An ace opportunity for A-Star entrepreneurs

Tony Urwin of FDS North writes about the success of his collaboration with children’s activity franchise, A-Star Sports.

Successful American businessman Lee Iacocca noted that “we are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems”. With the nation staring down the barrel of a baby boom that’s set to overwhelm our schools, it’s good to remember Lee’s words. This is a golden opportunity for the owners of businesses that provide services to children and their parents.

According to a recent Government report, 450,000 more primary school places will need to be created in England and Wales within the next three years. A sustained surge in our national birthrate has unleashed a mighty wave of young children on our nation’s schools, extra-curricular programmes, leisure providers and other children’s product and service suppliers.

For more than 12 years, FDS North has helped just about every type of business to build strong, sustainably profitable franchises, but it has developed five specialisms: international, professional, business services, food and drink and children’s services businesses. Not surprisingly, we’ve been seeing a lot more children’s services providers lately.

One of the strongest and most promising in some time has been A-Star Sports. Founded in 2011 by four devoted children’s sports coaches, A-Star Sports provides engaging multi-sports classes, holiday clubs, parties and events for children aged two to 10 years. A welcome alternative to single sports programmes, A-Star Sports programming is exceptionally varied, accessible and fun for children and equally popular with parents who are eager to get their children active and set the foundation for a lifetime of sports participation and enjoyment.

The A-Star Sports franchise is particularly suited to people with a strong passion for coaching and education, and appeals strongly to this market as a business that is as fun, varied and accessible as its signature programmes. With low entry and operating costs, comprehensive training and strong franchise support, the A-Star Sports opportunity is particularly well positioned to benefit from the seemingly insoluble problem of the UK’s 21st Century baby boom.

“I’ve been coaching for most of my life, but I’ve never seen demand for sports-themed programmes like we’re experiencing these days,” explains Managing Director, Gary Bassett. “When word gets around that you have a great programme that the kids love – and parents speak to each other – the phone starts ringing off the hook. It’s great news for business.”

“There are more and more children reaching nursery and school age now, and that means more parents worried their kids aren’t getting the physical exercise and chance to play sports they feel they should,” says Kevin Key, Operations Director at A-Star Sports. “Add in the halo effect from the Olympics, and the market’s just booming.”

The founders quickly moved to seize the opportunity and they did it as only A-Star business people would do it. Knowing that they’d have to move quickly to beat the competition – yet carefully manage their costs and risk exposure – they looked at franchising the business. They did their research and identified the northern-based franchise consultancy with the best reputation, the best track record for building successful franchises, and the greatest expertise with children’s extracurricular programme providers – FDS North.

Gary and his partners contracted FDS North to scientifically evaluate the feasibility, costs, potential and strategy for franchising A-Star Sports in the current market. Based on our findings, we went on to model the franchise to ensure that it was a win-win proposition for the franchisor, franchise owners and customers over the long-term. The partners read our report, which was validated by their accountants, legal advisor and bankers. The decision was made to embark on the action plan we developed together. The franchise will reach the market early this Spring, with almost half a dozen exclusive pre-sales already booked.

“I also have a strong corporate background, and don’t make business decisions lightly. I knew what I was doing when I suggested we work with FDS North,” adds Gary. “The consultancy’s experience and reputation, – and Tony’s in particular, are peerless. Tony quickly grasped our business, market and objectives, and helped us to position our business in a way that perfectly suited us, and which will allow us to excel in a competitive market and to become a fixture in that market. I’d recommend FDS North to anyone looking to franchise their business the right way.”