We will bring a series of interviews conducted with these winners and share with you their strategies in being a leading brand as an inspiration to our readers. We start this issue by speaking to Sally Forrest, BSc, MRPharmS, MBA, Founder and Managing Director of SoulKids, the recipient of Licensor of the Year award at FLAawards 2014.
Licensor of the Year Award
The Singapore Franchising & Licensing industry recognised some of the most outstanding achievers in the franchise and licensing section through the FLAawards 2014 organised last year. The FLAawards 2014 organised on 16 October at Marina Bay Sands last year announced some well-deserving winners:
■ What was your feeling in SoulKids winning the ‘Licensor of the Year Award’ ‘ 2014 award?
We were all delighted when the announcement was made. We felt that 10 years of inspiring work had paid off. We were very proud that all our processes, systems, training, content and results were recognized.
We knew that our vision “to Inspire children the world over to be happy and successful in life “and to the known as the “brand of excellence in Life-Skills for children “was supported at the highest level by the FLA.
■ Can you name some of the factors that contributed to SoulKids’ exciting growth?
SoulKids® is the brand of excellence in teaching essential life skills such as happiness, success, leadership, teamwork to name a few. Our methodology and training content is fun and inspiring. Children learn and apply the teachings immediately and it really makes a difference in their lives.
Parents see the difference and then want to learn the techniques themselves. We provide support for the parents and so it’s an all-inclusive training for the family.
■ How does SoulKids stand out from the competitors?
SoulKids® offers our proprietary transformational programs that develop positive, balanced, self assured and confident children.
Children from the ages of 5.5 to 15 all benefit. SoulKids® training is inspiring, powerful and fun. SoulKids® was recently voted best in class for life skills by Harpers Bazaar readers for the following reasons;
- Helping children to become more confident, empowered, happy and successful in all aspects.
- Teaching children how their mind works and how they are responsible for their own choices.
- Modules that encourage learning through actual life experiences.
- Fun essential Life-Skills Programs taught in a happy, safe environment, with lots of attention for each child.
Our highly trained Mentors walk the talk. They have undergone rigorous training with the founder himself and have applied this training in their own lives first.
SoulKids® works with small groups of children and we have strict ratios of children per Mentor. This ensures each child receives the necessary attention. Parents are educated and supported too! We create a community where children feel loved and connected; reunions, blogs and inspirational messages are all part of the offer. We support the training with a professional retail offering – our range of best selling SoulKids® books, DVD’s, notebooks, badges.
SoulKids Coaches are able to offer one on one support for children
Both the founders Vikas Malkani and Sally Forrest are qualified CFE graduates.
■ What are some of the setbacks and challenges faced by SoulKids when starting out in licensing? And how did you overcome them?
We always see challenges as opportunities. One of the initial considerations was our intellectual property and how we go about protecting this in 37 countries. Time, energy, effort and substantial investment went into securing the correct intellectual property protection.
Another consideration was how to document all the processes and systems that we have been using successfully for so many years.
Manuals, videos and training processes had to be created in a professional manner.
There is a phase in growth where you simply have to take time out to set the foundation. If you enjoy procedures and processes then this can be an exciting period, however many find it a little laborious and tedious documenting each and every aspect of the brand. However its time well invested and necessary for future growth.
■ If you had to start over, would you do anything differently?
I think there is always a danger initially that you try and do everything yourself. One moment you are inspiring children and parents, the next you put on the hat of an accountant, then a marketing manager, then an IT specialist… and so on. This is natural as small companies try to keep costs down. However on reflection I feel it would be more efficient in the long run to have key functions of the business staffed from the outset. Invest in the best staff you possibly can find. Do not compromise.
■ Why should anyone consider a SoulKids license?
SoulKids offers a turnkey business module that works across boundaries and cultures. Unit, area & country licenses are available. There are multiple streams of income available.
The SoulKids programs are offered in different formats to suit different timings and client preferences. Full day, half day, extra curricular and tuition programs are all available. Group programs and one on one coaching are available. The brand is IP protected
Unique retail products support the brand. Full business and communication training is offered to all licensees. Constant R&D of training programs. Impactful branding and unique content are all part of the license.
■ What is in the pipeline for SoulKids?
Our mission is to inspire everyone we meet to be the best that they can be. So we focus on inspiring each and every child that comes through the SoulKids program.
Our SoulKids Mentor Training program offers adults the opportunity to work with the brand and spread the message to children. Our growth is organic; people have been so inspired by their training and have seen their own change, and they decide to take the license and spread SoulKids® through our business models. Interested business executives are always welcomed and we are happy to discuss options to grow the brand even more.
■ What would your advice be for someone starting off in the franchise business?
First decide if it truly is your passion?
Do you think about your brand/business 24/7?
Are you totally committed to making it a success?
Are you willing to invest the time, energy, effort and finance in starting the business and in making it a success?
Are you good with people and able to manage others?
Are you able to deal with comments and advice from others?
Its exciting and fast paced and with todays technology a 24/7 operation. With this in mind are you able to balance business and your personal life?