Description: With more than a decade of experience and over 170 schools throughout North and South America, Africa and Asia Pacific, School of Rock is the leader in performance-based after school music education. Opportunities: Single, Multi-unit opportunities available in the US & Canada Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Cash Required: $100,000. Training Provided: Yes. SBA-Approved: Yes.
Why I Love Owning a School of Rock Franchise
We offer a 10% discount on the initial franchise fee for qualified Veterans.
Interview with Colin Fitzpatrick: Vice President of Franchising & Development of School of Rock
If the name sounds familiar, it’s no surprise. Founded by musicians, School of Rock began in 1998 with the mission to enrich the lives of kids through the power of rocking out in performance-based music education. Fast forward to the present, School of Rock is now the world’s largest music education franchise and growing!
In this Success Stories Interview, we hear from Colin Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Franchising & Development at School of Rock. He has been with the company since January 2011 and has been involved with the growth of the organization from around 60 units to over 180 today. He is responsible for all aspects of franchising and development and oversees the full spectrum of expansion efforts including facilitating the due diligence process through franchise awards, real estate site selection, design and development, legal regulation compliance and trademark management (and anything else that comes his way!).
Read on to find out why School of Rock is a truly exceptional franchise that covers all the bases to set franchisees up for superstar success in their community.
Tell us about the history of School of Rock.
School of Rock started in 1998 in Philadelphia and began like a lot of franchise concepts do. The founder was a lifelong musician and instructor who recognized the void in traditional music lessons – the focus being (in most cases) entirely on the one-on-one lesson and not enough on the group play and performance aspect of music – and decided to open a school along these lines. The business operated as a single unit for a number of years until parents from the school asked about franchise opportunities in neighboring towns they were commuting from to attend School of Rock. From there, the organization grew somewhat organically. In 2009 when Sterling Partners acquired the company, they invested in bolstering infrastructure and the rest is, as they say, history. Today, School of Rock operates and supports a network of over 180 schools in 9 countries and has in excess of 20,000 kids in its schools every week.
Describe a person who would fit in well with running a School of Rock franchise. Is musical talent necessary?
Our ideal candidate is someone who is extroverted and sales-oriented and has a deep passion for music and developing kids. Musical talent is absolutely not necessary, but a love for music and kids is non-negotiable. Someone who is active in and a leader in their community has a leg up out of the gate as well, as so much of what we do is about plugging in locally.
What’s the process for becoming a School of Rock franchisee?
It starts with inquiring. Prospective franchisees will hear from our Development Coordinator to address initial questions and qualifications before proceeding with some of the preliminary formalities. Once prospective franchisees have been disclosed, one of our Franchise Development Directors works hand in hand with them to facilitate the due diligence process and understanding of our business. Prospective franchisees meet with the corporate team at a daylong meeting referred to as ‘Opening Act’ which is an excellent opportunity for them to meet us and us to meet them. This process usually runs about 90 days before a decision is made on both sides to move forward with entering into a franchise agreement and beginning the opening process.
Do you have competition in the performance-based music education area?
We are the largest music education franchise in the world and the only concept that focuses exclusively on performance-based music education. There are typically a number of lesson providers in local markets that offer some semblance of a group program but the thinking behind the methodology and delivery is dramatically different, which is what gives us the competitive advantage.
What are the benefits to choosing School of Rock over another educational/music franchise?
Aside from our historical success rate, the support we provide and the fact that we lead the music education category, School of Rock is a globally recognized brand and that carries weight. An established brand is one of the most powerful assets a franchisee has to leverage. Everyone is familiar with the movie (which we were the inspiration for) and as we continue our expansion more and more people are becoming familiar with the program. Throw in the Broadway Musical, the Nickelodeon show (both of which we are affiliated with), former and current student accolades and there’s no contest as it relates to brand power and that is only going to continue to snowball.
In addition to this, the network of other owners’ collective experience and knowledge all franchisees have access to and the collaborative nature of our system is incredibly powerful.
How would you describe the impact franchises like yours have on their communities?
Immensely positive. We have seen firsthand in communities we serve and have heard from parents of students across the US and from abroad about the impact School of Rock has had. The program teaches students how to play their instruments (incredibly well and very quickly) but getting on stage and being accountable to a team teaches confidence, discipline, responsibility, empathy, creative thinking… all very necessary life skills that pay dividends in perpetuity. We like to think of ourselves as part of the village that it takes to build great people and music is the medium.
What’s the biggest mistake you see from incoming franchisees? How can it be avoided?
We (School of Rock) are in a very fortunate position in that the brand is bigger than we are. We are bombarded with so many different and amazing opportunities everyday that fit into what we do but begin to move away from our core focus, and those can become distractions.
Over the first 18 months in operation, franchisee’s will be presented with opportunities and have ideas on how to tweak certain things to better fit their local markets. Those ideas are all generally valid and great, but we tell our franchisees to write those ideas down, file them in a drawer and stick to the plan. Significant learning happens in that period of time and once franchisees have operated as we train them, there will be a whole new level of clarity from which to implement new ideas.
What is the #1 piece of advice you would give a first-time franchisee?
Choose wisely. Choose a business that is purpose-driven and something you are passionate about. Generally, that is the number one thing that people who are considering leaving their current career are looking for, but often times they settle on something that doesn’t provide that. Without a passion for the business you are getting into, you’re essentially just buying yourself another “job.”
(…and do your due diligence!)
Can you elaborate on the kind of support and training an incoming franchisee can expect from School of Rock?
We have multiple teams dedicated to the support of new franchisees and the startup process. We provide support and guidance throughout the market evaluation process, real estate site selection and lease negotiation. Once a location is secured, we work with the franchisee and local architect to lay the space out in the most effective manner and have direct relationships with fixture, finishes and equipment vendors to outfit the school. We provide project management support through the Grand Opening process which includes school operations management training, local school marketing planning and IT systems setup and support. Over the course of opening almost 200 schools, we’ve created a process that clearly lays out the tasks to be completed in the timeline we establish collectively and allows for franchisees to focus on building a buzz locally about the opening of their school to ensure a strong start.
What’s next for School of Rock in terms of future growth?
We’re going to continue along the same trajectory we have for the past several years- opening 25-30+ schools per year. We are still heavily focused on domestic growth but now have some critical mass internationally that will allow for us to pursue additional and larger opportunities abroad. We have some exciting things in the works to this end.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The world needs more music and art. Come join our cause.
GREAT! WHAT'S MY NEXT STEP?
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