Interview with John Miles, Sherpa Kids Clonakilty, Co.Cork
Name: John Miles
Location: Clonakilty, Co.Cork
Franchise: Sherpa Kids Ireland
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Sherpa Kids franchise?
I needed an immediate “brand” and “systems” that would give the business instant recognition in the market place. Sherpa Kids provided that which meant I didn’t have to spend years creating the brand and systems and therefore could go to market immediately. I did my research and soon realised there was a real gap in the market for after school care in Ireland which was supported by numerous documents that had been written on the industry.
What did you do before taking up your Sherpa Kids franchise?
My career was primarily in Investment Banking in London. I left that in 2002 and in 2005 moved to West Cork with my family. Since then I have been involved in various ventures, including strong involvement at community level with various projects. I went back to the Financial Services business in Dublin for a couple of years in 2009.
How did you raise the finance?
It was self-financed but also I have been looking into the “Seed Capital Scheme – Tax refunds for new enterprises” which will provide extra working capital going forward.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I spent over a week in Adelaide at Sherpa Kids International office where I received full on training – introducing me to the culture, brand and all the back-up systems I will need here in Ireland. This support will be ongoing and essential for the success of the business. It was far more detailed and complex than I could have ever imagined – this will be passed on to every potential franchisee going forward.
What are your main roles as the master franchisee for Sherpa Kids Ireland?
- Initially creating brand awareness within Ireland
- Setting up and running a “pilot project” which can stand up to any due diligence and scrutiny from future franchisees
- Appointing and supporting future franchisees in setting up and running their businesses as they require
- Working with key stakeholders in the Education Community to ensure safe out of school care becomes the focal recognition it deserves.
- We believe it is pivotal to the Irish economy – supporting parents.
What differentiates Sherpa from the competition?
We are franchised, which allows local owners to operate an international out of school hours care business.
We use a benchmark from our Australian counterparts that is all about full engagement with the children, nutritional food, delivered via an activity based structure that is engaging, fun, safe and educational.
We cater to the needs of our communities and differences of cultural diversities that may apply. We make it all about the community and school.
We grow people! Our staff are precious to us and we constantly look to provide continual development and training.
What plans do you have to expand Sherpa in Ireland?
We already have a number of enquiries from potential franchisees from Derry to Cork and Dublin to Galway. There is a real demand for this product / service offering within the island of Ireland and although there will be certain regulatory differences between the North and South we have a plan to hopefully be in all 32 counties within 5 years.
What are you looking for in a franchisee?
Every potential franchisee will have to undergo a rigorous and testing interview process. We will be looking for entrepreneurial individuals who are committed to the brand, our values and cultures and who have a real interest in the industry and wish to contribute to their community.
We are looking for those entrepreneurs that can challenge, manage and have the desire to drive several school sites but importantly build local relationships in their territory.
What key piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of buying a master franchise?
Do your due diligence and do it thoroughly – do not leave one stone unturned and make sure you feel comfortable with your working relationship with Head Office. If you have any doubts voice them over and over again until you are satisfied that you have all bases covered.
Go to Sherpa Kids page