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diddidanceAnne-Marie Martin, diddi dance Founder and Managing Director

What is your background?

I came from a dance background. After attending the London School for Contemporary Dance and then graduating with a degree (BPA) in dance from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, I danced professionally for ten years before going on to teach children of all ages and abilities in a variety of dance styles & performance techniques. In my dancing days I performed in London based contemporary dance companies, pop videos for artists such as Bryan Adams & Ash, on TV at the Brit Awards & Top of the Pops, in corporate shows and on tours.

How did you start your business, diddi dance?

diddi dance began as a single class for friends in 2003. Coming from a very experienced dance background I used my knowledge of dance to create diddi dance. The class structure itself is modeled after an adult dance class - from warm up to cool down. As well as creating the syllabus, I have researched, choreographed and developed the music for each style so that they are all as relevant and appropriate as possible. I have been developing the programme for over 10 years now, trying to find the perfect ways to encourage pre-school children as young as 16 months (along with their parents/carers) to build confidence & stamina and to improve their rhythm & coordination through fun dancing games & exercises.

What happens in a diddi dance class?

Our classes are 45 minutes long. They engage and inspire children's own creativity by using action songs, dancing games, fun exercises, hoops and dance ribbons to our own original, funky pop songs. diddi dance classes change themes every half term exploring 16 different dance styles including salsa, country, bollywood, hip hop and tap - catering to all tastes. All classes follow a structured plan yet are taught in a relaxed atmosphere where children can learn at their own pace as their confidence builds.
Classes are suitable for children ages 2-4 but we have had children as young as 14/15 months come along and join in. All children can find something to benefit them in the class.

Why did you decide to Franchise the business?

diddi dance proved to be a huge hit when I was teaching myself so I decided to roll it out to other areas with a format that guaranteed new dance styles every half-term, to keep lessons fresh and fun. I chose franchising over selling a license as I wanted to keep the structure & syllabus intact and keep the classes consistent so a child could move from one area to another and still get the same diddi dance experience. I, therefore, started a few pilot franchises in 2006 and then officially started franchising in 2010. There are now over 35 franchisees with over 200 classes running weekly.

Who are you looking for as a Franchisee?

We are always looking for people passionate about working with this age group and wanting to help them grow during these early, formative year. You must love interacting not only with children but adults too. Boundless energy is a must as it takes a lot to keep this age group engaged. Being hard working, ambitious, determined and having an enthusiasm to succeed & desire to run your own business is a must! Obviously, knowledge of your area and an interest in dance helps.

What training do you offer to Franchisees?

We offer all new franchisees a week-long training course, which takes place in and outside of classes. They work with myself and the diddi dance Franchise Director during this week to learn the psychology and physiology of working with children under 5 as well as the elements in our syllabus. There is also business and marketing training during this week, but also leading up to it. After this weeks training further training is supplied in monthly webinars and at our annual 2-day AGM.

How does running a Franchise work around your family life?

The great thing about running a diddi dance Franchise is you set your hours and mostly you work during school hours. Classes can run anytime between 9am and 3pm, so as a parent you can be there for school drop-off/pick-ups and have your evenings and weekends with your children still. Running a franchise also works if down the line you want to have more children, since you can hire staff (or in our case teachers) to run your classes for you and keep your business going while you are on maternity leave.
I even continue to run my own diddi dance franchise in South East London while continuing to raise my 2 children: Bobby aged 7 and Lily aged 3.

Is running your diddi dance Franchise rewarding?

Absolutely! Working with this age range is amazing as everyday they come into class and offer you something different to work with, so each working day is a surprise as to what you are going to get. As well, having the ability to work around my children’s schedules and still be a mother as well as a business woman is so enjoyable for me.

What would be your advice to anyone wanting to start their own business or buy a franchise?

One piece of advice I would give is research, research, research, and ask for advice. Check trademarks, copyrights and legal documents…everything! The worst thing you can do is invest a lot of time and money into a business to only find out that your company name conflicts with another, the idea encroaches on a copyright or you haven’t accurately got your legals in line. Work with a business consultant to help you learn all you need to and get your business to where it needs to be. Also passion! Make sure you are passionate the business you want to start or take on so that you enjoy working on it every day. Because dance has been in my life for aFind Jobss long as I can remember diddi dance now allows me to continue with my passion even though my performing days might be behind me.

Interested in joining diddi dance? Find out more ........

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