Big Blue Swim School has gained a solid foothold in its home state of Illinois, and now, the brand plans to expand with its franchising efforts throughout Texas.
The swim-class franchise specifically wants to expand in the Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio markets. It has partnered with investment company Level 5 Capital Partners, which is backing up the swim brand’s franchising efforts.
“Texas is one of the largest markets in the U.S.,” Level 5 Operating Partner Michael Chin said. “From a population standpoint, it is one of the fastest-growing states. People are moving to it on a daily basis, and our potential customers are currently residing around major metro areas, so it’s a good starting point to open in multiple major markets. Big Blue Swim School wants to be everywhere, and Texas provides us with an opportunity to hit a handful of large markets at the same time.”
The brand plans to add approximately 50 locations in Texas over the next five years. One Big Blue Swim School location creates about 25 to 40 jobs, and Chin estimates the expansion will create about 1,500 jobs in Texas. Those jobs will mainly consist of general managers, swim instructors and support staff.
“The full expansion is expected to take place over the next five years,” Chin said. “We have the staff in place, and we have the team in place to roll out the franchising process. We’ve already started that franchise business opportunities process in Dallas, so assuming there is a franchisee or there are multiple franchisees ready to grow, we’re ready to meet the demand.”
Level 5 Capital Partners’ Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson expects the brand will be well-received in Texas.
“Where Big Blue Swim School is different in the swim industry is that we build a larger pool with more lanes, and we typically build two pools,” Thompson said. “Our competitors usually only build one pool. Most parents have two kids that are 36 months apart, so with Big Blue Swim School, parents with multiple children who swim at different levels can have their children swim at the same time slot for their lessons.”
“Forty percent of the kids swim market consists of the five to ten-year-old range,” Thompson said.
Thompson cited Big Blue Swim School’s model as one that focuses on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, building children’s confidence as much as their swimming skills.
“We’re teaching self-actualization and using swimming as a confidence-building activity for kids,” Thompson said. “You start teaching them by emphasizing safety and that progresses to ‘I am a swimmer’, belonging, to ‘I’m a great swimmer,’ to ‘I can do anything, self-actualization.’”
Big Blue Swim School’s distance methodology also sets it apart from the competition, giving parents a clearer understanding of their child’s progress.
“Names like ‘guppy’ or ‘dolphin,’ are fun, but at the end of the day, they don’t help parents understand how strong of a swimmer their child is,” Thompson said. “At Big Blue Swim School, we use the classifications of ‘Baby Blue,’ ‘Bright Blue,’ ‘Bold Blue’ and ‘Big Blue.’ These classifications allow us to inform parents the distance their child can swim. ‘Big Blue Level 3,’ for example, means the child can swim 1,000 feet or more.”
Thompson, who said the Big Blue Swim School’s Item 19 is in the “top quartile in all of franchising,” described the ideal franchisee as someone who loves working with children and wants to be involved in the community, with an understanding of the parents’ needs to have their child learn to swim. Franchisees must also have strong general business management skills, people management skills, and be willing to build a fun company culture. This is a fully absentee model, the franchisee will hire a General Manager to operate the day-to-day.
“The first thing to overcome is fear of water, and we’re partnering with families to be able to do that,” Thompson said. “It’s pretty impactful.”
Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big franchise opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $50,000 franchise fee. The total investment for one Big Blue Swim School ranges from $1,787,500-$3,646,000. To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School.