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Starting with the WOW factor

Interview with A-Star Sports franchise owner Adrian Dunn

Adrian Dunn launched his A-Star Sports business in February 2013 in the Wrexham,Oswestry and Whitchurch area – WOW! As a former dairy farmer and youth worker, Adrian has been involved in running youth clubs, the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and organising a wide variety of sports activities. After an injury at work led him to re-think his career, he went back to university in Wrexham and graduated with the ambition to realise his dream of working for himself. Here’s how Adrian has been getting started with A-Star Sports:

How has starting your new A-Star Sports business been so far?

Starting up A-Star Sports has been fun, very busy and challenging. The most enjoyable part has been setting up my own weekly classes and growing them. Doing my first party was fun, too, but I was really nervous! The challenges have been getting clued up on the business side and familiarising myself with all the lesson plans. I have been working on overcoming this by concentrating on the business side in the mornings and evenings. I have also been reading the coaching manuals as well as practising them in my set-up times in the venues before classes begin. The A-Star Sports team has been really supportive, too.

What’s a typical day for you in this start-up phase?

A typical day for me at the moment begins with the business and administrative side of things. This can involve organising class registers, forms for parents, keeping on top of the information needed for invoicing and financial management as well as conducting marketing activity and distributing information. Although word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool, it is still good to get posters up in prominent places, drop leaflets off at playgroups and generally raise awareness in the local area. I also speak regularly to advertisers about getting information on their web pages (particularly Kidsguide and Netmums in my area).

In the afternoon initially my time was taken up in training for starting up my own classes. My training is still ongoing in some aspects of the business and coaching but I am now in a position to start delivering my own classes. And in the evening and weekends, I have been travelling to venues to establish their suitability for classes, parties and holiday clubs, looking at size, location etc.

What have been the most valuable things you have learned in training?

The training in the delivery of classes has been very good. The most valuable things I learnt are:

– always keep talking to the children;

– don’t turn your back on the children!;

– keep learning the lesson plans;

– don’t be worried about making mistakes – but be aware of where you went wrong and reflect on the classes afterwards.

In the first few months it can be difficult to manage time as you feel like everything needs doing at once – training, advertsing, visiting venues, setting up venues, getting out to places to put posters up, drop leaflets off. But if you prioritise what needs doing first, organise your business side of things from the start (how you want it to be for the future as this will save time in the longer term especially with invoicing and records) and keep referring back to the research you carried out when you evaluated your territory then this all helps. Offering some free classes in the area to pre-schools, toddler groups and some schools so they can see what A-Star Sports is all about is also really positive.

What advice would you give to potential / other new franchise owners?

Word-of-mouth is good – really nurture your contacts as they can help you to grow.

Don’t be afraid to do some free sessions so families will see what it is you do, bring their own children to a class and start to spread the word on your behalf.

Be friendly to people, be honest and get stuck in – you are your own advertisement. By getting stuck in, talking to parents, having fun with the children, this will build your confidence in a really positive way.

Speak to local people in the area where you are looking to start up classes. You may find they are eager to have something in their village. Ask locals about advertising in the area, for instance in Overton they have a local newsletter that goes to all the homes called the ‘Oracle’ that you can submit stories to. The locals often have knowledge of other venues and a phone number and name of the person who looks after the village hall in the area. Local knowledge is invaluable.

Find your style of working – for me, I need space! Space to use the whole floor to arrange my receipts to go the accountant, labelled drawers so that I can organise things in the way that I need them (and find them again later) and organised shelving for my sports equipment to go on. Make sure you find what works best for you.

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Adrian’s team currently runs classes in St Margaret’s Church and Community Hall (Garden Village), Kenyon Hall (Holt), Overton Village Hall (Overton-on-Dee) and Brymbo & Tanyfron Regeneration Trust (Brymbo). Adrian is planning additional classes in other towns and villages in the WOW franchise area on the England-Wales border – for timetable details visit: http://www.a-starsports.co.uk/local-classes/wrexham-oswestry-whitchurch/