Building a Franchise Network during a worldwide pandemic!

Tappy Toes

Tappy Toes is an award-winning baby and toddler dance class franchise. Here’s how they have not just survived, but thrived throughout the COVID 19 pandemic.

We are proud to say, not only did we lead our franchisees through the Covid 19 pandemic, but we have also thrived as a company. We have grown our franchise from 6 to 20 franchisees since the start of lockdown and we aim to continue this rate of growth going forward.

I know of many independent dance schools and children’s activity businesses who haven’t made it through the last 12/18 months, and I truly believe that is what sets a franchise business apart.

Each franchisee is a local, small business owner, but together we are a network of hard working, passionate and ambitious people, who have each other’s backs! As a franchisor I couldn’t have got through the last 12 months without the support and backing of my amazing franchisees, and I know they would say the same about me. We all clubbed together, shared ideas, and made things work. This is the value that a franchise brings.

Despite this difficult period, we were recognised by the Virtual Franchise Awards, sponsored by Barclays, and won Best Franchisee Support (Gold Award) and Best Adaptation to Change (Silver award). Here’s how we did it…

Not being able to offer in person classes or be allowed to deliver our nursery and pre-school sessions basically meant no income whatsoever, overnight, for our franchisees. However, we weren’t going to lay down and die! We had to come up with a plan… and super quick!

How did we support our franchisees during the pandemic?

When the first lockdown hit, we immediately established a way to offer our sessions live and interactive via zoom, so that our franchisees could continue to earn. We arranged a video call with all franchisees and talked them through the process of setting up their online offering.

We agreed a new pricing structure and monthly membership plan. Updated all CRM systems to allow for this and set about marketing our new offering!

We made sure our new online classes were bookable via all children’s activity booking systems including Happity and Hoop (who’ve sadly not made it through the pandemic!) to make it super easy for new customers to discover us.

Monthly Payments

We immediately cancelled our franchisees monthly management fees, including their advertising levy… although we didn’t stop the advertising spend!

We organised Facebook live free demo classes, joined forces with What’s on 4 little one’s weekly showcase classes, upped our fb and Google ads and managed to sustain 15-30 students in each of our online sessions.

New Revenue Streams

We launched our props bags, so parents had their own little bag of tricks to use at home with our online classes and could subsequently use them when we restarted our in-person classes to avoid sharing props. These were so popular we sold out within a week!


We organised Covid 19 safety courses for all teachers and put new systems in place ready for reopening.

Again, we chatted to our franchisees to work out the best way forward with regards to our lesson plans, and came up with adapted structures that prevented any contact between our dance students.

We put measures in place to re-open safely and sent guidance to all franchisees regarding this.

  • Reduced classes sizes
  • Sanitising props
  • Spot markers for distancing
  • Adapted lesson plans

During all of this we had a new Franchisee launch her business! We supported her as she set up her online offering, having never taught an in-person class before! And we are still supporting her now as she transitions into studio classes.

Waiting Lists

Once classes were able to resume in person, our dance families were booking in their droves. We have satisfied our customers that our classes are well thought out and safely planned in line with government guidelines regarding Covid 19. Our reduced class sizes meant that many of the classes are fully booked with waiting lists and we’ve had to open additional classes to keep up with demand. What a great position to be in when we can resume standard lesson sizes.

New Franchisees

We also welcomed 3 new franchisees, who launched at the end of October 2020 and 6 who launched in April 2021. We trained them up via zoom throughout the lockdown and they couldn’t wait to get going… Alex Turner, our London franchisee launched with 120 children booked in!

Don’t under estimate the power of supporting your franchisees

A franchisee in my experience is likely to be someone driven, ambitious and entrepreneurial, but just doesn’t have their own idea for a business, or needs that extra back up. This is where a franchise comes in. Joining a franchise gives that business ‘leg up’ but you still need the skills to build your business and drive it forwards.

At Tappy Toes we understand that our franchisees are the backbones of our business and our number one priority is supporting them through every step of their business journey!

If you are looking for a new career right now… perhaps you’ve been made redundant and want to safeguard yourself against that happening again! Maybe the lockdown has made you realise you don’t want to work a 9-5 anymore… or you enjoyed more time spent with family and have decided you want to continue that work/ life balance… or do you just love working with little ones and are passionate about their development…

Whatever your reason for considering a new career, we hope that you will consider Tappy Toes, and we’d love to arrange a video call to tell you more!

Learn more about the Tappy Toes franchise

This article features in Franchise Entrepreneur, magazine of the Quality Franchise Association. You can read the full magazine here.