Asha Richardson took over Razzamataz Penrith in July 2020, with just 35 students. She had a strong desire to expand into the nearby rural areas so rebranded the business to Razzamataz South Lakes and opened a school in Appleby in April 2021 and then a school in Kendal in September 2021. Just two years after joining the network, she now has approximately 290 students. Asha is a mum to Lennox age four and new-born Marley. She was invited to be a founding member of the All Stars Academy, an exciting initiative to grow the network further and give franchisees exclusive access to high-profile coaches and special events and incentives.
There have been so many but a personal one for me is seeing the school in Appleby being so popular because that is where I am from, and I was determined to make it work. As a rural area, there are not many activities or baby groups which can make parents feel very isolated. Launching our Tiny Tots class for parents/caregivers and their babies has been hugely rewarding and incredibly popular. I saw this opportunity and went for it and now we have around 70 customers all enjoying these classes. I always love seeing the children and their families so being able to get back together after lockdown was a very special moment to cherish.
Skills needed to be a theatre school owner:
You must be self-motivated and have a will to succeed. Although we are a franchise with others in the network, which certainly helps, you must be willing to put the work in and be dedicated to your school and the brand. I also feel that you should be prepared to give back. In our network, we all have different skill sets and what makes it so successful is the willingness of everyone to share their knowledge and experiences. This means that you won’t be afraid to ask others for help if you are also willing to share. When running a business, you must have good organisation skills but that said, I didn’t know anything about business before joining Razzamataz, so that shouldn’t dissuade anyone. You get all the support and training that you need so your creativity can run alongside the knowledge that Head Office are providing you with all the tools you need to be successful.
I joined Razzamataz with a vision that I wanted to create a school that would offer opportunities for children living in rural areas and expose them to all the wonderful things that come from participation in the performing arts. I quickly understood that to do this I would need to build a strong team and follow the Razzamataz family ethos. We are taught in training about the importance of customer service and creating strong links with the local community, which has really benefitted me in terms of student referrals and positive word of mouth. In just two years, I’ve been able to rapidly grow the business by having a wonderful team around me, which has also allowed me to step back a little and have my second child. Although I’m not taking traditional maternity leave, the flexibility of Razzamataz means that I can step in and out as I need to, and I don’t have to go back full time. I love what I do so much that I wouldn’t want to take too much time away anyway.
Becoming part of the All Stars Academy:
When I heard about this new initiative, I was excited to be involved because I have already been through the process with a member of staff. One of the aims of the All Stars is to grow the network and I have already helped a member of staff take the decision to launch her own Razzamataz school. Amber wanted to relocate back to her hometown, and I encouraged her to go along to a Discovery Den to find out more about running her own Razzamataz and franchising in general. We’ve become great friends and I know she will build a successful school. I’m also a woman that likes to get things done and being part of the All Stars will continue to challenge and keep me motivated.
Building the business:
Razzamataz has allowed me to fulfil my ambition to run my own theatre school, but in a way that best suits my lifestyle. Head Office are very open to discussions about what works best for the individual and they allowed me to run slightly differently, which enabled me to grow rapidly, give more work to my staff, creating a reliable team which has meant that I can also expand my family in the knowledge that the business will continue to run smoothly.
There are many unique selling points and things that make us stand out from the local competition. Students get to perform on a West End stage, take part in amazing workshops with industry experts and even be part of a promotional event for films such as Sing 2. If I were an independent theatre school, I wouldn’t even be able to dream of these opportunities, let alone make them happen. These opportunities are great for student recruitment and retention and exciting for staff members. From a local point of view, I’m so proud to give students these opportunities; it shows them what they can achieve and a career in the arts is possible. Many children in this area haven’t even seen a live show, so these events give them hope and inspiration about what they can go on to achieve.
Why be part of a franchise:
Without the training and support from Razzamataz, I would not have been able to grow like I have. We have so many inspirational speakers and access to industry experts, it is possible to absorb so much information and build the business that you want.
I’ve just had my second child, so my focus is on re-opening the schools in September at full capacity. I love knowing that the classes can run without me, which gives me to opportunity to focus on other areas of growth. I also love to continue to challenge myself so I’m sure I will be looking at more opportunities soon.
Go back to basics and do your research to discover what you really want out of your business. Speak to the franchisees to get an honest opinion and make sure you understand exactly how much support, training, and opportunities you will get with each franchisor, because they are all different. If you become part of the Razzamataz network, ensure that you take advantage of all the training and opportunities because it is the thing that will make your school grow and will most benefit you as a businessperson.
“Razzamataz has allowed me to fulfil my ambition to run my own theatre school, but in a way that best suits my lifestyle.”
Contact Asha at: