Former professional dancer Laura Sykes has turned her talent into a new career with Jo Jingles, helping to inspire children with a similar lifelong passion for music and movement.
Former professional dancer Laura Sykes has turned her talent into a new career, helping to inspire children with a similar lifelong passion for music and movement.
Laura’s life as a dancer was a glamorous one, involving taking part in television variety shows, fashion shows and pantomime. But having had enough of the gruelling round of auditions, and with a young family to look after, she was looking for a new direction.
She found a position as a Jo Jingles teacher and loved it so much that when a franchise opportunity came up she decided to go for it.
"The job was rewarding and fun and worked well alongside family life," she said. "But I wanted to run my own business as I had been self-employed as a dancer, so buying a franchise seemed the natural step."
Taking out a bank loan to finance the purchase of the Surbiton, Epsom, Esher and Leatherhead franchise, Laura was aware that although she had been trained and had worked for two years as a class teacher and had a good knowledge of the class environment, she had no previous business experience, having left school to dance.
But the Jo Jingles training programme plus the support from Head Office gave her all the help and support she needed to make a success of her new career.
Six years later, Laura now employs three teachers who between them run thirty parent classes and teach in fifteen nurseries.
She explains how she has progressed:
"For the first year I maintained all the classes myself but employed an extra teacher in order to expand. Towards the end of the second year I took on a second teacher as I secured contracts to expand into day nurseries. In year 3 I had to recruit again. Although managing employees was a little daunting at first, I really enjoy having a team to work with."
And she enjoys teaching herself as much as ever.
"I get great reward from seeing children progress through the classes, starting from 3 months and leaving at 5 and from meeting second and third siblings and building relationships with those parents and carers. Much research has been done about the benefits of music but you just have to come to one class to see the proof of that. Parents arrive fraught with fractious children and by the end of the class the music and instruments have worked their magic and everyone leaves happy and relaxed. It’s wonderful to be able to do that every day."
Of course no new business is without its teething troubles and the challenges that Laura has had to meet include getting the work/home balance right, retaining the teachers that she has trained and, in her area, increasing competition in the under 5’s market – from classes in music, soccer, ballet, signing and more.
"It's important to keep the classes fresh and fun," Laura says. "I saw the potential in the new baby business and with some new training and head office input my team started classes for babies from 3 months old which has been really popular and keeps us ahead of the game."
Her dedication and innovation has paid off. In her first year Laura was won the Jo Jingles 'Best New franchisee' award and in her second year took the title of 'Best Southeast franchisee'.
So what is the key to her success?
"I have learned to focus on where I want to be and then work backwards to achieve it- I don’t look at the large mountain to climb but the smaller steps that lead to where I want to go!"
"I am my own boss and as my children have grown I have still been able to do the school run, assemblies and be there in school holidays and also run a successful franchise which has given me financial reward as well as personal success. People tell me that I always seem so happy and get to have so much fun. I love what I do and want to keep on doing it."
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As a franchisee I know that I have constant support and backing from our Head Office. We have a wealth of excellent music and material to introduce into our classes, which keeps me and my class leaders on our toes and 13 years on I can’t imagine life without Jo Jingles!Val Chandler, Beaconsfield