Theatre school franchise provides longevity

Most young performers are told to get a ‘back up plan’ if it doesn’t work out or indeed when they retire. For a dancer, retiring can start anywhere from the age of late twenties so finding a fulfilling career after performing is something that is on the minds of dancers from the outset.

Michael French, Principal of Razzamataz Barnet

Michael French from London has been a successful performer in many West End shows and has danced with the likes of Elton John, George Michael, Geri Halliwell and Michael Buble. “Having worked in musical theatre for 12 years I needed to move on, but I wanted to stay in the same industry which I love,” explains Michael. Without previous business knowledge, Michael turned to the franchise route to provide all the help he needed and he has no regrets: “I would recommend a franchise business to anyone who is looking into opening a business but has no knowledge of how to do it. The biggest benefit of being part of a franchise is having a helping hand as to how, where, why and when we do things.”

Michael launched Razzamataz Barnet in April 2012 and today combines being a theatre school Principal with his own performing and TV work. Michael has recently renewed his franchise agreement for a further five years.

“Having the flexibility of putting in the hours I want, when I want, has enabled me to continue performing,” adds Michael. “I’m really happy with the direction the business is heading and my school has grown from strength to strength over the past five years.”

As a business, Razzamataz has evolved to keep up with the demands of today’s busy parents, which means offering its franchisees more marketing tools and support to enable them to stand out in the competitive market of theatre schools. “Over the past five years, I feel that Razzamataz has constantly moved in a positive direction,” explains Michael. “The company has grown and the day to day running of the business is made easier by implementing the correct tools offered to us.”

Although Michael started out with little business experience, he has learnt the skills he needs to succeed along the way as he explains: “I have learnt so much over the past five years about the day to day running of a small business. Razzamataz has held my hand along the way and now I feel we are ready to grow even bigger.”

Tamara Smart, student at Razzamataz Barnet

One of the success stories to come out of Razzamataz Barnet over the last five years is that of student Tamara Smart. Tamara beat hundreds of hopefuls to land a coveted role in a CBBC show, The Worst Witch. Mildred Hubble is the heroine of the story and Tamara plays her best friend Enid Nightshade. The established cast features Clare Higgins from Doctor Who, Raquel Cassidy from Downton Abbey, Butterflies star Wendy Craig and EastEnder Kacey Ainsworth among others.

“So far my biggest highlight was the success of our extremely talented Tamara Smart. Tamara has not stopped working professionally over the past two years. Hopefully we have some other hidden gems who can go on to fulfil their potential in the professional world too,” adds Michael.

It was clear from an early age that Shanley Booth was born to perform. She started dancing as a child at her local dance school where she did many different styles and performed in shows in and around Blackburn. Shanley went on to study at the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama in Nottingham and then went on to perform both nationally and internationally. Shanley was one of the first to own a Razzamataz franchise and loves passing on her wealth of knowledge to the students at her schools.
Razzamataz Derby is now in its tenth year and Shanley has renewed her franchise agreement for a further five years.
“As a former dancer, I knew that I wanted to stay in the industry because an office type job just would not have suited my personality,” says Shanley. “Although I have also been involved in the fitness industry, it is Razzamataz that has really provided me with stability and the chance to have a successful business.”
Shanley and her school Razzamataz Derby has built up an excellent reputation in her area and many of her students have benefited from her industry contacts. “Kirsty Holland has been a student with me since day one,” says Shanley. “Although she’s now 18 and will be leaving, I was delighted to introduce her to the entertainment’s manager at Alton Towers who chaperoned for the Derby show and spotted Kirsty’s potential. After an audition, Kirsty was offered a job in the interactive entertainment team at Alton Towers.”

Shanley Booth (second left) at the Diversity workshop with fellow Principals

Since Razzamataz successfully appeared on BBC’s Dragons Den, the theatre school franchise has been able to offer so many more products that franchisees can choose to take advantage of. These include Razz Tots, parent assisted classes for two and three year olds, Razz Parties, an original way to host a party for children and Razz Project Intense a class designed to support students who wish to pursue a professional career within the performing arts.

There has also been strategic industry contacts which has grown Razzamataz’s reputation and increased brand awareness. These include partnerships with The Stage newspaper, Universal Studios, First Choice, Eurocamp, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Disneyland Paris and the 02.

“The high-profile partnerships have been great to build excitement in my school,” adds Shanley. “We recently attended a workshop with Ashley Banjo from street dance crew Diversity, which was not only terrific fun for our students but also a great marketing tool for me to use as a business.”

There are almost 50 part-time Razzamataz schools up and down the UK with Principals coming from a wide range of backgrounds, achieving successful businesses that fit flexibly around their lifestyles.

Being part of a franchise has enabled many people to launch their own successful theatre schools even if they have not got any business background or contacts in the performing arts industry. Razzamataz Principals include teachers, stay at home parents, young graduates and retired performers.

To find out if franchising is the right option, the Head Office run Discovery Den days across the UK where potential franchisees get a chance to meet the team, find out more about franchising in general and discover what it is like to run a part-time theatre school.

To find out more, contact Suzie McCafferty on E:[email protected] or call 07793 054 233.