Last month, we celebrated 15 years of Rugbytots and we thought it would be a great time to catch up with our VERY FIRST franchisees, Kirsty and Carl McWilliam, who own Rugbytots Edinburgh. They have been here from the very beginning and are still going strong all these years later.
Hi guys! What made you decide to take on the franchise all those years ago?
Hi! At the time there were no rugby play programmes, yet the market was saturated with football ones. Carl, being a New Zealander was keen to steer his boys on the ‘right’ path.
We were both working full-time while raising two young boys and we wanted a better balance. We did love our careers (accountant and draughtsman) but were frustrated at the lack of flexibility and were keen to build something that was ours.
How did you feel when meeting us for the first time and during the process of signing up? Did you have any concerns about taking on a franchise?
We met Max in Reigate Park and instantly loved the class – they were so energetic, and fun and were actually teaching much more than ball skills. Carl jumped right in and had lots of laughs before we sat down and talked about what a franchise could actually look like. I was happy to think the next classes would be in Scotland! Never at the time did we think New Zealand would not be far behind.
We did however wonder what the demand would be, would people want to come each week? We had initially thought this could be a good ‘in between’ business while we set accountancy and draughting consultancies to create a portfolio type career, so took the plunge.
How were your hesitations overcome and what has the journey been like for you as a business?
Within 3 months, our numbers had grown to 150 kids per week!
The journey has been interesting. We started the franchise during the 2008 recession, we have had a global pandemic and we have raised two boys who now coach for us – so, a lot of change! The feeling of support and being part of the wider team that has come over the past 15 years has been invaluable. Feeling that Max and his team always had our back and working hard to create an impactful brand for us all.
Also, Rugbytots alignment with charities over the years has meant that not only have Rugbytots contributed to important charities, but it also created a great opportunity for different franchises to spend time together, which gives you the feeling of really being part of a team.
What has changed over the last 15 years for you and your franchise?
So much! The programme has grown from strength to strength. How we market has changed beyond recognition and we now have a team of really keen franchisees across Scotland. The brand is widely recognised now as leaders in the toddler play market.
We also now have a wonderful office manager Sandra, who is the system wizard for all of the Scotland team, Gill who is our book keeper and keeps us right and we are just about to recruit a social media manager to help us with the every changing landscape.
What’s the future looking like for you your franchise?
More growth; team growing within the office, as well as more coaches, and growing girls rugby. We are now coaching at an all girls school. We are also noticing an increase in girls attending classes, which reflects the growth in female rugby around the world. With the Women’s Rugby World Cup starting this month, we hope this will also help with getting more girls playing rugby!
Thanks so much Kirsty and Carl!
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Rugbytots franchisee and our franchise opportunities, click here.
This entry was posted on 5th October 2022.