By Andy Knights
joint CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts
There is a lot to be said for the value of expertise that is gained over time. That higher level of knowledge and understanding that is only reached once a significant number of years has been spent finessing a skill. After the best part of eight years at Stagecoach Performing Arts – a brand that has been operating in the UK for 33 years, has been franchising on a nationwide scale for 28 years and has been franchising internationally for 22 years – I feel well equipped to comment on the benefits of trusting in experience. And when it comes to investing in a franchise, I feel that opting for an established brand is worth its weight in gold.
It goes without saying that one of the key reasons that our performing arts sessions continue to be regarded as the best in the country is our reputation. Having operated in the UK since the late eighties, our network – our principals, teachers, students and support staff included – do a tremendous job as our brand ambassadors, communicating the value that equipping children with ‘creative courage for life’ can bring. But this reputation did not simply just happen overnight. A great deal of effort goes into maintaining our presence and upholding the standards that we have set for ourselves. How do we achieve this? By ensuring we do not rest on our laurels and live by the mindset of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ So, yes, Stagecoach is an established, well-rounded and reliable franchise opportunity – but that does not mean we are stuck in our ways.
As a visionary franchisor, we understand the fact that strategies must shift and, over time, our customers’ needs change. The fundamentals of Stagecoach are built on the fact that, although many of our students go on to do incredible things in the performing arts and other creative industries, our sessions also instil children with a sense of confidence that they can take with them through everyday life. That has never changed and it never will, but the way in which we deliver that message has certainly altered.
When Stagecoach was launched more than three decades ago, children and young adults did not have to contend with the pressures caused by social media and the long-term implications of constant access to digital media. As specialists in child enrichment, we are more than aware of the impact that has on society as a whole, and on the students that come to our sessions every week. So that is something we consider constantly and ensure this is encapsulated through our session plans.
“The fundamentals of Stagecoach are built on the fact that, although many of our students go on to do incredible things in the performing arts and other creative industries, our sessions also instil children with a sense of confidence that they can take with them through everyday life.”
When I speak with franchisees that have been a part of our network for more than 10 years – and those that have been with us for 20 or more! – they are pleased to tell me how much our business model and branding has changed over the years. We certainly have moved with the times, undertaking an international rebrand in 2018 and increasing our investment opportunity in 2019 with the introduction of a management model. So, while the progress in terms of our programme and the way we actually deliver our sessions has certainly come a long way, it is the way in which we support and celebrate our franchisees that makes me most proud.
As a support team, we have learnt through experience – there is that word again – that listening to our franchisees’ needs, wants and hopes for the future makes us the best franchisor we can possibly be. Through living and learning through experiences, however good or bad, together we can insulate our franchisees and make knowledgeable predictions and assumptions for the future. So, whilst no one could have predicted the economic fallout caused by an international pandemic, we were certainly prepared to leap into action and quickly devised an entire online offering for our students in a matter of days.
Now it goes without saying that franchising offers plenty of advantages to entrepreneurs who make the most of the model – a tried and tested system that is ready and waiting for you. Having refined and progressed our model over the last 30 or so years, I’m extremely proud of what we have built at Stagecoach and cannot wait to see what you might do with your own business.
“Now it goes without saying that franchising offers plenty of advantages to entrepreneurs who make the most of the model – a tried and tested system that is ready and waiting for you.”
“Stagecoach is one of the most internationally recognised performing arts schools in the world. Their brand position has placed me well in the local community – my schools are known as the best in the area, which has really contributed to the growth of my franchise,” – Matthew