WHEN Warwick Dredge arrived in Edinburgh from South Africa six years ago he brought with him what he thought was a great idea for setting up in business.
It was an idea which he was prepared to share with other people but first of all he had to make sure that it worked. He said: "I had to be convinced it was going to be marketable and affordable to a large majority of people."
His idea was to set up a sports coaching enterprise which would help children between the ages of four and nine enjoy ball games.
His view: "Sports clubs offer facilities to children aged nine and over and ignore the most important development years of their lives."
So Mr Dredge did his research and it soon showed him that he was on to something. Within six months he had opened his first centre in Edinburgh. He took time to refine and develop the concept, and it was only at the beginning of this year that he started some serious marketing of the business as a franchise.
That business is called Enjoy.a.Ball which specialises in teaching sport to boys and girls aged four to nine in a non-competitive environment. They have one lesson a week which usually lasts an hour and they are able to develop their skills in a number of sports such as basketball, baseball, football, rugby, hockey, volleyball and cricket.
There is no promise to make stars out of them: just to give the children a chance to enjoy the sports and enhance their physical development. There are never more than ten children in a class to ensure as much individual attention as possible from coaches who are trained to a high standard.
The Enjoy.a.Ball franchise idea has taken off to the extent that there are now nine franchisees - four in Edinburgh, two in Glasgow, one in Dumfries and Galloway, one in Newcastle and one covering West Lothian.
Mr Dredge says it will not end there. "My vision when I came to the Edinburgh was to make Enjoy.a.Ball a household name in the UK. We are looking to have franchises in all areas - next in line are Stirling, Perth, Dundee followed by Aberdeen, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wight."
The Enjoy.a.Ball franchise package gives a complete training programme, including coaching, sales and marketing, general business management and accounting. There is also assistance with a business plan, location sourcing and negotiation, exclusivity and ongoing training in the form of workshops.
The cost of the franchise is 2200. He says: "That has been criticised as being too cheap but that is the money required solely to start the business - buying equipment, admin and so on.
"We do not make money from people starting up the business - our income comes from a monthly licensing fee thereafter.
"It is an opportunity to be your own boss and to work in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere and you are motivated by being able to make a difference in the life of a child. Franchisees are able to create their own working environment - some do it part-time, some go flat out, some employ other coaches."
Workshop provides a Gateway for would-be start-ups
AROUND 33,800 businesses in the UK are franchises and they have a total turnover of just under 10 billion, with a total workforce of around 330,000 people.
Scottish Enterprise is a strong believer in franchising being a great option in Scotland for business start-ups, and to this end, through Business Gateway it is supporting a seminar which will be held in Edinburgh on November 26 on all aspects of franchising.
The annual seminar is attended by more than 250 people each year.
The day is mainly geared towards potential franchisees but also to potential franchisers. The workshop is ideal for anyone looking to start their own business and who has still to explore franchising as a way of doing so.
The main areas covered during the seminar are what a franchise is and how it works; the costs involved; why franchising is a good option; legal issues; raising the finance; why banks like franchising; and the experiences people have had in franchising. Presentations will be made by franchising experts; a representative from a bank’s franchise unit; a lawyer with franchise experience; and on the experiences of franchisees and franchisers.
The venue is the Jury’s Inn in Jeffrey Street. The seminar is free but a deposit of 20 is required to secure a place and it will be given back on the day.