When you have generations from the same family emerging through your franchise network, all of a sudden the penny drops that a huge milestone has been reached
Earlier this year at our annual symposium I spoke to our franchisees about an inspirational talk from Toni and Guy, which I’d listened to at the EWIF National Conference. The training director spoke about how their people were developed through the ranks and inspired others, creating a stable succession and growth cycle. It means there is a clear progression pathway, so the culture and growth is like for like and organically nurtured.
I discussed forward plans for Little Voices – nurturing our older pupils aged 16 and over by offering them a specific development course to do alongside their Little Voices lessons. This develops more skills for their CVs with an insight into how to teach and inspire others, giving them the tools and confidence to become assistant tutors, then tutors and, ultimately, perhaps franchisees in years to come.
This is a win-win for the individual pupil as they are leaving Little Voices even more skilled than they were, so they could get some additional work in the franchise they attend or a nearby franchisee when they leave for university. It helps them with a part-time income doing something that they love but, importantly too, the franchisee has peace of mind they have a team of inspirational tutors sharing their knowledge, expertise and passion with the next generation. The wheel will then keep turning and our customers will become our people.
One of the biggest challenges in our business is finding and keeping tutors who inspire children to be the best that they can be. We’re not just looking to recruit fabulous drama and singing tutors with the right CV, qualifications and experience – what we look for cannot be taught. A tutor has ‘it’ or they don’t. A bit like the Colonel’s original recipe at KFC, it’s inherently ingrained in every tutor and there is no mistaking you’re experiencing a Little Voices lesson of distinction. And in my mind you’re more likely to have ‘it’ if you’ve been part of the franchise from the bottom up. It’s absolutely true your people make a brand. They emit the brand and, to strengthen it consistently, we need more of the same.
No sooner had I announced the plans for the future development of our young people and tutors than I had reason to have my confidence in the strategy confirmed. Jericho Taylor was one of our pupils at Little Voices when the flagship began 11 years ago and went all the way through to grade eight LAMDA with Little Voices. Her mum, Julie Armstrong, became a tutor for Little Voices after being attracted as a parent and a few years later became one of our first franchisees when she relocated south. Now Julie owns a Little Voices franchise in Peterborough.
I received a call from Julie who said that Jericho was absolutely delighted to apply for a tutor role with one of our newest franchises in Ealing and was successful. Wow.
This is phenomenal. The full circle had happened organically. It’s a no-brainer because all the love and passion Jericho had for Little Voices will be remembered and naturally emitted through her lessons to the younger generation on the path she was on a decade ago, who’ll she’ll be well-positioned to inspire.
It’s all about spotting and developing trends in your business, not reacting to the blips. Our communication and creative director, Marie Blount, pointed this out in a recent meeting with the board. As I lay on my pillow that night, I thought: what are our pain points? What trends do we experience time and time again? One of them is the recruitment of the right people as tutors and we have that ticked now. We will be able to ensure that they have the special ingredient that we look for in a tutor.
Working on solutions to trends will never be a fast solution but they will be beneficial long term. The family feel and breeding from within, just like in real relationships, ensures the right fit.
It’s amazing how the circle of life works and I would encourage you to take some time to think about how you can make your end users happier and how you can deliver your brand and culture in an even stronger way. What could you do to enhance the circle of life in your business? Some thought and planning around this topic may just bring you a few golden nuggets alongside growth and strength in your marketplace.