E36 | Behind the Scenes of in the Night Garden Live with Creator Andy Fletcher
Today we talk to Andy Fletcher, a chartered accountant with a MBA from London Business School, who is also responsible for making spectacular family theatre events happen in unique spaces.
With an eclectic business path behind him, Andy shares his career to date and how he came to be responsible for In the Night Garden Live (amongst others).
In the Night Garden Live was his first production with partner Andy Collier, and it has toured the UK in its own inflatable theatre since 2009. Now in its 10th year, In the Night Garden Live is considered one of the UK’s favourite family events and with audience figures standing at well over 1 million, as well as a whopping 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 12,844 parents’ reviews, no other show holds a torch to this one.
Join us on today’s podcast to hear Andy talking about:
- Why he chose to get involved with such a complicated production as In The Night Garden.
- His reason behind opting to use the airline ticketing model to sell theatre tickets.
- Why he believes their ticketing model is the ticketing model of the future.
- The difference between their two productions: In The Night Garden and Bing Bunny (as well as dropping a bombshell that they have another production in the pipeline).
- Why it’s so important as a small business owner to be a jack of all trades.
- The importance of investing in great staff.
Today’s guest, Andy Fletcher, has had a varied business life, being involved in a fair few projects, but nothing has challenged his entrepreneurial spirit quite like his current venture: Minor Entertainment.
Minor Entertainment was established in 2009 to make spectacular family theatre events, and is responsible for hits such as In the Night Garden live and Bing Live. But his foray into theatre hasn’t been without its foibles, and today Andy is keen to share the insights he’s learned along the way.
Great marketing efforts
Never underestimate the importance of great marketing efforts. One of Andy’s particular coups that he is proud of is their advent giveaways, an idea they came up with to encourage people who have shown interest in their shows, to stay in touch.
People don’t have to make any purchases, but just by being engaged with Minor Entertainment, they are eligible to win small prizes; plus having an advent calendar with Igglepiggle behind the door is enough to get any small person excited.
No plan survives first contact
This army adage applies to almost every aspect of life. You can plan every detail down the nth degree, but no plan will survive first contact with the enemy, because you don’t know how they are going to react.
With In the Night Garden, nothing had to be changed after the first show, people loved it and have continued loving it in its current format. Bing Live, however, needed a lot of readjustment before the producers and the audiences loved it.
The point is, plan as much as you can, but make sure your plans and you are adaptable to change. Because one of the keys to success in business is flexibility.
Don’t overlook the obvious things
We all have a tendency to over complicate matters, but sometimes it’s the easiest mistakes to remedy, that are the ones that can trip you up.
One of Andy’s regrets is opting in the early years not to go back around the venues they visited in the first year, figuring that they’d played to those audiences already and that no one would come back.
What they had forgotten was that two year olds grow up, and so the following year there are new two year olds, last year’s one year olds, who had missed out on the show because they were too little.
They should have gone back, it would have made planning so much easier.
Get into business with people who are invested in you
The importance of having people who work for you and who believe in you are vital to your survival. You need backers and staff to be willing to go that extra mile for you, because your success is shared.
In the theatre world the show has to happen on time, or it doesn’t happen. You need people who understand that.
Invest in great staff
You find the right people by paying them properly, and then treating them like adults. Share your success with them, and never take out your failures on them. Be honest and open with them, and hire them to do the things you can’t.
If they have responsibility for something, autonomy for their part in making sure the show runs smoothly, they will take pride in doing it to the best of their ability. Essentially, treat people as you would like to be treated and you’ll be rewarded with loyal staff.
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