After leaving behind his competitive swimming career in 2009, U.S. national champion swimmer Chris DeJong decided to embark on a new venture of his own creation—Big Blue Swim School. In the decade since then, DeJong has led the Illinois-based swim instruction franchise to become an emerging dominant player in the lucrative swim-instruction industry, expanding to five open corporate and 44 sold fitness franchise locations across 11 states.
Since opening its latest Chicago location earlier this year and selling out the market with a 10-unit deal, the company is ready to expand its franchising efforts to the East Coast. Now, Big Blue Swim School is heading to the East Coast to break into Boston in what it sees as a market with massive potential for the right top franchises to own partners. Boston may be new to the brand but is certainly familiar to some of its leadership team.
“I am originally from the Boston area and have even owned several franchises in the Boston suburbs,” said Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson. “Since there are not many swim schools in the area, the close-knit, family-oriented community is in need of higher education around water safety. I am confident that my hometown is a perfect fit for Big Blue Swim School’s model.”
Boston’s dense population of dual-income households with children is exactly Big Blue’s target demographic. While most competitors address children aged 6-months to 5 years, Big Blue caters to ages 6-months to 12 years, resulting in a 30% increase in the learn-to-swim addressable market.“The demographics found in the Boston area are perfect for our unit model,” said DeJong. “Big Blue Swim School is in a unique position to deliver the highest quality swim lessons while also providing more scheduling options that allow siblings to swim in the same half-hour window, making it the most convenient option for the dual working parent households common to the Boston area. Our business model and proprietary technology uniquely meet the needs of kids, parents, and education franchise partners.”
Big Blue’s in-house technology, LessonBuddy™, allows swim school franchise partners to easily schedule their instructors while also letting parents conveniently schedule lessons and track progress. The technology-driven model sets the brand ahead of its competitors, as no other swim-lesson franchise has a similar offering.
As the third-fastest growing tech hub in the country and a recipient of a 6% rise in the volume of tech jobs, Boston is perfectly aligned with Big Blue’s offering for both child education franchise partners and consumers. Additionally, Boston’s continued metropolitan development and economic boom translate to opportunities for prime real estate. Big Blue has a team of eight members to assist in real estate, construction, and facilities including three dealmakers, a designer, construction director, and a facilities manager. The team uses market knowledge and data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify prime real estate in trade areas across the country that fit the brand’s member profile.
Big Blue Swim School’s entry into the Boston market is also a product of Atlanta-based Level 5 Capital Partners’ acquisition of a majority stake in the brand. After growing CorePower Yoga from one studio to become the third-largest yoga studio operator in the U.S., Level 5 decided to make another strategic investment in Big Blue Swim School. Part of Level 5 Capital Partners’ plan is to grow the brand to 150 locations by 2021 through swim school franchising.
The team at Big Blue and Level 5 Capital Partners is currently exploring real estate opportunities throughout the greater Boston area to develop the brand, with a focus on Everett, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill, Dedham, Braintree, Haverhill and Stoneham. Each location creates approximately 35 jobs; in total, Big Blue Swim School’s Boston development commitment will bring 270 new jobs to the market.
“We are looking for qualified franchise partners who are capable team builders,” said Thompson. “Big Blue Swim School prioritizes franchisee success, providing a high level of support as well as a best-in-class technology stack to ensure each franchise partner can be focused on customer service, hiring, and retaining and training top talent.
Big Blue Swim School’s expert real estate selection, franchisee-and-consumer-facing LessonBuddy™ technology, capacity planning and kid-friendly 90-degree pools have quickly established the brand as a dominant player in the swim lesson franchise segment, positioning best fitness franchise partners for success—not only in Boston, but across the nation.
“For us, it’s all about creating an essential learning experience for the kids and convenient experience for the parents,” Thompson said. “As a Boston native, I am thrilled about being able to set up so many families to feel confident in their children’s abilities so they can be better equipped to jump in the water.”
Multi-unit franchise business opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big franchise business 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. To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School best franchises to buy.