With over half a decade of experience as a franchisor, Coe credits much of her franchise’s success to its solid legal foundation.
While watching their children play with blocks and snappable toys over a decade ago, sisters Laura and Lisa Coe had an idea – why not start a company that offered kids a chance to learn while they played?
That idea became a reality in 2010 when the Coe sisters founded Snapology. Drawing on the founders’ backgrounds in mathematics and science, the fledgling company offered enrichment classes, parties and camps to help children from all backgrounds develop STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) skills, increase critical thinking and build confidence.
By 2015, Snapology had gained popularity among local parents and children, enabling the small business to expand into a franchise with hopes of scaling the business nationally. Shortly after, though, with a slew of messy contracts and other loose ends creating stress for the Coes, they knew it was time to get Snapology’s legal foundation in order. To make sure the company’s franchising was done right, the founders turned to The Internicola Law Firm.
Franchising done right
“We have been with The Internicola Law Firm for over six years now. We came to them in sort of a dire situation – our previous law firm had set up some contracts and some things that, quite honestly, were just a mess. No doubt, coming to The Internicola Law Firm was one of the best decisions we ever made,” says Laura Coe, Snapology co-founder and CEO.
After consulting with Charles N. Internicola, a franchise attorney with over 25 years of experience in the industry and the founder of The Internicola Law Firm, Coe realized the business had bigger problems than just poorly drafted contracts – Snapology’s structure wasn’t up to par when it came to franchise laws and regulations.
“Not only did they straighten out all of our legal contracts, they converted us to a franchise system. We were a licensing arrangement previously,” Coe says.
In most situations, including Snapology’s, licensing is not an alternative to franchising. Because federal franchise laws rely on broad definitions to determine franchise relationships, licensing can be risky for businesses that operate in a manner that might be viewed by regulators as a franchise – that is, if the business involves a license, fee and some level of control. Under the expert guidance of the team at The Internicola Law Firm, the Coes were able to feel confident that Snapology was franchised properly and compliant with regulatory requirements.
In addition to converting Snapology to a franchise and making sure the company’s contracts were legally valid, the team at The Internicola Law Firm also helped connect Coe with other industry experts to get Snapology’s operations manual and sales process in order – both important steps for a startup franchise.
“They really just helped us from A to Z – things that I never even thought to ask a law firm. They helped us connect with people to help with operations manuals, for how to work with brokers, or lead generation. Not that the law firm necessarily was able to do all of those things for us, but they were able to point us in the right direction for everything and they really just went above and beyond to make sure that we had everything we needed as an emerging franchisor,” Coe says.
A key part of the support Coe says The Internicola Law Firm has provided Snapology also includes the legal team’s fast turnaround time and ability to respond quickly to business needs – something that can make or break a franchise’s ability to grow.
“They always say time kills deals. But [Internicola’s team] are very responsive and are able to get things turned around and close deals more quickly. I can't recommend them enough. They've been great for us and I'm very grateful we found them,” Coe says.
Growing … and thriving
The Coes’ hard work, along with the strong legal foundation underlying their franchise system, have paid off for Snapology. Since offering its first franchise opportunity nearly seven years ago, the company has grown to include over 150 locations across the U.S. (and counting). In addition to countless other industry accolades, Snapology was named the No. 1 Children's Enrichment Franchise by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500® in 2022 and 2021.
Recently, Snapology joined the Unleashed Brands portfolio, which supports brands that teach or enhance children’s STREAM (science, technology, reading, arts and mathematics) skills. Through the opportunities and resources available to them under that new umbrella, the Snapology team is looking forward to providing even more support to their franchisees as they continue to grow.
“Honestly, I credit [Internicola] with a lot of our success. Our systems are operating well, our contracts are solid and we have grown tremendously in the six years that we've been with them,” Coe says.