A new year, a new lockdown

A new year, a new lockdown.

Certainly not the ‘Happy New Year’ email we wanted to send you.

News yesterday that a new national lockdown was being implemented across England and Scotland (with Wales and Northern Ireland actively reviewing their current restrictions too), means we start the year with less bang, and more frustration.

Of course, this wasn’t entirely unexpected despite politicians saying otherwise, many had predicted a third lockdown weeks ago. Nonetheless, alongside the growing cases and deaths each day, the mood around the sector feels somewhat sombre.

We feel for providers up and down the country. It’s been a bumpy ride and you’d be forgiven for simply wanting to get off, but as we wrote recently you didn’t come this far to stop now

Our understanding is the legislation is still being created and will be released within 24 hours. In the meantime, we have these guidance links you may find useful:

Lockdown guidance (England)
Lockdown guidance (Scotland)

As and when the legislation is released, if appropriate, we’ll communicate further thoughts and interpretation.

It appears likely that the majority of the children’s activity sector will either need to, or choose to, cease operating while Covid-19 cases continue to rise aggressively and with schools remaining closed over the next few weeks.

Support Groups
We note the reference to ‘support groups’ once again in these guidelines for England.

This term was met with much debate in the previous lockdown by baby and toddler groups/business owners, with the Government seemingly leaving it slightly open to interpretation as to whether an activity provider service was indeed a ‘support group’ or simply was ‘supportive’ by nature.

This was then adapted in legislation passed in December to include ‘parent and child groups’ making it clearer.

It seems (as of writing this) only to include the wording ‘support groups’ again. If this remains ‘as is’ including importantly the legislation document, providers may again be required to use their discretion in interpreting this in terms of whether they can continue operating during lockdown. 

We recommend seeking advice from your local environmental health office and trading standards for clarification and confirmation, should you believe and wish to keep operating.

Some final positive thoughts:

  • Providers can start planning ahead knowing schools will be closed until at least mid-February (England at least, other nations may differ)
  • The vaccine roll out is underway and seems to be making progress
  • Customer demand is strong, and while online services may not be possible or ideal for everyone, they remain a viable route to generating revenue and building customer loyalty
  • Depending on your own childcare and home-schooling commitments, you may find you have more time to plan for the future and consider the long-term direction of your business
  • You’ve done a brilliant job and you didn’t come this far to stop now
  • We are incredibly confident and hopeful about the future of the sector as we wrote about here.
  • If you’d like to seek advice from other activity providers, you may find this Facebook Group useful.

Wishing you all positive vibes as we enter a challenging few weeks.

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.