At Stagecoach Performing Arts, we teach 4-18 year-olds to sing dance and act; not only to perform on stage but importantly, to perform better in life.
For 30 years we have seen over one million young people gain confidence, stretch themselves and build essential life skills while learning from specialist teachers.
Our fun and engaging classes continue to give students both the structure and freedom to explore and develop, and as our students grow, the individual businesses in our network also grow and flourish. We have continually refined our franchise model, which is one reason why 45,000 students flock to Stagecoach each week.
Founded in 1988, Stagecoach is a market leader in part-time performing arts schools in the UK.
We have more than 700 Stagecoach schools in nine countries including Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Gibraltar, Malta, South Africa and Spain.
Over 45.000 students attend Stagecoach School worldwide.
We have both new and established territories for sale.
Together we make a difference to our students’ lives!
In addition to our pre-training we offer a cohesive five day induction course to prepare you fully for your role as a Stagecoach Principal. The training courses take place in February for an April take-over/opening: May for a September take-over/opening; and October for a January take-over/opening. You will also have a dedicated Regional Franchise Manager for ongoing support.
A Stagecoach Performing Arts franchisee’s role is to ensure that every aspect of a school runs smoothly, creatively and is financially viable. A venue needs to be secured with experienced DBS-checked teachers. Each week the school runs a number of fun, exciting and challenging classes to help the students grow in confidence and inspires and enriches children through the performing arts.
James Barker has plenty of cause for celebration; launching his Stagecoach franchise in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, and turning 40 all in the same 12 months. He had plenty of goals for his year of the big 4-0, including spending more time with his family, four holidays a year and a fulfilling job. Thanks to Stagecoach and his hard work, he’s well on his way to achieving all that and more.
“I launched my Stagecoach business in September 2016 with one Main Stage and two Early Stage schools fully booked for the first term. I thought that I may need to keep my job for at least six to nine months as the business established itself but I handed in my notice that same day! It takes 54 students to fill a Main Stage school and I never imagined that I’d be ready to run a second from the beginning of the Spring term in January 2017. But we did!”
James started working in entertainment straight from school as a Redcoat at Butlins in Bognor Regis. Even though he loved to perform, it was clear from very early on that he also had a head for management and soon, a career in entertainment management began.
“I left Butlins to work for Princess Cruises as Cruise Director. I was there for 12 years and I met my husband, Neil, who was working onboard as a Nurse. I set up the entertainment department on eight new ships, creating the team and overseeing the programme for each inaugural voyage. I’d then manage the team for six months before moving on to the next new cruise liner.
“After leaving Princess Cruises, Neil and I bought a pub, renovated it and managed it for a short time until we sold it on. This was my first taste of being my own boss and I loved it! But after we sold the pub, I went back to what I knew best; and so began a seven-year career with Warner Leisure Hotels as the Director of Entertainment across the UK.”
The demanding role meant that James would often spend four or five nights a week away from home. When the couple’s two children came along, James’ busy corporate lifestyle combined with Neil’s shift work with the NHS proved far from ideal. But James had a plan!
“My friend, Liz Blower, has owned the Stagecoach franchise in Harpenden for a number of years. I always had it stored in the back of my mind that Stagecoach could be an option for me if I got the chance to become a business owner again. Now that I needed to leave corporate life and pursue something that would be flexible enough to fit around family commitments but also fulfilling for me; it seemed like the perfect opportunity!”
For almost 30 years, the Stagecoach model has been proven and refined to become one of the UK's leading performing arts opportunities. Franchisees build a team of equally passionate and enthusiastic teachers, qualified to bring out the very best in their students. Stagecoach schools provide a thriving, nurturing and supportive environment for creative learning. That’s just one of the reasons that 40,000 children every week flock to classes nationwide.
Today, a network of more than 300 franchisees operate over 650 schools offering 1,645 classes in eight countries. Through an exciting and varied framework of teaching and development, franchisees have helped to unlock the potential of more than one million students!
“Stagecoach is a household name which is one of the reasons I was so keen on the franchise. Parents and potential customers recognise the brand and it starts a conversation. This instant level of credibility helps to build a relationship and create trust. I always say ‘people are far more likely to buy from people who are a bit like them’ and this is even more important for Stagecoach as our customers are, after all, handing over their child to you! So being a warm, genuine person who can get some real commonality on an individual basis with each parent really helps.”
Stagecoach encourage a thorough due diligence process and James explored the opportunity online, chatted to existing franchisees and, with Stagecoach’s help, researched market development in his preferred territory. Confident he was making the right choice for himself and his family, James signed his all-important franchise agreement in May 2016.
“The Stagecoach team help you with territory mapping but they ask you to create your business plan and complete competitor research for yourself. I think it’s really important to understand the level of business development involved in running the franchise - you need to have more than a passion for performing if you’re going to run a successful business.”
All new franchisees undertake an expert induction at Stagecoach’s head office in Walton-on-Thames and receive ongoing training along with industry leading support in marketing, customer service, IT and business development. Their tried-and-tested structure enables franchisees to play to their strengths and provides the best possible environment in which to succeed.
“The week of initial training at head office was fantastic. I was particularly impressed with the templates for financials, marketing and lesson planning. I had a Regional Franchise Manager assigned to me from day one - the support is always there if you need it, even now.”
Since his launch, James’ dedication and passion for his business has seen him perform better and grow faster than any new franchisee in the network to date. At Stagecoach’s annual conference in February 2017, he was awarded ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in recognition of his achievements. Whilst he’s proud of his financial success, James says it’s the personal rewards that make business even more valuable.
“I was delighted with my award; I have a 10-year plan for my business and this recognition gave me an extra vote of confidence that I was heading in the right direction. I get much more than financial rewards though. ‘Creative Courage for Life’ is a phrase used in our marketing but anyone involved in Stagecoach can see it’s not just a slogan. I’ve seen our students grow in confidence and when their parents tell me how they have transformed at school and socially, it’s something special.
“On a personal level, I’ve achieved that flexibility Neil and I were craving. I work around the school run and Sunday is reserved as family day and nothing gets in the way of that! We’ve just had holiday number one at Butlins, we are away for holiday number two in the coming weeks and have booked our Summer vacation too.”
When it comes to the future, James plans to make the most of his family-friendly business. In fact, Stagecoach has already become something of a family affair! Spurred on by his success, James’ sister-in-law, Kristie Grant, a senior events manager in London decided to buy the franchise in Salisbury when it came up for resale.
“Buying an established franchise territory was ideal for Kristie. She can pair her excellent management skills with the performance experience of the teachers who transferred with the sale of the business. It proves to me that I am building a business of value which I can either sell on or continue to work in, securing a future for my family.”
“Now I’m nearing the end of my second term, I need to decide if I will expand at my current school, start a school in another location within my territory or take on a second territory that borders my first. Whatever happens, I know I have a great business that fits my lifestyle with a solid support team in the background."