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Laying the foundations

Written by David Graham on Monday, 23 September 2019. Posted in Franchise Diaries

Code Ninjas recently successfully broke into a brand-new market, as they launched their kids coding franchise in the UK. Having now signed their first British franchisees, the race is on to get the inaugural centre up and running.

Laying the foundations

Celebrating success is so important as a franchisor – whether you’ve just signed your first, your tenth, or your 100th franchisee. But soon after the sound of the popped champagne bottle has faded, it’s time to get on with the next challenging step – getting the franchise off the ground.

As a franchisor, you’re responsible for communicating the values and vision of your brand. Franchisees are equally responsible for living and breathing those values. Together, you’re stronger. After all, that’s the major selling point of franchising – a mutually beneficial working relationship for the greater good of the brand and everyone involved. From a franchisor’s perspective, supporting franchisees with the launch of their business isn’t about micro-management. It’s about laying the foundations, building confidence and sharing your expert knowledge and experience with them so that they have a firm grasp of the brand. A huge part of that is supporting them in finding the perfect location for their business.

At Code Ninjas, we’re known for our state-of-the-art, instantly recognisable coding centres – we call them dojos – with our kid-only coding zones, parent lounge (complete with complimentary coffee and WiFi) and nearby parking. This is part of the reason why Code Ninjas is so successful around the world. No matter where they’re from, kids want the same thing – a fun, cool place where they can do something they love with their friends. So, just as we have in the US and Canada, our UK centres will be properly branded, based in the heart of the community and a safe place where kids can come and learn. These three components are a must for any of our locations – the Holy Grail, you could say.

It’s important to mention that supporting your franchisee in sourcing a location for their franchise isn’t the only component of their launch. For many franchise brands, finding premises doesn’t even come in to play, as a number of models can be operated from home. But when branding – and a comprehensive fit-out – is part of the process, it’s crucial that you get it right, the first time.

Step one – research your desired location and source suitable premises. The real advantage with the first Code Ninjas UK franchisees is that they all live within their pre-determined territory. They also are parents to several children who attend the local schools, so they all have a solid understanding of their area. That’s no coincidence either – we brought them on board as our first UK franchisees for that very reason. Not only do they know their target customer – they are their target customer.   

Step two – get your affairs in order. Obtaining office or retail space makes signing a lease for a studio apartment or getting a mortgage on a family home look simple and easy. There are all sorts of factors that come into play. Firstly, check that you’re able to obtain the necessary planning permission to be able to make the alterations needed to the space to fit into brand guidelines. For us, one of our initial checks is always looking into broadband coverage and any limitations with electricity supply – a kid’s coding centre comes with a lot of plugs and wires! Also, be sure to factor in business rates, taxes, service charges and any other overheads. The last thing you need is an unfactored fee rearing its ugly head days before launch.

Step three – be sure to regularly check in with your franchisees.  At the end of the day, it’s their business (literally) to make a success of their franchise, but the hustle and bustle of sourcing premises, planning a fit-out, filing paperwork and ordering equipment can be overwhelming. Even when there’s a process to follow. You brought them on board because they believe in your brand and service, but they bought into you too. Make sure you were worth the investment.

About the Author

David Graham

David Graham

David Graham is the founder and CEO of kids coding franchise, Code Ninjas – launched in Houston, Texas, in 2016. Four years on and the former programmer and entrepreneur has taken the business to incredible heights, with an international franchise network of 340 franchisees in the US, Canada and the UK.

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