It celebrated its 30th birthday last year and 2019 sees Stagecoach Performing Arts spreading its message of ‘Creative Courage for Life’ worldwide
With over 300 franchisees operating over 1,800 schools and programs in eight countries, Stagecoach Performing Arts is on a mission to become the go-to name in child enrichment franchising in the world.
The brand enjoyed marked success in 2018, including celebrating its 30th birthday and receiving a national award for brand awareness from the British Franchise Association. Having welcomed five new owners to the now 26-strong international family in the last 12 months, Stagecoach is actively looking for master franchisees to continue its expansion into Northern Europe, USA, India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
“International student numbers grew in every country, and overall by 19.4% in 2018,” explained Director of International Business Development, Andrew Walters. “Outside of the UK, we opened 20 new schools across four countries and franchisee revenue increased by over 10% in one year. Whilst we’re very pleased with these financial and operational gains, the fact that during the same period, franchisee satisfaction increased globally from 71% to 77% is perhaps even more compelling. Well over 90% of the network said they were proud to be part of Stagecoach.”
As the brand continues to increase its profile and profits worldwide, more than 400 global franchise enquiries have led to the strongest pipeline of new incoming international franchisees in Stagecoach’s history. Prospects with credible business skills are obviously preferred but, outside of the UK, applicants can often be defined by three main profiles.
“We often get people who come from backgrounds where they know franchising – so individuals might have a reasonable business background, but not know a lot about Performing Arts. Then, we have people who come to us from a Performing Arts background who have less business experience. And thirdly, we also have people who come to us with a history in education. There is a route to market for all of those prospects and, wherever their strengths lie, we’ve got programmes and support systems in place to fill the gaps,” said Andrew.
True to Andrew’s account of typical Stagecoach franchisee profiles, Alison Tasker, the latest international owner to join the brand, is well rehearsed in the world of the creative arts. Former member of West Glamorgan Youth Theatre and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, she studied drama and dance and, since moving to Australia with her family, has explored a part-time vocation in novel writing! After joining the franchise in late 2018, the expat and mum of two – and parent of a Stagecoach Perth Central student – has just launched her first franchise in Como.
“After nine years of seeing how much the students enjoy their Stagecoach classes, the friendships they build and their confidence grow, I knew it was a no-brainer to open a school in South Perth. We’ve had plenty of interest from parents already – I’m really looking forward to starting our first term in February,” said Alison. “Stagecoach is so much more than teaching our students how to sing, dance or act. Our ethos is, ‘Creative Courage for Life’ – it’s about developing a sense of confidence and life skills, like team work, respect, effort and resilience to support them through whatever paths they choose.”
It was the long-term success of the very first franchisee in Australia that led to the controlled expansion into the southern suburbs. Serena Kipling launched Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools in Perth Central, almost 20 years ago. Little did she know that she would welcome some 2,400 students through the doors of her performing arts schools during that time!
Following on from the launch of Stagecoach Perth South, Andrew and his team are looking to recruit more franchisees in Australia and beyond. Their priority remains replicating the success of the programmes that Stagecoach Performing Arts offers in the UK. The accomplishments of the brand in new markets can be attributed to, amongst other things, the extensive groundwork undertaken by Stagecoach’s international development team in advance.
“Prior to any market launch we invest heavily in mapping solutions, demographic and market research. This data forms the basis of each country strategy, allowing us in Germany, for instance, to adapt our marketing focus to match parent expectations for a less-education and more play-oriented programme. It is also used to set effective franchise territories that we know have the right population, size and profile to succeed,” explained Andrew. It’s no coincidence then, that Germany also welcomed new franchise owners in 2018.
The appeal of Stagecoach for master franchisees is clear; the business is financially lucrative alongside being incredibly rewarding on a personal and community level. Whilst investors from any number of backgrounds can, and do, make exceptional franchisees, Stagecoach looks for that extra special something in their partners.
“Ideally, we look to attract people with a combination of business skills and creative experience, but someone with a credible history of business management is a real priority of ours. However, that doesn’t mean that a prospect with business acumen and the right capital is a good fit for us. Some people will undoubtedly see the brand and either a master, multi or even single unit franchise as simply a sound business opportunity – and they are not the people for us. We’re looking for the people with the know-how combined with a desire to support our ‘Creative Courage for Life’ culture, which the foundations of Stagecoach are built upon.”
To sustain the ongoing expansion, the franchise support structure is systematically scaled up, including the introduction of Franchise Development Managers in Canada and Germany. In addition to new in-house and on-the-ground resource, Andrew and his team continue to work with brokers in parts of Northern Europe and Scandinavia.
Established in 1988, Stagecoach now operates in the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, Gibraltar, Malta, South Africa and Spain. 2019 will see the brand’s reach increase and influence globally as ambitious franchisees with an appetite for a scalable business join the performing arts giant. Anyone wanting a first-hand account can look forward to meeting the team at various international franchise shows throughout the year.
AT A GLANCE
Name of franchise: Stagecoach Performing Arts
Number of franchised outlets: 313
Location of units: UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, Malta, Spain, Gibraltar, South Africa
Investment range: £100k - £500k
Minimum required capital: £100k
URL: www.stagecoachfranchise.com / www.stagecoach.co.uk
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