Franchise success for theatrical pair

Having already successfully set up one theatre academy under the LIPA 4:19 banner, Alison Gorton and Becci Francis plan to open another soon. Jane Denny caught up with the theatrical pair.

LIPA 4:19’s offering straddles the child and youth care market and appeals to the ‘Generation X-Factor’, eager for stardom and celebrity status. Teaching drama, dance and singing the LIPA 4:19 way has proved so successful for Becci and Alison, they are keen to establish a second academy. Trained actress, singer and dancer Alison started teaching drama at LIPA 4:19 in Liverpool in 2004 and was joined by professional dancer Becci two years later. Seeing first-hand the success of the LIPA 4:19 franchise, the friends started researching suitable venues in Cheshire so they could become part of the performing arts school opportunity’s success.

The LIPA 4:19 franchise has no shortage of celebrity followers, even boasting music legend Paul McCartney amongst its patrons, but the real satisfaction of being part of the LIPA 4:19 dream for Becci and Alison comes from the enjoyment and inspiration it provides for young people. Alison said: “Seeing the students progress and grow each week is wonderful.” They are helped by LIPA 4:19’s proactive philosophy towards the idea of introducing students to the performance world they admire so much. Hollyoaks star Leah Hackett is among the stars to have trodden Knutsford LIPA’s boards.
Alison says: “Our students are inspired and they come and tell us about how they want to be actors who can sing and dance when they grow up.” The pair were attracted by LIPA 4:19’s tried and tested approach to providing out of school activity for children and young people. Having already worked within the university level performing arts centre as teachers, the pair had full knowledge of what they describe as LIPA 4:19’s ‘unique curriculum and well-known brand’ so choosing the franchise as the stepping off point for self-employment was inevitable. The franchise supports its recruits with a training manual and visits while offering day-to-day guidance if their recruits require it. Alison says the pair are pleased with the level of support provided by the franchisor.

Now that they have their franchise up and running Becci and Alison are doing everything in their power – and the things on the to do list contained within the LIPA 4:19 Franchise Owner Manual, in order to build and grow their academy. Their day-to-day tasks include emailing and speaking with parents and prospective new students’ parents as well as planning lessons and programme for their students. The business side of things includes tasks like keeping on top of the accounts and marketing the academy via social networking sites. “We are always planning ahead for the year marketing for new students and organising lots for our students to enjoy. “We have LIPA at the end of the phone so we can be advised if we hit any problems.” Since LIPA 4:19 unveiled its franchise opportunity in 2008, it has established academies throughout the UK and confirmed its success as a business model by becoming an associate member of the British Franchise Association (bfa). The business opportunity is flexible so its franchise owners can take on a joint managerial/operational role – provided they have appropriate teaching qualifications. Alison concludes: “A potential franchise owner for a LIPA 4:19 is hard working, organised, approachable and passionate, as well as knowledgeable about working within the performing arts.”