SCHOOL OF ROCK Dzana Homan Responds to Franchise Complaints

SCHOOL OF ROCK CEO Dzana Homan responded to the initial franchise complaints posted by Unhappy Franchisee in an email to franchise owners, though the subsequent (and disturbing) allegations regarding racist, homophobic and cruel statements remain unaddressed.

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  School of Rock CEO Dzana Homan has not responded directly to our repeated invitations to provide an explanation, clarification or rebuttal to disturbing franchisee complaints published in two subsequent posts on this website:

On Wednesday, May 25 we published a number of complaints received regarding the School of Rock franchise and asked both franchisees and company officials to share their views here:

SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints

We received no response from the company, but a number of franchisees (posting anonymously due to fear of repercussions) added their complaints.  As the focus of the complaints seemed directed at the allegedly dictatorial and oppressive culture created by CEO Dzana Holman, we grouped the complaints by topic (Hostile Franchise Environment, Lack of Support, Lack of Curriculum Development, Poor Marketing, Racist, Homophobic & Discriminatory Statements, Employee Mistreatment, Drinking on the Job) and posted them here for discussion and response:

Is Dzana Homan an Abusive CEO? School of Rock, Sterling Partners Controversy Grows

Dzana Homan Email Has Some Trumpian Spin

We have included Ms. Homan’s email to School of Rock franchisees below, but feel compelled to preface it by un-spinning a few points from the Kellyanne Conway School of Truth Avoidance.

Correction:  Complaints are from multiple franchisees (not one).  Franchisees disputing the allegations & defending Ms. Homan (so far):  0.

Ms. Homan begins her email referring to negative comments made by “a handful of franchisees” but then states “I am a little dismayed that an owner felt s/he had no other choice than to go to an external party to voice frustrations.”

Ms. Homan seems to be implying that the complaints were posted by a single, isolated disgruntled franchisee.

We can state, unequivocally, that this is not the case.  We have received complaints from multiple, distinct commenters.

Additionally, we know that many franchisees and likely SoR staff have visited the pages and reviewed the complaints and, at least so far, none have argued against the validity of the complaints nor have any voiced support for Ms. Homan’s leadership.

Correction:  Franchisee Advisory Councils (FACs) Do Not Eliminate Direct Communication With Individual Franchisees

Dzana Homan states “At the time when I joined School of Rock, there was Franchise Advisory Committee. This group of five franchisees advised the franchisor of various franchise options…These were the only franchises with whom the franchisor was formally engaging.”

Ms. Homan states that her belief in “one-on-one engagement” led her to disband the FAC.

Obviously, the best franchise companies practice both “representative democracy” through the use of BOTH franchise advisory councils and one-on-one engagement with franchise owners.  And the best embrace Independent Franchisee Associations (IndFAs), as they know that the rights of franchisees – who are independent business owners – must be represented.

Ms. Homan’s statement that having an active FAC would then necessitate the elimination of “Workplace, Innovation Teams and other channels used for direct feedback and engagement,” and would mean all communication with management would be be filtered through “five people on FAC or any other representative body,” is such an insult to franchisees’ intelligence it may be interpreted as a thinly veiled threat that she can make things worse.

Correction:  Franchise Business Review is a marketing propaganda company, not a legitimate research firm

Franchise Business Review (FBR) is a paid provider of endorsements, bogus awards and surreptitious and undisclosed franchise performance representations (earnings claims) that masquerades as a legitimate research firm.

We’ve found that Franchise Business Review uses shady survey techniques designed to return the most positive “franchisee satisfaction” scores possible which can then be publicized and used in both the company’s franchise marketing efforts and FBR’s paid lead generation program.  If the results are unflattering, the franchisor does not have to share them publicly.

If Franchise Business Review conducted a franchisee survey and School of Rock has declined to release the results, it likely means that franchisee satisfaction is low.

Not yet addressed:  Same-school sales growth and profitability

We call out some of the obvious spin in Ms. Homan’s  email in the hopes that she will drop the posturing and address the School of Rock franchise owner’s concerns in a more transparent and substantive manner.  Her response seems to be that there IS no problem… which does not appear to be true.  One cannot address problems while denying they exist.

Ms. Homan claims that “Since I joined, we have increased from 126 to 196 schools and our top line results have increased by more than 30 percent.”

This may satisfy the short-term interests of private equity parent Sterling Partners, but underscores the franchisee complaints that Homan is focused on the top-line system growth (which benefits the franchisor) and not the bottom-line unit-level sales and profitability.

In responding to complaints from franchisees, perhaps Ms. Homan could cite same-school sales growth and unit profitability since she has become CEO, as that is what impacts franchise owners and is relevant to their complaints.

Not yet addressed:  Alleged Racist, Homophobic & Discriminatory Statements by Ms. Homan

While system wide unit and revenue growth may be enough for Sterling Partners to overlook franchisee unhappiness in the School of Rock system, the allegations that Ms. Homan may have a racist, homophobic and discriminatory attitude that surfaces in inappropriate and prohibited employer speech should be sounding alarm bells at the private equity parent.

These allegations are admittedly uncorroborated and were posted by a single commenter, but are numerous and consistent enough in tone as to warrant serious investigation.

Alleged comments attributed to Ms. Homan include referring to an employee as “a fat Asian bitch,” stating she prefers hiring childless women since “children are a weakness,” stating that she can manipulate lesbians through flirtation, and even expressing a wish to vent her anger by crushing a small animal.

Now that Sterling Partners has been made aware of these allegations, we would hope that Ms. Dzana Homan might feel compelled to address them if only to assuage the fears of associates and franchisees interested in keeping the School of Rock brand scandal and lawsuit-free.

Email from CEO Dzana Homan to School of Rock franchisees & Sterling Partners executives 5/25/17

Yesterday, May 24, we were notified by UnhappyFranchisee.com that they had posted negative comments made by a handful of franchisees about our corporate team and me specifically. I, along with the management team are always interested in hearing your feedback so that we are able to openly address issues and provide resolution. As you may know, I have spent my career in franchising and understand the challenges that sometimes arise. It is extremely important to me and my team that you know the facts.

When I joined School of Rock, I felt that our feedback channels could be improved. As a result, I implemented a number of new franchisee feedback opportunities.

At the time when I joined School of Rock, there was Franchise Advisory Committee. This group of five franchisees advised the franchisor of various franchise options. It had no fiduciary responsibilities in the company. These were the only franchises with whom the franchisor was formally engaging. I thought that we needed to engage more if we wanted to have better results.

I instituted a monthly CEO Call – a meeting where I was alone with the owners and allowed for Q&A. We increased the frequency of our franchise conventions and added four regional meetings. During my tenure, we added a number of new channels to solicit system feedback including creating Innovation Teams for core departments: Operation, Marketing, Events, Education and AllStars. We hold monthly system-wide specialized operations and marketing training and update calls. We support our franchisees with a rapid-response crisis management process, which includes 24/7 CEO support. We have invested in an internal social platform–Facebook Workplace–to have an open dialogue about various projects and questions. We recently launched Idea Box, a group on Workplace aimed specifically at collecting new ideas from our franchisees and employees about anything associated with School of Rock. We believe in fostering engagement.

This year, I have added a brand new position–VP of Engagement and Knowledge Management—with the goal of having a senior manager specifically dedicated to engaging and building relationships with each of you. In addition to other leadership positions, we have added two Corporate Music Directors whose sole job is to advise the system on music-related programs. The Director of Digital Marketing is another highly specialized and brand new position.

As you may recall, Franchise Business Review, a third-party leader in the industry, on our behalf conducted a formal, comprehensive franchisee satisfaction survey. The leadership team then reviewed the input and put together action plans based on the input, which was then shared with you.

This democratized and direct engagement between franchisees and the franchisor yielded exceptional results. Since I joined, we have increased from 126 to 196 schools and our top line results have increased by more than 30 percent. I am proud of what we have delivered as a system, and am committed to continuous improvement and providing each of you with transparent and open dialogue whether we are sharing information or solving issues.

I am a little dismayed that an owner felt s/he had no other choice than to go to an external party to voice frustrations. As a CEO, I am here to serve each of you and look forward to continuing dialogue so that we can help grow your business and allow you to focus on teaching your students.

That said, when I think what would happen if we were to go back to a “representative democracy” where we turn off Workplace, Innovation Teams and other channels used for direct feedback and engagement, and instead have you tell five franchisees what you think and we as a franchisor talk only to five people on FAC or any other representative body, I know that it would be the wrong thing to do. We would want to continue to engage. You might think differently.

Again, my strong belief in a one-on-one engagement with our franchisees did not stop me from engagement with the association. For example – I had regularly scheduled calls with the previous president of the RSFA. We created a workgroup around the copyrights based on the initiative from the RSFA member and did a presentation about it at the last convention.

I am always available to you via cell or email; please always feel free to reach out.

Thank you,

Dzana

DZANA HOMAN | CEO

DISCLAIMER & INVITATION:  Views and statements are those of the comment authors and do not necessarily reflect Unhappy Franchisee or its staff.  We don’t know Dzana Homan and have no inside knowledge of the School of Rock.  Unhappy Franchisee provides a forum for all sides of this issue to state their opinions and debate the facts.  We extend an open invitation to CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock executives, Sterling Partners, franchise owners, and staff for comments, corrections, clarifications, affirmations and/or rebuttals.  Please comment below or email us in confidence at UnhappyFranchisee[at]Gmail.Com.

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SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints

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TAGS: Dzana Homan, CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock, School of Rock franchise, School of Rock franchise opportunity, School of Rock franchise complaints, Sterling Partners, education franchise, education franchise opportunity, education franchise complaints, Paul Green School of Rock Music, unhappy franchisee

2 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF ROCK Dzana Homan Responds to Franchise Complaints

  • May 26, 2017 at 3:36 pm
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    I am sure the owners appreciate the deftness with which the admin is able to cut through the considerable amount of BS in that letter from Ms. Homan. In the past 3 years it has been an ongoing cycle of, at the best misleading information and at its worse outright miss-truths about ‘the facts’. My investment in a School of Rock franchise pre-dates her arrival, but as the saying goes, ‘if I knew then what I know now’, I would not have invested in this business.
    She has single-handedly dismantled a fairly formidable corporate team, including the person in charge of curriculum, and replaced them with corporate people who have little expertise on the owner side of this business. That combined with her views detailed in another post leaves little doubt in my mind that she needs to be replaced. My investment in the business can’t risk it.

  • May 28, 2017 at 9:56 am
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    I read through the email from Dzana several times, largely because I could not believe the level of delusional thinking in there.
    From what I understand, so many franchises have Franchise Advisory Committees, and she decided unilaterally that it wouldn’t work; she never asked the franchisees if they didn’t feel comfortable with that structure, she decided she wanted to disbanded.
    Dzana cite the institution of CEO calls. I think the last call was Aug/Sept of last year. So its been more than 6 months since we had one. And there was a history of calls being cancelled for one reason or another. So I am not sure this is a sincere form of engagement.
    She notes an increased frequency of franchise conventions…I think it went from every other year to every year. These are franchise conventions with little or no input from the owners. The last convention was the first where they charged owners to attend? The conventions become a forum for a litany pf promises from corporate as to what will happen, and little or nothing on those initiatives is achieved. They come off as more of a sales pitch for the Sterling Board or potential new franchisees.
    More regional meetings…that is a lie.
    The innovation groups met sporadically and each was chaired by a senior staff person. These were more a push down approach; not really a chance to provide input but more of a ‘this is what corp thinks’. Many of these were cancelled and Dzana did not participate in most of them. I am not anything of substance came out of any of them. The next result was a bunch of meeting that consumed owners time and yielded nothing. I don’t think there are any active innovation innovation groups and there have not been for some time.
    All the new positions she mentioned came out just before the convention; which is typically what happens. At this point these are all ‘too early to tell’ . Facebook Workplace is also less than a couple of months old. It’s actually quite funny that there is little engagement of there. My sense is that people know nothing will come of it. Also thing its a bit comical that she cites ‘the brand new position–VP of Engagement and Knowledge Management—with the goal of having a senior manager specifically dedicated to engaging and building relationships with each of you.’ On the surface great…but it was put in the hands of a person who is also head of our IT group. One of the biggest complaints owners have is about systems. I would have rather we spend more time on getting out IT systems in place. and properly supported. There is way to much on this person’s plate.
    The Franchise Business Review was a bit of a joke. There was considerable input from the owners, and the process of distilling the comments was done in a completely non-transparent fashion. Corporate decided what comments were salient, and that is what they shared with the owners. We know that many of the concerns expressed were not addressed (yes the owners talk to each other). A presentation was made to the owners and that was it. No discrete action plans, no schedule, no deliverables. It was a sham.
    The growth she cites is probably accurate, but it has really nothing to do with her ‘engagement’ strategy, as much as she would like to spin it. The corporate schools grow at the low single digits and the franchisee schools are consistently in double digit growth mode. For her to take credit for that is a joke. Its the hard working franchisees that do that.
    She is a charlatan, and my hope is she is terminated and we can take on the real challenges our businesses faces instead of dealing with having to fight her at every turn.

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