We never imagined franchising Water Babies when we first started out, but so many enthusiastic people wanted to get involved that it soon seemed the most logical way of expanding. Since Water Babies began in Ireland in 2009 we've grown incredibly fast and currently have 4 franchises, teaching approximately 2,500 clients in around 40 pools each week. Which makes us the largest baby & toddler swim school in Ireland – but run through a network of family-owned businesses, each of which is strongly rooted in their own local communities.
After mapping Ireland into 6 territories - 2 incorporating Dublin and 4 others around the country - we launched in Dublin at the outset of the economic crash in 2009. Yet despite the ongoing difficult economic climate, this quickly became the fastest-ever growing Water Babies franchise, teaching 1,000 babies & toddlers a week by the end of the first year (by comparison, it took 4 years for the first franchise in the UK to reach this level). They now teach over 1,700 clients and will soon be the first Water Babies franchise to reach 2,000!
Over on the West coast, Jamie & Lisa (former Dublin clients) opened Water Babies around Galway in 2011. Then in 2012, 2 of our Dublin teachers, together with their partners, took Water Babies further afield - Denise & Dave around Cork in the South West; and Elaine & George around Waterford in the South East. All 3 are doing swimmingly!
With Therese & Carol going on to purchase the 2nd Dublin territory, 5 of the 6 available franchises in Ireland were sold and the number of babies & toddlers taught now accounts for approaching 10% of the network total - all within 3 years. Not a bad 1st international step!