Franchise questions that I am constantly asked?

Jane 1

What kind of person are you looking for to be a franchisee and have a super successful business with Little Voices?

Someone who is passionate, determined, focused, highly organised, excellent communicator, impeccable time-keeper, and professional, quite simply, someone with the drive to be super successful and perhaps has an entrepreneurial curiosity.

Is it possible to speak with other Principals about their Little Voices locations?
How they found the set up? What challenges they faced? What is the hardest part about launching a Little Voices location?

Absolutely! The answer to all of these questions is YES. All of our Principals are happy to speak to you about any aspect of their journey, where they are up to now, what they have achieved and any difficulties they have faced along the way. I wear my heart on my sleeve and have TWO main principles in life; HONESTY and CONFIDENCE. Little Voices Principals are as keen to attract the RIGHT people into the network to strengthen the network as I am. They trust me that I will only give out their details to individuals who I am very keen should apply to come into the network; and will answer any of your questions or concerns. I also recommend that you go to a Little Voices location near to you, or come up to the flagship Franchise in Blackburn and the Ribble Valley to see lessons in action.

What would you say are the biggest hurdles that I will need to overcome if I am considering taking on a Little Voices franchise?

Often the biggest hurdle for any individual is finding the initial fee. However this can be financed in many ways including:

  1. Royal Bank of Scotland have vetted all that we offer and will fund up to 70% of the fee on a loan lasting 5 years. You must be able to find 30% to access this.
  2. You could self fund or ask for an investor in your plans to come on board with Little Voices. Some of our Principals have parents/grandparents supporting them.
  3. Start Up Loans UK will look to help you fund the full 100% of the initial fee.

What do I get for my initial start-up fee?

  • 5 Days Training at Head Office
  • Up to a max. of 5 Further Days Training to cover Safeguarding, First Aid and Fire Marshalling
  • Full Support ongoing and indefinitely from Head Office
  • All the Templates and Materials that you need to get started and get pupils through the door
  • Personalised Business Stationery
  • Marketing materials Flyers, banners etc
  • Website within Little Voices site set up and emails
  • Copy of the Principal’s Handbook
  • Attendance at Franchisee Meetings for 1 year
  • Access to Little Voices library of Scripts for Examinations
  • Start Up music books from relevant Musical Theatre Shows
  • LAMDA Resources, syllabuses and anthologies
  • First Aid Kit and Accident Book
  • Uniform
  • Free Access to the Tutor Training Course for 12 months for you and your Tutors
  • Subscription to leading Drama site/Your own Micro Site within it for 12 months
  • Full Business Support and access to the Network of Principals successfully running Little Voices locations for the duration.

What is involved in the training

The training is fun, interactive and totally tailored to you. Only a maximum of TWO franchisees are trained at any one time. This ensures maximum time is spent helping you to get Little Voices into your blood and how it will specifically work within your territory. The days are long, tiring and intense but FUN. You learn how to run a successful location including Finance, Operations (including how Little Voices lessons are run), HR, Recruitment of Tutors, Examinations, and Sales & MARKETING. You do not need previous business experience to be able to embrace everything that we offer. You will go away with an action plan, your vision and targets to reach so that you know where to start when you arrive home.

When would the training be arranged?

There are set training dates in the calendar year however you can request dates and if we can accommodate them we will ensure your course is run at that time. We cannot guarantee this but do our best to work with you to arrange your course at the most convenient time for you.

Where do I do the training?

The 5 days Training is run at Head Office in Blackburn. This is important as we feel that you need to meet the Head Office personnel too, even if it is only having your lunch with them. Putting faces to names is crucial so that you know who you are speaking to at the other end of the phone, or emailing when you need help or support from one of them! You also see where Little Voices all began in Blackburn!

Do I have to have a Drama or Singing degree or similar and TEACH the lessons myself?

  1. Some Little Voices Principals/Franchisees choose not to teach. You do not have to be a teacher to be a Principal, however if you are a Drama/Singing Specialist and you want to teach the Drama or the Singing you can teach if you wish. There is no preference from our point of view whether you choose to teach or choose to recruit a Drama and a Singing Tutor for your location.

What will I find hardest after I have received all the training?

This is a business and I am very honest with you from the very beginning. There are bad days, there are tough days, sometimes you are working like a Trojan and nothing is going your way. The best part about being a Little Voices Principal is that all the Principals are here to help you, support you and so am I and the entire Head Office team. In contrast, if you set up your own business you are alone! With Little Voices, yes there may be challenges; you may struggle to find a school, you may lose a pupil through relocation, you may have a Tutor leave; and these days come but the good ones follow and your determination, passion and SUPPORT gets you through and towards success.

What can I expect to earn and how quickly will I start earning money?

Little Voices is a highly profitable business. The earning potential is significant. It all depends on how big or small a part you want it to play in your life overall and how hard you are prepared to work. You start with 12 pupils and from there you can build to capacity on ONE NIGHT OF THE WEEK to 80 pupils. This can generate you over a £1000 in turnover with a minimum of 52% profit margin (this can be as high as 61% if you teach the lessons yourself) within this. You can then go on to replicate on two, three or four nights of the week. The potential is endless in your territory. The profit alone from one centre, one night of the week could be in excess of £20k. There are 5 nights of the week and you can employ as many staff as you wish………… Can you see this is an amazing business opportunity?

What is contained within the Handbook?

The Handbook is your bible. It reflects everything that you would cover in your training and more, so that you have the point of reference throughout your journey with Little Voices. It in no way replaces picking up the telephone to us at Head Office and asking for whatever you need but if is an essential tool.

Has any Franchise ever failed or Franchisee left?

The success of a franchise is down to the franchisee. A franchise network gives you a system, branding and a support network to pull form it is not the reason that a franchise succeeds. Just because you are accepted by us and you buy a franchise this doesn’t mean that you are going to be automatically successful – it means that you are in the best positioning to succeed as everything has been tried tested and proven to work in terms of the business model. This is a business and businesses that are well run – succeed. Those that don’t – fail. There have been no fall outs in our Franchise network EVER. There have been two franchisees that decided that this was not for them and they have left. However the statistics that the franchising experts give us state that “1 in every 10 franchise businesses fail whereas 9 in every 10 new start up businesses” – that is the stark reality.

How quickly can I set up?

Every Franchisee is an individual and the set-up is determined by many factors surrounding you. You can start to locate your venue and market your Little Voices as soon as you have completed your training. Certain factors need to be taken into consideration also: Where you are launching your franchise? Which option you decide to choose for your launch? All of these steps are taken in close connection with Head Office and you are supported through the whole process.

If I am keen to apply. What are the next steps?

We need to have several conversations and organise a time to meet as soon as you have decided that you want to apply for the franchise in your area. It is imperative that we build an outstanding working relationship and respect for each other from the beginning. You need to be certain that this is for you and we need to be certain that you are RIGHT for Little Voices. We will not accept just anyone and Jane is very clear and open with individuals if she thinks they are unsuitable from the beginning. Little Voices is not a ‘make money quick company’; it is firmly based on strong foundations and has organically grown through its distinctive reputation and determination to only accept the best, work with the best and be the best. This ethos provides protection for you if you become a Franchisee within the network, maintains impeccable standards, filters down throughout the organisation from the top and ultimately ensures that we become the very best performing arts organisation for Drama and Singing Training for children in the UK. The next steps are:

  • You Apply and pay your deposit to secure your territory
  • Your references and application checks are carried out
  • If accepted, the franchise agreement is drawn up and we insist that you have it checked by an independent solicitor
  • We have many meetings within this whole process in person or via skype/telephone
  • You organise insurance and your business bank account
  • On the day the franchise agreement is signed the funds must have been transferred
  • Training Dates are booked and go ahead
  • All marketing materials are printed and whole starter pack is given to you
  • Off you go!

This is a brief description of the process.

How to decide about the territory

This is considered and decided upon together. You request a location, we look at this in terms of size, geographically and in terms of population, schools, socio-economic factors, your vision for growth and your ability to do that in the territory. Sometimes the boundaries are set as partial or full London Boroughs, or radius measurements from a particular point or borough councils within a county. It is rarely determined by postcodes as postcode boundaries change.

What is the franchise agreement like?

The agreement is comprehensive and is purely designed to protect you (Franchisee) and Little Voices (Franchisor). Many franchise agreements are hundreds of pages long, we know this because Jane’s uncle was a KFC Franchisee years ago. Many are designed to be very restrictive. Ours isn’t. IF you have made it to the point of being accepted to Little Voices you are the RIGHT person for the organisation and we then want to have a long and happy relationship together. The mission statement for Little Voices is centred around ‘CONFIDENCE’. We do not want to lose franchisees or have a high turnover of franchisees. YOU have ownership of YOUR business. Every franchisee to date has had the agreement checked and NOTHING has been disputed or has had to be rewritten to date. We are proud of this.

If I am unable to self fund the set up what happens next?

We will put you in touch with the Royal Bank of Scotland, or the Start Up Loans UK. This will enable you to discuss your needs with them. If you need any business plan advice or assistance we can help with this and we will work with you to secure the funding. Jane recognised that MONEY may be a stumbling block for some potential franchisees. They may be the RIGHT person but MONEY was hindering their chances. She has removed this hurdle by creating these outstanding relationships. The funding has resulted because Little Voices has undergone intense scrutiny. If the RBS (the market leaders in the banking world of franchising) love everything that we offer, having gone through the business with a fine tooth comb, then this is a great testimonial for Little Voices and should give you confidence.

Can I work a part time or full time job alongside setting up a Little Voices Location?

Yes. Little Voices has no issue with this and this would be the sensible thing to do in the early days. Some people take all the risks and work solely on their business others decide to keep a part time or full time job on until they are secure enough to make the jump to being an entrepreneur full time. There is one saying that Jane loves, ‘If it is TO BE its up TO ME’, and it is! This is a business, we make people very aware that they need to be prepared to work incredibly hard and put the time in that few people are prepared to do. Jane gets up incredibly early every morning. This isn’t because she wants to this is because that is what makes her business successful. You will have to be prepared to work hard on the RIGHT STUFF to make your Little Voices business a success. The best thing is YOU are NOT ALONE. The network is your rock and it beats going solo and trying to make a business work alone. Our SUPPORT and our SYSTEM works!!

The financial commitment really scares me. Does everyone feel this way?

Yes, and if Jane could have removed the initial fee she would have. It is not about money it is about the RIGHT people. However it is a costly exercise setting a location up for a franchisee, training, templates, policies, marketing materials, stationary etc. A Franchisee needs to also show financial commitment and after all the franchisees currently in the network have invested time and money into their businesses and so should anyone new coming in. Jane has a duty to protect the current network as well as growing the expertise and MASTERMINDS of the network by finding the RIGHT new franchisees.

What is the Royalty Fee for?

It is to allow you to continuously use the brand, be part of the network, have access to everything that is Little Voices in terms of marketing materials. This is not just ‘the stuff’ that you get in the first set up but everything else that is developed month on month and shared with you.

What marketing is involved in the National Marketing?

This is determined at Little Voices discretion and we work with franchisees to implement into their area what will add value and attract more customers for them. Ultimately this will include presence in the National Press but as we are a franchise network of relatively small numbers at the moment, an advert in the Daily Mail would be pointless. It is much better to take a targeted approach and work with you on your area to supplement what you are doing in terms of marketing in the early days.

If Little Voices went ‘bump’ what would happen to my Little Voices business?

This will never happen; this is Jane’s second ‘child’, and it has been a success for over eight years now.

What happens if I relocate or need to sell my Little Voices business?

Your first job is to ring and speak with Jane and discuss your reasons and feelings and future plans. If you sell, the money is yours; there are no royalties or penalties to pay unless Little Voices has helped to find the new franchisee. Little Voices (franchisor) does have the final say on who purchases your franchise and, if approved, the new franchisee MUST attend training with the franchisor at the cost of the new franchisee buying your franchise. This is the only proviso.

How long is the Franchise Agreement? Do I have to spend another start up fee again to start another 5 year agreement?

5 years. You need to renew after 5 years to continue to operate your franchise however you do not pay the initial fee again. You just pay a renewal fee of approx. £400 to cover solicitor’s costs.

Would you like to hear from one of our current Franchisees?

Read on:

My name is Julie Armstrong and I am going to fill you in on my Little Voices journey.

I started teaching drama with Little Voices six years ago and in my time with Jane I have taught at nearly all the Little Voices venues across the north-west. It is extremely rewarding work – I love seeing the four year olds, who won’t speak or even make eye contact when they first join us, blossom into confident little performers. I also love teaching Grade 8 to our sixth formers, who have to study musical theatre in depth, learn about the composers, and really get into the theory of our work. There is such a wide range to what we teach and it personally gives me great satisfaction.

Recently my husband’s job relocated to Cambridgeshire and so I was faced with the prospect of leaving Little Voices. This, for me, was not an option and so – armed with all the experience I have gained in the past six years – I decided to set up my own performing arts school – Little Voices Peterborough.

I did indeed toy with the idea of simply opening up my own school. After all, I had seen the trials and tribulations (and there were many!) that Jane had been through and had learnt a lot along the way. However, for me it was an easy decision. I am not, and do not claim to be, a business woman and therefore having the backing of a ready-made, well established business behind me, made total sense.

The training was great – I learnt things I didn’t know I needed to know! The website is done, all your promotional material is there for you, Jane can tell you the best ways to market your business because she has been there and done that! Don’t get me wrong – this is very much MY business – and I still have to put the work in too if I am going to make it a success, but simply knowing that there is help available whenever I need it, is enough.

I am currently in the very early stages of setting up Little Voices Peterborough – doors open in September but the enquiries are coming in and things are going well. Six years ago I would never have considered running my own business – I was a drama teacher, not a business woman – but now I am both! I have had meetings with local business magazines who describe me as “an entrepreneur” – me, an entrepreneur? Well, alright then!

If you are considering opening a Little Voices location of your own – do it! What are you waiting for?

I hope you decide to join us and I look forward to welcoming you to the Little Voices family.

Yours sincerely, Julie!

It is now July 2015 and I can tell you that Julie launched her Little Voices business in September 2013; her first night had 33 pupils so she blew our target of 12 out of the window! She is going from strength to strength and now has three locations!

 

If you want to get in touch email jane@littlevoices.org.uk or ring 01254 207516