David Batch is a UEFA ‘A’ qualified coach who became the youngest person in the world to gain the Football Association Advanced Coaching License at the age of just 20. After a coaching career in professional football, David founded Premier Sport in 1999 to fill a gap in the market for high quality, branded sports provision for local children, parents and schools. However in the last 15 years, what started as a one man band, has grown into a nationwide business with 800 Activity Professionals working across 92 franchise territories.
BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Premier Sport concept.
David Batch: It is a very simple one of bringing high quality sport and physical activity TO children, as opposed to parents having to take their child all over the place to FIND it!
We work in schools and local communities combining an excellent experience with a variety of activity, which gives the child the chance to play and learn different techniques. Sometimes sports which they had previously never played, children show great promise in and our courses have been the springboard for that. We currently deliver a range of over 50 sports – which is quite a lot!!
From the start we operated a Franchise model which has proved to be very successful, providing over 7.5 million visits last academic year and working in over 2,000 schools on a weekly basis. By far, the largest provider in the UK.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Premier Sport?
DB:Premier Sport was established in 1999. I was working as a Soccer Coach at a professional club in the UK after becoming the youngest Soccer Coach in the world to get my UEFA A coaching license. When my contract came to an end, I saw the chance to realize an ambition and run my own business, so set up Premier Sport.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining Premier Sport?
DB: Most of my experience had been in professional soccer, first as a player then a coach so very little when it came to operating a business!
For many years I operated like most small businesses do and didn’t understand what could be achieved. I got really serious with it when I was approached by some famous sporting heroes in the UK to work with them to expand it and at that point, I began to bring some serious expertise into the business.It started by bringing the Chairman of the British Franchise Association into the company as our Chairman and then others with franchising expertise joined the team, including another Full Board Member at the British Franchise Association who is now responsible for Franchise Recruitment.
We now have relationships with high street Banks and leading stakeholders in sport in the UK which help our franchisees grow.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Premier Sport franchisee?
DB:Many franchisors will tell you about their product and the human support that they offer their franchisees.
Whilst we also have excellent products, many of which are unique in the market and a really strong support team to advise and help our franchisees, I really don’t think our franchisees could be as successful as they are without the extensive technology that sits behind their business.
It deals with all elements of operating a business, from customer service and payment, through to online training and development of the coaches we have. It operates all the invoicing with each business and provides priceless data and analysis on the performance of each territory. For our school customers, it even provides impact measurements which they can use to evidence the progress that EVERY child in their school is making – a very valuable report for school teachers to have.
It is a bespoke system built for the requirements of our business and we continue to invest in its development, as it becomes more valuable the bigger you get – as many of our franchisees are finding out after posting record years last year. It is so comprehensive, we have had other franchisors in completely unrelated business ask if they can buy it from us!
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
DB:We have done profiling exercises on our top performing franchisees and use various forms of psychometric testing on new franchisees joining the business.
What we have found is that there isn’t a PERFECT candidate, as we have so many people that are successful with varying skill sets and experiences. What it DOES tell us is what areas of the business different people require support.
Our training programs are then continually developed and quality assured to ensure that franchisees and their staff have relevant, fit for purpose professional development to support them throughout their time with us.
BTB: Tell us a little about the Children’s Sports Coaching Market?
- Ex Curricular
- Holidays, Birthdays, Private
- Gifted and Talented
- Special Needs
- Local Government
- Accredited Training Centre
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
DB:I’ve learned that two things are vital to be successful as a franchisor and a franchisee;
1. Excellent products and services
2. Excellent processes and systems
I don’t believe that you can have a truly effective franchise without having both of these in place and fortunately for us, many concentrate on one over the other and at some point are not able to deliver to the level that they should do.<>/p>
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?
DB:From a franchising perspective, the biggest influence on myself and in turn Premier Sport, is probably our Chairman, Mel Lusty. (Mel Lusty is former Chairman of the BFA, successful franchisor both in the UK and abroad selling single unit and master franchisees including in Canada.)
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
DB:Most important thing is to do thorough Due Diligence on the company that you are planning to partner with. Part of our recruitment method is to encourage people to view other offers so that they have a comparison of the strength of ours.
In fact, a candidate who has not conducted in depth research on our competitors would not be in such a strong position when it comes to us awarding a franchise territory.
Once an individual has purchased a franchise, the key message is to follow the model. Sounds obvious, but assuming you have completed solid due diligence then copy it! - That’s the expertise you wanted in your business from the start so take advantage of it.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Premier Sport would be a great opportunity for someone?
DB:We utilized the services of our world renowned agency to discover a territory that our business and the model would be successful in - and everything came back pointing to Canada.
The products we offer cater for changing markets, financial differences of customers and can be used in the state or private sector – which is why we have had continued growth through good and bad times economically.
Most of all, our products and services leave a legacy to children and engage them in healthy lifestyle and activity. Research shows that inactivity is a key threat to the western world, so combining a business with this social impact is an amazing lifestyle choice which also happens to be a solid business opportunity and system that can operate from anywhere.