Name of Business: Jo Jingles Norwich Area
Your Name and Age: Beckie Clifton, 32
Tell us about your family:
I live in Norfolk and I am a single parent to my 5 year old son Aaron.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I was a peripatetic Music teacher for a local County Music Service and had also done music and movement workshops with children with special needs. My son had been attending Jo Jingles classes with his Nana and absolutely loved it. I could really see the benefits of his Jo Jingles classes, his speech was advanced, he had great rhythm and I was amazed to see a 6 month old baby beating a drum in time with the music.
The transition was a scary process, going from a good stable salary to being self employed. But I knew I could make it work and had lots of ideas of where I wanted to take the business.
When the franchise was advertised for sale, I made enquiries about it and the next thing I knew I had purchased it. I launched the business in June 2007 – It was a very quick take over as the previous owner was starting a University course in September.
It was very much a rush to make sure the classes continued and that I kept the existing member of staff. So for the first half term I ran things as they had been done before – which was not my way but I wanted continuity for the existing customers. I then spent the summer holidays promoting and researching how and where I wanted the business to go. I also invested in the business making sure everything was new and exciting for the new September term. I also spent a lot of time with the class teacher that had worked for the previous owner, asking for her input in how we could improve the business and what she wanted out of her job.
What research did you do before launching?
Firstly I asked my dad!! Then I went onto the British Franchise Association website and found out lots about franchising and discovered what a good franchisor Jo Jingles was. I also looked at the local competition, what they were doing and where there were gaps in the market.
How have you funded the business?
I took out a loan
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising – so I ensure that we have a good reputation. We get out and about a lot too, letting people see what we do really helps.
Social networking is also a great way to have Jo Jingles talked about and for our customers to know what is happening – we can be found on facebook.
What has worked well about your business?
My staff are fantastic and a real asset to the business – without their help and support it wouldn’t be as successful as it is now.
Getting surestart and nursery contracts are a great and slightly more stable way of ensuring we have continued income.
Recently winning the mumandworking Franchisee of the Year 2010 Award has been a real boost to my moral and made me realise that what I am doing is working and now I am evaluating how I can improve it further.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
There have been many challenges along the way – but I think the biggest one had to have been my husband leaving – I had to make the business really pay then, as he had left me with a large mortgage and all the debts.
I have to say, it probably helped me make my business what it is today, as I put every ounce of my energy and focus into the business then. I didn’t have time to worry about things as I needed to make it a real success to keep a roof over my sons head.
How do you fit in work with the family?
Jo Jingles has really made a difference for both me and my son. I work around him, when he was at playschool or now school, I run classes. When he goes to bed I get my paperwork done and phone calls.
I am really lucky to have a fantastic support network, my parents and my sister will always have Aaron if I have parties or events at the weekends. They often bring him along to events in his Jo Jingles T-shirt, because even at the age of 5 he still loves Jo Jingles and will happily help mummy demonstrate any songs, especially if it means he can meet Big Jo!
Jo Jingles allows me to take him to school, pick him up, even attend school events and of course spend some quality time with my son – this is something I could never have done in my previous job.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Do your homework – it is hard work and you really do need to put in a lot of time – being self employed is a lot more work than I ever imagined, but also a lot more rewarding.
Your website link; www.jojingles.com/norwich
If you can offer a discount or special promotion for Family Friendly Working readers, please write it here:
For new customers only: 10% off half a term of Jo Jingles classes (only available in the Norwich Area Franchise) on mentioning this website.