Multi-Unit Franchise Experts

Franchise Evaluator™: British Swim School

British Swim School - Business Evaluator™

British Swim School is the leader in “Learn to Swim” programs for students of all ages. Their mantra, “Survival of the Littlest,” not only applies to the swim program led by caring swim instructors in local community pools but also to the franchisee base where local franchisees started with one location and developed into multi-unit success stories.

Founder Rita Goldberg, a former competitive swimmer, established the brand after setting out to do something about the issue of drowning being a leading cause of death for children under the age of five. She spent years creating revolutionary water survival techniques for infants and children, likely saving countless lives. Franchise owners get a sense of fulfillment with an affordable and profitable business. 

British Swim School
Franchise at a Glance

Corporate Address

British Swim School
2829 Guardian Lane
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Year Founded: 1981

First Unit Franchised: 2011

Business Description:

With more than 40 years of business experience, British Swim School is the leader in learn to swim programs for students of all ages and abilities, using caring swim instructors in local community pools. Backed by experienced multi-brand franchising company Buzz Franchise Brands, British Swim School’s business model offers a lower investment approach with no build-out costs, which may enable a faster start-up and shorter path to profitability.

Franchisees benefit from contracts with fitness centers, schools, hotels, and other venues with underutilized indoor pools. Franchisees rent pool lanes for specific time periods to hold lessons and don’t have to worry about the ongoing maintenance of managing a swim facility.

MARKET Factors

1

What population does the brand serve? Is the market broad, niche, or somewhere in-between?

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Market Size

Even during economic downturns, parents are willing to spend significantly on their children’s recreational activities, including swimming, gymnastics, dancing, recreational sports and more. According to Future Market Insights, the kids recreational services market size is worth $1.47 billion and is projected to reach $10.62 billion by 2032, at a CAGR of 53.4%.

9

We categorize the market size as a large market.

Scale

Small to Large Market Size
2

Is the overall industry growing, that is creating new customers who have never used these services before, or mature where most population segments are already using these types of products and services?

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Industry Trend

Swim instruction provides an essential life skill to combat drowning. Formal swim instruction has been shown to reduce drowning risk by 88%. However, the experience of learning to swim can be negatively impacted by cold pools, too many kids in a class, untrained or little-trained staff, and outdated teaching methods. British Swim School is looking to offer parents something different.

The demand for other alternatives in the early child development industry, including fitness, exercise, sports, and safety training for children of all ages, continues to grow, and well-trained, organized, and trusted providers will benefit from the increase in demand.

9

We categorize the Industry Trend as high growth trend.

Scale

Low to High Growth Trend
3

What drives the purchase of the product or service? Is it a “need-to-buy” or a “want-to-buy”? How are customers drawn to your business?

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Product and Service Drivers

Swimming lessons are at the heart of the business. British Swim School offers a variety of programs for children under three (tadpole, swimboree, and seahorse), children over three (starfish, minnow, and turtle 1), and stroke development (turtle 2 and shark 1 and 2) as well as programs for teens and adults.

The lesson-based model provides predictable revenue and is sticky due to the recurring nature of lessons and development tiers, which technology cannot replace. Swim lessons, by nature, have to be done in person, over multiple sessions, and on a regular schedule.

10

We categorize the product and service drivers as mid to high drivers.

Scale

Low to High Drivers
4

Are competitors a major factor in operating your business? If so, is competition sparse or saturated? Will it matter to your business?

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Competitive Climate

Even during economic downturns, parents continue to invest in their child’s safety and education. British Swim School is a unique, home-based, rapid, time-to-open concept that entrepreneurs can feel good about running. Competition in the market may come from franchised concepts, like Goldfish Swim School, adding swimming lessons as a service line, or from independent providers at facilities like the YMCA.

9

We categorize the competitive climate as mid-high competitive pressure.

Scale

Low to High Competition
5

Are the business’s products or services regulated, or do they require licensing? Will you or your employees require special licensing? If so, is the regulatory climate strict or lax? Will this affect recruiting employees?

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Regulatory Climate

Franchise owners must adhere to all state and local regulations regarding the required safety equipment, pool rules, and safety signs related to swimming pools. Check with your local municipalities on any requirements.

9

We categorize the regulatory climate as high regulation.

Scale

Low to High Regulation

MODEL Factors

1

This is one of the most important factors of all. To understand it you have to look beyond what the business physically does, the services performed or products sold and ask how does the franchise make money? Where does the revenue come from? How is it generated? Are financial performance representations made? Coupled with External Factors 1, 2 and 5 – Market Size, Industry Trend and Competitive Climate and the next Internal Factor 2, Franchisee Role – the true nature of the franchise starts to take shape.

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Revenue Model

Since swimming lessons are an important service that requires consistent practice, they provide a steady stream of recurring revenue for business owners. By its nature, swim lessons must be done over a period of time – which makes the revenue model sticky. Parents are not price-sensitive when it comes to the safety and health of their children, so prioritizing lessons that teach lifelong skills becomes paramount.

British Swim School has partnerships with national fitness organizations such as LA Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness and is always looking to secure more to give franchisees access to high-quality facilities. British Swim School also has regional relationships with hotels, other fitness centers, and community centers, increasing access to facilities that franchisees can expand into.

10

We categorize the Operational Model as Simple.

Scale

Simple to Complex Model
2

How developed are the systems on which you will rely to operate your business?

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Operational Systems

The team behind British Swim School has developed a best-in-class swim school operation that puts the customer’s health, safety, and desired results at the heart of the business. Bringing together experienced swim instructors to provide great instruction services to students is the key to British Swim School’s operational efficiency… simple operations with low overhead.

9

We categorize the Operational Systems as Comprehensive.

Scale

Basic to Comprehensive
3

In this highly diffuse world, creating, managing and projecting a Brand is essential for the health and vitality of a franchise system. How well does the Franchisor manage this? How well positioned is the brand among competitors? Is it differentiated enough? How well would potential customers recognize the brand? How is it projected into new markets? What is your role and obligations in this process? How is the Brand’s digital footprint managed?

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Brand Management

British Swim School’s marketing approach is based on an omnichannel, integrated strategy that is supported through ongoing digital marketing, a targeted direct mail program, public relations campaigns, and local marketing. This highly evolved digital marketing platform, plus best-in-class “grass-roots” marketing programs, helps get franchisees off and running. The strength of the brand name, British Swim School, carries credibility and is meaningful to parents who want a top-tier standard of training and classes for their children.

10

We categorize the Brand Management as High Engagement.

Scale

Low to High Engagement
4

What role is the franchisee expected to play in starting, ramping and the ongoing operation of the business?

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British Swim School Franchisee Role

The ideal franchise owner is family-focused and looks to impact the community positively. While marketing and sales experience is a plus, it is not required. A customer mindset is essential, and candidates should also be motivated and hard-working and have the ability to manage and motivate a younger workforce. Owner-operator and semi-absentee opportunities are available.

While some owners fill the office manager role, others delegate that responsibility and focus on driving the overall business strategy. A typical week includes spending time on each area of the business, which may consist of training and recruiting initiatives, reviewing sales call feedback, tracking budget forecasts to actual results, and periodic onsite visits to ensure that operations are running smoothly. With the majority of the lessons taking place during weekday afternoons, there is no need for a commercial office at launch or after an owner scales the business.

10

We categorize the Franchisee Role as Business Manager.

Scale

Service Executor to Business Manager Role
5

What type of location, if any, is needed to deliver the product or service? If real estate is needed, are the requirements flexible or stringent? Is real estate essential to the product or brand experience or required for services to be performed onsite?

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Real Estate Needs

The overhead associated with real estate buildouts is virtually nonexistent with British Swim Schools. The franchisor assists franchise owners in acquiring “access to warm water” by partnering with indoor pool owners in fitness centers, hotels, schools, and other community facilities. British Swim School contracts with these underutilized pools to generate additional profit for the facility owner and revenue for the franchisee. Using pool “space” managed by others means no ongoing costs are associated with maintaining the facility.

10

We categorize the regulatory climate as basic need.

Scale

Basic to Essential Needs

ORGANIZATION Factors

1

How experienced is the franchisor at being a franchisor?

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Franchising Experience

British Swim School has more than 40 years of business experience and has established itself as the leader in learn-to-swim programs for students of all ages and abilities. The brand has the backing of multi-brand franchising company Buzz Franchise Brands, positioning itself as a leading opportunity for candidates seeking a low-cost, asset-light home-based business.

Consistent ranking in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list in 2023, it has also been ranked among the Fastest Growing Franchises & Top 100 Franchises Under $100k, and it was ranked #737 on the Inc. 5000 list in 2022.

10

We categorize the Franchising Experience as Extensive.

Scale

Limited to Extensive
2

What is the tenure, background, and commitment of the franchise’s leadership?

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Franchise Leadership

The president of British Swim School is Ashley Gundlach, a passionate entrepreneur who originally joined the brand as Director of Marketing in 2019. To help the brand grow, British Swim School has an impressive franchise development team that includes Dave Warn, Austin James, Kris Nilsson, Rita Iglesias, and Jackie Lanzalone.

The team at Buzz Franchise Brands consists of experienced franchise executives, including CEO Kevin Wilson, COO and President Brian Garrison, CMO Angela Paules, and CFO Michael Hull, who all have years of successful franchising experience with multiple brands.

10

We categorize the Franchising Leaders as Highly Experienced.

Scale

Limited to Highly Experienced
3

How often and how well does the franchisor engage franchisees? What assistance is provided in starting and operating your business.

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Franchisee Engagement

British Swim School’s training program covers all essential aspects of running a swim school, including business management, instructional techniques, and more. Franchisees receive one-on-one business coaching to achieve their goals from experienced professionals who understand the challenges of running a swim school franchise. Additionally, franchise owners gain access to a dedicated in-house marketing team that specializes in graphic design, digital marketing, social media, direct mail, public relations, and local marketing. British Swim School’s annual conference presents an opportunity to engage with other franchise owners, attend informative workshops, and take part in training sessions.

9

We categorize the Franchisee Engagement as Highly Engaged.

Scale

Low to Highly Engaged
4

In what kind of financial shape is the franchisor?

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Financial Health

According to British Swim School’s 2023 FDD item 19, franchise owners averaged a gross revenue of $509,000, with a gross profit of $256,000, a net operating income of $125,000, and a net margin of 25%. The brand’s highest earning location grossed $2.9 million, with a gross profit of $1.3 million, net operating income of $589,000, and net margin of 20%.

In-demand services that can’t be outsourced or replaced by technology, low overhead, and a best-in-class training methodology are the foundation of a successful franchise.

*Item 19 2023 BSS FDD. Always consult your financial and legal counsel before making any investment decisions. The information presented here does not constitute endorsement or validation for information purposes only.

10

We categorize the Financial Health as Sound.

Scale

Weak to Sound Financial Health

Key Points

Franchise Fees: Single
$55,000
Total Investment
$110,240 – $146,790
Franchise Owners
174
Company Owned Units

0

States Registered In
All States
Canada Franchises
Yes
International Franchises
No
Item 19*
Avg Territory: $544K
High Territory: $2.9M
* April 2024 British Swim School FDD
Franchised Units
300+ Locations
in 36 state and Canadian provinces
Average Number of Employees
2-3 Swim Instructors
plus an Aquatics Lead
B2B
No
Royalty Fee
10%
National Ad Fund
2%
Passive
No
Semi-Passive
Yes
Home Based
Yes
in the first year
VetFran Discount
Yes

Total Evaluator Score

134
0 – 24

Missing fundamental, internal or external factors

25 – 49

More investigation is needed

50 – 74

Worth exploring further with caution

75 – 99

Add to consideration set

100 – 140

Sound opportunity and likely a great fit

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