Please could you introduce yourself and your nursery, and say how long you’ve been franchising with Banana Moon.
We are Lorraine and Satvir, franchisees of the award-winning Banana Moon Day Nursery in Bromley. Our franchise journey with Banana Moon started with a meeting with Mark in September 2020, while we were still in the midst of Covid. After an amazing fit-out, this former care home was transformed into the state-of-the-art nursery we see today. By chance, the franchise had already secured a property with planning permission in exactly the location we wanted – almost like it was meant to be! So, in less than a year from that first meeting, we were up and running. We took on our first child in August 2021 and have been open for 19 months now, already achieving so many milestones…
Why did you choose the Banana Moon franchise offering?
From the first meeting, the franchise was transparent, very efficient and very clear about the offering. We found them very responsive to our questions (despite us having so many of them) and patient with us, as we were new to running a nursery business. The nursery branding and style also appealed to us. It had a fresh and modern feel about it, and we were particularly impressed with the technology in use as standard throughout the setting, with extensive CCTV, full air-conditioning, Parent App and our personal favourite: a biometric door entry system.
The brand itself is very well established, which is reassuring to prospective franchisees, and gives confidence in their proven business model. In terms of running the business, franchisees have the autonomy to adapt their business in line with local market forces and local competition, with complete understanding from the franchise that there is not a “one size fits all” approach.
As you know, our tagline is ‘Find a place to grow their world’. Do you feel this applies to how we support our franchisee network, as well as the children in our care?
As Banana Moon franchisees, we have certainly seen our world grow over the last two years and have felt very supported by the franchise. The regular meetings are informative and a great opportunity to share best practice. And the training, policies and procedures, operations and audit have been hugely impactful on the day-to-day running of our setting. One of the biggest strengths of head office support is their availability to speak with us or meet with us when we may need extra support. We also appreciate their willingness to collaborate with franchisees and listen to new ideas and implement the good ones!
It’s also important to us to have opportunities to meet other franchises to see what’s working well and what successes could be implemented in other nurseries. For example, in Bromley, we have achieved our Millie’s Mark for excellence in paediatric first aid, ensuring that 100% of our staff are fully paediatric first aid trained. We were the first in the network to do so, and others are now considering it too! The franchise also has their annual Midnight Moon Awards, which sees all the franchisees come together in a social environment and allows the franchise to recognise the achievements of individual franchisees with their peers. And we were delighted to see our progress and accomplishments recognised as “Franchisee of the Year 2022” and a finalist for “Nursery Management Team of the Year 2022”. All of these value-added extras mean that the children in our care grow with us and benefit from the initiatives.
This is your second successful franchise as business partners. What advice would you give to like-minded businesswomen who are considering opening a franchise, but aren’t sure where to start?
Definitely choose a business area that you are passionate about. There is a lot of hard work involved in any new business, but the energy and motivation that comes from doing something where you care about its success can make all the difference. Research, research, research! This is something that never stops. Find out everything you can about the business area you are interested in and upcoming developments in the industry that will impact you, and speak to a range of franchises to make sure you’re getting the franchise that is the best fit for you.
Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and learn everything you can from every source – formal training, social media, online and your network. It may seem daunting at first, how much you may have to learn, but it’s all worth it in the end. It’s great that Banana Moon support with the business plan, so if it’s your first time, you can be reassured that it will include everything you need. They also provide a comprehensive marketing plan to support the launch of your nursery to your local area. There are strong relationships with banks that specialise in franchising and Banana Moon is an established brand, with a proven track record, so finance options are available to get you up and running.
You’ve previously enjoyed success with a corporate franchisee package. What prompted you to move to a family-run proposition? Why did Banana Moon’s values stand out?
The key to both corporate and family-run franchises is not so much whether they are corporate or family-run, but all about how well they are run. And, importantly, the values and integrity of the decision makers and how invested they are in the success of their franchisees.
From our first introduction, we have found that Banana Moon values very much align with ours. There is transparency, collaboration and support, with an ethical approach to working. It feels very much like a partnership and that our views and opinions are listened to and valued. The added benefits of working with a family-run franchise are there is more personal attention and there can be more flexibility when it comes to introducing new ideas or innovations. There is a stronger sense of community, which is very important to us as franchisees, and many ways to regularly share best practice and celebrates success.
We’re delighted that our franchisees believe that choosing Banana Moon is a savvy business move, but as parents, do you find it especially rewarding to be running a franchise that provides support and reassurance to other working parents?
100%. That’s one of the reasons that we wanted to have a nursery in the first place. Both of us are working parents, and our children were in nurseries when they were very young – and that is how we met, nearly 16 years ago! We wanted a nursery that we would be happy for our own children to go to, where they would be safe, secure and cared for, and where they also had a great time and have lots of stories to tell when they come home. We have seen the impact that Covid has had on very young children when it comes to communication, language and socialisation, so parents come to us quite nervous about leaving their children for the first time. But with the warm welcome they receive from the team, the family-feel environment and all the robust safeguarding measures, as well as our bespoke learning and development programme, there is so much to reassure parents!
We have also had our first Ofsted Inspection, 19 months after opening, and are delighted to have been rated “Good”. Some of the highlights from our report are:
“Children are eager and happy to start their day.”
“Practitioners skilfully organise activities across the curriculum which spark children’s curiosity and engage them in meaningful learning.”
“Leaders are passionate about outcomes for children.”
They help “children to develop a positive sense of self and a respect for difference and diversity”.
“The provision for children with SEND is a strength.”
“Parents speak very highly of the nursery.”
“Safeguarding is effective.”
Finally, if you could give three reasons why someone should consider franchising with Banana Moon, what would they be?
It’s difficult to keep it to just three!
- The Banana Moon franchise package is very comprehensive, and the training, marketing and ongoing support is invaluable.
- For anyone considering a nursery franchise specifically, we love the Banana Moon USPs: CCTV, biometric door entry, fully air-conditioned, two hot meals each day, the bespoke learning and development programme and the focus on well-being.
- Working with the Banana Moon franchise is a collaborative partnership between franchisees and the franchisor. This is reflected in the recent award for the Banana Moon franchise as the first nursery franchise to be awarded the highest membership available with the British Franchise Association (BFA).