Nikki Carr joined MAD Academy as a franchisee in 2006. Since then she has successfully launched her business across Windsor, Ascot and Sunningdale.
Nikki Carr joined MAD Academy as a franchisee in 2006. Since then she has successfully launched her business across Windsor, Ascot and Sunningdale. Here she tells us why she decide to join the MAD team, how she found the process of becoming a franchisee and what it was like to launch her own successful MAD Academy business!
Having finished studying music at university, I worked as a music assistant & copiest to a well-known composer/conductor. When my children came along I was able to continue with this work from home on a freelance basis.
I felt like I needed a new challenge, to take on something that would stretch me. I was still doing my freelance work, but I wanted more regular work, something that I could still fit around my children and homelife. I thought starting up a business would give me an intellectual challenge without taking me away from my family. I already loved being my own boss and wanted to do more.
When my son was younger I had taken him to a different music class. He had really enjoyed it and I saw how much he learnt every week. However as he grew older and became more physically active, I was really disappointed in the class as it was so restrictive. I didn’t feel I could let him run around and expressive himself and very soon he wasn’t getting anything out of it, so we stopped going.
When I had my daughter I again tried a music class – a different one this time – but the same thing happened. The children were expected to sit much of the time, whether they wanted to or not. Then I tried a MAD class. Both my daughter and I loved it! It was great that she was free to move about and even I enjoyed dancing and moving with her! It was just as I was discovering MAD Academy as a mum, that I was also thinking about starting my own business and something just clicked.
I looked at their website and compared their franchise offering to a few others, and I really loved the professionalism and ethos of MAD Academy.
Not at all once I had met the founder. From the first conversation I had with Helen on the phone I was really impressed and any doubts I had disappeared! It was clear from the start that she and her team knew what they were doing. They weren’t just mums who had decided to start a business, they also had the business credentials and the background expertise – they knew what they were talking about.
My husband had been a little cautious, but as soon as he read through the franchise pack, even he was impressed and all for it. Everything they did, from the letters and the conversations, to the presentation and training, was so professional and of such a high standard. I could see why MAD Academy had such a strong brand.
Initially, I had a long telephone conversation with Helen to find out a bit more about MAD and how the franchises worked. I was then sent an information pack which was really helpful and told me more about the financial side of setting up a franchise. I was pleasantly surprised at how much more reasonable it was than some of the other franchises I had looked at.
I then had a meeting which was very relaxed and I was able to ask all my questions. They also gave a formal presentation. I then took a few days to think about it and decided I really wanted to become part of MAD. I was invited to a formal interview and then they wrote to me inviting me to join them.
It was incredibly thorough! They covered every eventuality and every possible question I had. They gave me loads of great materials that I could use, but I was still in control of my own business, and other than the core items, I could adapt any of the materials if I wanted. It was great, because it didn’t mean I had to waste time writing letters and information packs or adverts, because they had already done it, and to a very high standard.
It was really reassuring to be able to use tools that had already been tried and tested and that you knew worked! After the business training I was really relaxed about everything, and even though I was nervous about the launch, I knew that if I did everything I had been advised to do, it would be a success! And it was!
The hardest time was probably the weeks after my exam. I had scheduled taster sessions for the following week, and it was difficult finding time to prepare for the exam and then prepare for the sessions as well. I like to be thoroughly prepared and I didn’t anticipate the time it would take to learn all the material for the first time. But with a little bit of juggling, I did it.
My first proper class (not counting my exam or the taster sessions) was fantastic. For the first time I felt I could relax and concentrate on entertaining the children, which is what I love doing. I really enjoyed it!
The manuals are great and very thorough. They contain everything you need to plan your classes. I have never felt unsure about what to do. And I know I can contact the Head Office Team any time and about anything. But I have also had a lot of help from other franchisees. I only have to e-mail or call them and they immediately give advice or ideas. In fact I have become really close to one of the other franchisees who is near by - our children play together and we help each other out. I feel as though I have gained a great family friend as well as a business colleague.
I have spent a lot more time than I thought on planning and preparing for the classes. This has taken most of my time this term, and so I haven’t been able to focus as much on the marketing and business side of things as I would like. But already I am finding I am getting much quicker as I become more familiar with the material. Instead of planning week by week, I am now managing to plan for the whole half term. You need to take a few weeks to discover what works for your classes and what doesn’t, but once you understand this, everything becomes easier.
Also I have been surprised about the physical side of leading the classes. I have to be really energetic in class and I am loving that side of the job. I used to find it really difficult to squeeze exercise into my daily routine, but now it has become part of my job and I feel really fit and healthy! As well as doing something fun and successful, I am also doing something that’s good for me!
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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