Three Razzamataz Theatre Schools’ franchisees confirm the franchise route is a viable one for university graduates wanting to start their own businesses
Many college graduates are having a tough time finding work at the moment. And for those who do find paid employment, the salaries on offer can be low. According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, almost half of Great Britain’s 20 to 24-year-olds are still living with their mum and dad, which highlights the fact young people are struggling to find financial independence.
Thing of the past
Even for those who have secured well paid work, chances are that in today’s rapidly changing economy, embarking on a career with one company that will last a significant number of years is a thing of the past.
What’s more likely is that college graduates will change jobs a number of times during the course of their professional lives. As a result, more and more people are exploring options other than the traditional 9-5 job. For some entrepreneurial thinkers, buying a franchise will rank high on their list of choices.
23-year-old Alison Beveridge recently obtained a first class honours degree in performance for live and recorded media at Teesside University, as well as a masters degree in acting at the Academy for Live and Recorded Arts in London. She recently invested in a Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise, becoming the new franchisee at Razzamataz Durham.
She explains: “I always wanted to run my own business. I was attracted by the prospect of being my own boss and running a theatre school offering children something new and exciting to try - a place to make friends, get fit and healthy and explore their own potential.”
Razzamataz Theatre Schools is a business that gives franchisees the opportunity to run their own part-time performing arts schools, even if they have limited business knowledge. This makes it ideal for young graduates who want to break into the world of business, but require support along the way.
“I specifically wanted to go for a franchise, and in particular Razzamataz, because of the support available from head office and other principals,” Alison says. “This is a network of theatre school owners, so you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself.”
Razzamataz has many proven systems, procedures and operating documents available to franchisees. From press releases that can be sent to local media to advertising and marketing plans, the company helps franchisees every step of the way, making the business ideal for those who haven’t considered running their own business before.
“As a young business owner, probably the toughest challenge I’m going to face is not being taken seriously,” Alison adds. “I may be young and not have a great deal of experience, but I’m fresh out of professional training and hungry for Razzamataz Durham to flourish.
“I’m here to make a difference in my community and Razzamataz has the resources, experience and knowledge to help me as I set off on my new venture. To other young graduates, I would say you must be passionate about running your own business. If not, you won’t enjoy all the hard work and long hours you must put in for your school to succeed.
“Being a business owner is just like being a performer - it’s all about networking, meeting new people and collaborating to produce something new and innovative.”
Caroline Larcombe, aged 23, has a degree in drama from the University of Lincoln. She recently opened Razzamataz Manchester South, opting to buy into a franchise because of the business support on offer from the franchisor.
“Since my training and experience lies in performing, I knew I would struggle to start a school from scratch myself and appreciated the idea of being part of an already successful company,” she says. “The biggest challenge for me has been the business side of things, such as understanding accounts, business banking, bookkeeping and certain aspects of marketing such as understanding and arranging mailshots, eshots and trying to get coverage in the media.
“But I’ve had a lot of support from Razzamataz head office and the other franchisees in the network have offered advice and recommendations based on their own experiences, which has been invaluable.
“Prospective franchisees must be prepared to work hard and invest a lot of time and effort into the school. It is a big commitment, but it’s very rewarding knowing I am able to pass on my knowledge to new students. It’s also an exciting career path with so many opportunities.”
Leading a team
Many franchises require you to lead a team, so it’s important to be up to speed when it comes to managing people effectively, sometimes in difficult and stressful situations. Some experts recommend that before you step into the role of employer you may benefit from spending time as an employee, particularly in the sector you are planning on entering.
25-year-old Middlesex University graduate Amy Latchman did just that. After earning a first class honours degree in dance performance, she taught at Razzamataz Rickmansworth for two years, after which the opportunity to take over the school and become a franchisee presented itself.
“I was excited about being able to run my own school and felt it was something to be proud of and passionate about,” Amy says. “Also, as a performer with an inconsistent wage it gave me the opportunity to earn a more solid income. The support from head office is fantastic - they are always there to listen and guide you through.
“You also get advertising and marketing ideas, contacts and systems provided for you that you may not get if you were to open an independent school.”