A rapidly growing swimming school chain is set to enter Virginia market via Fairfax County in 2020 and already has its eyes on five more locations in the state in the following years.
Currently present at five locations in Illinois where it was founded by two professional swimmers a decade ago, Big Blue Swim School (BBSS) has now made preparations for a foray into Virginia as part of a grand growth strategy across the U.S. And that starts right in Fairfax.
The business plans to establish its first Virginia location at the Greenbriar Town Center on Lee Jackson Memorial Highway in the county.
Scott Thompson, its chief development officer, believes the county’s demographics with respect to both median age and household income suggested it would be an appropriate starting point.
“Families are in need of this type of service,” he told Fairfax County Times for a June 28 report. “They want a clean, efficient way to help their children learn to swim, and they don’t want to have to think or work too hard to make it happen. It just fits in their lifestyles.”
150 Units Aimed by 2020
The establishment and, even more so, the rapid growth of the successful business, opening another location every other year on average so far, might have looked like a long shot when its co-founder Chris DeJong failed to represent America twice, first in 2004 and then again in 2008, at Olympic Games. His is a true story of rebirth from one’s ashes.
“That was a big disappointment at the time, but it ultimately fueled my desire to start a successful business,” DeJong is quoted as saying in the same report.
Only the year after his second Olympic disappointment, he joined forces with another competitive swimmer, John Lonergan, to start Big Blue Swim in Wilmette, Illinois.
That initial step was followed by a rapid expansion across the state. The possibility of exporting its model out of the state, however, didn’t emerge until 2017 when the two swimmers sold a majority stake at their business to Level 5 Capital Partners for $17 million. The company now advertises franchise opportunities and seeks to have a mind-blowing 150 units by 2020 to lead the market nationally.
BBSS started exploring and selling franchise opportunities about six months ago. “It allows us to bring our Big Blue experience to more families across the country at a rate much faster than we could ever hope to do ourselves,” DeJong said. “We’re looking for awesome franchise partners who are passionate about swimming and are eager to live our company mission and core values, to be the right partners in local markets.”
Track Your Kid’s Progress Online
The company has also adopted an innovative approach to its business and introduced a proprietary lesson management software that lets parents track their children’s progress in real time, manage their account, schedule make-up lessons, and change the timing of their classes.
Anyone can register for a free trial lesson and the estimated initial investment for a BBSS is somewhere between $1,825,500 and $3,687,000.