.  I’ll be able to make a cup of tea and sit with the mummy who’s been up all night.  I’ll be able to hug the children who ask for a hug.  The final high on this ride of a lifetime is coming!

Support 

I’m lucky enough to have not been alone on my Corna-Coaster journey, I’ve ridden the whole ride with Jiggy Wrigglers Head Office and 22 other amazing Jiggy Wrigglers franchisees experiencing every high and low with me.  The support from Jiggy Wrigglers Head Office, from lobbying to regulators for our industry, to speaking to local officials to help franchisees, to providing financial aid.  The support from Team Jiggys, from midnight calls when we first had to close our classes, tea and cake catch ups in the Summer, to Zoom meetings to plan our return.  We may be spread out across the UK, but Team Jiggy is now stronger than ever!

If someone had told me this time last year what the Corna-Coaster had in store for me and my franchise, I’ve have laughed at them.  As a franchisee, for my business, I’ve felt the lowest lows and the highest highs.  I’ve had to adapt, change, learn, gain new a confidence and re-discover an old one.  I’ve felt terrified at times, hugely excited at others.  But I’ve done it!  I’ve ridden the Corna-Coaster and I’ve survived!  I’m ready to reopen, bigger and stronger than ever!  Bring on the wriggling!

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