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Eve Kay was head of business and economics at a secondary school eight years ago. She has since put her business knowledge into practice and is running Jo Jingles pre-school music, movement and singing franchises in mid Cheshire, north Wales and Stafford and is the franchise’s consultant for the North, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Eve, who last year won a Bronze medal at the British Franchise Association HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards and was named regional winner for the North, first got to know Jo Jingles as a customer when she took her daughter Rosie to classes.
She had returned to her teaching job after having Rosie, but when her second daughter Daisy was born she heard that the franchise was up for sale. She had decided not to return to work because of childcare issues and, having dropped to part time after Rosie was born, she felt she had already taken a step down. She says teaching is not as child-friendly as some people might imagine. “Everyone thinks teaching is the most child-friendly job because of the holidays, but when you are in term time it is very inflexible,” she says, adding that it is hard to take time off to go to your own children’s school events and you never get to take or pick them up from school.
Initially, she had no burning desire to set up a business, despite having been a business teacher, but says it’s a tribute to the Jo Jingles brand and to how much she enjoyed the classes with her daughters that she decided to take action when she heard the Jo Jingles franchise was up for sale. She contacted Head Office to find out more information. After research in her local area, she signed up. She already knew all about running the classes and did a five-day induction course near Head Office. She was also allocated a local mentor and had a meeting with a financial adviser at Head Office.
She says the support and resources from Head Office are very good and Jo Jingles is very family oriented. However, one thing she makes clear to other would-be franchisees is that running a business is hard work and that being a franchisee involves various administrative duties, such as filing termly management reports.
A strong team
Jo Jingles franchises cost from £5,500 to £9,000 plus VAT for a new franchise and slightly more if it is an already existing franchise with an established customer base. “It’s within people’s reach,” says Eve, who is based in Frodsham, Cheshire. “A lot of people would take a loan out for that much for a car.”
The hardest challenge she has faced has been recruiting a strong team. If staff leave, she has to cover classes as well as recruit and train up replacements. The problem with recruiting, though, is that it can sometimes be hard to know if someone is going to make a good teacher until they start training. She now has a good team of eight covering the three areas she operates in. That includes teachers, but also a lady who does administrative work one day a week due to Eve’s new consultancy role with head office.
Eve still teaches some regular local nursery classes – it keeps her in touch with what works with children and also makes her more understanding of what her staff go through. She works two days a week on her head office post and does her planning and administrative work in the afternoons of her teaching days. “I am in control of my diary so I can fit it all around the family,” she says, adding she can do around 90% of drop-offs and pick-ups from school. Eve, who is divorced and has remarried, says her daughters’ father takes them for part of the holidays. That allows her to do week-long franchise visits to Scotland and Ireland.
Her daughters have grown up with her franchise work and often help out, for instance, handing out leaflets. One of bonuses of the franchise is that when she started she was able to take Daisy with her when she was visiting her teachers and joining in with the class.
She admits that running a business during the crisis has been difficult at times. Last year was particularly hard. Established customers didn’t cut back, but it was harder to attract new ones. It’s got much better this year, she says.
She adds that people might see franchises like Jo Jingles as a lifestyle choice, but she says it is very much a proper career for her. “Not many people can just do lifestyle franchises any more. Salaries are very important to people’s families. My teachers need the work. It’s a sign of the times,” she says.
Eve, who now has four children, says she may eventually go back to teaching, but not any time soon. She states: “Taking up the Jo Jingles franchise has been a big opportunity for me. It has grown into something I did not envisage. Although I work full time it is very flexible and I have been able to fit it really well around my family life. For the right person it is ideal.”
Jo Jingles is looking for new franchisees. Visit www.jojingles.com for more details.