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THE RIGHT APPROACH
in this article:
Dawn Engelbrecht of sKids shares her courage and passion with the families of New Zealand
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Dawn Engelbrecht, sKids. Since 2006 the franchise has expanded from 12 franchisees to 65.
When she was just 18, Dawn Engelbrecht packed her bags and left suburban England to follow her childhood sweetheart to South Africa. It wasn’t so much an act of rebellion as a typical act of goal-focused courage. That courage and determination have since served her well.
It didn’t look promising at first. ‘I fell out of love with the sweetheart, but I fell in love with the country,’ she laughs. ‘So for the next 16 years I lived in South Africa, qualified as an accountant, married and brought up my children.’
But South Africa was changing rapidly and Dawn didn’t want her family to become another negative statistic, so in 2000 they moved to New Zealand. ‘Both my husband and I had jobs arranged, but we realised when we arrived that we hadn’t worked out the logistics of childcare. We had no relatives to fall back on. Luckily the school had an after-school programme which solved the problem.’
That after-school programme was sKids (Safe Kids in Daily Supervision). ‘My three children made up half the roll, so I cheekily said to the lady running it one day, “I’m giving you half the profits – you should sell it to me!” And she did!’
At the time of her purchase, sKids was an existing franchise system which was, in Dawn’s words ‘a fantastic idea that was badly managed by the original franchisor. Initially I bought the one outlet but, as I probed deeper and realised how much was lacking, I started creating the systems it needed and sharing them with the other franchisees. Eventually I reached a point where a decision had to be made and in July 2006, Bev Parsons (a fellow franchisee) and I took over as franchisors.’
The new owners brought a whole fresh approach. ‘I used to do the accounts for a group of franchised restaurants in South Africa so I knew that franchising could be a win/win for everybody – franchisor and franchisees alike,’ says Dawn. ‘As a full-time working mum, I totally understood the need for the service and, at the risk of sounding arrogant, Bev and I figured we could do it better!’
They certainly could. Since 2006 the franchise has expanded from 12 franchisees to 65, who between them operate over 165 sites around New Zealand – a figure that’s growing all the time as more parents realise the benefits that sKids can bring through a variety of before-school, after-school, out of school and holiday programmes. It’s not just for the well-off, either – these days, sKids programmes are approved by the Ministry of Social Development and parents can access Work & Income NZ OSCAR subsidies, with franchisees helping them to access the right support.’
‘For everything we do, we put ourselves in the shoes of the parents who use our services. We do our utmost to make the experience guilt-free for parents while enhancing the lives of their children. Yes, we help manage their homework but many children learn more easily through experience so we ensure there are outcome-based activities for children every day. Everything may look like games to an outsider but our focus is on developing their leadership skills and drawing out their potential.
‘We are the bridge between home and school that makes life so much smoother for all. After all, if you are a full-time working parent, and you’ve picked up little Johnny from school at six, the last thing you want to do is homework and cook dinner!’ she says with feeling. ‘In fact, our FoodStorm programme even teaches kids healthy recipes they can make with their families.’
sKids’ intermediate programme The iHub has recently partnered with mountaineer and motivational speaker William Pike and the William Pike Challenge Award. The WPCA empowers educators with support and resources to grow resilient, capable and connected youth that positively contribute to their communities. This programme believes in young people embracing new challenges and engaging with their community and has a vision to grow a world of explorers. Our focus is on the ‘tweens’, the 11-13 year olds who currently fall between childhood and teenagehood, and the WPCA is another great way to give these kids different pathways to success.’
Since 2010, Dawn has also expanded the sKids systems into Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK and South Africa via a sister franchise, Sherpa Kids, but her real focus is on growing the NZ system. ‘We have many areas in the country aching for sKids programmes, including larger centres like Hamilton, Rotorua and Tauranga as well as smaller towns,’ she says.
If you’re interested in joining sKids, franchises start from around $45,000 +gst, including full training and ongoing support. You’ll need to be a good leader, well-organised and with the ability to grow a team of 20-30 staff. Middle-management experience and a sound skill set are vital.
Dawn ends, ‘Children at any age can be vulnerable, but if we can make a difference by inspiring, motivating and proving to those children that they have untapped potential, who knows what a difference it could make later on? If you can be a part of that, please do contact us.’
See this advertorial on page 15 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 26 Issue 4
Contact details for sKids
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