Interview with Founders of Mini Athletics - Kirk & Clare Bowyer

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Franchisor’s name: Kirk and Clare Bowyer

Name of franchise: Mini Athletics

Tell us a bit about yourself (including past employment within or outside of franchising and any interests outside of work)

Mini Athletics was created by my wife, Clare Bowyer and I.  Prior to Mini Athletics Clare was a primary school teacher (PE specialist) and I was a strength and conditioning coach for elite athletes.

Clare has a wealth of experience as a primary school teacher. As well as being a physical education specialist, she has spent much of her career educating the early years.

I have worked with many professional athletes from tennis players to formula one racing drivers. I have also also worked with some of Great Britain’s most talented sporting juniors (in a wide range of sports, including athletics) to improve performance through physical training.

When Clare and I had our first child, we were keen to take him to a class that would meet both of our goals. I was keen to enhance athleticism/sporting participation and Clare wanted him to build his confidence, social and cognitive skills. We couldn’t find such a class so we co-created Mini Athletics.

When was the business established? And what were the factors for deciding to go down the franchise route?

The business was established in June 2016.  I had quit my job as a strength and conditioning coach a few months prior to this due to extensive travel commitments.  At this time, Clare and I wanted to spend more time together as a family.  Therefore, we wanted to create a business that worked for our family but other families too.  We first launched classes in our local area of Cambridge.  The classes grew in popularity at an incredible rate.  Therefore, we knew we had a good product.  The next step for us was expansion.  We had two potential paths to expand.  The first option was to employ regional managers across the country and expand this way.  The second option was to franchise the business.  We decided to go for the latter for multiple reasons.  One of the main reasons was that we wanted to work with like minded individuals or teams to reach as many children as possible.  We also wanted them to care as much as we did about the product they were delivering.  Therefore, business ownership was the logical answer to this.  In addition, we knew we had built a business that works well for families so could easily work well for other families too.

Why is your franchise a great investment for potential franchisees?

  1. Mini Athletics has a proven and profitable business format.
  2. The opportunity to use the Mini Athletics brand and a business system that has been developed and proven in the marketplace.
  3. Mini Athletics continually invests in its infrastructure
  4. Provide extensive and detailed training for every franchisee
  5. Sustained and innovative marketing strategies
  6. Full support system for all franchisees.
  7. Mini Athletics makes a difference to children, providing a rewarding careers for franchisees.

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?

Mini Athletics is an effective franchise and an ideal business for anyone passionate about sport, educating children and making a difference.

There are some fantastic franchises available out there for 2-7 year olds eg football, rugby, dance, music.  However, we are the first of our kind in athletics.  We carefully branded Mini athletics so it appealed to both boys and girls and multiple nationalities, cultures and ethnicities.  We certainly take advantage of the fantastic reputation of athletics across the world.

What qualities do you look for in a franchisee?  What makes a successful franchisee?

Our franchisees have diverse backgrounds, from physiotherapists to full-time mums, sports coaches to teachers.  However, they all have common qualities:

Passion

Our franchisees are incredibly enthusiastic about enhancing athleticism and early learning goals for children.

Focus

Franchisees have the focus to succeed. Running a business is not always easy and there will
be challenges. However, successful franchise business owners have an unwavering focus.

Communication skills

The ability to communicate with a wide range of people, build effective working relationships and lead a team of coaches is pivotal to the success of building a Mini Athletics business.

Administrative skills

Our website and administration resources
will help franchisees to build an effective and streamlined business. There will be day-to-day administrative duties and it is vital each franchisee has a solid foundation of IT skills, including familiarity with social media.

How did your franchise adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic?  How did you support your franchisees during this time?

  • The pandemic was certainly a difficult time for us all.  However, it was our top priority to ensure all franchisees were OK during this period.  We knew if we looked after our franchisees well then the recovery would be much easier.
  • The majority of franchisees went on furlough as they were employees of their own company. Putting themselves on payroll was something we had always advised before the pandemic.
  • The franchisees had minimal outgoings during the lockdowns.  Franchisees put their staff on furlough and they didn’t need to pay for hall hire as they were not using them.
  • Mini Athletics HQ charge a % based management fee.  Therefore, if franchisees do not earn anything then they do not pay HQ.
  • The children’s sport/activity sector was one of the first to reopen after the lockdowns.  Therefore, the lockdowns were not as long as most.
  • To aid recovery for franchisees we gave a 4 month management fee holiday following the first lockdown.  This just meant they were able to bring in slightly more revenue to kick start their business.  Although it was a tight period for HQ at the time, we reaped the benefits after that 4 month period as franchisees were running strong businesses.
  • During lockdowns, HQ provided customers free online classes which really kept the engagement going.  This even included an online home sports day with celebrities.  This significantly helped our recovery when it was time to reopen with lots of new customers.

What have been the company’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?

When we started the business, we wanted to grow the program across the world.  We wanted thousands of children to benefit from the classes and as a result, begin to change an epidemic problem of inactivity in children.  We have started this process and made good ground.  We are now in 5 different countries and deliver the program to thousands of children every week.  This is our biggest achievement.  However, the ambition is to continue this progress.

What expansion plans have you got nationally and internationally?

We are hoping to expand into USA, Canada and Australia within the next 2-3 years.

Interested and want to know more about Mini Athletics?

The Mini Athletics profile outlines all aspects of their franchise opportunity and allows you to contact them for further information or to ask a question.

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