What’s It Take to Open a Goldfish? Sonali Morris of Goldfish Cleveland East Side Shares

By now, with Goldfish Swim Schools popping up around Michigan, and soon to be ChicagoClevelandPittsburgh (and more), you’ve probably recognized that Goldfish isn’t just a one-person shop. Goldfish is a growing franchise, and we have YOU to thank for your continuous patronage and support. Together, we are arming our kids with a respect for and comfort with the water.

Sonali Morris Goldfish Cleveland East Side

That being said, have you ever wondered what goes into opening up your own Goldfish? We caught up with Goldfish Cleveland East Side’s new co-owner, Sonali Morris, who is in the thick of developing another Goldfish with her husband Michael Morris along with long time friends Rob and Vicki Pietrick, scheduled to open in late this month!

While each franchisee comes to us with a passion for the work we perform, each also has a different background and entrepreneurial vision that motivates his/her decision to open a Goldfish. Take Sonali, for instance:

Before making the decision to open Goldfish Cleveland East Side, Sonali was what she calls a “WAHM,” a “Work-At-Home Mom,” providing marketing, consulting and copywriting services to several clients. Though she loved the flexibility of being able to work in her PJs, she was often disheartened that the advice she was giving to some of her clients wasn’t being followed.

“When you see a company go down a path you don’t agree with and know it is ripe with errors, it can be frustrating and painful to watch,” she said.

She knew that, as an owner of a Goldfish Swim School, she would have the freedom to trust her instincts and also have the better sense to listen to the experts. She and her partners have always dreamed of starting their own business. When they encountered Goldfish, they were impressed by the solidity of the concept and the fact that it is still a fairly young franchise with franchisors that are open to new and creative ideas that better the brand.

Opening a franchise that would benefit children was a must for these prospective franchisees. While they threw around a couple of ideas, they always seemed to return to Goldfish. The Operations Manual was a big seller. That, and maybe what some would consider an unusual selling point: the swimming curriculum—or, more specifically, Goldfish’s signature “rollover.” It sounds crazy, but for Sonali, the rollover was symbolic of what Goldfish does for children: it teaches them how to be safe in the water. When Sonali watched her daughter master the rollover in the pool at Goldfish Birmingham and then saw that knowledge translate to real-life situations, she was more than impressed.  She was encouraged.

So, what have been the highs and lows of the development process? Finding the right space and negotiating a lease is always a tricky process, as is navigating and obtaining the necessary permitting for construction. But, with lots of help from Goldfish, friends, business associates and the Warrensville Heights Mayor’s office, the team was able to pull through.

Day-to-day, she loves being her own boss, although she admits it can be both a wonderful and stressful experience. She’s understandably pleased that her PJs must only morph into jeans and flip-flops to reach the workplace-appropriate standard. But, more importantly, she attributes the joy of the experience to seeing the faces of children as they master a skill.

“It’s so rewarding knowing that you’re teaching them a necessary life skill that will stay with them forever.”

We can hardly wait to see Goldfish Swim School Cleveland East Side open its doors later this month, and we’re so thankful that we have Sonali and Michael, along with Rob and Vicki on our team.

If, after reading this blog, franchising with Goldfish interests you, here are two pieces of advice from Sonali:

  1. Do your homework and arrive at your own conclusions. It’s fine to take advice from others, but do your own due diligence and ask LOTS of questions. Meet and talk with the franchise owners.
  2. Plan and budget as if the process will take twice as long as you expect because many aspects of the process will be out of your control (real estate search, negotiating a lease, permitting, etc.).

And if you would just like to start out by learning more, head over to our Goldfish Franchise site and fill out the form to talk to one of us!

Want to follow what’s going on with Goldfish Cleveland East Side? Like them on Facebook!

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