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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 12, 2019 7 months ago

Swim school searches for Florida franchisees as it plans growth across state, country

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Big Blue Swim School is transitioning from company-owned stores to franchising.

A business with an obvious lure for Florida — swim lessons — is about to make a push for growth in the Sunshine State. 

The company is Big Blue Swim School, which recently opened its fifth company-owned location and is transitioning from company-owned stores to franchising. “Obviously, Florida’s a great market,” says Big Blue Swim School Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson, adding the company has 15 pending locations in the Southeast.

By analyzing markets and using customer data from its Chicago headquarters, Big Blue has identified opportunities in specific places. Tampa, for example, could handle eight locations, Thompson says. The company could have eight to 10 locations between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Plus it has plans for two locations in Sarasota. The timeline for Florida locations is to open in 12 to 18 months.

The company aims for high-density areas and places customers go daily. That can mean a plaza with a Publix, Whole Foods or Kroger. If there’s an occupied site Big Blue wants to be in, Thompson says it will knock on landlords’ doors to tell them how Big Blue will bring families to the plaza and increase other tenants’ happiness. The pitch? Don’t resign a lease with another company. Call Big Blue instead.

“In Florida obviously swimming is important,” says Big Blue founder Chris DeJong, who just missed qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. “We’ve created a new type of swim lesson experience — a proprietary curriculum that gets faster and better results. As soon as parents try Big Blue Swim School, they stay with us.”

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