As well as day nurseries, childcare franchises can offer crèches, kids clubs, nannies or mobile childcare for weddings and other events.
- The childcare market grew by almost 50% between 2006-2016 due to rising fees and stable volumes – LaingBuisson Children’s Nurseries UK Market Report
- A passion for caregiving and child development is essential but not sufficient – energy, enthusiasm and people skills are a must too
Several factors underpin this sector’s steady growth – and they’re likely to power growth for years to come: the recently introduced tax-free childcare scheme, the growing number of children aged 12 and under, and rising female participation in the labour force.
Demand is also driven by research attesting to the developmental benefits of day care. This is contingent on day care being of high quality – and this is where franchises can excel.
“With many more mothers of young children working and parents recognising the value of good early years education and care, childcare has now become a vital part of everyday life,” says Dominic Barrett-Evans, author of a market report by LaingBuisson.
“We expect continued steady growth, with increased demand for more specialised childcare services. The childcare sector has shown its resilience in the face of economic downturns and government policy changes over the years.”
Is a childcare franchise for me?
This is an inspiring field for anyone who delights in the company of children. But being part of the development of children is as challenging as it is rewarding.
Your first priority is safety and welfare – and at any one time you’ll be simultaneously responsible for numerous people’s children.
It’s a weighty responsibility that demands patience, strong organisational skills and conscientiousness in addressing risks and challenges – from tantrums to peanut allergies!
Energy and enthusiasm are also essential – as looking after one or two kids is exhausting, as any parent will attest – let alone a dozen or more.
You’ll almost certainly need staff, so recruitment and management of adults as well as children will form part of your role. A friendly, approachable personality is a must too.
These requirements will differ if you’re a hands-off investor. An entrepreneurial background or business acumen is more important in this scenario, as is a bigger budget since you’ll be recruiting additional staff to handle day-to-day operations. Although a passion for children’s welfare and development remains essential.
Experience in the sector and certain qualifications might be a prerequisite, but not always.
Franchisees can come from a corporate background and often from other caregiving/safeguarding professions like teaching or social work.
Some are even full-time mums themselves. And therein lies another benefit - being able to take your own children into work with you!
The structure of childcare franchises
Demand outstrips supply in this sector with nurseries commanding high and rising fees. Harnessing economies of scale and a time-honed business model, franchises can offer cash-strapped parents a cost-competitive option for childcare.
Franchises also offer a recognised, established brand to parents anxious about entrusting care of their children to strangers.
Maintaining consistently high standards is paramount given what’s at stake – and franchises, with tried-and-tested business models, are arguably a safer bet than starting an independent business and to parents looking for the highest standard of care for their child.
A franchisor can also help you deal with regulatory complications; insurance, licensing or running CRB checks on staff, for instance. This frees you up to concentrate on providing a safe, fun, stimulating environment for your charges.
They’ll also likely help you develop a business plan, find premises, recruit and train your team and conduct marketing. Plus, they should provide you with training, on-going mentoring and coaching.
A franchises operation manual will cover regulatory compliance, HR, marketing, finance plus on-site policies and procedures to will help you navigate this complex industry.
Finding the right child care franchise
To help you narrow your search, consider your own priorities. Would you prefer to care for pre-schoolers or primary schoolchildren?
What are your favoured working hours? The options vary considerably depending on whether a franchise provides day care, breakfast clubs, after-school care, holiday childcare or nannies.
Some franchises will simply care for children while parents work – providing toys, books and snacks and keeping them safe. Others will include educational elements such as arts and crafts in line with early years’ curriculums.
When deciding on a potential child care franchise, it’s recommended you ask franchisors the following questions:
- What ethos and values do they adhere to?
- What are their safety procedures and security protocols? How will the building secured against unauthorised entry, for instance?
- What toys and activities do they provide? Do they adhere to early learning frameworks?
- What are the qualifications and background of the franchise owners and support team? Do they seem personable and approachable?
- What are typical occupancy rates? Waiting lists are a good sign!
- If relevant, how have they performed in Ofsted inspections?
Don’t take their word for it though – corroborate their claims by speaking to existing franchisees and Googling the company for both positive and negative coverage.