Sophie Hill – MAD Academy Franchisee for Oxford and Bicester
I started my first classes in April 2011.
The great benefit of franchising is being able to see that the business model already works. This means that you get off to a great start as some of the groundwork and product development has already been done and it has already been tried and tested in the market.
MAD Academy offers something different to most of the music classes out there for young children, and this is absolutely key to finding space in a crowded marketplace. I also knew from my experience with my own children that young children like to be active and can’t sit still for very long - MAD Academy gives them the opportunity to have fun through dancing and moving their bodies.
I started dancing lessons at the age of 4, studying ballet and modern dance up until the age of 16.
I play the piano and saxophone. At school I was in the school Swing Band, in addition I regularly supported school musical productions either playing the piano or saxophone – my favourite was West Side Story.
Whilst at university I played saxophone in a band which played in pubs in Manchester.
I theme my classes each week and try to make sure that I include information to help children learn about animals, their bodies or the weather. I also like to include the latest dance crazes such as the Gangnam Style dance!
In addition I always try to include something for the parents – if the parents are enjoying the class then their children will enjoy it more and get the most out of it.
One of my favourite things is hearing the feedback from parents about the children talking about MAD Academy at home. I only see the children for 45 minutes each week but so many parents tell me about how their children ask every day if they are going to ‘MAD’ today or about how they will be singing the songs or doing the actions at home – the ‘Hello’ song is one of the most popular songs for this.
MAD Academy allows flexibility around family life as the classes take place during school hours. I do the admin work in the evenings once the children have gone to bed.
You can choose the days and times of the classes to suit you and also whether to work in school holidays or not.
One of my best moments was when one of the Mums told me that their child was very quiet and hardly spoke, and since coming to MAD Academy has started to speak and copy noises and that it was as a result of coming to the classes and gaining confidence.
I think it’s important to research your chosen market and understand where the franchise will fit into the market. It’s also really important to find out not just about the initial training but also ongoing support and training to help you as your business grows.
One of the hardest parts is decision making. I used to work in a large company and if I had to make a decision there was always a manager (and manager’s manager etc) to ask for support. With your own business it’s up to you to make the decisions. This is really liberating but also there’s not really anyone else that can do it for you, it’s up to you.
The support from MAD Academy, particularly our Franchisee Manager (Trish) is absolutely fantastic and there is no way I’d be where I am today with my business without the ongoing help and support.
In addition there are other franchisees out there facing the same challenges as you which gives you a great community of friends and colleagues, rather than being on your own.
The most important thing is to have self-belief. There are some really hard times running your own business and you’ve got to believe in yourself to get through it.
Lucy Norfolk tells us about herself and running her MAD Academy business in Camberley.
Having been an IT manager in London for several years, Trish Nawacki was attracted to the concept of MAD Academy when she attended a session with her daughter.
Karen Morgan talks to us about starting her MAD Academy business in Epsom & Leatherhead and about how she has been getting on with her classes
Since 2006 Nikki Carr has successfully launched her MAD Academy business across Windsor, Ascot and Sunningdale.
Kate Lawrence answers some question about her MAD Academy business.
The support I get to help me run my business is great. I can ring or email MAD Academy HQ with any questions and know that there’ll be a friendly and helpful voice at the end of the phone!Maggie
I think that the best thing about being part of the MAD Academy team, rather than running an independent business, is the website, the MAD material and regular the training.Karen
I have been running a MAD Academy Franchise for nearly 10 years now. It has been a great flexible job while my children have been growing up.Trish
The highlight of the week for MAD Academy class mates
Rewarding, proven, expandable business opportunity with MAD Academy
Child early years development in action for all to see