"I would openly encourage other dads, especially those with a passion for the power of the performing arts, to explore investment opportunities with brands like Stagecoach – it really isn’t just for mums!” says franchisee James Bulgin
Global children’s services franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts, has proudly been challenging the status quo for over 30 years. Despite the constant misconception that the majority of franchisees operating lifestyle franchises are women, male franchisees from within the Stagecoach network are thriving in the field and achieving the allusive work-life balance often synonymous with so-called ‘mumpreneurs’.
“Although there’s something to be said for the value of the model for busy, working mums like my wife, Danica, who runs her own franchise in Fleet, there are real benefits for us working dads too,” explained James Bulgin, who invested in his Stagecoach franchise in Basingstoke in 2018. “As well as running my sessions on weekends, I manage a very busy role at the Imperial War Museum from Monday to Friday, meaning management of my schools takes place during evenings. Stagecoach offers the flexibility to allow me to juggle both seamlessly, which I know is a real luxury as a dad of three boys – Rafferty, six, Nate, five and Flynn, who is one.
“There’s a lot of pressure on parents nowadays to manage multiple tasks and be equally accomplished at them all. As a Stagecoach franchisee, I’ve truly achieved that. During the week, I’m working in a field that I’m very interested in and, on the weekends, I’m able to explore my passion for inspiring the next generation of potential performers. And, because our two eldest boys are enrolled in our Stagecoach sessions, we get to spend all important time with them too. I would openly encourage other dads in my position, especially those with a passion for the power of the performing arts, to explore investment opportunities with brands like Stagecoach – it really isn’t just for mums!”
In 2018, Stagecoach launched its new management model, meaning franchisees could bring someone in to support the operations of existing and any neighbouring territories. One franchisee who has taken full advantage of the benefits of this model is dad and stepdad, Don Porter.
“Whilst I handle the operational side of the franchise – booking performance spaces, managing leads and ensuring we’re compliant in terms of our OFSTED registration – my wife, Georgina, does an incredible job as the theatrical director,” said Don. “My goal is to operate multiple territories in Surrey and Greater London, with each being overseen by a manager. I’ve already brought in three managers to supervise our multiple schools and it’s done incredible things for our business.”
Having increased student numbers by 250 per cent across his schools in Cheam, Worcester Park and New Malden, Don is reaping the rewards of running a well-established and profitable franchise.
“I’m very proud to run a Stagecoach franchise for various reasons,” explained Don. “Making a positive change for children who might not fit in during school hours drives me to make Stagecoach their home away from home. I’m also looking to build a business that offers our teachers and operational staff a career for the long term. When you take away the finances, goals and bottom line, that’s really what Stagecoach is about – improving the lives of the people around you. I think that’s pretty amazing.”
For James, the value of bringing male talent into the international Stagecoach network isn’t limited to the franchise investment. Like Don, he feels passionately about the incredible impact Stagecoach sessions can have on a student’s self-belief.
“Personally – and having come from the performing arts industry myself – I would like to see more boys exploring their love of the arts at a young age. I’ve built a fantastic career for myself but there certainly wasn’t anything like Stagecoach when I was growing up. I’d like to see the number of boys enquiring in our singing, dancing and acting sessions increase across the board, which is why I’m so proud to watch my own sons take part. I’m more than happy to be a spokesperson for the need for more male talent across both industries, whether the performing arts, franchising or both,” added James.
Image: James Bulgin, Stagecoach Basingstoke franchisee