Leanne was working in the theatre during school holidays and weekends, however when her own children went to school she found the schedule no longer worked - working at weekends meant she missed spending time with them.
This prompted the idea of starting a business.
Drama Tots was a ‘seed in my mind’ which germinated through her previous experience of working with children in youth productions. As she puts it: ‘Not only do children have fun through imaginative play, but they also learn to be more confident, sociable & creative.’
Drama Tots started with weekly parent & tots classes based in Coventry and within 6 months through word of mouth had a healthy waiting list. Leanne wrote the Drama Tots programme herself in line with early foundation guidelines - ensuring that children benefited from structure through play. The school grew quickly and within 10 months children were queuing (literally!) to join and Leanne implemented a manual waiting list; it was at this point she began to look for teachers.
Working in Partnership with ClassForKids'
It quickly became obvious that Leanne had a hit on her hands and the idea of developing Drama Tots into a franchise model was a natural step. Only 12 months after starting her business Leanne welcomed her first franchisee. That was in 2017 and since then she hasn’t looked back.
As a start-up with 30 children in each class, Leanne was able to cope with the admin - although even in those early days she recognised the limitations as each parent was contacted individually, invoices issued and then chased - this cycle all took time and cash flow was impacted. As classes grew the level of admin caused by manual processes became unsustainable.
Speaking of the software, Leanne says enthusiastically: ‘The parents love the class management system as it ensures they can easily book and pay. All franchisees have adopted the platform and ensuring they had a trustworthy experience was also important to me.’
Leanne is very hands and is still involved with teaching 15 classes per week with ages ranging from 18 months to 4 years. She says that Drama Tots has benefitted from organic growth. 'The name sells well, it sounds professional, looks and sounds like an established brand.' she says. Processes are consistent, reliable and what clubs need. It reads like the perfect script, really.
Her ambition for the future is to ‘develop happy, fulfilled franchisees’, she recognises that each franchisee will measure success differently ‘success is different for everyone.’ Of course proof of that success is in the new franchisees she will be bringing on this year - bringing the total to 6.
Leanne would like to be the ‘market leader’ in what she does. She wants to be recognised as a brand leader and for Drama Tots to be considered the best in the market.
One of the highlights of this year? The first franchise conference held this year which covered business planning, social media training, new head shots and video. Check back in next year to find out how much further Drama Tots and ClassForKids have gone.
If you are have an interest in drama and want to learn more about its origins and benefits for child development, head over to our case studies section. There, you can read all about where it started and how you can make the most of running your drama school.
If you can’t wait until then, get in touch to book a free demo for your club today!
Drama Tots formed in 2016 teaching drama to the under 4’s and in the space of only two years has grown to 6 franchises. Founder Leanne originally trained as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and worked professionally in theatre productions all over the country. As her career progressed she naturally began to produce and write children’s theatre for the under 10’s.
Venues all around the UK
The parents love the class management system as it ensures they can easily book and pay.- Leanne Jones, Founder Drama Tots