There’s a diverse range of franchises that are centred around kids and family. Whether it’s making a haircut a fun experience, bringing healthy school lunches nationwide, providing lice removal services, or offering a cost-effective solution for when kids outgrow their clothing, an abundance of family-based franchises await.
Read on to learn more about four successful family-friendly franchises that strive to bring the best for both children and their parents.
Angie Benson, Brand Director for Once Upon A Child, knows just how fast kids can go through clothes. “It’s not uncommon for children to go through six or seven different sizes in their first year alone, and that’s a lot of trips to Once Upon A Child to keep them looking good. We pride ourselves on being there for our customers and their growing families. In fact, we carry up to youth size 18/20, so once we have a new customer, they tend to stay with us for a while!”
Once Upon A Child, a lifesaver for thousands of parents, is a franchise that pays cash for gently used kids’ items, and resells them at a discount of up to 70 per cent less than regular retail prices. Founded by Dennis and Lynn Blum in 1985 in Perrysburg, Ohio, the company was purchased by Winmark Corporation in 1992, and began franchising in 1993. Today, Once Upon A Child has more than 350 stores, 38 of which are in Canada, with another six set to open this year.
Benson says the franchise resonates well with customers in all economic situations. “It’s safe to say that if you have kids, you don’t have a lot of extra money. This, of course, makes a lot of people very loyal to our stores.”
The challenge of operating a Once Upon A Child franchise is also its biggest benefit, says Benson. “Every year, new customers are born, and there is potential to add to the customer base. At the same time, every year, customers outgrow our sizes. You have to be actively involved in marketing to new parents to make sure you always have new customers.”
When it comes to those who are looking to invest in a Once Upon A Child franchise, Benson says “Prospective franchisees should be properly capitalized, be involved in the business, follow the brand model, and be able to deal with the public.”
Training and support provided by Once Upon A Child includes business planning and site selection assistance, store design and layout, style and trend training, proprietary computer system, ongoing small business consultation support from regional field operations staff, and an annual system-wide conference.
When you hear what the Lunch Lady has to offer, it almost makes you want to be in school again, and that’s exactly why the franchise has been so successful. Founded in 1993 in North York, Ontario by Ruthie Burd, the company started out by supplying healthy lunches to schools across the country. Since then, the business has expanded to serve daycares, camps, snack programs, and recreation programs. “Our concept is making it easy for kids to enjoy good food,” explains Burd.
Burd says that with the help of the franchise, franchisees set up a commercial kitchen, where food is prepared before being delivered. In the beginning, franchisees are involved in the food preparation process.
The biggest benefits of owning a Lunch Lady franchise, says Burd, are the financial success you can achieve, and the personal satisfaction you can get from serving the kids. “You get rock star status in a school – everyone’s always glad to see you. You’re also contributing to the health of children.”
On the other hand, it can be a challenge to deal with parents. “It’s all about customer service. Mix-ups can happen, and it’s really important to view every situation from your customer’s or a parent’s point of view,” says Burd.
An ideal Lunch Lady franchisee has a sunny disposition, possesses empathy and a desire to make a difference in the community, and is willing to follow the operational blueprint put in place by the franchise.
Franchisees go through the “Smarter U” third-party training program, and receive ongoing support from head office after the initial training period. The Lunch Lady provides food acquisition, menus, marketing and operations support, and mentoring on a regular basis.
Delivering a consistent product and message is vital to the success of a brand like the Lunch Lady, which is looking for franchisees who share its core values. “It’s important for anyone looking for a franchise opportunity to be sure the values and vision of any company they join match their own for the relationship to be a success,” says Burd.
Chiquicuts Kids Hair Salon is a fine-tuned franchise that offers haircutting services for children, where hairstyling experience isn’t required. “The salon provides a fun environment, where children enjoy not only a fabulous haircut, but also a magical experience,” says Fernando Martinez, who founded Chiquicuts with his wife Nedelka eight years ago in Ottawa, Ontario.
Martinez says that while most hair salon franchises turn to franchising after a period of time, Chiquicuts was planned with this business model in mind from the beginning. “My background in IT and Nedelka’s business savvy enabled the salon to evolve with a different perspective.”
The Chiquicuts formula of service and entertainment, notes Martinez, creates the perfect environment to keep children occupied and parents happy during their salon visit. “Ergonomically-fitted styling stations, game consoles, tablets, mechanical rides, movies, and other amenities make the experience one that the client would like to repeat. Most of our clients stay for years, and their children grow with us.”
For parents’ convenience, the franchise offers 24/7 online booking, phone apps, free Wi-Fi, and real time client’s schedule display, and the franchise also provides its proprietary software application.
Martinez says hair schools are now realizing the potential of the niche children’s salon market. “Some schools visit our salon on a regular basis to learn more and to experience the colourful salon firsthand.”
“As part of our efforts to further train and educate our stylists, Chiquicuts has developed an online education module called Chiquicuts University, which houses information for franchisees and their employees,” adds Martinez. This includes salon practices, how-to procedures, and documentation, along with the suppliers and resources they need for day-to-day operations.
Martinez says it helps for a franchisee to be a parent, as they tend to know what children like and enjoy the most, and that the children’s market offers a rewarding work environment. “Seeing small children smiling is a fulfilling experience.”
What better endorsement for your franchise system than to have a family member purchase a franchise? That’s what Lice Squad.com Founder Dawn Mucci can boast after her cousin invested in a franchise in the Belleville/Kingston, Ontario area this year. Not to mention the fact that Lice Squad.com has received the CFA Franchisee’s Choice designation for seven consecutive years, and has won three Awards of Excellence. Mucci, who started her franchise in Toronto in 2001 as an independent mobile lice removal service, now has 35 franchises across Canada, with two more starting this year.
Mucci says the franchise is unique because its approach is safe and natural. The company has acquired a new mineral technology known as HDM, which is a super cleanser with a high pH of 12.5 per cent. “We’re using this material to create a proprietary product called Lice Squad’s #1 Head Lice Solution, which will be exclusive to Lice Squad.com and a first in the industry. You can be lice-free in one day,” explains Mucci.
The benefit of operating a Lice Squad.com franchise is that it provides an in-demand service, along with multiple revenue streams. The low start-up and ongoing operating costs make it affordable, and the work itself, not to mention the financial returns, can be rewarding. The challenge is that kids are sometimes stressed, and that’s when Mucci brings out the Superhero capes for kids, and a stress-free tea for the parents. As well, finding the right employees can sometimes be challenging.
Mucci says the best franchisees are business-minded marketers who are people-oriented and possess a passion to help others. “An owner’s focus in not on picking lice, but rather on managing the people and promotion that will help grow their business.”
Lice Squad.com offers a four-day Superhero Boot Camp at headquarters, followed by ongoing support from the headquarters support team. There are also regular franchise meetings, one-to-one planning sessions, and conventions. Mucci’s advice to new franchisees is to “Put people first – your customers and your team. Focus on your business, not in your business. Surround yourself with the best people from the beginning, share your successes, and never be afraid to reach out for help.”
By Georgie Binks