British Swim School Featured in Franchise Canada Magazine
December 7, 2021
SAFE AND SOUND
BRITISH SWIM SCHOOL OFFERS A FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY DRIVEN BY PASSION, PURPOSE, AND PROFIT POTENTIAL
Written by Joelle Kidd and featured in the November/December 2021 issue of Franchise Canada magazine
“Safety first” is a common phrase. For Melissa McGarvey though, safety really is the top priority, and a great source of her passion. Currently serving as the Director of Aquatics for British Swim School, McGarvey was working at a fitness centre when she first learned about the brand. From her first experience watching the “survival-first” lessons in action, she knew she’d found a home for the next stage in her career. “I can’t imagine doing anything else! I can provide a service and train others to help prevent and decrease preventable deaths. I’m motivated each day by the success stories of those who have come through our program. And who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”
This is a shared motivation, with British Swim School experiencing tremendous growth in locations across the U.S. and Canada. The unique franchise system offers its partners a low-cost, profitable business model as well as the fulfillment of being a purpose-driven brand.
“Our overall mission is to allow every person, no matter their age or ability, the opportunity to be a safe and happy swimmer,” says McGarvey.
The program was founded more than 40 years ago and focuses on water survival skills and stroke development swimming lessons. Lessons are offered for infants as young as three months old all the way up to adults, including those with special abilities, while using their signature fun and gentle teaching methods.
What makes British Swim School unique is its “survival first” approach. McGarvey explains that swim lessons traditionally focus on getting struggling swimmers to move to the side of the pool. However, she points out, this doesn’t help in open water, where many drownings occur. “Our program knows that the safest place to be is on your back, where you can breathe, rest and call for help. Getting to the side isn’t an option in a lake or river but being on your back can save yours or a child’s life!”
This is why many franchisees feel a sense of purpose. “Our owners have a sense of commitment within their communities, as they’re part of an industry that’s dedicated to preventing drowning deaths. We’ve had numerous parents share stories of how a child fell into a pool or was caught in a rip tide, but because of our program, was able to either safely exit the pool or float on their back and call for help,” McGarvey says.
Giving back to the community isn’t the only benefit of becoming a British Swim School franchise partner. “We partner with local pools in the community to rent space by the day, hour and lane,” McGarvey explains. In this model, franchisees partner with facilities that are often underutilized—such as hotels, fitness centres, and retirement communities—which provides “a welcome source of income for those facility owners,” McGarvey points out. “This model allows our owners to easily scale, adding pools and staff as needed to support their growing business.”
The unique business model means low start-up costs, no million-dollar investment to build new facilities, and no added (and often unexpected) maintenance costs. The total initial investment for a British Swim School franchise, which includes several months of marketing costs, comes in between $93,000 and $125,000.
There’s also an eager market, McGarvey explains. “Swimming lessons have become less of a choice and more of a necessity for parents, which means we’re seeing more and more interest in our business… It’s also worth noting that you can’t teach someone how to swim online—so the service we provide is definitely ‘Amazon-proof,’ too!”
Franchisees are provided with business training on topics such as marketing, operations, finance, and technology, and are paired with a business coach to provide initial and ongoing support. Aquatics training occurs via a combination of online and in-pool training, providing the owner and their lead instructor the skills and resources needed to scale the business.
McGarvey says an ideal British Swim School franchisee is caring, passionate and has perseverance. The model is ideal for someone who wants to work in a purpose-driven industry, with a quick-to-launch business model that can grow quickly.
Looking to the future, McGarvey says British Swim School plans to continue expanding, furthering their footprint across Canada and the US. “Ultimately,” McGarvey says, “we’re striving to be the largest swim school provider for survival and learn to swim lessons, working towards the overall mission to decrease and end drowning.”