91% of children’s activity businesses have been ‘significantly impacted’ by Covid-19

91% of children’s activity businesses have been ‘significantly impacted’ by Covid-19.

That’s one of the headline stats coming out of the ICAP Business Impact Survey we held recently, which received 244 responses.

Reduced income (93% of respondents), increased stress levels (82%), enforced move to online provision (73%) and delayed growth plans (61%) were just a few of the impacts.

25% of respondents said they anticipated between 26 – 50% of lost income year on year. 32% expected between 51 – 75% and and a further 24% felt the loss would be closer to 100% for their business. 

Looking ahead, their immediate concerns included their mental health and wellbeing (68%), cash flow (67%) and long-term venue closures (63%).

Responses to when activity providers believed they would be back at near to full capacity was mixed. Just 8% felt it would be around Easter, 14% expected the Summer Term (May – July) to be more likely with the largest number of respondents (32%) anticipating Autumn to be more realistic. A further 27% stated they were unsure.

A full report will be released later this month, which also covers financial support accessed, Government opinion and professional communities.

One of the early conclusions we’ve come to when analysing the data is that while people have expressed concerns and laid bare the impact of reduced income and increased stress as examples, business owners are being extremely realistic across the sector.

What comes with this level of realism is:
a) an acceptance of the business impact and
b) the importance of planning ahead.

We’ve spoken openly about the need for multiple plans in what will likely be another challenging year. Perhaps using some of the above data will be useful in planning for different scenarios.

Looking ahead
The flip-flopping of 2020 between lockdowns, tiers and U-turns was frustrating for all. We all acutely know the great importance of what our sector provides to children and parents and that sometimes wasn’t evident from Government communications.

That said, the ability for many of activity providers to continue operating in person services even in the strictest of tiers suggests a better appreciation of the role we play for families. The ongoing concerns being raised about children’s education and wellbeing will likely mean a sharp focus on the likes of children’s activity providers to help schools, nurseries and families get through the next few months/years. This of course bodes well for secure ongoing demand across the sector.

This combined with a strong Governmental response to the vaccine roll-out (as of writing the UK are 3rd globally in proportion of the population vaccinated) suggests while caution is advised, we can look ahead more positively.

When exactly each activity business will be in full swing, only time will tell, however continuing to look ahead with a pragmatic yet optimistic approach is a must for any children’s activity provider. Let’s make sure we are ready to continue being the leaders and inspirational figures children need for the future.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence

Pip Wilkins

Pip Wilkins is the Chief Executive of the British Franchise Association (bfa). With 25 years’ experience in the franchise sector, Pip has worked her way up within the Association, gaining insight from all areas of the business and the franchise industry. She is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. Pip regularly speaks at conferences and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing on franchising matters for national, local and franchising trade press. Pip is also a regular judge for the annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, the Franchise Marketing Awards and Global Franchise Awards. Pip represents the UK at both the European Franchise Federation (EFF) and World Franchise Council (WFC). The bfa has grown to be one of the largest franchise associations in Europe, and one of the most successful associations in the world.

Theo Millward

Theo Millward is a graduate of Lancaster University with a BBA in Management. In 2016 Theo purchased UK swim school, Swimtime from the founders which teaches 20,000 children a week. Following a multi-award- winning digital transformation, during the global pandemic, Theo and his team founded Franscape, a saas that digitally transforms Franchise brands. FranScape won New Business of the Year at the UK Business Awards.

Andy Georgiou

Andy is the Founder of ICAP and a leading UK Franchise Business Consultant. He is fiercely committed to helping children’s activity providers build successful and profitable businesses. With qualifications in Business Management, Digital Media and Marketing, he has helped build, advise and grow leading 6 and 7 fiqure children’s education, sports and activity brands in the past 17 years.

Frank Sahlein

Frank has been active in the Children’s Activity Center industry as an athlete, coach, business owner, consultant and business broker. He is a native of San Mateo, California and graduated from San Jose State University in California (USA).
Frank was a pioneer of the Children’s Learning Opportunity Center concept from 1976 – 2016 at the Wings Center in Boise, Idaho (USA) – a blend of Sports Instruction, Arts, Education, Entertainment and Outreach programs.
As a business management innovator, Frank has delivered over 1,000 presentations for a variety of Children’s Activity Center industries such as gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, dance, martial arts/ninja and child care/education.
3rd Level Consulting is a Business Development and Service Provider Partner for private industry companies, associations, and organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Panama.
Two-time recipient of the National Business Leader Award from USA Gymnastics, Frank is the author of “Building Your Business Potential” and “Designing Your Empowered Life”. He is the creator of the SmartEDGE™ Business Applications and Management Certification Courses. He is the co-founder of LEAP Learning and the MetaSpheres Corp, and is the founder and Executive Director of the International Association of Child Development Programs.
His passions include his beautiful wife Lourdes Gonzalez, family, friends, fitness training, transformational reading and travel.