Nikki is a marketing professional of wide experience, with a background embracing leading brands including La Senza Lingerie, Nicky Clarke Hair Care, Russell Hobbs Appliances and I.C.I. Paints. Yet despite an extremely successful executive career, she resolved to follow her family’s tradition of entrepreneurship and it was just a matter of time before she fulfilled her ambition to run her own business, childcare being her preferred option. In considering the sector thoroughly Nikki soon came across Monkey Puzzle and after exploratory discussions, and visits to a number of our established Franchisees, she decided we offered by far the best potential. Having taken the decision to go ahead, the next step was to find the right site which was not going to be easy in her chosen territory. However, Monkey Puzzle H.Q. were soon on the case and ideal premises, previously solicitors’ offices, were located in a prominent position complete with off-road parking for parents. Will Campbell then assisted in the negotiation of a 20 year lease and the change-of-use planning application was granted without delay. Rather more time-consuming was the process of premises preparation, but the results are inspiring and comprise a 75 place nursery with four separate age-group areas, a well-equipped outdoor softplay area, plus kitchen, toilets, office and reception. In addition – and the first in Monkey Puzzle – is a “multi-sensory” room, featuring lights, sounds and a range of sensory toys that produce a very relaxing environment for young children which also aids learning. So far, so good; but are parents impressed?

“Judging by their quick response, they certainly are” reports Nikki. “The first open day resulted in no less than 27 child registrations and even before opening we started to receive referrals from people who had learned about us”. She continued “Everyone’s comments were most positive and one of the attractions striking a particularly positive note with parents who commute to work in London is our long day, with extended opening hours: from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.”. As with all good business, good people are of the essence and Nikki has succeeded in recruiting a first class team, headed by manager Samantha Stewartson who has a Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies; deputy manager Stephanie Miles with a Level 3 in childcare as well as a Diploma in Child Psychology; and chef Jess Paul who has various Levels 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery modules. Reflecting her marketing know-how, Nikki has created some interesting initiatives to augment her local public awareness campaign. A parent panel is planned to provide a forum for feedback and ideas and (another “first”) a “Dad’s Day”, which provides an opportunity for fathers to have quality time with their children at the nursery on Saturdays. They can watch sport on television and in a joint promotion with the Ship Hotel next door, even go for a free pint! Not least, Nikki is a qualified holistic masseuse and she can show parents how to comfort young children suffering with wind or colic. All in all Nikki is another example of the increasing number of enterprising and capable people who become Monkey Puzzle Franchisees.