We’ve Sold Tiny Hoppers Riverside South
- February 07, 2017
- Theresa Bertuzzi
I have hugely mixed emotions today as I pass on my baby, Tiny Hoppers Riverside South, to my good friends Caron, Jason & Ryan Benjamin. Over the years we have had offers from others wanting to purchase our daycare centre but have never really considered selling as we would not let our flag ship store go to just anyone. The Benjamin family are the perfect people to take over running our centre and Brigida and I decided to let the centre go so we would have the time needed to continue expansion on Tiny Hoppers across Canada and the world. We are currently closing up deals with Master Franchisors in B.C. and Quebec and have many new schools coming up very soon, starting with our first centre in Alberta this spring. The work load has gotten to the point where we just are no longer able to give our centre the attention it needs. The last thing we would ever want is the quality of our centre that we built for twelve years to suffer so when the perfect people came along to run it for us we knew that it was time to make the change. This sale has been in the works for months now, we just did not want to announce it until all of the paper work was completed and signed, and Caron and Jason have been in our centre since this summer getting used to the children and staff so that this transition would be as comfortable for everyone as possible.
What gives me the most comfort today is knowing that Team Benjamin will be taking over and making sure that Tiny Hoppers in Riverside South remains a success. They are the sweetest family and the perfect choice for the Riverside South community. I have known the Benjamin family since I was a teenager and I used to babysit for Caron’s children, Ryan, Jason and Nichole. I was the lifeguard at a community pool when I first met Team Benjamin. Caron was a single mom raising three small children and I thought she was simply amazing. She was such a strong woman and role model to me and I watched her raise the three kindest and sweetest children all on her own. She made sure that those kids had everything they needed and gave them more love and support than two parents could have. Every summer myself and my fellow lifeguards would host a family fun day at the pool for all of the children in the neighbourhood. One of the activities was a family race where one parent would pull the children back and forth across the pool in a boat. I watched as all of the dads jumped in and loaded their children into boats. Only one mom was participating and it was Caron. In she jumped and waited as her three kids threw themselves into the boat. When we blew the whistle they were off and Caron took off like lightening with her kids cheering her on full blast. Man did she boogie and in the end the Benjamin family won the race and whipped all of those dads’ butts. This was so Caron. Her children would not miss out on anything just because they only had one parent taking care of them and, damn it, she was going to win too. That is also a trait she passed on to her children, they are winners in every sense of the word and not just winners at sports and at races, although they won those things a lot too, but winners at being kind, loving their friends and family and being responsible and loyal to everyone they meet. I can only hope that my own children grow up to be just like Jason, Ryan and Nichole and I hope that my children love me and respect me as much as Caron’s kids love and respect her. When this beautiful family decided that they would like the opportunity to run my baby how could I refuse. We knew that it was time to pass it on and it seems like fate brought the Benjamins along at just the exact right moment to take over. Everyone in Riverside South will absolutely love them, my staff will be so happy and taken care of and the children in the centre will be so loved. A few months ago Caron was helping a little one who was upset at having had an accident in the bathroom and Caron held the child and cried right along with them. Her heart is huge and I know that she will take care of each of our Tiny Hopper babies like they are her own grandchildren. Caron’s own grandchild, Ryan’s son, will be coming to Tiny Hoppers soon to spend his days under the watchful eye of his Grandma. I like to tease Caron by telling her grandson that his Grandma knew he had to go to daycare so she bought him his own. Caron and Jason will be at the centre way more often than Brigida or I could make it in and I know it will flourish under their care. Jason is an amazing school teacher who has decided to work on this project with his mom. He will be letting go of his teaching career, for now, to give it a shot educating our little ones. He is so sweet and kind and the children are all going to love him. I just can’t wait to see what they do to our centre over the next few years.
To end any rumours that may go round, we did not sell Tiny Hoppers because it was failing in any way. In fact our numbers have never been better and our programs are all full. We have been so blessed to be a part of the Riverside South community and they welcomed us in and supported us over the years so well that the centre has been a huge success. We are super proud that we are passing it on as a success and know that it will remain a success with the Benjamins at the helm. We are so lucky to have always had our programs fill up as quickly as they do and it has allowed us to follow our dreams of taking Tiny Hoppers across the world. We never would have imagined that there would be Tiny Hoppers on the other side of the world but that dream came true last year with our first international school opening in Jeddah. Without the support of the Riverside South community and our neighbours we never would have been able to spread our brand across Canada and now the world. I never would have dreamed that this could have happened 12 years ago as I was shaking in my boots waiting to lead that first play class. I remember being so nervous that I thought I was going to pass out. I had never lead a play class before and everything was riding on those first few play classes to be a success. Fortunato stopped by to wish us luck just before we started and brought us a bottle of champagne to enjoy after the classes ended that evening. The second he walked out the door we cracked that puppy open and passed it back and forth between us and man did we ever rock it that night. The conga lines and party atmosphere was of course part of the downed bottle of champagne that we gulped down to steady our nerves. LOL No, I don’t recommend drinking before play classes and anyone who knows us knows that neither of us are drinkers, but having a champagne buzz that night sure worked in our favour as everyone who came in that night had an amazing time and we signed up 90% of the people who came in to try our play classes. At the end of the week we had close to 100 play class members. Fortunato, who runs a karate franchise asked us how many people we had sign up that week and he was in shock that we managed to sign up 90% of people who came in. We were actually disappointed that not everyone signed up and he laughed at us and assured us that a 90% sign up rate is pretty much unheard of. Brigida and I both have a hugely competitive spirit and neither of us can stand losing at anything so even one missed member would get on both of our nerves. It was this obsessive need to be the best that has helped the business grow even if it was pretty annoying to our staff members and our families at times. When we took on a third partner to assist us with our international expansion, Rashid came on board and lord help all of our franchisees as he is also an A Type personality who has just as much drive to be successful as the two of us. Now there are three of us pushing our franchisees to always be the best. So much pressure on them but they have demonstrated their own drive as each and every one of them have managed to start their companies and fill them up within months. Every single one of the Tiny Hoppers’ schools are doing amazing and I am so proud of our franchisees and I love each and every one of them like they are my own family. They have placed their trust in the three of us and we are not going to let them down.
Letting go of Riverside South is so hard. Brigida just texted me to let me know that she did not sleep at all last night and neither did I. It will be very weird to pass by the Riverside Centre and know that we no longer own it. It was our very first school and our baby. We built the very first centre by hand, literally, because we were completely broke and could not afford a contractor. We shared so many good times and memories there with our staff and the families in the neighbourhood. We have loved and watched the community children grow and our very first play class members are all heading off to high school next year. We have also faced many struggles over the years but each of those struggles have also given us happy memories as we laughed and cried our way through them as it is the conflicts that we have overcome that have made our growth and success that much sweeter. So today we will take home that Froggles mascot as he is staying with us and we will pass over the lead on this beautiful centre to Team Benjamin. Take care of my baby for me my sweet friends. I hope that she gives you as many happy memories as she has given us over the years. My advice to you and to all my franchisees is to love your centres like we do and you can’t fail. Brigida and I will be here to guide you and support you as you grow and we look forward to not only witnessing your success but laughing at you and bailing you out when you screw up. LOL The screw ups are actually one of our most favourite parts! What a life changing moment this is as we let go of the past and fully commit ourselves to spreading this beautiful business of ours across the world. Good bye my sweet school, you served us well and I have nothing but fond memories to keep safely in my heart. … and now I will go have a good cry and eat some chocolate. Sniff, sniff!!!!