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.
To 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]Gmail.com. 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.
FRANCHISE DISCUSSIONS by Company
SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise, Sterling Partners CEO Controversy: UPDATED (Topic Index)
ARE YOU A SCHOOL OF ROCK FRANCHISE OWNER OR FRANCHISEE? ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE SCHOOL OF ROCK FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY? SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.
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
32 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Update – 2 Years A.D. (After Dzana)”
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.
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!
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.
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.
I would very much like to talk to this franchisee. I am considering SoR franchise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s what you get for the highest royalties (11%) in the franchise world:
• A logo
• A website
• A Method
• 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?
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
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.
Are people having success with method app?
Are people having sucess with method app?
Success is hard thing to ‘calculate’. Let’s just say it’s a starting point.
The bad part is that the method book and method app are still another overhead burden on owners. We get charged for the app monthly, whether we use it or not, and are left to our own on how to recover costs. Then there is the inherent costs for training (and retraining) as well as socialization that must be done with students and parents.
The concern many have is when does the costs being pushed down to the owners stop? We have one of the highest royalty rates for a franchise and still have to pay for our Google tools, our billing system, our licensing for playing the music in public, and now a required app. Plus we have corporate required initiatives like cameras that burn more dollars.
I would really like to know if ANYONE makes money from this deal?
Sounds like Rob Price is at it again. He stood in front of my advertising co-op at Edible and held up a piece of paper and said “You signed a piece of paper that says we can do what we want.” I had all I could not to get up and pop him in the mouth. After his failure at Edible his now on to another franchise to take it down the tubes.
In fact, I have really only heard of 2 franchise systems in the whole U.S. that actually value the franchisees and truly want to help them succeed rather than just use them as an endless bank account until they run out of money.
As far as I can tell our school is barley breaking even. I’m been a ‘full time’ studio coordinator putting in about 30 paid hours a week and I made about 18K last year. Woo hooo.
I think starting your own music school would be more profitable than this. The only thing corporate does a decent job at is sending you leads. The royalties, method app, CRM and everything else is largely worthless and you could profit better on your own with them.
Are there any happy/profitable SOR franchisees out there? Are these comments only representative of a small fraction of the owners out there? Would love to hear from any owners that have had a positive experience.
We’re in the midst of coronavirus right now. Small businesses being required to shut down. Not allowed to gather in a group of 2,000….make that 500…make that 10. Some cities requiring citizens to quarantine themselves in their homes for x amount of days/weeks. If anything could bring us down, I’d think it would be this.
What does School of Rock Corporate do? They hire a well-known, highly reputable medical expert to guide them through decision-making. They deliver a remote lesson option that not only works, but works well! They over communicate to franchisees. Every member of the senior team picks up their phone at any time you call them and talks to you. They provide us with thoughtful communication templates we can use to share with our families. They have been 100% on top of things during this “crisis.”
I’m an old-school franchisee from the beginning of School of Rock. I’ve been through every CEO since Paul Green. I’ve respected some but not others. By the time Rob joined us almost 3 years ago I was absolutely in a “wait and see” and guarded mindset. No way you could be any other way after Dzana.
Like other owners, I think what we pay in royalties is too high when compared with other franchises.
How Rob and his team have handled business and leadership in the face of Coronavirus has moved me from “center” to “a fan.” My customers are thanking me for the decisions being made and the communication being provided. This all stems from the tools provided and the quick decisions made by Rob and his team.
I have a feeling we’ll come out of this a stronger, more trusting, more collaborative organization.
^ I agree Rob is a stand up guy. And I think corporate has done an outstanding job during this time.
That said I feel like everyone is giving the organization a ton of credit for going ‘Hey Use Zoom for lessons’
That’s not rocket science.
The method app has a 3.1/5 stars on the app store with tons of poor reviews at the time of this review. In a time where we could really leverage the app and existing infacstrucutre I don’t feel we are very strong in remote teaching compared to other apps, existing teachers teaching online or other paid music sites but that’s just me.
I want this place to work I really do.
We basically have stopped getting any leads for our business. Great
ZERO…ZERO Empathy for the owners in these troubling times. There are many good people at corporate, but a few that are just not what we need right now.
I would love to hear more specifics from my franchisee friends at School of Rock.
Have the schools been transitioning to online instruction? How has that been going?
What has – or hasn’t – the franchisor done to help you survive these crisis?
Music & Lessons SHOULD be booming IMHO with everyone staying home, shouldn’t it?
Do School of Rock jobs matter? One of the things that really hit home during this pandemic was that unemployment paid out $600 dollars a week.
The only person making over $600 dollars a week at our school is our GM and maybe our owners.
None of the teachers are doing that well. And best of luck to School of Rock who was relying on paying people partime wages for a partime job where they could make up the rest with gigging.
If that goes bye bye these part time instructors will need to get more normal stable higher paying jobs.
As as well as everyone tried these are the new app reviews from the apple app store during a pandemic where everyone is at home with nothing else to do
May 20th ‘This is a crap app’ 1 star out of 5
April 13th ‘Urrr’ 1 star out of 5
March 17th ‘Cant even use it always loading’ 1 star out of 5
We supposidely have like 150 franchiees world wide. There are 114 review so this app on the app store which is less than 1 per franchise location.
Not exactly catching on like wild fire.
Current score 3.3/5 or a nice 66% out of 100.
After what was announced today I have lost the last bit of respect for the CEO and corporate team. Deferring royalties based on some BS criteria??? I still have to pay back deferred royalties. Thanks for the fuckin gumball! I’ll survive on my own, thank you very much!
Hows everyone doing out there?
Corp says “Everyone is making sacrifices”
We say “Does zero net income to owners count as a sacrifice? And you still want royalties?”
They are blind, deaf, and dumb.
Can someone explain the differning royalties to me?
May manager is considering buying this business from current owners. Smart move or no?
Yep it’s Been Awhile…
so the latest is that they want to restrict our most critical seasonal corporate marketing effort spend to those schools who have a certain minimum level of usage of the teaching app. An app that is largely ‘not ready for prime time’. So…pretty sure you will seeing some more posts here…so stay tuned.
Are there still issues that are not talked about when you are in the process of buying into the franchise?
Thinking of going forward but have slowed down because of things I’m hearing. For example 3x the amount to open than they say, fees keep adding up with nothing to show for them, no profit for a couple of years and then still not a huge money maker for the franchisee.
Are all these things true? What profit after all things paid out should I be expecting? Numbers would help.