British Swim School’s lessons start with fun and also include elements of water safety.
Rita Goldberg says she really “couldn’t be happier” about the sale of the swim lesson business she started more than 30 years ago to Buzz Franchise Brands, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision for the founder of British Swim School. “None of us like to think we’re not the best at what we do,” says Goldberg recalling the realization about a year ago that it might be time for a change. “But I saw so much potential and so much possibility, but I knew I probably wasn’t the person to take it there.”
Those now tasked with taking a franchise with nearly 200 pool locations and 85 franchisees to what Goldberg believes is the next level are new British Swim School CEO Greg Longe and Buzz Franchise Brands, which came on as a capital partner and added British Swim School to its portfolio of home service brands.
It’s the first acquisition for Buzz and CEO Kevin Wilson, who sold Mosquito Joe to Neighborly last year, leaving him with cleaning and maintenance company Pool Scouts and residential cleaning service Home Clean Heroes. British Swim School, he acknowledges, “could be viewed as a bit of a departure for us.” But, he continues, “we like the industry, the franchisees were doing well and growing—and growing fast.”
“What we saw was an opportunity to accelerate that growth and grow the footprint across the U.S. and internationally,” says Wilson. “There’s a lot of white space, the unit economics are great.”
Because British Swim School franchisees rent pool space, there’s no buildout cost and capital outlay is modest. The total investment range is $92,900 to $239,400, another advantage, says Wilson, because the entry point for most competitors is near $1 million.
Average total revenue is $447,391, according to British Swim School’s most recent franchise disclosure document.
Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Buzz Franchise Brands also brings a data-driven mindset to growth, which is one of the reasons Longe felt the group was the right fit.
“If you can’t prove it with data, you can’t prove it,” agrees Wilson of his team’s “analytical rigor” when it comes to making decisions.
Longe (pictured at right alongside Rita Goldberg), who most recently was chief operating officer for The Huntington Company, a multi-brand franchisor primarily in dry cleaning and textile restoration with brands such as Martinizing and Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network, says the culture at Buzz also made the group a clear choice.
“The magic comes when you start looking at the way they do it—if you put the people first, then the money will follow,” says Longe. “So if you can plug a swim school into this culture, it will just take off.”
Longe and Wilson are first tackling British Swim School’s franchise development strategy, starting with a new FDD, and are also embarking on a series of town hall meetings with franchisees “to find out where the gaps are in support and infrastructure and marketing,” says Longe, adding ‘zees have embraced the change.
And Goldberg, who launched British Swim School in 1981 and started franchising the concept in 2011, isn’t stepping away entirely. “We haven’t exactly pinpointed my role,” she says, but she plans to still help market the brand and be available to speak at discovery days.
“I don’t see being disconnected from the swim world ever … I’m never going to be more than semi-retired,” she continues. Goldberg is perhaps most excited to watch what she started continue to grow and bring its water safety focus to the masses.
“The more we grow the industry, the more children’s lives will be saved,” she says.
For more on franchised swim schools, check out this roundup in our May issue.