Ensuring the show can go on

Stagecoach Performing Arts is one of the many franchise brands implementing a number of proactive measures to support and reassure their franchisees - and students - through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring the show can go on

Stagecoach Performing Arts is one of the many
franchise brands implementing a number of proactive measures to support and
reassure their franchisees – and students – through the ongoing COVID-19
pandemic. Andy Knights, COO, is proud to be part of such a collaborative brand
and is keen to share best practice when it comes to working with the people
around you for the benefit of your business.

Teamwork is one of those business buzzwords so often thrown around during boardroom meetings but, at Stagecoach, teamwork isn’t just an idea or an elusive culture; it’s a fundamental component of our success. A franchise agreement is a commitment between a franchisor and a franchisee that both will constantly act in a way that is for the other party’s best interest. At its core, teamwork encapsulates what franchising stands for. Recent times have been particularly testing for everyone, Stagecoach most definitely included. It is our team mentality that is guiding us through the constant impact of this worldwide virus.

In line with the government guidelines, our weekly performing arts lessons have been put on hold since mid-March, meaning the stage curtain has momentarily fallen. But, behind the scenes, the show is most definitely going on. Stagecoach Performing Arts has reached the grand old age of 31 because of the stringent procedures we put in place to maintain the success and wellbeing of our franchisees, day in, day out – something we’re actively putting into practise.

Any successful business person will tell you that a considerable component for achieving great things in the face of adversity is devising a strategic yet practical ‘plan of attack’. As soon as we had an indication that the spread of the virus was rapidly increasing, we consistently kept ourselves informed of the potential threat to our network. Where appropriate, we shared this information with our franchisees, ensuring they knew we were more than aware of the changing situation. Essentially, whilst the rest of the UK were seemingly going about business as usual, our support team were taking the pressure off franchisees by actively planning for the potential impact on their businesses.

By early March, media coverage surrounding the potential threat to the public increased. So, we did what any responsible franchisor would do; we kept our network in the loop. We initialised a plan of regular communication, updating franchisees on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. Don’t offend your network’s intelligence by assuming they won’t want to know what your approach or response to this, or any other crisis, might be. No news is certainly not good news in these sorts of scenarios.

Mid-March, the worst-case scenario happened. The threat increased significantly so, for the safety of all concerned, we made the decision to postpone lessons. The closure of our venues instantly saw the circulation of further communicative resources – daily network updates, calls to each franchisee from a team member, communication sent via email, along with a video recording of myself and Peter Brayshaw, our Chief Finance Officer, addressing the network. Our most significant action was quickly recording professional-quality virtual training videos for our current students, called #stagecoachathome. As well as providing an invaluable resource for families now confined to their homes, our franchisees could capitalise on the demand for virtual resources that quickly took centre stage across social media. This, in turn, retains students, supporting our franchisees for the long-term.

This initiative has been in place for over six weeks but we’re by no means out of the woods. We’re keeping in constant contact with our network by putting in daily calls, to comfort, reassure and provide potential solutions. Between Peter and I, we’ve set aside a significant proportion of our daily schedule to personally make these calls to our franchisees. During times of adversity or challenge, people need to feel as though they’re not alone. We’ve been proactive, not reactive, to issues and utilised the support of those in our Stagecoach community to work through those issues together. Whilst there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing’s for sure – we will all come through the other side of this stronger and more capable.

Andy Knights is Chief Operating Officer at Stagecoach Performing Arts – a role he’s held since 2014. He has over 19 years’ experience working in the franchising industry and oversees all aspects of business operations for the Stagecoach brand, including marketing, franchise recruitment and business development. 

Andy Knights
Andy Knights