Four simple tips for children’s activity providers heading into 2021

As news that the UK has approved a vaccine with roll-out as early as next week, a wave of cautious optimism seems to be circulating. This builds on our previous spotlight on reasons activity providers should be optimistic about the future.

Despite many setbacks and challenges the children’s activity sector has faced this year, this appears a firm step in the right direction for many reasons including getting the sector back to some semblance of normality, but not least to continue the preservation of life.

We wrote just last week about the best and worst case scenarios to plan ahead for going into 2021. While we argued the need for a balanced approach and strategy over the coming months, the vaccine roll out indeed does fit into the ‘best-case’ scenario we mooted, of course, assuming it’s as effective as suggested.

ICAP founder, Andy Georgiou, spoke earlier this week at two online events both looking ahead to 2021 and the need to continue moving your business forward. For many reasons linked to the pandemic, driving business growth has been difficult, yet when has anything worth doing been easy?

Here’s a few pointers raised that might be useful for you heading into 2021:

Create multiple-plans
The stop-start nature of 2020 and the still unknown vaccine roll out success means it’s likely providers need to have multiple plans. As mentioned in last week’s piece, we believe three plans for best-case, worst-case and a balanced approach makes most sense. These plans would allow you to mitigate risk of further lockdowns, prepare communications in advance, be proactive in the financial management of the business and allow you to consider growth plans previously on hold.

A need for marketing and communications consistency
While budgets for many providers are likely leaner this year for obvious reasons, those who commit to some simple, low-cost and consistent activities, will stand themselves in good stead. There’s a tendency among business owners to market until you’re at capacity and then stop, then start marketing again when occupancy rates drop below 100%. This approach can work, but wouldn’t it make more sense to commit to some effective continuous marketing every month so you slowly build wait lists and fill slots as and when they open? With this approach, marketing may cost you more in direct costs per year, however if you can have near 100% occupancy rates at all times and spend less time dealing with any ‘on/off’ marketing campaigns, you may find the indirect costs (mainly of your time) are much lower and critically, revenue/profit is at it’s highest potential. This isn’t to suggest specific time sensitive marketing campaigns don’t work, they do, and we recommend these on top of the continuous marketing if budget allows.

Look for the incremental 1% improvements you can make
Everyone tends to want big wins and big gains when it comes to business. While sometimes you may be able to drastically increase revenue through offering a new product, a strong marketing campaign or other ways, mostly success in our industry comes from slow and steady marginal gains. Through our time working with leading regional, national and even international activity brands, we’ve tended to see a strong focus on the smaller incremental improvements you can make. These combine and compound to make the big improvements. This might be as simple as revising your policies, updating your booking systems, communicating with customers more regularly, attending a business course or joining a professional membership body. Regardless, they are all small things you can do to continue moving and developing your business. We’d suggest you write a list of things you think would be beneficial for your business and how you plan to start taking action.

Remove distractions and focus more
While we appreciate we are now in December, a time for even more distractions typically with the festive season upon us, we still make this recommendation time and time again as key to success. We live in a world full of distractions, exposed to thousands of marketing messages, notifications and communications from many sources, not least our phones. It’s typically noted in studies that people have a hard time focusing on deep work for very long and the issue with this is, we need to be able to focus on key tasks in business to get them done both time-efficiently and effectively. Ensuring you make some key changes heading into 2021 about how you plan to remove distractions, focus your time-attention and work smarter should be top of your priority list.

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.