Courtesy: Big Blue Swim School
Since its founding in 2009, Big Blue Swim School has become one of the fastest-growing players in the $3 billion swim school industry. Created by national champion swimmer Chris DeJong, Big Blue Swim School offers an unmatched opportunity in the swim space with a superior curriculum of distance-based learning; the brand’s innovative lesson-planning proprietary enterprise system LessonBuddy™; data-driven real estate assessment and development; and a recession-resistant business model.
Big Blue’s swim instruction concept is also backed by private equity firm Level 5 Capital Partners, the largest franchise partner in the CorePower Yoga system which is the third-largest national yoga studio operator. In addition, they are also invested in various other health and wellness brands. Big Blue’s growth plans include reaching 150 signed units by 2021, and with 80 units already secured, the brand’s differentiators have clearly caught the attention of many experienced investors and multi-unit franchise partners that see the value of their investment in Big Blue.
Providing a Vital Life Skill that Cannot Be Automated
Big Blue provides a necessary consumer offering since water safety lessons need to exist on a local level and must be provided through personal instruction. “Sometimes the best business ideas are hiding in plain sight,” said Founder and President Chris DeJong. “Because owning a swim school has a high capital cost, many people have not seen it as a profitable entity. But it’s a business based on a critical need and it can’t be outsourced or automated. It’s an industry that is recession-resistant, will always be in demand — and that makes it a smart business investment.”
Big Blue provides an entry point into a fragmented industry with significant available territory. “Within the swim school industry, there is currently no clear market leader,” said CEO Chris Kenny. “In fact, the largest player has less than three percent of the addressable market share. In addition, swim lessons can only be delivered locally. While Amazon and online marketplaces are driving brick-and-mortar operations out of business, Big Blue is thriving.”
Exceptional Support Infrastructure and Data-Driven Strategies
At Big Blue, new pool owners don’t have to worry about 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 team executes a data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify prime real estate in trade areas across the country.
“Everything we do is data-driven,” said Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson. “Big Blue has 10 years of customer data to inform their decision making process. Most early-stage franchises can’t claim that. We are analytically focused on ensuring each location is set up for the best possible avenue to success. A site selected by our real estate team is going to perform 30 percent better year after year than a self-selected location.”
The brand team also delivers an aggressive new pool opening and marketing program, executed for the franchise partner, allowing for a fast ramp-up. Big Blue provides franchisor-operated marketing support that enables rapid customer acquisition and strong retention rates.
“It is essential to have an analytically inclined marketing team that manages SEO optimization, social media, organic lead generation and the internal validation journey,” said Kenny. “Our marketing strategy reaches customers (before they are a customer) with the right message at the right time, and we know how to turn active customers into promoters of the brand.”
Comprehensive Technology and Proprietary Enterprise System
“We are disrupting the swim school model with LessonBuddy, our proprietary, cloud-based ERP that is designed to deliver a best-in-class swim lesson experience to our families and provides real-time information for our associates and franchise partners,” said CTO Casey Morford. “Cloud-based tech is securely available anywhere there is an internet connection and updates are delivered quickly, which is something you will not find with a third-party platform.”
Big Blue’s LessonBuddy technology gives both the franchise partner and the franchisor access to exceptionally strong consumer data. Once an owner-operator officially opens the doors to their location, Big Blue’s enterprise system taps into cloud-enabled technology, giving franchise partners access to resources and facilities management support. And as franchise partners grow their business, Big Blue’s data solutions deliver innovative, cost-reducing results by executing 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 receive constant feedback about the progression of their child’s skills, and they can book and reschedule lessons with a tap of a finger. By offering an easy and convenient way to interact with the parents, Big Blue allows franchise partners to maximize the consumer value proposition.
Proven Business Model and Optimized Consumer Offering
The Big Blue investment opportunity is perfect for multi-unit and semi-absentee franchise partners looking to maximize their time and their capital.
“Like any franchise, our franchise partners are buying into a proven system—and in our case, it’s a system that is backed by data with a track record of success, an impressive leadership team committed to growing the brand the right way and with the right franchise partners,” said Kenny. “We don’t make money until our franchise partners make money, and we are laser-focused on building the strongest business model possible.”
Since day one, Big Blue’s pools have been 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.
“Our optimized capacity is a big differentiator separating Big Blue from the rest of the industry, as it maximizes the lifetime value of the customer,” said Thompson. “At most schools, an older child is aging out of the ‘learn to swim’ program and moving on to another activity. At Big Blue, we can teach every age from 0 to 12 at the same time.”
Strategic Growth Plan for the Future
“As an emerging franchise brand, we signed for 80 units in about a year and a half of franchise sales,” said DeJong. “Every Dive-in Day brings in three to seven buying groups, and they’re typically purchasing multiple units, so we’re confident about becoming the most important brand in the swim instruction space.”
“When prospective franchise candidates see our best-in-class consumer offerings, accessible leadership support, proprietary enterprise technology and a strategic growth plan to reach 150 units by 2021, they understand the unbeatable value of a Big Blue Swim School investment,” said Kenny.
Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $50,000 franchise fee. The total investment for one Big Blue Swim School ranges from $1,825,500 to $3,687,000 (refer to item 7 in FDD). To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit http://YourBigMomentStartsHere.com.
ABOUT BIG BLUE SWIM SCHOOL
Big Blue Swim School was founded in 2009 by competitive swimmer Chris DeJong. The first location opened in Wilmette, Illinois, followed by four additional Chicagoland schools. In 2017, Level 5 Capital Partners acquired a stake in the brand. Through that investment, Big Blue plans to grow through franchising to 150 pools by 2021. Big Blue Swim School’s real estate expertise, strong brand, proprietary technology, and leadership support, coupled with its best-in-class consumer offerings, position its franchise partners for long-term success. To learn more about franchise opportunities with Big Blue Swim School, visit http://YourBigMomentStartsHere.com.
Big Blue Swim School is a SwimSwam Partner.