The youngest franchise partner in a Dragons’ Den backed theatre school network has seen the fastest growth in her business. In just under four months, Amber Gibney, who was just 24 when she became the franchise partner at Razzamataz Stockton on Tees, has entered the 100 club, a school with more than 100 students. This is her story and how she is climbing the steps to success.
Steps to success
Step 1: Attending a Discovery Den
I had been working as a teacher at Razzamataz South Lakes when I made the decision that I wanted to move back to my hometown and the Principal Asha suggested that I open my own Razzamataz school. The first step was to attend a Discovery Den and for me, it was a chance to go back to basics. I knew I loved everything about Razzamataz from a teacher’s perspective, but the Discovery Den enabled me to take the emotion out of it and look to see how it would work from a business point of view and to establish whether it was something I could do. What I found useful was that it was very simply explained, and nothing was hidden. It was inspirational but I came away understanding that I would have to work hard to be successful.
Step 2: Deciding to invest
I had been saving for years for a deposit on a house and I decided to use this money to invest in the Razzamataz franchise. I felt very strongly that this would be an investment into my future, and I had complete confidence in the brand and through their support, I was finding my own confidence too. Having seen the success of the other schools, deciding to use my personal savings was a no-brainer and I’m confident I have made the right decision.
Step 3: Training
My school opened in September 2022 and my initial week long training was in February 2022, followed by Tots training in July 2022 and Phase 2 training in October 2022. All these sessions 100% prepared me for what was to come, and I appreciated that every trainer was transparent about the work involved and the journey that I was going to go on. Although there was so much info, that as times it did feel overwhelming, the way it was structured meant that I could go back to sections that I needed further explanation. The training takes you through every step of what you need to do to open and run your theatre school, so you come away feeling ready to go.
Step 4: Launch day
Razzamataz Stockton-On-Tees opened their doors in September 2022. I took on board all the advice and had 52 children booked in for their free taster session. From that, 38 came but only 15 signed up on the first day. Although I was very grateful to all the families that were there, I thought that it would be a slow build up and the first year could be hard going, but it motivated me to keep pushing with my marketing.
Step 5: Early learnings
I had been told lots of times to try and hit the ground running and build my school through great word of mouth and loyalty to the brand. In just a few months, I’ve seen that this is true.
Step 6: Head Office mentorship
Head Office provide so many webinars and training sessions and I made it my goal to be on as many as possible. There was one session where there were three webinars happening in the day and I actively participated on the first but kept the other two on in the background and jumped on when the topic was something that I was struggling with. With every training event, either online or in-person, I learnt something to take back to my business.
Step 7: Rapid growth
I still can’t believe how quickly the school has grown. I remember chatting to my team and saying if we can get to 100 students by the end of the year, it will be a massive achievement. But to be honest, I’ve not done anything differently to what we are advised to do by Head Office. But because the growth has been so fast, I’ve had to adapt how I do things. I’m a real planner and like to be organised but I’ve learnt that sometimes you must be reactive in business too.
Step 8: Support from the network
The best thing is speaking to people who have been exactly in your position. It’s so reassuring to have an idea and be able to run it past someone to confirm whether it is a good plan. Every single Principal in the network has been more than willing to help and even at our recent Conference, I was chatting to Principals who I had never met but were so friendly and supportive that I came away feeling amazing.
Step 9: New goals
I’ve had to discuss new goals quite quickly with my team because I didn’t think I would be in this position right now, but I know it is important to be responsive. I’m looking at opening a midweek school to give customers a different option. It’s important that I maintain the connections with our families because we are getting lots of new students via recommendations. I recently sent out a survey to parents and every response for customer service was five out of five. Parents know that we are approachable and as well as caring for each individual student, they know they can expect a personal experience for themselves too.
Step 10: Advice to others
Over the first term and year it may not go to plan but learn to react to changing situations. I carved out time so I could offer free workshops to schools, and this has been hugely beneficial, resulting in lots of students as well as paid work for me. Don’t underestimate the power of starting a conversation with someone. I was always quite shy and would never have dreamed I could do this but by taking myself out of my comfort zone, there has been a lot of positive word of mouth, resulting in new students weekly.
Take your own first step to success
Join us NOW for a 2023 launch and make the most of the last few weeks before our fee increases to £12,995 plus VAT from April 2023.
Training starting Monday 27th February to Saturday 4th March 2023 for a September 2023 launch!
Contact us to secure your place on our next short informal virtual Discovery Dens
To book contact 07821 122242 or click here to book your place:https://www.razzamataz.co.uk/franchise-opps/book-discovery-den/