In late 2018, Big Blue Swim School, a Chicago-based children’s swim school announced its plans to reach 150 units by 2021 by partnering with growth-minded franchise partners across the U.S. So far in 2019, the brand has already made good on its plans, with the signing of three major multi-unit deals for 16 units brining 10 locations to Chicago, Illinois and six to Minneapolis, Minnesota; five units in Denver, Colorado; and three units in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In March, Big Blue Swim School also opened its fifth Chicagoland corporate location, in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago. This opening was the strongest in the system to date, with 1,400 memberships sold before the doors opened, cementing the brand’s pre-opening marketing strategy to be mirrored for all future new openings.
Former Orangetheory franchisees Wendy and Erik Skaalerud will bring five locations to the Denver area; Sun Stop Sunglasses franchisees Zack and Brittany Groesbeck will bring three Big Blue Swim Schools to Salt Lake City; and Shorewood Development Group CEO and father of five Big Blue Swim School members Louis Schriber III along with Aaron Roth will bring 16 locations to Chicago and Minneapolis.
In addition to aligning with experienced best fitness franchise partners with business acumen and the potential to grow the brand in their respective communities, Big Blue Swim School has also focused on building its leadership team. In early 2019, former PepsiCo executive Brooke Mallick joined Big Blue Swim School as VP of Marketing, former Premium Service Brands and College Hunks Hauling Junk executive Justin Waltz joined as VP of Franchise Operations, and franchise industry veteran Catherine Monson joined the brand’s Board of Directors.
“We’ve kicked off 2019 in a big way — by signing major agreements in new markets with incredible swim school franchise partners, with several more in various stages of development,” said Scott Thompson, Chief Development Officer for Big Blue Swim School. “We have also solidified our leadership team to ensure that this will be a huge year for the growth of this brand.”
To keep the momentum going, Thompson and his team have had a presence at many key franchise industry conferences so far in 2019, including the International Franchise Association Conference in Las Vegas in February, and the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas, the bi-annual FranNet conference in Atlanta and the Great American Franchise Expo in Dallas in March.
Looking ahead in 2019, Big Blue Swim School plans to exhibit at the International Franchise Expo in New York in late May, in addition to hosting Dive-In Day events for brokers, and regionally in Phoenix and Seattle in July and Dallas and Houston in August, which will allow Big Blue Swim School executives to present the brand to groups of 50-100 potential investors.
“In the first few months of 2019, we have been laser-focused on building our infrastructure, developing our strategic growth plan and franchise marketing materials, and hiring the right leaders to join our executive team,” said Thompson. “With 24 committed education franchise locations and two corporate leases signed, we plan to have at least 50 committed locations by the end of 2019. We are well on our way of achieving our goal of 150 open units by the end of 2021.”