Why I Bought a Children’s Franchise

The Creation Station Franchisee, Vicki Sofield, talks us through her decision to buy a children’s franchise

“I’m quite pleased I was made redundant,” insists   The Creation Station franchisee, Vicki Sofield.

Having been given the (in hindsight not so) bad news by her previous employers, the franchisee for Bolton quickly decided she wanted to strike out on her own.

Having received a degree in business and management studies and worked in nursery product development, her skills and experience could not be more suited to a children's recreation franchise for toddlers.

Vicki started her business with some family workshops, and secured the opportunity to offer her activities at the local arts festival and Exploration sessions for pre-schoolers and their parents/carers.

Vicki told us that the redundancy forced her to make a decision about her future and that her initial reaction was one of anger and emptiness, followed by worrying about finding another job to fit in with her responsibilities.

“When something like this happens it really knocks your confidence, even when it’s not your fault.”

There was no big pay-out and we were told to apply to the government for the statutory redundancy package.”

“All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. Like how would I find a job, let alone a part-time job that would fit in with my childcare arrangements, and what would it be like facing interviews again?”

But, once the dust had settled, she realised that actually, this could actually be the push that she needed to start her own business.

Flexibility

Vicki started thinking about flexible working opportunities and considered franchising a year before she was made redundant.

“I had been really drawn to The Creation Station but decided to put the idea on hold for a while until my husband’s business was more established”, she told us.

She arranged a meeting with the founder and managing director of The Creation Station, Sarah Cressall, and went along with her husband to see a session in action.

“Starting my own business was a long-term goal, certainly not an immediate one, but we were both impressed with the business model and what fun everyone had doing the activities.”

“The Creation Station just seemed exactly right for me. I love arts and crafts and am always making things like my own invitations”, she told us.

But Vicki was worried that the business wouldn’t generate enough income, “I started thinking that this was something I could fit around my part-time job for a while, giving me the best of both worlds. But, when I was made redundant, I was forced to have a drastic re-think.”

A new chapter

After she lost her job, Vicki looked at franchising in a whole different light – purely from a business point of view.

“It looked like a great prospect and I got the chance to speak to other franchisees. They loved what they were doing and the children and parents loved it.”

“The way Sarah is building the business is so inspiring. People only need to see her in action to be convinced."

"I knew that I wanted to go with this, 100%. I got really excited about the idea and even started to imagine myself running my own Creation Station sessions.”

Getting finance

Luckily, Vicki, didn’t encounter any problems when it came to financing her purchase. She told us

“The banks know that franchises are a sound investment – even in a credit crunch, so I had no issues at all. The whole process was really smooth.”

Help and support

One of the things that appealed most to Vicki about buying a franchise was the established business model. “The Creation Station’s online forum is a great resource” she told us. “I can download the tried and tested session plans and read what other franchisees are doing”.

Another was the training and support from  The Creation Station, something Vicki feels is different from other franchises. I spent three days training at the head office in Devon. The support and back up has been quite amazing and is one of the reasons I was so confident about choosing the Creation Station for my business.”

“People who had bought into other types of franchises had told me how they had paid their money, were given a DVD and told to pretty much get on with it. I wanted more than that; I like that I am helping to build a brand and am part of a bigger picture.”

But Vicki knows that running a children's franchise isn’t going to be all fun and games, “I know that if I want it to be successful I am going to have to work hard. But, it’s my business so it’s worth it. I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of seeing families enjoy what we do and keep coming back.”

Plans for the future

As for marketing, it seems Vicki has grand plans for the future.

“Using the marketing action plan that I drew up with Sarah I’ve already put some of the ideas into action and am approaching potential partners in my community.”

“A soft play centre is excited about us helping them attract new customers and is providing a weekly room at no charge.”

“Having a comprehensive website, and established brand behind me made the meeting really easy. It was a win-win situation for both of us.”

“In the short term, I wanted to earn enough to pay my bills and be available to meet my child from school. “I was excited and a little nervous, but I’m actually quite pleased that I got made redundant.”

“Ultimately, I would like to buy a second Creation Station franchise in a neighbouring area and employ someone to run it.”



Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other global industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss