Lee-Ann Werner - Franchisee Profile

Category: General
Jun 24, 2013

Lee-Ann opened her first sKids school service at Burnside Primary School in Christchurch, soon after she settled with her husband and three children from South Africa.

Today her franchise serves four schools in Christchurch.

Her 15 part-time staff include husband, Andre and their three children.

Lee-Ann also has the distinction of having opened sKids' 100th school programme at Bishopdale Primary School, Christchurch in March 2013.

1. How did you first hear about sKids?

I was looking for a franchise that would tick all my boxes; working with children, no weekend work and a business my whole family could be involved in. My husband, Andre, helps out in the morning programme, my eldest daughter, Sasha-Lee, is my programme co-ordinator and my other two children, Cole and Leeandra, work in my holiday programme as assistants.

2. What was the process leading up to your decision to invest in becoming a sKids owner?

I visited the Franchise Expo, went to a few seminars and then looked at what was available.

3. How was it for the first three months?

My father owned his own business. I was surprised to realise how much I had learnt from him.

I was nervous because I had never owned a business before but the first three months was a hive of activity.

sKids head office provided training and ongoing support and mentoring.  I also went to a number of free workshops offered by IRD and my bank. I learned a lot through these.

4. What has happened since?

I started with one site which had about 12 children per day for after school care and about 14 per day for holidays. I worked hard and was able to increase these numbers to an average of 30 children for after school care and in the December holiday programme we had up to 50 children a day.

After investing in my first sKids franchise I knew that I would invest in another site because I could see there was a need for the service. (I also love seeing the smiles on the children’s faces after doing a particularly exciting craft or activity).

At the end of 2012, I was given an opportunity to buy 3 more sites and grabbed these with both hands. Two sites (Bishopdale and Northcote) were new sites and had no kids in the programme. St Teresa’s had 2 children in after school care. I have since grown all three sites. Bishopdale now has on average 11 children per day for after school care, Northcote around 7, and St Teresa’s about 19 per day.

5. What are the numbers of children you look after each morning / evening / holiday?

Currently we care for 30 children before school, 70 after school and 85 during the holidays.

6. How many staff do you have?

I currently have 15 staff members, which includes my husband and three children.

7. What do you think the next five years holds for you?

I am concentrating on providing an out of school service that is a cut above the rest.

I want to provide a service that is high quality, safe but most of all fun. A Master Franchise would be a dream come true.

8. What do you like most about this business?

I like the daily structure of programmes. I love that as a franchisee, I am given the freedom to source and sort activities which I know are relevant to each of my school communities. I am excited to be part of a network that is recognised as a leader in out of school care and there is an expectation of good quality programmes and good customer service that goes with our name.

9. What's your biggest challenge in the business?

I think for most businesses cash flow is a challenge but this can also be a motivation to dig deeper and learn more about providing quality without breaking the bank.

An example of this was one of our holiday programmes when we had a cultural day. We got one of the children from after school care to teach the kids Chinese, we got another child to demonstrate how to make sushi, a staff member taught the kids the haka. This meant we did not have to get professionals in but used all the resources already available to us.

10. What do you think you've learned that has surprised you?

I have discovered that kids are teaching us all the time if only we listen to them.

I have discovered that what may seem like a small gesture to an adult is huge in a child’s eyes. For example, once I saw a need for some kids to have a pair of gloves. I went out and bought a couple of pairs and gave them to the children. You would have sworn I gave them a million dollars.

11. How has your sKids business impacted on your personal life?

I have an amazing family who have been my biggest cheerleaders. My whole family works in the business. We enjoy exploring our new country of New Zealand. We have been in New Zealand for five years.  Moving from South Africa has not been easy but we knew this was the country we wanted to put down roots and what better way to do that than buy a home and eight months later, buy a business.

We want to make a difference no matter how small. It begins with each of us. My father owned his own business for about 40 years so I think it is in my blood. I encourage my children every day to be business owners. I don’t think you have to be extra special to own a business, I think you just have to be determined and willing to learn every day.

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