If you have been thinking about joining us as a franchisee, one of the things you may be wondering about is how we train you to deliver all the different elements of the Tots Play programme.
There is a lot to learn, not only about how to lead classes but also how to launch and run and business, but there's no need to worry as our training programme takes you step by step through all this and more.
When you join us you have access straight away to our online training portal, which has a range of modules for you to work though in your own time. When you are ready, you would then come along to the training facility at our head office in South Wales for 3 days of hands on, practical training.
The ladies in the picture above have just completed their practical training and were kind enough to let me follow them round with my camera so you could get a glimpse of what they got up to! (notice they are still smiling having completed it all, so I don't think they minded too much!)
Fun with the Theory.
In order to be able to run classes effectively and be confident in helping to support the development of children attending them, it is important for our franchisees to have a good understanding of why we do all the different activities in the programme and what the benefits of these are.
At Tots Play we, of course, believe that learning should be fun, so our trainees are invited to test their knowledge of the previous training they have done online, plus engage in a little friendly competition, with an interactive quiz to get our training underway. I can tell you that this was closely fought with the lead changing several times along the way but all agreed was a great way to reinforce their learning and gave them a boost of confidence that they already knew more than they thought they did!
In between quiz questions we talked more about the different elements of the programme. Here we are looking at some examples of what might be included in the sensory play section of our sessions.
We like to make sure all our trainees are well looked after while they are with us, so lunch and refreshments are all provided. Breaks are a great chance for our new franchisees and class leaders to chat and get to know each other too. While there is lots of support and friendships developed across our nationwide network of franchisees, there is always a special bond formed between those who train together and embark on their journey of business ownership around the same time. A bit like those first mummy friends you seek out after having a baby - they "get it" because they are going through "it" too.
Getting Hands On.
It was then time to put all that theory into practice and break down each section of a class in order for our trainees to learn how to deliver them. Using the same demonstration dolls as we do at classes (for the baby age range) we worked through leading the different elements of the programme including massage, yoga, sign language and sensory play activities.
Having each person take a turn at the front of the "class" of other trainees starts to get them into the mindset of leading a class, not just learning individual activities, and it is fantastic to see them grow into this role during the course of the training.
Above -Practising being at the front of the class.
Below - Getting hands on with some baby massage.
Having fun exploring what sensory play is all about.
Practice Class (with real live babies!)
Day two of the training is where all that learning and practice comes together and our trainees have the opportunity to deliver a session to a group of specially invited parents and babies.
This is the bit that everyone worries about, but once they get going they always find that it is easier to relax and enjoy the class as a leader when you have people to interact with and babies to coo over, (the dolls are great for our practices, but you don't get many smiles or looks of wonder back from them!) and that before they know it the class is over and they are asking to do it again!
Here they are in action, leading some of the class activities;
And here are a couple of their comments once the class was complete:
"I enjoyed doing the class with the babies I think it was good not only for getting us to run the class but also for us to see how everything translates in real life with distracted babies and how parents react to you."
"I really enjoyed getting to be part of a real session with real babies! I think this has really helped give me context and understanding in the areas I need to focus on when practising before leading classes."
So not so scary after all!
Learning the Business Skills
Now that our trainees are more confident with how to lead our classes (with a bit more practice planned when they get home), the final day of training is all about understanding how to translate that into creating a successful and rewarding business.
It's another busy day as we cover everything from finding venues to finding customers, accounts to social media, brand guidelines to customer service and lots more.
We also talk a little about the emotional journey of being a business owner, which is a crucial but sometimes overlooked element of running a successful business, and offer some tips for getting the most from this new role.
Practical Training Complete!
After a jam packed three days our trainees were presented with a certificate to mark their achievements, and collected their equipment pack and go back to their local areas to put the plans for launching their new businesses into action.
Collecting their certificates.
Equipment kits ready to be taken to their new homes.
Getting Ready to Launch!
Completing this part of the training is, of course, a crucial part of our franchisee's preparations for launching their new business, but it is really just the start of the journey. The key now is to take action on everything that has been learned as they work towards those first classes and beyond.
The aim of these three days is for our franchisees come away from the training knowing what they need to do from here to first of all get their business up and running and then set about reaching the personal goals they have for it.
Here's what a couple of our newly trained franchisees had to say afterwards;
"I found the practical training positive, welcoming, informative and organised. It covered the important parts of the Tots play programme and importantly signposted other areas where support/information may be needed in the future. I think it was very supportive to have a group training together. It is an environment that encourages and believes, this is very different to previous environments I have been a part."
Lizzie, franchisee for Urmston and Eccles
"I really enjoyed the practical training it helped to put everything together in my head and made everything feel much more logical.
I definitely feel more equipped and prepared now to do what I need to do."
Hayley, franchisee for Ellesmere Port and Chester North
Beyond the Initial Training
Of course, the practical training is not the end of the story and our new franchisees are not left to figure out the next steps alone. They continue to receive support and guidance in various ways throughout their time with us, but in particular during those weeks leading up to launching their business, which is a busy but exciting time.
Here's what some of our franchisees from previous training courses shared with us following the launch of their first classes;
"So I'm all launched! It was fantastic, I had so much fun and I think the mums all did too. Lots of good feed back! This morning totally didn't feel like work. I can't wait to do it all again next week!"
Jodie, franchisee for Walsall
"Hey everyone! I'm done! It was great! I was nervous, especially when only one person had turned up for Discovery Tots with 5 mins to go!!! But they all flooded in at the last minute! It all worked out fine and I had lots of good feedback. It was great to finally put all the training in to practice, I really enjoyed it and looking forward to seeing some of the Mums again next week."
Shelley, franchisee for Portsmouth North
Join Us at our Next Training
As you can hopefully see from this small snapshot, the training you receive when joining us as a franchisee is both thorough, interactive and fun, and designed to take you step by step through everything you need to know and do in order to feel confident to launch and run your new business.
You don't need to have any particular prior experience or qualifications to join us, we are much more interested in the personal qualities you would bring to the role and whether or not you have a willingness to learn, to take action and to face new challenges head on.
If that sounds like you and you would like to join our friendly, supportive team and take part in our next franchisee training course, then you take the first step by leaning more about our franchise programme HERE.
At Tots Play, playing is serious business, but we also don't like take ourselves too seriously! Here are one of our previous groups of trainees "relaxing" after a busy day of learning...
Come and join in the fun soon. We can't wait to welcome you!
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