Since its founding in 2009, Big Blue Swim School has helped thousands of children become more confident swimmers. Through its superior curriculum, proprietary technology, and sizable footprint, Big Blue has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in a fast-growing segment.
Real estate has always played an important role in the business plan for Big Blue. At its origin, Big Blue’s leadership tapped market research that showed that most American families have two children approximately 36 months apart, translating this to value-rich capacity planning: two pools within a typical footprint between 8,500 and 12,000 square feet.
While competitors in the swim school space typically connect new franchise owners to local real estate brokers who source secondary or industrial-style locations, Big Blue has a team of eight members to assist in real estate, construction and facilities including three dealmakers, a designer, construction director and a facilities manager. The team uses market knowledge and data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify prime real estate in trade areas across the country that fit the brand’s member profile.
The company’s real estate footprint has proven to be even more beneficial for the landlords of these locations. With commercial retailers all over the U.S. facing difficulties when it comes to bringing foot-traffic to their facilities due to the online marketplace, Big Blue offers an incredibly attractive business option.
“Landlords like to have Big Blue in their shopping center, as the brand generates high traffic for both the center and co-tenants,” said Big Blue Swim School CDO Scott Thompson. “Our swim schools draw a large base of young families to our stores on a weekly basis.”
This is exactly what caught the attention of Shorewood Development Group, a Buffalo Grove, Illinois-based commercial real estate firm specializing in infill retail shopping center development.
“Louis Schriber from Shorewood Development had his kids taking lessons in a Big Blue location,” said Thompson. “The team immediately saw the value of the swim school’s popularity, as they own commercial centers and are familiar with how hard it is to bring that amount of foot traffic to the facility. The more they looked into the opportunity, the more they saw the potential benefits that Big Blue could bring within their investment model.”
This year, Big Blue partnered with Shorewood Development Group to expand its presence by a targeted 10 additional locations throughout Chicagoland and six slated for Minneapolis.
“The team at Shorewood have the resources and experience necessary for efficient and high-quality execution of a product’s new vision,” said Thompson. “Shorewood’s expertise allows for a faster and more confident turnaround when it comes to site development.”
In a recent press release, Louis Schriber of Shorewood Development Group expressed great confidence that their partnership has “the necessary market knowledge, analytics, and personnel to make the right decisions and get open quickly with the right locations.”
Shorewood’s real estate and business experience combined with Big Blue’s established and lucrative brand will undoubtedly prove to be a source of mutually beneficial franchise development. As the rewards of the partnership come into fruition, it is clear that Big Blue has no plans on slowing down its expansion throughout the country.