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The Lomas family from Farnham in Surrey are well-schooled in franchise businesses; mother Jan is a qualified teacher and together with her daughters Sarah Marsh (nee Lomas) and Emma Lomas, they had successfully run education franchise businesses in their local area for a number of years. But when circumstances changed, they brought dad Rick on board and built a business of their own.
“It all began when I started offering a support service to local families to help their children achieve good grades in both school and entrance exams” explains Jan. “As a teacher I knew how to develop and deliver the resources to ensure children had a good understanding of the knowledge required and to prepare them emotionally for the tests."
“My experience in local schools showed me just how important it is to help kids from across the spectrum master these core subjects – and MagiKats started from day one with the key aim of providing this support in a relaxed environment.”
The demand for the service was beyond Jan’s capacity to deliver so within a matter of months Sarah and Emma joined their mother to help meet the growing demand and together they created resources and promoted their services. Rick’s background as a software developer came into its own as they developed a software system to organise their worksheets and resources, and so began their fampreneur business.
“After lots of debate, we came up with the name MagiKats, which we liked because it was original and memorable! At the time, all education providers seemed to favour pastel colours, so we chose our favourite colour, purple, to really stand out from the crowd. It was obviously a good call – look around and see how many companies use purple now!” Emma explains.
The business continued to grow through word of mouth and a marketing drive soon followed. In addition to employing the family full time, staff were soon required to help with the promotion, administration and delivery of MagiKats’ unique services.
Very quickly, MagiKats became a strong and growing concern with a wealth of valuable materials under its belt. The business had a stronghold in its home county Surrey and the family knew there was a real opportunity to harness their experience and materials to help others offer tutoring services in their local areas.
“What was great from our point of view was the experience we had as franchisees before we set MagiKats up.” Sarah explains, “We could see the business from the other point of view, so as we began to develop our business into a franchise, we prioritised building resources to help our franchisees market their businesses, developed processes to assist them as they managed it and – most importantly – concentrated on how we communicated with our franchisees to ensure they got all the information and support they needed to make their business a success for the long-term.”
Many MagiKats franchisees are also fampreneur pairings. Two sisters, Sarah and Holly, set up shop in Hove in 2012. Sarah had formerly been an employee at MagiKats HQ and when the pair relocated she saw the opportunity having a franchise gave them. The business continues to thrive, with over 130 pupils enrolled at their central Hove premises.
“It’s been great working as a family with my girls,” says Rick, “as well as with the sisters in Hove. Many of our franchisees are fampreneurs, most of them being husband and wife pairings, who would rather run a business together than have their noses pushed up against the corporate grindstone.”
MagiKats is a ‘turnkey’ franchise which gives its franchisees high level support from day one helping them to find suitable premises, recruit and train staff and market themselves in their given region.
MagiKats currently has 16 successful franchisees covering 23 locations across the UK. Since it began life in 2005, MagiKats has helped thousands of children at hundreds of local schools, and with the importance of tests in the national curriculum remaining high, the future looks even brighter for the business.
“It’s been a top class experience for us all” Sarah jokes, “But the best aspect for us all is that we get work together as a family and also enable others to do the same.”