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Chris McCuiston, co-founder and CEO of Goldfish Swim School, discusses clarity of mission, finding inspiration through family, and achieving excellence.
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GF: What does success look like to you?
CM: Success is when we grow our system with the right franchisees who are aligned with our brand standards: they get it, they want it, and they have the capacity to operate strong businesses.
Amid the pandemic, I’ve been able to reflect on the incredible ‘Goldfish family’ we’ve built – all working together to propel this brand to greatness. From supporting each other to investing in more units and growing their Goldfish portfolios, to making a difference in the communities they operate – we’re finding success with the right partners.
GF: What are the vital components behind a well- run organization?
CM: Organizational clarity – ensuring the franchisor and franchisees are aligned on core values and the overall mission and vision of the company. At Goldfish, we pride ourselves on articulating a clear and focused strategy that is consistently communicated.
GF: What most interests you about franchising?
CM: One of the greatest and most interesting things about franchising is that it attracts people from all walks of life. Whether it be a husband-wife duo, a veteran, a former employee from corporate America – each and everyone adds value to the franchise system in their own individual way.
GF: Who or what inspires you and why?
CM: My wife Jenny inspires me: she’s the strongest, most compassionate, and hard-working person I know. In fact, since we’re high school sweethearts, I can hardly recall a time when she wasn’t by my side. From helping to raise our four boys to growing the largest and most established swim school in the space – we have over 110 locations across North America – Jenny is determined and always leads with her heart.
GF: Where do you see your brand in five years?
CM: In five years, we hope to have 250 swim schools open and operating across North America. Even amid the pandemic, we have remained steadfast and focused on growth. We closed out 2020 with 19 signed agreements, 14 new school openings, and another five are projected to open in Q1 2021.
GF: What are the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
CM: One of the biggest challenges franchisors face is adjusting in order to appeal to a ‘new consumer’ profile brought on by the pandemic. Our main focus is on educating parents and helping them feel comfortable returning to our schools because sadly, drowning doesn’t stop for a pandemic.
GF: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to embark on a career in franchising?
CM: Not only should you seek out an industry you’re passionate about, but also be sure the business has a long-term vision for success.
Once you find it, dive in and commit. Completely immerse yourself in the culture, the operations, the way of the business, and execute that flawlessly. Commit to the mission, your role, and your team, and you’ll be on the path to achieving excellence.
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