Reading Time: 6 minutesIn our latest Franchisor Interview, we spoke with Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools, to get a deeper insight into what makes the Razzamataz franchise a great option to choose.
Razzamataz was created with a simple dream, to make performing arts available to all young people no matter their background or circumstances. They want to give children everywhere the chance to attend classes taught by experienced performers, who can give them the perfect introduction to the most wonderful industry in the world! To do this, they have ensured classes are affordable, their curriculum is fun and current, and attending their classes is made as easy as possible.
How is Razzamataz different from other similar franchises in the UK?
We are a franchise that loves to look at new opportunities and are constantly evolving to create fantastic events for our franchisees and students. We are proactive about reaching out to work with individuals and businesses that will create lasting memories and although we have a high-profile, we are still a low-cost investment with huge returns.
Reaching out to work with others has created partnerships with a range of talented individuals including performers such as Diversity, the street dance crew who won Britain’s Got Talent through to West End star Kerry Ellis.
We offer our students a taste of the spotlight with regular performance opportunities as well as days that will stay with them forever such as performing at Disneyland Paris, Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End and London’s 02. Future events include Razz at Sea, a chance for students to perform onboard a cruise ship to an international audience.
Another area that sets Razzamataz apart from its competitors is our commitment to charity. The scholarships in association with The Stage newspaper are worth circa £30,000 a year and goes towards the impressive total of circa half a million pounds in grants and scholarships raised since the beginning of The Stage partnership. We also have our own charity called Future Fund that offers scholarships to students going on to study performing arts at college or university. This shows our commitment to the individual doesn’t end when the student leaves. In fact, many former students work in the schools as assistants and teachers and we even have a former student who is now a Principal.
You can become part of our award-winning theatre school network with a total investment of just circa £15,000. This includes the franchise fee, full training, support, marketing and working capital. Potential earnings are £250,000 with a 70% gross profit and unlike other some other franchises, we only charge a 10% ongoing management fee, where some can charge five times this. Although we are a low-cost investment, this doesn’t stop us from reinvesting in new products over the years, offering the students more opportunities to fulfil their dreams and creating increased revenue streams for our franchisees.
As Razzamataz grows, it has been important that we stay on top of current trends in the industry, which is why we now offer classes to help students prepare for auditioning for college. At the other end of the spectrum, we have classes for parents and their babies, which help to introduce them to the wonderful world of performing arts. With everything that we do, we look to help our franchisees grow, whether that is adding more territories, classes or products, we want to see everyone’s business moving forwards.
What is your biggest achievement at Razzamataz so far?
There are so many to choose from but we are particularly proud that the training and support we offer and the commitment from our franchisees have led to success at the British Franchise Association (bfa) Awards in 2018. Known as the biggest and most influential event in the franchising world, we were delighted to take home two awards, beating off stiff competition from well-known brands such as Costa. Hayley Limpkin, Founding Principal and co-owner of Razzamataz Medway won in the ‘Lifestyle Franchisee of the Year’ category and she was awarded the title of ‘People’s Choice Franchisee of the Year 2018.’
I’m also particularly proud of the fact that through Razzamataz, we have given so many people businesses that fit around their lifestyles and provide financial freedom. Many of our schools have now surpassed our initial projections and expectations about growth and even the smaller schools have provided Principals the chance to create something that they are deeply passionate about for their local community.
What is the best feedback you have heard about your brand?
What keeps me motivated day in day out is the feedback and testimonials that we get from students and their families. They see Razzamataz as such a significant part of their lives; from the friends they make to the opportunities that they get, that it is the most rewarding aspect of the business. Ultimately, our success is rated by our franchisees.
In the Smith & Henderson survey, Razzamataz Theatre Schools was scored so highly that we joined a group of elite franchisors and have received a 5 Star Franchise Satisfaction Award. It is also lovely to have such positive feedback from people outside the theatre school industry.
We have recently been accepted into the Children’s Activities Association (CAA), after a visit by one of their auditors. The feedback was wonderful and included such positive words about our inclusive and happy atmosphere. “I really cannot reiterate how much I enjoyed my visit and what an amazing opportunity you provide for the students. The self-confidence this builds is invaluable. To say that I enjoyed my visit would be a gross understatement. I was impressed with everything I saw and I know I chose a day when there was the added bonus of a professional workshop being delivered.”
Why would you recommend Razzamataz to people wanting to open a franchise?
Our business ethos is to create exciting and profitable careers for franchisees that they can work flexibly around other commitments. To be successful, it means a lot to have an experienced and credible brand behind you.
As we enter our 20th year in business, we can reflect on all the incredible and high-profile organisations that we work with. This starts with the backing of Duncan Bannatyne on BBCs Dragons’ Den in 2007. Since the Den, we have worked with a number of brands that as an individual, it would be very hard to access. These include: Warner Bros, Disney, The Stage, 20th Century Fox, The 02, First Choice, The Stage and Universal Pictures to name just a few.
As well as these connections, we believe that Razzamataz is a fun network to be part of. Being in business can be lonely so we make sure that we provide the support and networking opportunities so that everyone feels like they are part of something that can ultimately do something to really change young people’s lives for the better.
What qualities does the ideal Razzamataz franchisee possess?
We have a wide range of franchisees from graduates through to grannies. The one thing they all have in common is a desire to work in the arts and inspire young people and children. The great thing about being a franchisee is that you don’t need experience but we are looking for people that are passionate about what they do and are willing to learn. While key skills such as being organised, business knowledge and an understanding of marketing will certainly help, we are actually looking for people that possess great people skills and can inspire a team. So people that are enthusiastic, dedicated and have big dreams. The nuts and bolts of how to run a theatre school are things that we can teach so we are looking for positive people that can add to our network.
How long does the process of starting a Razzamataz franchise take?
It can happen very quickly. After we have spoken via phone or Skype, you will attend a local Discovery Den. Providing you can give us the evidence we need in regard to paperwork and finance, then the whole process can take just a few weeks. However, we have other franchisees in our network who have been speaking to us for more than a year. Everyone is different and we don’t like to pressure anyone into making a decision and we won’t accept anyone until both parties are happy and all questions have been answered. Franchising is like a marriage, both parties have to be happy and we believe that building relationships are the most important things to maintain a good working partnership.
How much support and training are offered to your franchisees?
With 20 years’ experience in children’s theatre schools, Razzamataz is one of the most established and recognised brands.
Here at Razzamataz, we are very passionate about continuous professional development with high levels of support at every step of your journey; including refresher training, phase 2 training, performance and events training, regular webinars, regional meetings, Conferences, Awards and our ‘Growth Hubs’ to support you every step of the way during your growth. Franchisees are invited to attend any of our training events at no cost to themselves and this includes access to people at the very top of their industry such as Penny Power OBE who will be speaking at our 20th celebration Conference.
The initial training starts at our stunning Lake District Head Office where franchisees will learn everything they need to know about running a theatre school. This includes sessions with experts in various fields including PR & Marketing, Health & Safety, Social Media, Recruitment, Class Content and Legal Issues among many others.
In what ways do you help Razzamataz franchisees achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Being a mum, especially to children that have additional medical needs, means that my business must be able to work around my lifestyle and it is so rewarding that through franchising, I can help other working parents find that live/work balance. Many of our franchisees have young children and some also have children that have complex additional needs, so the flexibility that we offer is vital for them to maintain a career without compromising their family time. We can do this because we offer so many online training webinars that can be accessed at a time to suit the individual.
Principals also can work around their other commitments, whether that is looking after children, caring for elderly relatives or any other number of things. People work best at different times of the day and we allow franchisees to work when suits them best.
Mum of two Claire Blower, Principal of Razzamataz Mansfield and Nottingham says: “If the children are poorly or something special is happening at school, I can be there – without having a boss to answer to! With Razzamataz only being open during term time this also allows me to spend school holidays with my children.”
Former West End artist Michael French, Principal of Razzamataz Barnet explains: “Having the flexibility of putting in the hours I want, when I want, has enabled me stay in the industry that I love and has allowed me to continuing performing.”
Is there anything you would like to add?
Razzamataz is particularly keen to recruit new franchisees in Scotland; specifically, Dundee and Aberdeen and Wales; specifically, in Cardiff and Swansea and we have a resale opportunity in Hackney and Paisley. School Principals do not need experience in the performing arts, just a passion to work with children and young people.
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