Matty Aitchison-Rayson took over Razzamataz West Cumbria in August 2018 and combines his position as a theatre school owner with a part-time role within the marketing and recruitment department at the University of Cumbria
Matty Aitchison-Rayson 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’s been so many. When we took students to perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End, the whole experience was amazing. I had been involved with the event before, helping our head office, but this was the first time that I was there as the principal of a school. This was very special for me, my students and the team. I can’t really describe the feeling and atmosphere and how amazing it felt to be able to give our students this incredible opportunity.
Another stand-out moment was the first day I became the new principal. I had worked for Razzamataz since 2010, so the moment that I took over and became principal of my own school was an amazing feeling.
Skills needed to be a theatre school owner
Being a good communicator is very important. You must be able to listen and communicate with students, teams, parents, the head office, fellow franchisees and other suppliers, all of whom have a different set of needs. One of the many benefits of being part of the Razzamataz network is being able to run your business to suit your lifestyle. That said, you will need to have good organisational skills and structure your day so you can focus on the core requirements of your business. You also need to have the mindset that you are happy to be a student for the rest of your life because there is always something new to learn. Being a business owner, especially in the children’s sector, you should be approachable, friendly, and very visible within your setup.
I started doing work experience in June 2010 after watching my sister in a show at Razzamataz Carlisle. I instantly had a vision that I wanted to be involved with Razzamataz for the long term and when I approached the owner Denise, she really supported me with this. I was involved with everything from voluntary work experience to a classroom assistant, teacher, manager and occasional work for the head office. When the opportunity came to take over the West Cumbria school, I didn’t give it a second thought. From the age of 16, it was my dream to run my own theatre school business but without Razzamataz, I wouldn’t know where to start.
Becoming part of the All-Stars Academy
I’m passionate about Razzamataz so when the All-Stars Academy was launched, I wanted to jump on it and help support more people to become Razzamataz franchisees. I’ve seen how Razzamataz allows people to run their own businesses and create a good work-life balance. The flexibility of the business has really worked for my family so I’m keen to spread the word to others.
Building the business
Being part of the All-Stars has already given us access to lots of fantastic training that will help recruit new students and staff. The sessions have been inspirational and left me feeling so much more confident. I’ve also learnt so many tips that I can pass on to my students and staff to help with their own progression and life skills.
The great thing about Razzamataz is that Denise, Charlotte and the head office are always looking for new opportunities for our students and our teams with exclusive events that really set us apart from the competition and create an amazing buzz within the schools. The head office work incredibly hard to make it as easy as possible for principals to be successful.
Why be part of a franchise?
The Razzamataz model is a reputable brand offering amazing support from all at the head office as well as the network of franchisees. There is always someone to speak to and you never feel like you are in business alone.
We are gaining new students all the time and the school is constantly growing. We have recently moved into a new venue, which has made us more accessible to the local community and has enabled us to work with one of the largest primary schools in the area. I’m looking at expanding our classes into the afternoon and introducing Project Intense sessions for our senior students. I’m also researching areas to expand into our territory and launch more Tots and Minis classes for our youngest students.
It is vital to do your research and know exactly what you are getting and if the franchise is right for you. Understand what it is that you want to get out of running a franchise and consider your exit strategy at the start of the process. For me, Razzamataz is about providing performing arts training for young people to develop their confidence, health and fitness. I want to be a positive influence in their life and that is my driver on why I want to be successful. Whatever business you run, you must be committed, dedicated and passionate and if you don’t you simply won’t be successful. You must choose a sector that can provide you with what you are looking for, whether that is financial or to fulfil your purpose.
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