The children’s swimming franchise has picked up the top prize at the industry’s most prestigious awards
The judges of this year’s bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Award certainly had their work cut out for them. Not only did they face the challenge of selecting a shortlist given the impressive talent on show in the £15bn UK franchising sector, they also had to pick one franchisor that stood out above the rest. But, in the end, one franchisor’s impressive accomplishments over the past 12 months made it – to quote Tina Turner – simply the best.
Water Babies, the national baby swimming franchise, took home the gong for Franchisor of the Year 2016. Founder Paul Thompson may have launched the company as a fun way to spend more time with his daughter but, seeing how he has transformed Water Babies into a force to be reckoned with, the prestigious award shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
In the last year alone, the national baby swimming franchise has made quite a splash. The franchise business launched the first ever British standards for the safety of babies and toddlers during swimming lessons, built its own aquatic facility in China and established a new service for pre- and post-natal mothers.
The award is even more impressive considering that Water Babies managed to nab the prize from the 2012 winner Home Instead Senior Care, whose franchising standards, ethics and franchisee recruitment methods secured it the silver award as well as this year’s Franchisee Recruitment Award. Meanwhile, the bronze went to Expense Reduction Analysts for its collaborative business model and performance.
“To be recognised by your industry as being the top franchisor is a fantastic accolade,” said Thompson. “It brings together 14 years of really hard work and it’s a collective effort for our whole franchise network; it’s all of us that did it. It’s very much ‘we’ that have won.”
While Water Babies may have snatched the big win, other franchisors still left the ceremony with trophies of their own. For instance, busylizzy, the postnatal fitness franchise, went home with the Emerging Franchisor of the Year Award, McDonald's won the Award for Innovation and O2, the digital communications franchise, won the Award for Customer Focus.
“Our winners have distinguished themselves through their accomplishments and these awards pay testament to their sustained franchising excellence,” said Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa.
This year’s award ceremony may be done and dusted but, given the all of the fantastic franchises out there, we’re sure picking the winners of 2017 won’t be any easier.