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A franchising family affair with Kids Academy

As the old saying goes… ‘never work with your family, pets or children’ but for the Dancy family, franchising has led them to working with all three!

The story begins with Oscar Pet Foods, which began trading in 1993 in Preston, being set up by Martin Dancy (father of Robert and Richard). The company began making Sainsbury’s own brand pet food, however Martin soon realised he wanted the business to become more than a pet food supplier to the supermarkets. Robert explained: “Oscar wanted to develop and control their own brand and distribution channels so my father trialled a different model of selling Oscar Pet Foods door-to-door, direct to the customer, offering a more tailored service.” It was a success, so the company then worked to find the most effective way of growing this concept throughout the UK. After taking professional advice to expand through franchising, Oscar Pet Foods has never looked back. The company now has a network of almost 100 franchisees with a very strong position in franchising and the pet food market.

For a business model that has already seen success, franchising can be an extremely cost effective and efficient way of expanding both nationally and internationally. The business format is packaged up in a way that it can be licensed and replicated by others. The franchisor gives access to the proven business model, brand, operating system and suppliers along with initial training and ongoing support, in return for an initial upfront fee from the franchisee. The franchisor then takes a percentage of the franchisee’s turnover, meaning they have an inherent interest in their franchisees, because if they are successful, then so is the franchisor. Thus creating a partnership that has worked for many businesses worldwide.

“At 18, the year before I went to university, my father allowed me to take on a franchise with Oscar and have my own business. It was a great insight into self employment and I really enjoyed it. I worked hard and followed the system that was in place and was successful, so much so that I won an award for sales at our annual convention.” Said Robert.

The benefits of franchising for the Dancys goes beyond the expansion of Oscar. It has allowed all of the family to gain first-hand experience and an insight into running a business and franchising. Robert told us how the year he had running an Oscar franchise allowed him to understand what his own personal strong points were and what he liked doing: “I realised that I was good people person, enjoyed working for myself and managing my own time but within a proven frame work. I always knew that after University I would get back into franchising in some form or another because I just loved the concept.”

Robert did just that and has worked in a number of roles within franchising from 2001. Firstly helping an online franchise recruitment organisation become a leader in their field, then as a recruitment and marketing manager for a multi brand franchisor, and then latterly through his own franchise consultancy business and a Government initiative. In February 2013 he was appointed UK Franchise Director at Kids Academy Children’s Day Nurseries.

“We have only just started franchising at Kids Academy but for me this role is about bringing together all my franchise experience and Kids Academy’s 15 years of sector experience to make them a leading nursery franchise.” The extra knowledge that Robert has had will aid him immensely. Where new or inexperienced franchisors may overlook key development areas, Robert, through his experience, can foresee the pitfalls that Kids Academy may endure over their journey ahead, similar to many established franchisors. “I’ve seen before the mistakes and misjudgements franchisors have made, so hopefully, (no one is perfect), I can take all these into consideration and do my best to make sure they don’t occur within Kids Academy and offer a great franchise to my franchisees”, commented Robert.

Richard Dancy, older brother, of Robert, has also taken full advantage of growing up in franchising. Having worked in the FMCG market with Walkers Crisps and then with Vodafone, he joined Oscar Pet Foods as Sales and Marketing Director in 2002. This facilitated Martin’s retirement and the sale of Oscars to yet another family member, Richard Martin (Richard and Robert’s brother in law!) who has continued to take Oscar from strength to strength.

Richard Dancy’s love for franchising has added another successful franchise brand to the Dancy family tree when he married the founder of a successful alternative to kennels franchise created in 2000. Husband and wife now work together on this franchise but they haven’t stopped there. This September has seen the launch of an additional franchise brand in dog grooming. There really is no stopping these Dancys….

“Having your father, brother, sister in law and brother in law in franchising is not only unique but a great help to us all. We often share our thoughts and experiences making family get togethers seem more like BFA (British Franchise Association) regional forums!”, Robert commenting on his family of franchisors.

So what does the future look like for the Dancy family? With 4 franchise brands in the family now firmly established in the franchise industry the future is looking bright. “All of us are BFA members and we aim to offer the best franchise in each of their sectors and help others replicate our successes. Between myself, my brother and our extended family there are 15 children so there is a strong possibility that one of those might just follow in our footsteps to continue the Dancy family’s influence on the world of franchising.” Says Robert.

To finish, Robert has given some advice to people who are looking at franchising as a way of making a business: “Understand the model at every level and make sure you are completely aware of what it requires of you physically, mentally and financially. Ask lots of questions of your franchisor and be happy with them as people and as a business. Be committed, work hard, follow the system and enjoy it. The financial and lifestyle benefits to those who build a solid business can be considerable. Doing it through the right franchise can offer those with a passion to succeed, the opportunity to reap the rewards of self employment”.

Interested and want to know more about Evolution Childcare?

The Evolution Childcare 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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