Franchisees share how they are adjusting to the new normal
As more of the UK turns to self-isolation and social distancing, balancing personal and professional lives with home-schooling and other duties, remaining positive through these trying times is paramount.
In this new series, we speak with franchisees and franchisors from across the UK to find out how they are coping with “the new normal”.
Jessica Chandler Smith
Razzamataz Brentwood and Hornchurch
Jessica launched her first Razzamataz school in Brentwood in 2017. The fast growth of the business led her to open her second branch in Hornchurch in 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK, Razzamataz was quick and thorough to respond with a carefully drawn out plan to take the classes online. Jessica describes what working from home combined with home-schooling means for her businesses.
On working from home with children
“I have two children, Paige who is 13 and Dawson who is six. My husband is still going to work so during the day it is just me trying to juggle everything. Although I usually work from home, the children are at school so this has been a complete readjustment. In the morning, I tend to sit with my son and help him complete the work. Although my daughter can get on with the work herself, you still have to monitor teenagers or you can find they get lost in a world of Netflix and YouTube. What has really helped is drawing up a weekly schedule so the children have some sort of structure and they understand what is expected of them.”
On coping with the pressure
“Although it has been hard, I feel very lucky that the kids have adjusted so well. They really miss seeing family and friends but have coped surprisingly well. I have found that keeping busy at Razzamataz has been a real lifesaver for me. As soon as I went back to work and threw myself into the online classes, I started to feel far less anxious. Working feels normal and I love what I do so that in itself has lifted the pressure. Our head office has also been so great at supporting us all with regular webinars and marketing materials and lots of really amazing guest speakers that we’ve been able to learn so much in a short space of time. Before starting the classes, the head office did a lot of research so we’ve all been able to learn how best to run the sessions so we could be very confident in our approach.”
On balancing work and personal lives
“This has been tricky because I’ve been working once my husband gets home when we do a handover of the children, which doesn’t allow a lot of time for us as a couple. There’s also so much to do but we make sure that we keep Sunday as a family day and go for a bike ride or a walk and at about 8 pm we switch off and try and watch a film. There are so many jobs to do – mum, businesswoman, teacher, cook and cleaner – and because we are not actually leaving the house, I’m aware that I have to just switch off sometimes or I will never stop.”
On adapting to the new normal
“As a family, I think we have adapted really well and now we have a schedule we know what we need to be doing. In terms of Razzamataz, I’m so impressed with how the students have responded and how being part of the online classes have been such a lifeline for them. Just getting up on a Saturday and putting on their Razzamataz uniform has given them a sense of being back to normal. I’m not particularly technical so I was quite scared about going online and was worried if there would be technical issues but it’s been pretty straightforward and has been a way that I can continue to push my business forwards.”
On remaining positive
“I try and take the time to do small things each day that makes me feel better, something that is not work-related or household chores. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish so I’m doing an online class and practising with one of the other franchisees in the network. I also speak to the other Razzamataz principals at least once a week and this has really helped me to remain positive. To help me keep calm, I take part in an online Buddhism practice and just knowing that I’m part of a network that is working towards the same things is very reassuring.”