Kip McGrath Franchise Changed Debbie’s Life
Name: Debbie Thacker
Franchise name: Kip McGrath Education Centres
Location of franchise: Van Riebeeck Park, Kempton Park
Why did you go down the franchise route?
I was working at “filler jobs” being a typical stay-at-home mom having given up my career to raise my children to the high school stage. Although I was working part-time, I was going stir crazy and needed additional mental stimulation. The idea of a franchise always appealed to me because of the ongoing support and expertise that goes along with a franchise experience. Also, a successful franchise group is a known and trusted business, thus minimising your risk factors. My initial plan was a little part-time business to keep me busy.
Why did you choose your franchise?
My daughter was attending classes at the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Van Riebeeck Park franchise which was on the market when I had my mid-life identity crisis and it subsequently became the right opportunity at the right time.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
My husband and I went away for a weekend to avoid any interruptions and we thoroughly researched the franchise brand and discussed all the pros, cons, financial implications (gains and/or losses) before it was mutually agreed upon that this would be the ideal opportunity for me. I was a stay at home mom with a part time job.
How did you raise the finance?
I was fortunate enough to raise the capital from our existing home bond.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
There is an extensive 2 week training course at the Kip McGrath Education Centres Head Office that must be attended before you are authorised and qualified to proceed with running a franchise. There are also ongoing workshops which you are required to attend. In addition to this, head office staff is always available for any query or problem that might arise.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
If you run a franchise properly, it should not be a part-time job. In the morning, there is always administration work to do, in addition to ongoing marketing at schools. The afternoons are spent being on hand for the teachers and children alike. Classes continue until 18h00 and the day generally ends at about 18h30 when the last child is collected. The same applies to a Saturday; except that classes end at 14h00 and I tend to leave the Centre around 15h00.
What challenges have you faced?
The initial challenge was to completely redo the Centre so that it was compliant with the International branding. This was achieved in a week of long hard work and I ensured that the Centre looked completely new and updated by the time the next lessons were conducted. After upgrading the branding, the professional image ensured a painless transition of ownership for the children and parents, especially as I was contractually obliged to increase the fees to the national recommended rate. As all the changes were immediately obvious, there was very little resistance in paying more for a quality service.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has absolutely changed my life. In addition to being my own boss, I have been fortunate enough to quadruple the turnover in less than a year which has enabled me to contribute more towards the household expenses, in addition to being able to put significant sums away towards retirement, thus easing the financial burden on my husband.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Ensure you have sufficient working capital to enable you to re-invest your income until your business looks and runs the way it should do.
Know your target market and spend your marketing budget wisely, keep re-investing in marketing and advertising until your franchise brand is known in your area.
If you are taking over an existing franchise inspect all the equipment thoroughly and negotiate a reduction in the purchase price if you note you will need to be replacing anything. Ensure that your equipment is up to date and reliable as this generally is the core of your business and you cannot afford to have equipment failure, this is very costly to replace a few months after having taken ownership.
If you are taking on existing staff, be open-minded and listen to them and discuss any problems or concerns they may have encountered under the previous ownership. Always remember your staff are your key assets and treat them as such, loyalty is incalculable.
Finally, location, location, location – nothing else will succeed if your franchise is in an area which is totally unsuitable for your business whatever it might be. You need to be in a location which is visible and easily accessible for your client.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue with the franchise and hopefully grow it at a similar rate. The franchise will eventually either become a “family” business or will be sold when I finally retire.
Would you do it again?