A recent study has revealed that a whopping 77% of parents are happy to invest their hard-earned cash in after-school activities for their children*. And with the majority spending upwards of £28,000 on their children’s hobbies before they reach 18, it’s no wonder that savvy entrepreneurs are seeing the benefit in investing in a children’s services franchise.
Funding cuts and budget limitations in mainstream education have plagued the school system for decades. In 2019, the government pledged to invest an extra £7.1billion in schools across England before 2023 but this still leaves a significant shortfall of £2.5billion following recent budget cuts. Parents are now taking matters into their own hands by investing their disposable income in extra-curricular activities for their children.
But with hundreds of potential activities available on the market, how do you make your service stand out from the crowd? Andy Knights, COO of Stagecoach Performing Arts, says the secret is opting for a service you feel passionately about and playing to your strengths.
“A key component of running a successful children’s services franchise is a passion for child enrichment and making a difference in the community. Even if you come with no on-the-job experience of working with children, you must be invested in their development and equipping them with the confidence needed to perform in life. That’s the case across the entire children’s services sector, whether that be in the performing arts, after-school tuition or sporting activities.”
Consistency is key
Andy goes on to explain that a crucial element of any children’s services business strategy is ensuring all team members are singing from the same hymn sheet.
“At Stagecoach, we live by our motto of Creative Courage for Life, because we feel that truly encompasses our commitment to our students. Our franchisees live and breathe this concept which has a knock-on effect on our network of teachers and assistants. I’d encourage any business owner to quickly establish a relevant and relatable company culture and then live by it. At the very least, it unifies everyone who falls under the umbrella of your brand.”
Don’t know? Don’t worry!
Utilising the support available to you is another crucial component of any successful business plan: “One of the unquestionable benefits of running a franchise is the abundance of support you get from your franchisor,” added Andy. “As long as you bring passion and commitment to your business, anything you have less experience in or knowledge of can be taught. A considerable proportion of our network is made up of former performers or mainstream teachers with no real background of business ownership or management. We utilise their valuable skillset in lesson planning and creativity to diversify our singing, dancing and acting sessions, whilst we fill in any gaps in their knowledge through our comprehensive training programme. It’s a mutually-beneficial partnership of give and take, which any franchisor should be happy to instil in their network.”
Trust in your service
When operating any sort of children’s services franchise, it’s imperative that parents feel your service and team are credible and trustworthy. By ensuring your motives constantly centre around a commitment to child development, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of running a successful franchise.
“Committing to these behaviours will establish your franchise as a well-respected and reputable service,” added Andy. “The children’s services sector continues to thrive, so this is a prime time to invest.”
Matthew Wing, franchisee and Principal at Stagecoach Performing Arts Chingford, can certainly vouch for the increase in parents opting for after-school activities for their children.
“I first took over operations of my Stagecoach franchise 11 years ago,” explained Matthew. “Back then, I had 140 students – now I have 440. As a parent of two myself, I understand parents’ frustrations with the apparent lack of performing arts opportunities in schools. Funding is no longer as available as it once was, meaning state educators aren’t able to offer the opportunities they once could. Therefore, it would make sense that more parents than ever are looking into extra-curricular performing arts opportunities for their children. And if they’re paying for a service then, of course, they’re going to be doing their research, so it’s crucial you have something that differentiates you from other providers.
“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.”