Ruth from Aberdeen in the Hot seat when she is interviewed about running her own Creation Station franchise.
What inspired you to start looking for something different to do?
I’m fortunate to be mum to Connor and Lexie and have a fab husband. But after working in the local authority for over 10 years I realised there were other options out there and I didn’t need to just stick with what I was doing.
What was it you were looking to achieve?
I had two main big goals, these were:
1. I wanted to enjoy a greater work life balance and to support my family whilst working from home.
2. I really wanted to be my own boss so I could determine my own goals and recognise my own achievements.
Why did you look to run your own franchise?
I looked at franchised businesses because I wanted to be my own boss but recognised with the right franchise there was a lot of the support available to develop a stronger business. I was also nervous of starting up on my own after more than a decade in local authority.
What attracted you to The Creation Station?
I have worked with children since 2000 and had decided that in becoming self-employed I really wanted to provide an exceptional experience for children & families. The moment I saw The Creation Station logo online I was attracted to the ethos, values and opportunities of the company.
What were the barriers you had to overcome before you made the decision to invest?
I had to leave a full time professional career, whilst my husband was starting a new job. This had implications for securing the capital and I could not start Creation Station for 6 months after my initial interest. I had to also take out a bank loan, but the bank was very helpful and has never turned down a bank loan for a Creation Station Franchise, which was very reassuring.
What were your feelings when you attended a Discovery Morning?
I was incredibly nervous for 2 reasons- what if I decided the business was not the one for me, but far worse was what if it was…..that meant a major change in my family, career and future and I was so worried in case I wouldn’t fit it, or what my next steps would be. I was also aware that they are very selective about who is awarded a franchise, which is great from ensuring our brand values are maintained – but it still made me nervous!
What did you think about the training?
I loved the training, especially as it was based at the Creative Hub, so straightaway I felt part of the company. I can visualise meetings and planning in the meeting room and the huge warehouse where my arts and crafts orders get processed and sent to me usually by the next day which is such a great service from Garry our super store man. I appreciated the experience of training with a live class as that really built my confidence. I felt supported to achieve and encouraged to question everything. The atmosphere was exciting, supportive, creative and energised.
Please describe the first few months of your business?
I launched in the Easter holidays with 8 taster drop in events, followed immediately by a further 11 weeks of classes. I have developed new classes, sought new venues, provided my first birthday parties and I am regularly seeing 50 families every week. I did not anticipate how quickly my business would flourish nor could I have foreseen the level of interest in both summer activities and bookings into September.
My husband even confirmed this week that he never thought my business would become this busy- and this is only my 3rd month
Describe your highlights so far
Being able to attend so many more events in my children’s lives and the accomplishment that I am providing all childcare myself for the first time in their lives.
Also the connection made with so many families and children in my classes. I have developed an uncanny memory for children’s and babies names & faces and I am loving meeting them in different environments and how incredibly excited they are to see me.
I also love seeing the change in children at both Baby Discover and Little Explores, examples include:
- A child who was incredibly averse to touching the paint and new materials. His mummy reported with such excitement that since attending my classes he has played in his sand pit, enjoyed mud pies and I have seen him soar with confidence.
- A little boy who I was sure was struggling so much to maintain interest and participate within the class structure has by the end of term, become totally focussed on his tasks and has learnt all the songs and movements.
- The first time a baby picked up a paint brush and started to make marks- his mummy was so excited.
- The Magic Ideas Box- it draws children like the pied piper’s tune; they are so excited and believe entirely that the materials appear magically. Their faith in the magic and excitement, which only I can see as the parents are behind the children, is the highlight of every class.
- Circle time at the beginning of every class- children and parents just want to share such lovely life events. Two babies have crawled for the first time at class…to me! Very emotional.
What are your long-term ambitions for your Creation Station franchise?
To provide an exceptional service for children, families and organisations across the north east of Scotland, whilst supporting my family and developing a rewarding career, driven by my own goals and dreams.
What tips would you share with other new franchise owners?
Believe in what product you are providing- be it classes, materials or parties. If you are enthusiastic and passionate, people will want to join in the fun.
Talk about the sessions as starting with Baby Discover, graduating into Little Explorers and Family Fun sessions. That way Baby Discover becomes a natural part of your business, not an addition.
Ask questions at the Discovery Morning, at training, on the forum, off your trainer, to the Creative Hub. Every question is valid and is always answered so positively.
Keep it simple. And remember, if you miss something only you know! Certainly not the children, who are enthralled with everything you are providing. And smile!
What activities have you done to promote your business?
- Developed a Facebook page and promoted on many FB groups. Use Facebook daily to build presence and share news
- Leaflet drop at local school
- Posters in venues and communities
- Promoted activities regularly on Netmums
- Joined Yell and other free business listings
- Leaflets in all venues & local communities
- Posted classes and activities on local What’s On webpages, including local authorities event calendars
- Handed parents at classes flyers to take to other groups and venues
What experiences you have had that have been really tough?
One session I am running has been funded by the local authority but has been poorly supported by the venue, resulting in low turnout and irregular attendance. In future I will only provide funded places as part of a more organised and better promoted programme.
The fallout after offering the BOGOF offer at the beginning of term. Some classes were decimated by people not returning after the second class. I have since learnt methods to monitor class attendance and to have a waiting list in operation. I have not offered this for the forthcoming term in September and have a steady stream of families already booking the “Scrunchy Bumpy hands on Discovery” programme in September.
What experiences have you had that have been great?
The babies and children are just so inspiring and I find myself constantly saying at class how much I love my job. I am honoured to be part of young children’s lives, have been joined by dads and grandparents as well as mummies and just love how quickly the children have revelled in the class structure. Watching toddlers immediately stamping their feet in anticipation of a stamp on their hands is heart-warming.
With the wonderful gift of hindsight would you do anything different?
I’ve learnt not to beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. What I do know is that when thing goes wrong I change what I am doing and learn to do things in a different way. I have achieved my goals and love what I do and I’m making a difference to others so I’m really happy.
Find out more about Ruth’s classes here or contact her on 0844 824 4525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in finding out more about how you could run your own fun creative business and would like to meet Ruth and other franchise owners click here to book your free Discovery event on 7th November Hemel Hempstead at 9.30am