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Doug Howard - CEO of Drama Kids International

To learn more about the rama Kids International Franchising Opportunity please click here

1. Would you describe the Drama Kids program as an ongoing program
for self development?

Yes, I believe that is accurate. It is what makes us different frommost other after school programs that are focused only on entertainment. While Drama Kids is also very fun, our teaching techniques and our curriculum are designed to continually challenge students to improve their speaking skills, confidence, leadership skills, and acting talents at a pace that is comfortable for them. We have found that most children seek challenges and want to learn while also having fun. It is a good reason why most of our students stay in our program for two years or more. Some enjoy it so much they stay in our program for five years or more.

2. How did Drama Kids Start?

In 1979, Helen O'Grady, a trained teacher, drama teacher and actress, rented a community center in Perth, Australia and began after school drama classes for children. Her aims were to provide a developmental program for children through drama, to encourage:

1. Enthusiasm and a positive approach to life.
2. Ongoing confidence.
3. Self esteem.
4. Skill in verbal communication.
5. Effective social interaction.

Due to the enthusiastic response from parents and students, further locations were opened and by 1987 classes had been established in 24 suburban locations around Perth. By that time student numbers exceeded 800 and seven teachers had been trained and employed on a full or part time basis.

Since then, the franchise system has expanded into 14 additional countries around the world with over 45,000 students currently enrolled. During 2000, I left my position as a Vice President of Sylvan Learning Systems to become President and CEO, and we began franchise operations in the USA under the name, " Drama Kids International". In 2002, Drama Kids introduced its Drama Kids Summer Camp program to take advantage of the long summer breaks granted to students in the United States. In early 2006, Drama Kids introduced Drama Kids Preschool Workshops to offer classes directly to preschool directors for their schools and to use in “mommy and me” classes for 3-4 year olds. In 2006, Drama Kids also introduced Drama Kids " KinderKid " classes to accommodate families wishing to have 4 and 5 year olds begin exploring the fun and wonders of drama and to build speaking skills.

3. What do parents say about your program?

Except for the financial rewards, the great feedback we get from parents and students is perhaps the best reward our owners receive. Parents love the classes as they see the creative confidence and presentation experience we provide their children. Children love the classes because we are constantly doing new activities in each class. They never really know what to expect. Of course you might expect “suspense” in any drama program. However, most drama programs are not suspenseful at all, rather, they consist of very long rehearsal sessions and with intense line memorization. Drama Kids is focused on student experience, not audience experience. This makes our program very attractive to our customers.

One parent told me recently that she firmly believes that her child has improved her creative reading and writing skills through her participation in Drama Kids. We don’t have children read or write in our classes so this struck me as interesting. I think the benefits of dramatic performance in Drama Kids extend beyond what we even consider the main benefits to be.

4. Do you believe that Drama Kids is an ideal franchise for women?

Approximately 85% of our franchise owners are women so I would definitely say “yes”. Our women franchise owners really like that Drama Kids is a home based business. Classes are taught for 2 to 3 hours in the afternoon and early evening. Owners may hold Saturday morning classes, but the business doesn’t require long weekend hours. Summer weeks are spent doing a couple of weeks of Drama Kids Summer Camp, but there is usually a good amount of free time. As the classes build and teachers are hired, the business offers a very good income potential, especially considering that one doesn’t need to be “minding the store” 60 hours or more a week. This is because overhead costs are virtually nil so most money received from student enrollment fees can be retained.

5. What in your opinion is the most gratifying thing about owning a Drama Kids franchise?

We take opening and building a financially viable franchise very seriously. If our franchises are not profitable, they will not have the resources to grow and add more classes and students. So it is gratifying to see owners grow their Drama Kids business. Above that, it is difficult to think of any business that offers the same opportunity to form long term relationships with hundreds of students and their parents who really appreciate the classes and skills that we are developing. Owners always keep a scrapbook of their testimonials, quotes, cards, and pictures that they receive from their students as a life long souvenir.

6. What sort of support do you offer your franchisees?

Some of our owners have business experience, but many of our owners come from teaching, or early childhood development backgrounds. So we have to be good at providing thorough full scope business training and support. Naturally, we also cover class content and teaching techniques as well. We provide a full week of initial training, followed up by on site visits during launch time to make sure skills are retained and further developed. We add to that with weekly support calls, email communications, regional conferences and a national conference each year. We provide a great deal of technology tools and services to reduce administrative work, and increase sales via the internet.

7. Tell us one of your successful franchisee stories.

Only one? The special relationships that get built between our owners and the students and parents is something that I’m always amazed at. We ask children to take risks through acting and performing by saying and doing things in front of other people, that they would never otherwise experience. We provide a positive atmosphere in our classes so children feel comfortable to take these risks. This builds a special bond with students over time. One owner was taken out to a surprise formal dinner, by her teenagers in her DKI Acting Academy class. Another owner went to teach her regular class and the parents and students gave her a surprise party.

8. What qualities do you look for in a potential franchisee?

We are looking for long term partners. So we always look for integrity first. We will then look for evidence that a candidate can make and keep commitments to something or to someone. We also would expect to see some prior interest in child development as reflected in extracurricular activities or community service. Occupationally, we are pretty open-minded. Business experience is great. We also will consider those with teaching or child development backgrounds.

9. Your advice to women venturing out into business?

Be sure you find a business that you love. Don’t take the word of consultants or friends as to what you may like. Do what you know you will like. Always include all of your family members into the discussion as their lives will be impacted by the decision, but above all listen to your heart. You will only be successful at building something you really love.

Once you select a business, plan your growth realistically with an understanding of your resources, and your other life priorities. Then be prepared to get visible. A home based business does NOT mean staying at home. Get out and be seen and heard. Network and develop partners. A new adventure awaits.

To learn more about the rama Kids International Franchising Opportunity please click here

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