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Over the last 12 months, international children’s services franchise Stagecoach Performing Arts has initiated a whole host of adaptive strategies to maintain the growth of their network. The results speak for themselves, with 17 territories being sold over the course of the last six months, to 13 existing franchisees and four new recruits.

“We’ve all been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the challenges we’ve faced have only galvanised our network into coming together to protect our 33-year heritage,” explained Andy Knights, COO. “Within weeks of the first national lockdown, our support team had created an entire digital platform of lessons and workshops, called #stagecoachathome, for our franchisees to make use of. The launch of our online training portal for franchisees has also contributed to our success, meaning we’re able to continue bringing new talent into the network and maintain our market share.”

Heather Salvador has been an integral member of the Stagecoach network since she and husband Cris bought their first territories in Leeds Alwoodley, Menston and Horsforth in 2005. Over the last 16 years, the entrepreneurially minded couple have invested in, grown and sold more than five territories. Their latest investment, in the existing Chichester territory, completed in January.

“Whilst some business owners might be dubious about expanding, I feel as though the timing has never been better,” explained Heather. “Cris and I currently own 11 territories, with 23 schools, relying on the advantages of the management model to maintain profitability. Our new territory is over 250 miles away from home, but with the support of a new manager we’re able to run the business remotely. Our first action as the new owners was to launch Zoom sessions, as the previous franchisee hadn’t been offering any online classes to their students since the #stagecoachathome portal went live last spring. We’ve already seen a fantastic uptake, with almost all students taking part in our weekly sessions.

“Investing in new territories during a global pandemic may sound crazy to some, but for us it just made financial sense. With no overheads spent on renting locations, we’re able to keep our costs low and maintain the business as it was before the lockdown. Of course, we can’t wait to get back to our in-person classes but running our franchise over the last 12 months has just solidified what I knew about the model – as long as you follow the advice, make use of the resources and work hard, it’s recession-proof.”

Patrick McIntyre invested in his new Stagecoach franchise in Weston-super-Mare - less than 20 miles from the school his wife, Fae, owns in Portishead - in October 2020. Before the pandemic hit early last year, the seasoned event performer had been making the majority of his income from performing at weddings. With the entire wedding industry on its knees, Patrick knew the time was right to realise a career goal he’d had for a number of years.

“I’d always admired Fae and the success she’d achieved as a Stagecoach franchisee, so the long-term plan was for me to perhaps invest in a franchise of my own. Whilst 2020 might seem like an unusual time to make such a life-changing investment, life can’t stand still because of the pandemic. Stagecoach was incredibly supportive throughout the entire process and reassured me that my plans to launch would be realised. Initially, I’d hoped to be operational by early January, but the third lockdown has temporarily delayed proceedings. However, with the help of Fae and the support team’s guidance, I’ve been able to offer my new students access to online Zoom sessions, with a view to starting in person in the spring.

"With weddings cancelled and venues remaining closed for some time yet, being proactive and investing in my franchise was the best decision I’ve ever made. It's given me a positive focus in the short-term, and in the long-term it's a decision I know I will continue to appreciate for years to come"

Like Patrick, franchisees from across the country are preparing to open their school doors again, once restrictions are lifted and the government has announced it’s safe to do so.

To find out more please visit www.stagecoachfranchise.com

Bethany Wright
Article by Bethany Wright
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