How Big Blue Swim School Built The Strongest Swim School Franchise Opportunity

by SwimSwam Partner Content Off

December 11th, 2020 Learn to Swim

Courtesy: Big Blue Swim School

While other swim school brands have created awareness of the swim school space, it’s a fragmented industry without a strong, national player—the largest provider has less than 3% of the addressable market share. As s prospective franchise owners look for the next winning concept, Big Blue Swim School emerges as a viable franchise investment of the in-demand swim school category.

“We are big fans of what competition has done to prove that a national swim school model can work,” said Big Blue Swim School CEO Scott Sanders. “But from our perspective, they don’t deliver the best customer experience.. Also, they often locate pools in areas that are not convenient for parents, who value their time immensely. They also lack a clearly defined tech strategy that enables a high-scale, high-margin business that is set up for long-term success.”

With best-in-class consumer offerings, an experienced leadership team, proprietary technology and a strategic growth plan to reach 150 units by 2021, Big Blue Swim School is uniquely positioned to become a major player in the swim school category.

Proprietary Technology and Ease of Operations for Franchise Partners and Parents

Since its founding, Big Blue has made a name for itself as a technology-driven concept. The brand’s proprietary, cloud-based, ERP software LessonBuddy™ makes it easy for parents to fit swim lessons into their lives, allowing multi-child families to schedule and reschedule lessons easily, with just a tap of their fingers on their smartphone or tablet.

The custom, cloud-based platform is technologically superior to the software other concepts in the space use and is designed so franchise partners can operate successful pools without needing a daily, onsite presence. Franchise partners are able to manage their business through dashboards and KPIs, resulting in total transparency in terms of ROI and the health of the business.

Since most franchisors don’t manage their technology in-house, they do not have access to the depth of consumer data that Big Blue has with LessonBuddy.

“Other software packages from competitors would really struggle to accomplish what Big Blue does at scale. In fact, one of our competitors switched from one third-party platform to another, and they are still struggling to catch up,” said Sanders. “If the quality of your operations and customer experience is so closely tied to a third-party provider’s roadmap, it is much harder to execute an effective technology strategy or differentiate yourself from the competition. We completely eliminate that worry for our franchise partners.”

Customer-Friendly Pools

Big Blue has further set itself apart with a differentiated consumer proposition. “Our facilities are designed to maximize comfort for both children and their parents,” said Sanders. “With 90-degree, ultra-clean water, we provide a very different experience from the neighborhood YMCA or community pool, and is likely a radical departure from what the parents experienced in their own swim lessons. Plus, our relaxing viewing area comes with free WiFi and is managed for cleanliness and sound, making it an enjoyable 30 minutes for parents.”

Through LessonBuddy, Big Blue offers total convenience for the family with a breadth of scheduling options for busy calendars, With 2,000-3,000 lessons offered per week, multi-kid parents can easily schedule all their children to swim in the same 30-45 minute window. Plus, Big Blue has the capacity to track each swimmer’s progress in real-time while keeping parents updated.

USA Swimming reports high burnout rates in kids aged 7 to 10 years old because they are in a very cold, large, competitive swimming pool with high school kids coaching them instead of being able to swim in an inviting environment with swimming experts. Those kids belong in a more advanced level of swim school as opposed to an entry-level swim team. Other swim schools’ are not built to bridge the gap between learn-to-swim and swim team, and Big Blue is uniquely positioned to fill that gap with their proprietary software that makes scheduling easy for families with siblings as well as pools built to handle more swimmers.

“We truly appeal to the entire 0-to-12-year-old demographic,” said Sanders. “With larger pools and optimized facilities, our addressable market is at least 30% larger than competition. We can have a 7-year-old in a longer lane and a 3-year-old sibling in a small lane at the same time. There are very few swimming options with that capability. The combination of more water, the correct number of levels, and our proprietary technology make it very easy for parents to fit multiple siblings into swim lessons, while saving them considerable time and hassle.”

Data-Driven Real Estate Selection and Modern Facilities

Big Blue’s approach to site selection laps other swim school franchises. Big Blue is analytically focused on ensuring each location is set to generate ROI as quickly as possible. The data gathered from LessonBuddy is used for site selection, pool optimization and expanding reach. Big Blue leverages an experienced team of real estate professionals to handle site location, construction, and facilities management. The team has a tested, proactive, data-driven real estate strategy designed to place a location in the path of least resistance for families, based on local demographics, foot traffic patterns and more.

While many swim schools are in poorly lit, dated buildings with cracked parking lots, Big Blue’s modern, comfortable facilities offer a relaxing environment for parents and a safe and inspiring space for students. Other brands in the space leverage existing pools or cheaper facilities.

“Franchise partners may think saving on rent by selecting a cheaper site might be a good decision, but they could easily be giving up $1 million or more in revenue in the long run,” said Sanders. “We are confident a site selected by our real estate team is going to perform at least 30% better than a self-selected location.”

As Big Blue appeals to qualified franchise partners across the country, the brand is well on its way to achieving its goal of 150 pools signed by the end of 2021. Since launching franchise opportunities less than two years ago, the brand has sold 83 units in 16 states. Investors looking for the next big wave in the swim space will want to dive in to learn more about Big Blue now.

“When prospective franchise candidates see our best-in-class consumer offerings, accessible leadership support and proprietary enterprise technology, they understand the top-tier value of a Big Blue Swim School investment,” said Sanders.

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 $80,000 franchise fee. The total investment necessary to begin operation of a new Big Blue Swim School is $2,329,223 to $3,636,998 (refer to item 7 in FDD) To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit


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

Big Blue Swim School is a SwimSwam Partner. 

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