15 ways The Creation Station Franchise Are Supporting Franchise Owners During COVID-19
At The Creation Station we’ve been able to inspire 1.5 million children and adults since 2002 with our award-winning art and crafts keepsake workshops, kids' classes, clubs, parties, adult and elderly classes, intergenerational fun and events.
We couldn’t have achieved this positive impact without our fantastic franchise partners and wonderful customers who have rated our services 5-Star. We're part of a team, and we create this positive impact by supporting and being there for each other.
When considering purchasing a franchise we believe it's essential to consider a number of factors, these include:
- Does the business involve activities that you want to do as your future career?
- Do the company values, align with your own?
- How does the Franchisor support you during challenging times?
“I trained in March 2020, just as Lockdown happened – and the support has been much much more that I thought I was going to get. With help on how to run online sessions, all our plans being rewritten and adapted for us, fees being cancelled to help us, marketing support, daily contact for the first few months then weekly zooms for opens chats, continuity of service for all the products, just to mention a few things to help me grow my business! I’m very glad I invested in my Creation Station franchise. This time has shown me that this was definitely the right franchise company and the right decision for me”
Karen Lane – The Creation Station franchise partner Guernsey
During lockdown we quickly found ways to inspire our customers. Within days we had an action plan. We've further developed COVID SECURE face to face sessions and we can now move from online to Face to face if required.
In collaboration with our franchise partners we created an action plan along with a new ‘Surviving & Thriving’ Operations Manual. This manual continues to be updated and alongside regular zoom calls and regional discussions we have been able to safely adapt to changing situations.
Delivering Our Values
Our brand values, created in 2002 are the bedrock of our business and relate to all our stakeholders, customers, colleagues and franchise partners.
Our mission is to bring creativity into all areas of learning, leisure, and life for all ages.
We do this with a focus on providing creative journeys of exploration, discovery and development. For us, it’s not what we make, but how we make people feel, and that’s what makes the difference.
‘I’ve been running my Creation Station for over five years and I’ve loved building my business and valued having a flexible career that can fit around my girls. I’ve always been very supported and recently the support has increased even more. We’ve had really clear and comprehensive training to ensure we fully understand what’s required and all our processes are COVID SECURE. This means that when we aren’t in lockdown we can operate face to face activities safely and just move to online if needed. My six days of summer camps brought in over £3,000 and I’ve continued to receive lots of further bookings. Each booking has a ‘ping’ noise on my phone so it’s great to hear it pinging away! I turn it off at night as this is often when it pings the most! I know creative experiences are beneficial in so many ways for kids and adults and I’m very proud to be able to support my community”
Emma Winterbourne Creation Station Franchise Owner
15 Areas of Additional Support For Our Franchisees Actions to support
As well as supporting our franchise partners we were very mindful of our 25,000 children and adult customers that we love inspiring each week.
1. Inspiring the nation
Supporting our customers - In the first week during lockdown, Founder, Sarah Cressall and her three sons provided daily live creative sessions providing free ideas for families.
We were very mindful of ensuring we looked after our 25,000 children and adult customers that we inspire each week. In the first week during lockdown, Founder, Sarah Cressall and her three sons provided daily live creative sessions providing free ideas for families.
These reached over 50,000 views and were live-streamed by many organisations including Netmums and local community groups.
As part of Children's Art Week and over the summer, franchisees were provided with training and opportunities to do short live videos, streamlined on our national Facebook to reach out to customers and provide greater exposure for them.
We've continued these live sessions to help promote creativity.
2. Supporting communities
We recognised that this was a tough time for many families. We worked with many national and local charities and schools, including Home-Start and Rays of Sunshine to provide crafts packs and bespoke online courses. Over 5,000 families have been inspired by our work.
3. Monthly licence fee and costs.
We knew it was tough on our team of franchise partners both from a work and a personal perspective. This is why we said that they didn’t need to pay anything as a licence fee for three months and all direct debits for the craft supplies would be stopped.
This has been greatly appreciated by the team. We then introduced 20% fees for the next two months and then 40% for the following two months. This has meant that franchisees have had time to take on board the changes, adapt to the new processes and grow their businesses with a mix of face to face and online.
4. Mentoring, one to one support and being part of a team
Business Development Managers continued their one-to-one support and regional monthly meet-ups online
Sarah Cressall, CEO and Founder of The Creation Station, provided very strong leadership with clear communications with daily live video calls with our Franchise partners, to bring everyone together and to provide clear updates on the developments and processes. One of our Franchise partners, Kirsty Hickson and her husband ran a fun creative quiz one night which included modelling food items with Play-Doh and this went down really well!
We developed a new online training portal called iCreate allowing our customers to watch the videos of the sessions at the time that was right for them and sent them a FAB art box – full of everything that they needed to run the sessions comfortably at home. This meant that if any franchisees couldn't run interactive online sessions, they could sell the pre-recorded sessions.
Franchisee partners were provided with new training and opportunities to do short live videos, streamlined on our national Facebook to support customers and provide greater exposure for them.
6. Website Developments
There were significant website developments, including a new online class booking system, updated terms and conditions, new online party packages and booking system.
We also created waiting lists so that franchisees could ensure that whilst we waited to come out of lockdown, they could keep in touch with customers.
Demand for creativity increased as people looked for things to entertain and educate their children, and also for things to do for themselves.
As a creative company we pride ourselves on our ability to listen to, gather and develop ideas. Throughout this period, we have been actively identifying opportunities, and have developed many initiatives to support our franchise partners.
8. Craft Packs
With Health and Safety consultation we provided clear guidance and support on how to safely create and sell crafts packs. We have maintained our focus on removing single-use plastic wherever possible. To keep the costs down for our customers we have decanted paint into recyclable containers made from sugar cane. (We had to do a fair bit of testing as the first trial we did disintegrated but we did find the the perfect eco solution!)
These have gone down well for Father’s Day, Summer boredom busters, Halloween packs, Christmas crafting etc.
9. Ensuring Craft Supplies Available
We wanted to ensure that our franchisees had the materials they need to send out craft supplies to our franchisees and that customers had access to craft supplies.
Due to restrictions we had to make changes to the warehouse staffing, Sarah Cressall's three sons took responsibility to take over the warehouse and ensure all orders where dispatched on time. We were one of just a few craft suppliers that had washable paint.
10. Children’s Online Classes
We rewrote our session plans so they could be delivered online, with craft packs delivered to each customer. One concern we had was, whether there would be more time spent looking at the screen than engaging their child in the activity.
We found that the time spent with the child looking at the screen was minimal as they were so engrossed in the activities and their ideas.
The benefits of online creative classes were shared in a Creation Station webinar so that everyone could promote these benefits.
11. Children's Online Parties
We all know that it has been extremely tough for children. So that they also didn't miss out on their birthday party celebrations too, we created a selection of online parties for parents and children to choose from.
Where we are able to, we have also provided safe parties in line with the rule of six. As parties are considered social events they don't fall under the same rules as our classes We have therefore been able to provide fun parties for up to five children along with a fully trained Creation Station leader.
12. Adult Crafts Online
We provided our Creative Crafter sessions for adults to wind-down and socialise after the stresses of juggling their day. What we didn’t expect was the reach and the popularity these would have. People were inviting friends and family members from different parts of the country to join in a craft evening with them, as these adult crafting sessions provided a fun way for them to connect.
We developed this activity further.by giving one person the opportunity to be the host and invite their friends. This meant that they received their evening and craft pack for free and their friends simply purchased their event ticket. During the session, we would then ask who would like to host the next event, with a range of different activities that they can choose from, and the host receives free crafts.
This way we can continue to reach out to groups of people to do different crafts together in the comfort of their home.
13. COVID SECURE Processes & Activities
The safety of everyone is our highest priority. To ensure we maintain COVID SECURE practices we provided clear guidelines, training and practical tips for our franchise partners.
As we provide COVID SECURE safe business practices, we have been able to safely return to face to face classes. This means that during any local lockdown we can now move seamlessly from face to face classes to online. This is giving customers confidence in block booking.
We created an online-COVID-19 Secure course for our franchisee partners to complete and they then received a “COVID-19 Secure” badge on their webpages.
Our bespoke Creation Station 'Thriving & Surviving Manual' is currently up to 114 pages and we are now on version 11b!
14. Face To Face Activities
When we where able to go back to face to face classes we rewrote our session plans., and adapted our programmes to ensure each customer taking part had their own materials and santised tools. Franchisees have their own COVID SECURE box, that has all the items they need to ensure their classes are delivered safely whilst maintaining our friendly and professional approach.
For our children's classes we provide individual 'Magical Ideas Bags' to keep inspiring their own imagination and spark their own curiosity.
Communication has been key with our franchisees and also with our customers and we provided clear and friendly messages and signage on social media and in classes.
We are now back to face to face classes with the robust processes in place to move to online if required.
We believe that working together we can make a bigger difference. We’re pleased to have teamed up with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, Hasbro, Tiny Pop and Usborne books to help inspire imaginations across the UK.
... and lots more exciting developments to follow.
People Choosing to Run Their Own Creation Station During COVID
We’ve seen a growing demand for creative experiences and also an increase in people wanting to run a creativity activity. Many people are using this time to consider their next career move. People have been reflecting on priorities and have said they valued time with their family, and also, they are looking for a new and more fulfilling opportunity.
During lockdown we awarded our Creation Station franchise to eight ladies. The comprehensive five-day training programme is delivered online in interactive and practical sessions.
At the end of the training everyone has their own ‘business plan of action’ and is able to start listing and running classes straight after training if they choose to.
There has never been a more important time to tap into our creativity and support each other through these challenging times. We will continue to bring creativity into all areas of learning, leisure and life and support our proactive and friendly franchise partners so that together we can create a difference.
Click here to find Creation Station art and crafts classes and parties near me.
To run your own flexible and supportive Creation Station franchise, click here to download franchise information pack.
If you have received your information pack and would love to find out more, join in an interactive live Discovery Event.