Since entering the scene in 2009, Big Blue Swim School has emerged as one of the dominant players in the $3 billion swim school industry. Founded by U.S. competitive swimmer Chris DeJong, Big Blue Swim School laps the competition thanks to differentiators like a superior curriculum premised on distance-based learning; innovative lesson-planning technology, LessonBuddy™; data-driven real estate assessment and development; and a recession-resistant business model.
Big Blue’s confidence-building swim instruction concept is also backed by private equity firm Level 5 Capital Partners, the largest CorePower Yoga franchisee and the third-largest national yoga studio operator. As the brand continues implementing its impressive growth plans to reach 150 signed units by 2021, now is the right time to invest in Big Blue.
An Industry In Demand Means a Strong Investment Opportunity
With eight out of 10 parents agreeing that swimming is a necessary life skill, there is a strong market demand for swim schools and an equally strong investment opportunity for franchisees. Parents are willing to invest in their child’s safety and, as a result, swim lessons are needed by every parent in America.
“Within the $3 billion swim school industry, there is currently no clear market leader,” said Big Blue Swim School CEO, Chris Kenny. “In fact, the largest player has less than three percent of the addressable market share. In addition, the services Big Blue provides cannot be outsourced or automated and swim lessons can only be delivered locally. While online marketplaces are driving brick-and-mortar operations out of business, Big Blue is thriving.”
Big Blue’s private equity-backed leadership team is well capitalized and experienced in optimizing the unit model to ensure they build the right amount of water to maximize returns. They have also refined an aggressive new pool opening program, executed for the most profitable franchise partner, that allows for a fast ramp-up. A proven weekly process ensures each location will operate on Day 1 like it is Year 5.
“The Big Blue investment opportunity is perfect for multi-unit and semi-absentee franchise partners looking to maximize their time and their capital,” said Big Blue’s Chief Development Officer, Scott Thompson. “There will always be a need for quality swim instruction, and our model is highly efficient in structure.”
Superior Consumer Proposition and Distance-Based Curriculum
DeJong used his experience as a competitive swimmer to develop a swim school curriculum changing the way swim lessons are taught. Big Blue Swim School focuses primarily on the skills needed to help children propel themselves through the water independently. The curriculum ensures that at each lesson, every child gains valuable skills and confidence and students advance to the next level as soon as they are ready.
Big Blue helps kids develop swim skills including stroke, breath and movement but they take their instruction one giant step further by developing important life skills such as courage, perseverance and hard work. Full-time swim associates use a distance-based methodology in which children swim increasingly longer distances to build their safety and confidence. By helping kids gain courage and confidence in the pool, Big Blue ultimately teaches kids they can achieve anything in life.
“Big Blue’s four points of execution—explain, demonstrate, mimic, correct—allow our child engagement specialists to deliver an experience that actually helps kids learn how to swim, achieving quicker and better results,” said Thompson.
A benefit to parents, this proprietary, results-based curriculum measures progress in a way that is unmatched in the industry, tracking each child’s progression every time they swim. Parents can see the new skills gained in real time with every lesson.
Innovative Proprietary Software and Data-Driven Assessments
“Data is the dashboard—just like you don’t fly an airplane without a map, you don’t run a business without being able to see and achieve future goals,” said Justin Waltz, Big Blue’s Vice President of Franchise Operations. “Having access to data is one thing, but how we use that data to support existing pools and launch new pools, is another way in which we’ve set ourselves apart.”
Big Blue’s LessonBuddy™ technology gives both the franchisee and the franchisor access to exceptionally strong consumer data. Once an owner-operator officially opens the doors to their location, Big Blue’s proprietary enterprise system taps into cloud-enabled technology giving franchisees access to resources and facilities management support. For franchisees, Big Blue’s data solutions deliver innovative, cost-reducing results through a turnkey operational model.
On the consumer side, LessonBuddy™ simplifies the swim lesson process for parents as well, serving as the ultimate customer self-service tool. Parents are able to provide and receive constant feedback about the progression of their child’s skills, and they can use the service to book and rebook lessons with a click of a button. By offering an easy and convenient way to interact with the parents, Big Blue allows franchisees to focus on creating lasting relationships with the consumer and maximizing the consumer value proposition.
An Innovative Approach to Pool Capacity Planning
Big Blue’s pools are larger than the industry average to accommodate multi-child families. The brand’s market insight indicates most parents in the U.S. have two kids about 36 months apart. Greater pool capacity means Big Blue pools can handle a 10-year-old child swimming 1,000 feet while also accommodating a younger sibling who is just learning to get in the water, all within the same half-hour period of time.
“This is a big differentiator separating Big Blue from the rest of the industry as it maximizes the lifetime value of the customer. At most schools, an older child is aging out of the ‘learn to swim’ program and moving on to another activity,” said Thompson.
Big Blue’s pools also feature an open design, allowing swimmers to get in and out of the pool with ease. This lets instructors handle several different skill levels and ages at the same time. In addition, the water is always 91-degrees, ultra-clean, and shallow throughout the pool, making lesson transitions safe and comfortable.
Full-Service Real Estate Pros and Strategic Growth Plan
At Big Blue, new franchisees are never tasked with choosing and building out a location. Instead, Big Blue leverages a team of professionals to assist in real estate location, construction, and facilities management. The group includes three dealmakers, a designer, construction director and a facilities manager who use market knowledge and data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify prime real estate in trade areas across the country. Each location is analyzed to fit the brand’s member profile.
The company’s real estate footprint has proven to be attractive to landlords in prime real estate locations, making Big Blue a key tenant to secure. With commercial retailers challenged by disappearing foot traffic to their facilities, Big Blue offers a solution.
“The Amazon effect means we have more prime real estate to choose from, and landlords love Big Blue’s experiential retail because we bring moms and families to their shopping centers every week during off-peak hours,” Thompson said.
As Big Blue continues to expand its national presence with recent signings in New Jersey, Raleigh, Florida, Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Chicago, it’s a perfect time to invest in a Big Blue franchise. With best-in-class consumer offerings, a strong brand, leadership support, proprietary technology and a strategic growth plan, Big Blue Swim School is uniquely positioned to be the leader in this underserved category.
Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big franchise opportunity, and veterans receive a 10 percent discount on the $75,000 franchise fee. The total investment for one Big Blue Swim School ranges from $1,825,500 to $3,687,000, as noted in Item 7 of the Franchise Disclosure Document. To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School best franchises to buy.