In 2017, Level 5 Capital Partners, an investment company that grew from one Core Power Yoga studio to become the third largest national yoga studio operator in less than a decade, acquired a majority stake in Big Blue Swim School, and plans to grow the brand through franchise opportunities.
Scott Thompson, Chief Development Officer at Level 5 Capital Partners, the firm spearheading Big Blue’s franchise development, said that Seattle is a perfect region for the brand because of its strong economy and established market. “Seattle is a visionary city. Big Blue is more than a ‘version 2.0’ swim school—it’s a 3.0 swim school. As a forward-thinking community, Seattle is going to be very receptive to our concept and approach,” said Thompson.
Big Blue Swim School’s real estate footprint falls between 10,000 to 14,000 square feet and is the perfect filler business for these vacancies. Its ability to attract families and drive-by traffic to other businesses makes it an extremely attractive business option for landlords. While competitors in the swim school space typically connect new education franchise owners to local real estate brokers who source Class C or Class D locations, Big Blue Swim School has a team of eight dealmakers that use data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify prime real estate in trade areas across the country that fit the brand’s member profile.
“We are incredibly excited to have Catherine join our Board of Directors,” said Chris Kenny, CEO of Big Blue Swim School. “Her knowledge and experience in positioning and growing Fitness franchise brands is unmatched, and we are grateful to have access to her industry expertise as we plan to aggressively expand Big Blue Swim School’s footprint through franchising.”
This pre-opening strategy will be applied to franchise locations in the future as the company begins growing with qualified education franchise partners. To learn more about franchise opportunities with Big Blue Swim School.
Beyond opening a fifth corporate location in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago in March 2019, I plan to expand in Chicago and grow in Florida, Texas, Southern California, Denver, Charlotte, Northern New Jersey, Georgia and Washington, D.C. Working alongside Level 5 Capital Partners, our franchise opportunities plans include 90 new location agreements by the end of 2019, and up to 150 by the end of 2020.
Big Blue Swim School has gained a solid foothold in its home state of Illinois, and now, the brand plans to expand with its franchising efforts throughout Texas.
“We are literally knocking on doors of properties that fit our profile, even if there’s a current tenant, to make sure we have the very best location. As an experience-based business that drives a lot of traffic to shopping centers, Big Blue Swim School is very attractive to landlords. The right real estate is pivotal to our success from a consumer standpoint, and our turnkey, hands-on approach to sourcing real estate and managing the process from lease negotiation through the construction makes it very easy for franchisees to open locations.”
Big Blue Swim School’s entry into the Boston market is also a product of Atlanta-based Level 5 Capital Partners’ acquisition of a majority stake in the brand. After growing CorePower Yoga from one studio to become the third-largest yoga studio operator in the U.S., Level 5 decided to make another strategic investment in Big Blue Swim School. Part of Level 5 Capital Partners’ plan is to grow the brand to 150 locations by 2021 through swim school franchising.
Ultimately, for any and all Big Blue investors, the brand leverages a robust pre-opening marketing strategy to generate brand buzz and contribute to a healthy number of memberships sold before opening. This allows franchisees to hit the ground running, scale quickly across multiple units and, ultimately, contribute to Big Blue’s white-hot fitness franchise growth.
DeJong’s leadership team includes an impressive roster of industry experts, all committed to excellence. The team includes Chris Kenny, CEO, Brooke Mallick, VP of Marketing, Justin Waltz, VP of Franchise Operations, Michael Chin, President of L-5 Real Estate Services and many more.
Big Blue Swim School, one of the nation’s fastest-growing swim school franchises, is coming to Colorado thanks to Denver-based entrepreneurs Wendy and Erik Skaalerud. The pair recently signed a lease for their first pool, which will be located at the intersection of Himalaya and Smokey Hill Road in Centennial, Colorado.
To Kenny’s point, Big Blue leverages a data-driven real estate assessment that identifies prime real estate in trade areas for a turnkey solution. Furthermore, franchisees receive support from Big Blue’s dedicated real estate team, whose tools include leading construction and operations software. New pool marketing launch automation optimizes pre-opening.
“A majority of franchisors rely on franchisees or local brokers to find the right site for them based on their knowledge of the market versus empirical data. At Big Blue Swim School, we have an eight-person in house real estate team to handle this process for our education franchise partners. This team includes an analyst, construction manager, facilities manager, four deal makers throughout the country and a head designer. The team uses data-driven real estate assessment technology to find locations that will work for franchise partners.
The brand can also provide assistance to prospective franchisees who are looking to partner with others on a Big Blue Swim School fitness franchise.