There is a common belief that to start your own performing arts business, you need to have a performing arts background. However, this is not always the case. Franchisees at Stagecoach Performing Arts come from all walks of life and choose the brand after recognising the incredible business opportunity that its tried-and-tested business model provides. Whilst developing the skills of young people, equipping them with ‘Creative Courage For Life’, many professionals have also seen the brand as a lucrative business opportunity to utilise their expertise and build new careers as successful franchisees.
Here, CEO Andy Knights speaks to international franchisees from Lithuania, Australia and Canada and discusses the previous professional careers that got them there and how their combined breadth of experience has contributed to the launch of successful schools worldwide.
With a background in management and logistics, and experience running an ecommerce company, Kęstutis Staniulionis brings a wealth of commercial expertise to his role as master franchisee of Stagecoach Lithuania. More than 15 years of leadership experience now informs the way he effectively runs his Stagecoach business with his wife, Dovilė Staniulionienė.
“Before starting with Stagecoach, I worked in various management roles ranging from a Logistics Manager to a Supply Chain Manager, before then starting my own business in the garden and landscape solutions field,” says Kęstutis. “I eventually turned my sights to Stagecoach after my own positive personal experience when our daughter participated in Stagecoach activities when we lived in Germany for many years. As we originate from Lithuania and still had tight connections to our home country, we decided to spread the positive Stagecoach idea in Lithuania.”
Kęstutis’ management background, alongside Dovilė’s previous experience in teaching and performing, was the perfect synergy for bringing Stagecoach to Lithuania. “We both manage as a team,” explains Kęstutis. “I use my analytical skills on establishing and growing business, controlling finance, coordinating and managing liaison between Lithuanian authorities, Stagecoach Performing Arts Lithuania and Stagecoach Head Office. Dovilė uses her teaching, management and planning skills and runs our first school in Vilnius, organising the classes, managing the teachers and communicating with parents and children.”
For Principal Serena Kipling, her love of the arts is what first attracted her to Stagecoach, but the engineering expertise that she has gained through being a Chartered Engineer has carried her through to becoming a successful franchisee of Stagecoach Perth, Western Australia.
“Whilst working at Stagecoach, I have also worked in the engineering industry,” says Serena. “I hold Latin and Modern IDTA awards and have danced, acted, and sung for years. Both my engineering and performing backgrounds have meant I always function by satisfying two sides of my brain – my technical, scientific side and my creative side – I can’t have one without the other!”
“My now-29-year-old son started Stagecoach in the UK in Yarm when he was four, and it was during these early years that I became inspired. The then MD received an application from me, and as a metallurgist applying to be involved in the performing arts, scenes from ‘Flashdance’ came to mind! My engineering management expertise and experience have assisted enormously in ensuring the smooth running of Stagecoach Perth, Western Australia. It has given me the organisational capability to ensure that our students are kept safe each and every week they are at Stagecoach.”
As a business management consultant, Kristi Wenaus advises corporations around Canada on how to deliver their brand culture and vision to their clients and staff. She knows what it takes to run a compassionate, profitable and scalable enterprise and, therefore, knows a good business opportunity when she sees one. That is why, in the spring of 2019, she invested in the Stagecoach Performing Arts franchise in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I had reached a peak in my professional career, working for others, and wanted to start a business of my own,” says Kristi. “I was looking for my next business opportunity when I came across Stagecoach. I grew up in the theatre and credit my arts education as a child as part of the reason why I am the confident woman I am today, so naturally a business opportunity that combined my two passions really appealed to me. I could have opened my own private studio, but being part of a global franchise with a proven business model outweighed the benefits of being a sole operator 10/1.”
Kristi is more than familiar with the formalities and processes involved with business ownership. Her varied career includes almost a decade on stage with Princess Cruise Lines and leadership roles in International Business Development for brands like Hilton and Marriott. The skills that Kristi developed whilst working as a sales and marketing consultant have meant that she has been able to expand her presence in Canada exponentially.
“I believe it’s down to my skill set in knowing what it takes to increase market appeal to a mass audience and my understanding of how to market the benefits of Stagecoach to our parents that I have been so successful in growing our schools here in Canada,” explains Kristi. “We opened as a greenfield territory with no brand awareness at all, and since September 2019, I have been able to open six Main Stages Schools (ages six to 18) and six Early Stages Schools (ages four to six) in our province. While our teachers provide excellent content and keep our kids coming back, it is the sales and marketing efforts that get them in the door to begin with.”
A franchise that is made up of individuals with similar backgrounds and experiences will eventually stagnate. When everyone is producing the same ideas based on the same experiences, you won’t discover innovation, and innovation is the source of growth. Everyone has unique abilities to contribute and help a franchise grow, so at Stagecoach, we have consistently recognised the benefit of recruiting people from all professional backgrounds. When brainstorming, solving problems, and developing new ideas in business, a diverse franchisee network that combines the varied careers and collective experience of its franchisees enables the integration of more wide-ranging perspectives and skill sets.