SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Update – 2 Years A.D. (After Dzana)

It’s been 2 years since School of Rock ousted CEO Dzana Homan in a firestorm of controversy involving UnhappyFranchisee.Com and bullying by her attorney Craig Tractenberg.  At that time, School of Rock franchisees were distressed by a dictatorial corporate atmosphere and an indifference to their concerns and success.  Franchisor parent company Sterling Partners acted swiftly, replacing CEO Dzana Homan with Rob Price.  We return to School of Rock franchisees to ask:  Have things improved since Rob Price became the School of Rock frontman? by Sean Kelly

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  Two years ago this month, I received complaints from School of Rock franchisees who were afraid to voice their complaints lest they be targeted for retaliation by School of Rock CEO Dzana Homan, who they claimed was a tyrannical bully.

I posted their anonymous complaints publicly, and contacted Ms. Homan and execs at School of Rock parent Sterling Capital for comment and rebuttal.

Rob Price School of RockTo be honest, I thought the accounts of Ms. Homan’s bizarre behavior had to have been exaggerated, and the franchisees’ fear of retaliation a bit paranoid and overblown.

Then I received a menacing call from Ms. Homan’s attorney, Craig Tractenberg, who threatened to destroy me personally and professionally if I did not immediately delete all mention of Ms. Homan & School of Rock.

I immediately published Tractenberg’s threats and contacted the General Counsel of Sterling Capital, who disavowed knowledge or participation in the threats.

I filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of PA over Tractenberg’s misconduct and granted Franchise Times an interview about the controversy.

June 30, 2017, just a little over a month from my first post on School of Rock franchise complaints, School of Rock announced that CEO Dzana Homan had left “to pursue other interests” and that the former President of Edible Arrangements, Rob Price, would be taking on the role of CEO.

Rob Price stepped into a very difficult situation with many justifiably disgruntled and distrustful franchise owners.  How has he done so far?  Have things improved at School of Rock for franchise owners and employees?

For our chrologogical index of posts, read: SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise, Sterling Partners CEO Controversy (Topic Index)

Please share your candid opinions and observations either by leaving a comment below (anonymous is fine) or by emailing me, in confidence, at UnhappyFranchisee[at]  This page will be updated as new comments are received.

School of Rock Franchise Updates Indicate Strong Improvement

Some initial franchisee comments about CEO Rob Price’s performance and the situation for School of Rock franchisees seem encouraging.  As I receive additional comments, I will update this page to reflect the broader franchisee perspective.

A formerly disgruntled School of Rock franchise owner recently wrote:

OMG we are in such a better place. Rob is doing a terrific job… He’s cleared out the useless people that were in exec ranks and people he kept are held to high standards.

He’s a clear communicator. There are some very cool things launching this Fall/winter that will be game-changers in our market.

My franchise has grown exponentially since DZ left. Honestly I couldn’t be happier.

A previously critical School of Rock franchise owner recently wrote:

I am happy to report that SOR has made a 180 and are a pleasure to work with.

Rob Price has done a fantastic job and has mobilized his team to work with franchisees in true partnership fashion.

They have launched many initiatives that will help our business.  I think most of the franchisees would say the same thing.

Another franchisee wrote:

Rob is an amazing CEO! He is an engaging and wonderful leader.

It is clear to see that he treats his corporate staff with the dignity and respect that seemed to be lacking under prior leadership.

The corporate crew are all a pleasure to work with, efficient, friendly and knowledgeable.

Rob himself has a great sense of humor and is very accessible to his franchisees.

What do you think?  Share a comment below.



SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise, Sterling Partners CEO Controversy: UPDATED (Topic Index)



TAGS: School of Rock, School of Rock franchise, School of Rock franchise opportunity, Sterling Partners, Rob Price, Dzana Homan, Craig Tractenberg, Craig Tractenberg complaints, franchise complaints, unhappy franchisee

14 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Update – 2 Years A.D. (After Dzana)

  • May 4, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I have always felt that the School of Rock provides an incredible experience and life-changing opportunities for our customers. There is no reason why we cannot be the best franchise organization in the world as well. With Rob at the helm, we moved from an environment of fear and mistrust to one of optimism, mutual respect, and growth. I never would have thought that I would consider opening another location(s), but now I feel that I am leaving an opportunity on the table if we don’t expand. I look forward to seeing what Rob accomplishes in the future. He has already done so much in his short time here.

  • May 7, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Not going to lie – I think it’s awesome that the system was able to turn itself around. Definitely a nice change of pace to see a happy story here. Good luck with your ventures!

  • May 7, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    There has been a turnaround for sure. The School of Rock under Dzana was a nightmare for all the reasons already documented.

    We are starting to get more of the tools that we need and the interactions with the corporate team have at least been free of the rancor that was present under the prior regime.

    Since Rob came on board, the organization is more professional in dealing with the franchisees. The messaging is that they are expected to be acting more as partners to the franchisees, and that has lead to a lot of the good feelings that people are experiencing.

    What hasn’t changed is that we continue to pay a lot in royalties for what we are getting. Our billing, scheduling and CRM applications haven’t changed and are really lacking in functionality for our business (still holding out hope that this changes under the new IT head). The quantity and quality of the marketing campaigns still aren’t what we need and seem to miss the mark. They are better, but still have a long way to go.

    The lack of depth in the corporate staff is really apparent in the rollout of initiatives. Our recent website deployment seemed very rushed, and marketing campaigns are never done far enough in advance. Is it getting better under Rob? Most definitely. And I hope it continues to improve.

    I am optimistic, but not to the point of laying down more money for more locations. The revenue model isn’t the best, and many schools are ‘underperforming’. A few locations have simply closed their doors without a buyer and without a corporate offer for a buyout, which should give people pause as to why those locations were sold in the first place.

    But it’s improving…so there is that.

  • May 7, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    There are many positive changes happening that bode well. We have an upgraded website, apparently we will get some curriculum in the fall which hopefully will address copyright usage better, some vendor opportunities (although often they are not that good a deal and we have to shop around to get the best price and then go back to the vendor) and marketing is getting more robust.

    For me and many others, the jury is still out because owner profitability just isn’t where it should be yet and we still don’t have a turnkey business model. We pay the highest in royalties and have to squeeze pretty hard to make some profit. There are schools that have closed, some have sold, and corp seems to be the only real buyer. That worries me.

    I should be making more money year over year and my business should be more valuable (and not just to corp) as the years go by. Newer owners are hopeful but around year 5 you feel the pinch. The economy is booming, parents have more discretionary income, we should be reaping the benefits as well. But for me it’s still the business model that is off at this royalty rate.

    I think most of the happy talk is that people don’t feel so threatened by Rob and he has made huge efforts to quell negativity in the system which is good. I will be a happy franchisee when I see all our schools actually making money. Not there yet.

  • July 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    I would very much like to talk to this franchisee. I am considering SoR franchise.

  • August 14, 2019 at 10:48 am

    I think Rob Price is slowly wearing out his welcome. I wish it wasn’t so.

    It’s obvious with recent initiatives that costs will continue to be placed on the backs on the franchise owners, and this on top of already very high royalty rates (11%). His team is largely 2nd level players who, with a few exceptions, cannot seem to implement anything in a proper time frame. We deserve better for that high of a royalty rate.

    Making money in this business is a real challenge, and these mounting additional costs do not help. Kind of tired having to pull money out of savings to pay bills because I cannot make enough money to get ahead.

    Don’t buy in until you speak to several owners.

  • August 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    In my time working here I have seen very little from a curriculum or support standpoint that would make running a schoool of rock any easier for a new business owner than opening up their own music school and not paying an 11% royalty to corporate for a name.

  • August 15, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Same old same old, but in a different wrapper. A lot of rah-rah talk and patting themselves on the back yet they show no ability to roll out anything in the correct fashion. They say they look forward to intelligent conversations and feedback, but nothing ever changes. This is low margin business and every year there is another mandated expense. Time to rattle the Sterling cage once again.

  • August 16, 2019 at 9:26 am

    I am very tired of really ineffective, revolving door, management at the Corporate office, which, with a few exceptions, is staffed with people who would never have their positions in the corporate world. Which is a sham(e) with the 11% royalties we pay. The royalties are only a piece of the fees we pay. We pay for our billing platform (along with credit card fees), our CRM platform (which sucks), our Google platform, our email/newsletter platform, our performing licensing fees. and now a new fee for books and a teaching app (which considering this is a music education program you would think it would be included in the royalties). Guessing our total fees are in the 16-18% range, maybe more. It is incredibly difficult to make a living at this, and it seems that most owners are people with regular corporate jobs, so they don’t need to rely making money in this business.
    If I could dump this thing and at least get my investment back, I would. But several locations have just closed their doors and walked away. I can’t afford to do that…yet.

  • August 16, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Here’s what you get for the highest royalties (11%) in the franchise world:
    • A logo
    • A website
    • A Method
    • Condescension
    • Too Bad You Signed a Contract and We Can Do Whatever We Want
    • We Don’t Want Any Negativity So Don’t Voice Your Concerns Publicly or Else
    •This is Going to Hurt A Little

    But Wait there’s more. Actually The Method is not included in our 11% royalties. We pay are being told we need to pay EXTRA and it will just gets billed to us like everything else. Hey you signed the one way deal buddy so if you don’t like it don’t buy a franchise. With the latest fees coming down the pipe and no end in site we will be at about 13% starting in November 2019. 13%. This is all happening in an environment where most of the schools are not making money. Our corp is incapable of rolling anything out professionally or in a way that benefits the little guy franchisee. You will jump through hoops and still, after years of doing everything possible, barely make any profit. Our CEO says he feels our pain because he has his own corp schools going through whatever the current thing is, but it’s complete BS. His personal paycheck doesn’t fluctuate because of anything I am making him do. And he isn’t having 13% sliced off his schools’ gross revenue every month and handed to people who act like he is a PITA because he questions the rollout wants some time to see and understand a new product THAT HE IS BEING FORCED TO PAY FOR. Corp likes to say it’s only a handful of owners who are “negative” and they gaslight people making them think it’s just them. There’s a veiled threat that if you join the RSFA you will be cut off or not be in the good graces. But being nice and positive has only resulted in being run over. Corp has made a practice of buying schools from owners who are “done” and willing to take a loss just to get out for a ridiculously low price and have pushed down the the value of resale. When you read any franchise contract, think of every possible abuse a franchisor could legally do to you. Then understand that you are building a “business” that in the end you really do not own and there are no real buyers for after your 10 year sentence. School of Rock should be a great business to be in. We have so much that is good but the constant financial pressure makes this a labor of love not a business. Just when we think we can breathe another expensive mandate comes down the pipe. Anyone want to buy a school?

  • August 19, 2019 at 10:33 am

    They are going to be charging for method books?

    That’s unbelievable. This is largely like an MLM where corporate makes $ off little franchise schools selling them all types of trinkets

  • August 19, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Why not get 5 or 6 franchise owners together, hire your own representative attorney and start negotiating?

    You do not need all franchisees to do this and SOR will have to recognise you as an association and put your group in their FDD. They will have no choice in the matter.

  • September 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Are people having success with method app?

  • September 30, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    Are people having sucess with method app?

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