Posted on Jul 26th 2017
When Michael and Babz Barnett founded Romp n’ Roll in 2004, they were seeking, like so many entrepreneurs before them, to fill a need in their community. That need was for a place that offered high-quality enrichment classes for children under 5 in a clean, safe, whimsical environment. The idea was a huge hit, and in the ensuing years the company has experienced tremendous growth, with more than 110 locations in multiple countries and a plan to add 80 to 100 new franchises over the next five years. This rapid growth was possible in no small part due to the Barnetts’ visionary leadership and commitment to children and their families.
A key part of great business leadership is knowing when (and how) to hire the right people to ensure that your business grows sustainably and stays true to your company’s core values. That’s why Romp n’ Roll is excited to announce the hiring of Rachel Stender as our new Franchise Development Director.
Rachel brings experience working with franchise development for groups such as FranChoice and Franchise Dynamics, as well as experience in the children’s recreation industry. To help you learn more about Rachel’s background and vision for the growth of Romp n’ Roll, she sat down with us for the interview below.
My goal is to grow the Romp n’ Roll franchise system, but in the right way. I want to make sure that there’s a good fit between the franchisee and the franchisor, one that can be long-term. We’re looking for people who have the ability to open one location, and we’re also looking for people who have either the initial drive or long-term drive to open multiple locations.
You have to be a people person. You have to have a passion for the business and share that, and be a networker, be out in the community. Your customer acquisition and filling your new customer funnel is so important. So being able to really be out there and network, and having the passion to share, is key.
The other side of it is also being a great manager to your team, and being able to wear a lot of different hats and multitask. I think in any business, and especially in a children’s business, there’s a lot going on. So you need to be able to be that multitasker, while also really loving the business.
When we look at a potential Romp n’ Roll franchisee, and in terms of what you need to make sure you have going into it, there are two hats that you essentially wear: you have a business side and an education side. I always call them buckets, buckets you want to make sure that you can fill before you come into the business. If you don’t fill the education bucket, you need to hire someone who has more of that background. If you don’t fill the business side, you need to hire someone who can really help you make sure you have those pieces of the puzzle covered.
Right now, they have a great base of both established and new franchisees, they have put in a lot of resources recently for location build-outs, franchisee resources and equipment and for local marketing. I think there are a lot of great tools, applications and resources that are being rolled out to really help facilitate the ease of the franchisee, getting what they need.
Also, with me stepping into the Franchise Development Director role, Michael and Babz are really able to focus on what they need to, from an operational and curriculum standpoint, to really help grow the business and support the franchisees.
Finally, as a mom, or as a caretaker, or as a dad, you want convenience, and you want it to be high quality. You want to get, I guess you could say, the biggest bang for your buck, and also be able to make sure that you’re setting your kids up for success. Romp n’ Roll is a great business for that, because they do cover all the bases, and it is one location.
The other piece of it is just how the demographic, that “3 month to 5 year” range right now, is growing exponentially, so there really isn’t going to be a lack of need in that age group, and in the area. It’s not just an upper-income need, either. We focus on being in a middle income and up area, and that covers a lot of people. No matter what, you’re always trying to find the best resources for your children.
Many parents I talk to have taken their kids to competing gyms, and they tend to find that while one or two of the classes are good, most are so-so. A big part of the problem is that so many of the competitors focus on trying to provide for ages preschool to 12, which means it’s really difficult to maintain high quality across the board. So, having something that’s focused on that 3-month-to-5-year range gives us an opportunity to have a lot more class offerings for just that age group, and make sure they’re high quality.
In most communities there’s huge demand from young families for the services Romp n’ Roll offers, and there’s no direct competitor. With the population of children younger than 5 expected to increase, Romp n’ Roll represents the chance to capitalize on a growing industry. Romp n’ Roll is focused on rapid growth and expansion this year, especially in the eastern half of the United States.
Michael Barnett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Romp n' Roll. In addition to leading the Romp n' Roll management team, Michael is an active member of the International Franchise Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and serves on the Board of Directors for Connor's Heroes and Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He and his wife, Babz, were featured on the first season of ABC-TV's Shark Tank.