Explore British Swim School with Bonnie Alcid—Our First Franchisee!
June 30, 2022
When you become part of the British Swim School family, you will know the name Bonnie Alcid. Alcid, who runs multiple British Swim School territories across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC., is not only one of our largest and most successful owners, but she was also our very first franchisee!
We talked with Bonnie about her experience as a British Swim School franchise owner.
How were you introduced to the franchise?
I had just left a demanding corporate job in Washington, DC, where I’d spent 12 years working long hours almost to the detriment of my marriage. Swimming has been a lifelong passion for me, and it became an outlet for me at this point in my life – both mentally and physically. During one of these water workouts, I met Rita Goldberg, who founded British Swim School. She was creating a swim program in Maryland. I started working for her part-time as a swim instructor. When she decided to expand her school into a franchise, I immediately jumped at the chance to become an owner – despite not having any business experience. I believed that much in the mission of British Swim School and the need for this type of swim training for children that I was willing to take a risk and be the guinea pig.
What makes the British Swim School franchise model so attractive to new owners?
The British Swim School model is great for new owners. Because I did not have to buy or build a pool, I was able to start the business right away – all I had to do was negotiate leasing contracts with facilities that already owned pools, like fitness facilities and hotels. Not having to buy or build a pool really lowered my start-up costs so I was then able to focus my time and energy on initial marketing, hiring, and training.
You also don’t find many franchises that are mission and purpose-driven. I fell in love with the British Swim School mantra, “Survival of the Littlest” and its ultimate goal of saving the lives of children through innovative swim training. We teach babies and children skills needed to survive a water accident before moving to stroke development and more advanced swim techniques. Unlike, say, a gymnastics class, we teach children a life skill. British Swim School is a good business that’s also in the business of doing good.
Speaking of pools, you are one of the first owners to test out a hybrid franchise model. Tell us more.
In 2017, I was at the point in my business where owning and operating a standalone pool was a viable next step. It was a different experience. Unlike a leased pool where you work around the ownership’s schedule, I had full rights to the facility 24/7. It allowed me to expand the number of days and times I offered swim lessons.
Because I had such a large territory, I was able to condense and close several of my rented pools and bring children and their families to the standalone schools. Logistically, it’s been great for business. I now have seven locations, three of which are standalone pools. We continue to deliver the excellent program and British Swim School methods, but we get to put a little frosting on the cake with all of the British Swim School branding.
Have you noticed any change in the franchise when the corporate ownership changed in 2019?
When Buzz Franchise Brands took over, it was a turning point for the brand. Buzz has vast experience in the franchise space and their team of professionals immediately went to work on figuring out how to make the British Swim School brand even better. The support I get from corporate is incredible. Some of the notable improvements include national marketing campaigns and a significant boost in our social media presence. We have access to all sorts of innovative business tools which have made a wonderful difference in our back-end systems. We also have new technology that allows parents to schedule classes online – something that has made a considerable improvement in our workflow, not to mention our class booking rates.
It’s gratifying to have seen firsthand the growth British Swim School has seen over the last ten years, and I’m so excited to see where we are headed.
Many thanks to Bonnie for sharing her British Swim School experience with us! If you would like to learn more about the franchise opportunities we have available, fill out this form and someone from our development team will be in contact with you.