Buying and Running a Children’s Franchise in the UK – What Does It Take?

June 29, 2018

An in-depth overview of the costs, considerations & opportunities in running franchises that aim to exclusively cater to children.

Buying and running a franchise business in the UK is easier, generally more profitable and certainly more popular today than ever. As we have reiterated throughout our free UK franchising guides and blog posts, franchising – when done right – can prove to be a lifechanging turn that can prop up, supplement or even replace your other sources of income.

While almost every business that focusses on retail customers can and has been franchised, children-centric businesses are no doubt among the hugest beneficiaries of the franchising business model. A lot of this has to do with the inherently customer-facing nature of such businesses. Very few businesses seem to require the kind of trust, faith and confidence that childcare and other similar businesses do, and hence, the credibility that comes with running your franchise under an established brand name just cannot be overstated.

In this post, we will take an overview of what children’s franchises are, how they work, what opportunities they bring to the table and what considerations you must make before you buy one.

Understanding the Demand for Children’s Franchises in the UK

No business can ever make it big if it isn’t based on a steady base of consistent market demand. Children’s franchises are no exception to this. If you are seriously thinking about running such a franchise, you are in for some good news in this regard. Children’s franchises are often ‘service-based’ franchises (more about this will follow), and they never really run out of the market demand as long as the overall economy is in a good enough shape.

Let’s take a quick look at some important numbers to understand this:

  • Approximately 18-19% of the entire UK population consists of children aged 15 years or less. This comes to a total market size of roughly 11 million – a good prospect for niche franchise ideas.
  • Even though the birth rate has been on a steady decline, the average rise in population – expected to touch 70 million by 2026 – is promising enough to assume that children’s franchises can stay profitable in the UK.
  • An average UK family spends approximately £10,000 or more on childcare, food and other costs per year for kids aged 5 or less. These costs only go up beyond this age. This is enough to show that parents can and are willing to spend – at times, even outrageously so – in order to afford their children the best facilities, education, healthcare and overall ‘growing-up’ environment.
  • The average monthly spending of a UK family on their children’s after-school activities is estimated to be around £200-250. This is indeed a positive sign for children’s franchises as far as the market demand is concerned.

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Children’s Franchises in the UK – Major Types

There exist quite a few types of children’s franchises and it’s rather impossible to list or discuss all of them here. For the sake of convenience, however, we can categorise children’s franchises into two broad categories – service based children’s franchises and product based children’s franchises.

Service Based Children’s Franchises

Most franchises that cater to children and their requirements fall into this category. These are essentially franchises that offer a variety of ‘services’ across numerous categories. From fitness franchises for children to preschools and playschools, these often tend to be time-intensive from the operator’s point of view.

Product Based Children’s Franchises

As the name suggests, such franchises focus on making products available to children. Depending on the costs of the products involved, the franchisees can either directly sell the products for profit or let the customers rent them for a fee. Common examples of product based children’s franchises include libraries, toy shops and sports equipment franchises.

What’s Popular?

While it’s always possible to come up with a niche idea yourself, many franchisees prefer to go with what’s proven to work. Therefore, when you take a look at some of the most common children’s franchises in the UK, you’re bound to find a recurring theme. This simple assessment is usually adequate to know for yourself what’s popular and how you can make it work for you.

Childcare Franchises in the UK

This is perhaps the most popular category among all children’s franchises in the UK. More and more parents – owing to the difficulties of the modern, hectic lifestyle – seem to require additional help from expert professionals as their children are growing up. From the basic, age-old nursery model to state-of-the-art preschools, playschools and babysitting services, childcare franchises have managed to address this issue, with still ample growing room left. If you wish to operate such a franchise in a town or a city where there is a clear demand for these services, the potential for growth is quite promising.

Clothing Franchises for Children

A clothing franchise for children is, at its heart, a retail franchise, and thus, carries all that is good and bad about retail franchises. For starters, it can yield you a great deal of profit if your franchise can grab a significant share of the market. On the down side, however, the costs involved in maintaining a prime storefront location – along with the frequent changes to the inventory – mean that you always need to be on your toes.

Children’s Education Franchises in the UK

Just like childcare franchises, education franchises for children have been hugely successful and popular across the UK – especially the big cities and relatively affluent towns. Many parents are willing to spend good money to afford their kids a chance of building upon the education they receive at schools. A typical children’s education franchise in the UK offers subject-specific or hobby-specific education. For example, super-niche franchises help children grow their interest and curiosity in their favourite subjects such as mathematics, languages, sciences, history and so forth.

At the other end of the spectrum, tutoring franchises aim to help children get better at what is already being taught in schools. Such franchises usually cater to children between the age of 10 and 15.

Art Franchises for Children

A huge chunk of after-school activities for children in the UK includes learning and mastering various arts. From music to dance and theatre to painting, these arts make for great franchise ideas. Of course, if you are about to go ahead with an art franchise for children, it’s imperative that you not only share the love for the given art, but also are adequately good at it.

Fitness and Sports Franchises for Children

The obesity among children is already at an alarming level in the UK. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many parents are only too happy to let their children take up specialty fitness classes and sports coaching. From yoga sessions tailored for kids to fairly expensive cricket, football or athletics coaching, a number of ideas are already being explored by fitness and sports franchises for children in the UK.

These five mainstream ideas for children’s franchises are further complemented by innovations that target a specific group of children. For example, highly-specialty fitness franchises for differently abled children, reading groups and classes for children facing dyslexia, spoken language tutoring for children recently migrated to the UK etc.

How Much Does a Children’s Franchise Cost in the UK?

This, quite likely, has to be the most important question you would want answered. But unfortunately, there are no straightforward answers present to it.

You will, however, be happy to know that most children’s franchises in the UK cost much less than other popular franchises such as fitness franchises or food franchises. This is partly due to the fact that the most extensive component of the recurring expenses is your time and the services you provide. So, barring the initial investment (franchise fees, rent, equipment cost etc.), the operational costs seem to grow less drastic as your business attains enough stability.

A typical, fairly popular and proven-to-work children’s franchise would require you to put aside at least £5,000 to £30,000 in initial investment. This number can change depending upon the location you wish to operate your business in. In most cases, the initial investment is inclusive of the franchise fee, deposits, equipment costs, training costs and marketing costs.

As far as operational expenses are concerned, all children’s franchises need to bear the common franchise costs such as recurring royalties (5 to 10%), rent, insurance, staff salaries, maintenance costs and so forth.

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How Do Children’s Franchises Really Make Money?

The revenue model for children’s franchises is non-complicated. If the franchise in question is service based, the customers are usually charged on an hourly or per session basis. For example, a popular music tutoring franchise operating in London charges £10 per session to their customers, with up to 10 children being enrolled in a single session.

For product based children’s franchises, the revenue can be generated via direct profit margins as well as consistent subscription fees.

What Does It Take to Run a Children’s Franchise in the UK?

Running a children’s franchise may well be similar to running other franchises in terms of the economics, but that usually is where the similarities end. You need to possess a special, highly specific set of skills to be able to successfully run a children’s franchise.

Are You ‘Good’ with Kids?

It’s a no-brainer, really.

If you want to run a children’s franchise, you need to be good at handling kids, attending to their unique needs and being patient with them. A lot will, of course, depend upon the age group your franchise will be targetting. This also includes being consistently patient with the parents, attending a more than fair share of frequent phone calls and creating a truly warm, amiable and friendly atmosphere for your customers.

Are You Good at What You’re Trying to Sell?

You need to possess adequate skills – as we discussed earlier – before you try to sell them to others. It always helps to be passionate and experienced when it comes to running children’s franchises.

This is in stark contrast with some of the other franchise ideas out there. You do not necessarily need to be a business graduate to run a retail franchise, but if you wish to run a football coaching franchise, you will certainly need to be good at the sport as well as teaching it.

How Many Hours Can You Put in Every Week?

Children’s franchises are popular among would-be franchisees for being relatively less demanding of their time. Many pre-school and after-school classes, tuitions and nurseries run alongside the regular school year, giving franchisees a good deal of time off. Similarly, many sport and fitness franchises run exclusively during the summer break, giving franchisees the rest of the year off to pursue other interests.

If you are not willing to commit your entire work week to the franchise, children’s franchises can well be the ideal choice for you.

How Much Are You Expecting to Make?

While it’s certainly possible to build a children’s franchise that can potentially replace your regular job, it’s still a steep climb. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to talk to franchisees who have already taken this road before to know how much you can make. You can also go through our free guide to choosing a franchise to learn how informed decision making can help save a significant amount of time, money and efforts.

Other Considerations

To run a children’s franchise is to be responsible for the wellbeing and safety of the kids while they are entrusted to you. Therefore, you will need to be extremely responsible, careful and caring to be able to gain the trust of your customers. Additionally, the franchisor will require you – and your staff – to pass CRB/DBS checks before you are allowed to run the franchise. All children’s franchises also need to comply with the applicable local rules, laws and regulations.

Working with Schools and Clubs

A good way of bypassing the heavy marketing expenses is to negotiate bulk contracts directly with local schools, nurseries and children’s clubs. Many franchisees – especially the inexperienced ones – aren’t even aware of the fact that schools are often all too willing to ‘outsource’ some of their responsibilities.

For example, many schools are open to hiring the services of franchises when it comes to conducting camps, coaching sessions, art tutorials, language classes and other similar extra-curricular activities. If your young franchise can manage to tie up with one or two local schools, it can be all that you’ll ever need to not only get the word around but also generate a reliable and steady cashflow.

Top Children’s Franchises in the UK

Here are six of the most popular children’s franchises in the UK across various categories.

· Tumble Tots

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £14,000 (excluding taxes)
  • USP: Physical activity, agility and concentration training
  • Multiple programmes
  • Exclusive territory allocation
  • Long-standing, proven track record
  • Thorough training and equipment availability
  • Full BFA Member

· ComputerXplorers

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £29,500
  • USP: Computer education made easy
  • Age Group: 3-13
  • Comprehensive training
  • Consistent support
  • Extensive marketing
  • Associate BFA Member

· Tutor Doctor

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £29,700
  • USP: Exclusive, tailored private tutoring
  • Over 500 franchises in operation in 16 countries
  • 17,000+ tutors on board
  • Ongoing support

· Premier

  • Minimum Initial Investment: Starting from £14,950
  • USP: Sport and physical activity training
  • Popular with many primary schools across the UK
  • Extensive training and support
  • Full BFA Member

· Banana Moon

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £60,000
  • USP: State-of-the-art day nursery
  • In-house business and sales advisors
  • Thorough training
  • Ongoing support and marketing
  • Associate BFA Member

· The Creation Station

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £7,999 (excluding taxes)
  • USP: Award winning, unique and innovative art and crafts sessions
  • Ongoing operational and sales support
  • Comprehensive training
  • Associate BFA Member

* Fees & features mentioned on this page are merely indicative and subject to change.

The Takeaways

  • Understand how a children’s franchise is more than a mere business.
  • Know whether franchising is a good fit for you.
  • Conduct a detailed market analysis.
  • Talk to operational franchisees.

Go through our extensive franchising guides before you make a move.