SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints
School of Rock franchise complaints include lack of support, high management turnover, dictatorial management led by CEO Dzana Homan, poor communication and franchise relations.
(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) According to complaints we’ve received, some School of Rock franchise owners are singing the blues.
The first School of Rock was opened by the musician Paul Green in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1997 and did business under the name “Paul Green School of Rock Music” (Since January 2010, they have conducted business under the name “School of Rock.”)
On June 26, 2009, Sterling SOR, LLC, a subsidiary of Sterling Partners, a private equity firm that owns an interest in approximately 28 other companies, acquired a controlling interest in School of Rock, LLC and its affiliates.
According to the 2017 School of Rock Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), School of Rock franchise businesses are performance-based music schools with a rock music program.
At the end of 2016, there were a total of 168 School of Rock locations, comprised of 152 franchise and 16 company-owned locations.
The total investment necessary to begin operation of a School of Rock business is stated to be $136,850 to $339,100. This includes $49,500 to 54,000 that must be paid to the franchisor.
According to the Item 19 Financial Performance Representation in the FDD, the Average Gross Sales for selected company-owned units is $513,260 (4 Company-owned Schools, or 26.7%, were at or above this figure) and Median Gross Sales are $412,952 (7 Company-owned Schools, or 46.7%, were at or above this figure).
For more information, consult the 2017 School of Rock Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
CEO Dzana Homan is Drawing Criticism
Dzana Homan joined School of Rock as Chief Executive Officer in 2014. Ms. Homan had previous educational franchise experience with FutureKids, Goddard Early Learning and Huntington Learning Centers.
In an interview published on Forbes.Com, Homan stated that she believed in granting franchisees a degree of independence.
She stated “I also have enthusiasm for franchising because it allows an individual to run their own business, but in a safer way… you can still run your own business and be independent from having a boss like me [laughs]. There is this freedom of determining who you as an individual…”
CEO Homan stated that she believed communication with and respect for franchisees is critical: “One thing that I’ve learned is to engage with your franchisees, and be in communication and conversation all the time… I came to franchising as a franchisee. I know both sides of the coin. I never forgot how it felt to be a franchisee.”
Ironically, communication and respect for franchisees as business owners are areas where Ms. Homan is drawing fire from some franchisees.
We’re received complaints that Dzana Homan eliminated the School of Rock Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC) shortly after taking the helm.
She also refuses to recognize the Independent Franchisee Association (IFA), and confronts those who dare to complain about franchisee treatment – even when those complaints were voiced in private group conversations.
Are you familiar with Dzana Homan and the School of Rock franchise program? Please share your opinions and thoughts with a comment below, or email us in confidence at UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.Com.
School of Rock Franchise Complaints: Management Turnover
We’ve received complaints about the stability of the School of Rock management team since the appointment of a new CEO in 2014. According to the 2017 FDD, “Dzana Homan Chief Executive Officer Ms. Homan became our Chief Executive Officer on June 9, 2014 and is located in El Segundo, California. From December 2010 to March 2014, Ms. Homan served as the Chief Operating Officer of Goddard Systems, Inc. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.”
An anonymous franchise owner wrote to us:
Over the course of the last 3 years, almost the entire corporate team has changed after the new CEO [Dzana Homan ] was hired, and several new hires left after a short tenure. These new hires include a COO and several Franchise Business Consultants, which are supposed to provide support at the school level.
School of Rock Franchise Complaints: Condescension, Bullying
We’ve received complaints that the School of Rock franchisor has adopted a condescending, bullying approach to its relationship with its franchisees.
CEO Dzana Homan allegedly dismantled the School of Rock Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC) and refuses to recognize the Independent Franchisee Association (IFA) formed after she took the helm.
Franchisees who have complained of unfair treatment on Facebook are reportedly “called to the Principal’s office” and admonished by Ms. Homan.
An anonymous franchise owner wrote to us:
…the focus of this management team appears to be on compliance and not in growing the business, with frequent notices of default being sent out for such things as not submitting P&L statements in a timely manner.
…the franchise advisory committee (FAC) was essentially dismantled when the new CEO took over and the Independent Franchisee Association (IFA) formed in 2015 has not been recognized by the franchisor… owners have been contacted by the CEO for speaking out on unfair practices on closed Facebook group forums as well as statements they have made to prospective franchisees, a practice we have coined as ‘being called to the principal’s office’.
Another franchisee wrote:
it’s very disappointing to have such a hostile relationship with the franchisor, especially, the CEO. She goes after franchisees who speak up instead of genuinely seeking to fix problems. We used to work together with corp to fix this stuff but now there is zero concern at the top about franchisees ability to make money.
A School of Rock commenter wrote:
The relationship with the executive management team is not a nurturing one, and is often confrontational, with considerable effort put on compliance and very little on finding ways to make the franchise owners money.
School of Rock Franchise Complaints: Lack of Transparency, Lack of Support
Other complaints received include an understatement of disclosed costs, insufficient franchisee support, and allegations of a competitive, adversarial attitude from the franchisor.
One franchisee complained:
This is a music education business with no product VP – no one in charge of music education, curriculum development or training.
The result, claims franchisee(s), is a reluctance to renew on the part of franchisees:
the franchise disclosure document leaves out a significant cost and management component related to securing copyrighted music for the music that is taught in the schools… the franchisor is pushing other licensing costs onto the franchisees, as well as risk related to securing copyrighted music.
new schools open up with very little support from the corporate team.
There is a competitive nature of corporate not sharing best practices or knowledge gained from corporate owned schools with franchisees, which was one of the reasons for the organization of the IFA.
Renewals have begun in 2015 and 2 schools have closed rather than choosing to renew and 3 have renewed. Several franchisees are looking to sell.
We will reach out as best we can to CEO Dzana Homan, School of Rock executives, franchise owners, and staff for comments, corrections, clarifications, affirmations and/or rebuttals. Please comment below or email us in confirdence at UnhappyFranchisee[at]Gmail.Com.
FRANCHISE DISCUSSIONS by Company
2017 School of Rock Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) (PDF FILE)
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36 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF ROCK Franchise Complaints”
My experience as a franchisee matches up with the above. It’s hard to make serious money at this business when the royalties and brand fund contribution are so high but the franchise is not well-known, so it becomes a labor of love instead of a way to support yourself. There is zero support from the corporate group and they are thinly staffed (due to such high turnover) and no one up there has any real understanding of how to run a school from an owner standpoint. Also, it’s very disappointing to have such a hostile relationship with the franchisor, especially, the CEO. She goes after franchisees who speak up instead of genuinely seeking to fix problems. We used to work together with corp to fix this stuff but now there is zero concern at the top about franchisees ability to make money. This is a music education business with no product VP – no one in charge of music education, curriculum development or training.
Article pretty much holds to our experience as well. The business is super rewarding, but rewarding seldom pays the bills. The relationship with the executive management team is not a nurturing one, and is often confrontational, with considerable effort put on compliance and very little on finding ways to make the franchise owners money. People are really left to their own devices, which is maybe ok if you are an experienced owner, but it is not really fair to new owners who buy in expecting a formal franchise relationship with best practices around managing a music education business, when there are none.
I unfortunately have to agree with everything above. There were a lot of promises of support but very little delivery. Owners are either bullied or ignored, there never seems to be a middle ground. The initial start up was 3x what we were quoted and instead of meaningful support I was repeatedly told I needed to purchase expensive unnecessary equipment. We pay high royalties fees and brand funding fees with almost no national marketing campaign. What we do get I spend hours reworking.
The owners, students, and staff deserve a better leader in corporate.
Dzana is fond of telling and retelling her escape story from war-torn former Yugoslavia in particular Bosnia.
It’s a great story.
That story helped her get hired at all the companies she’s left.
Wondering if any of the former franchisors miss her?
I am glad this public forum got set up. In addition to the comments above in the post, which I totally agree with, it should be pointed out that many of the franchisees will be totally afraid to post here for fear of retaliation from expressing their opinion, which really isn’t right. Many owners have invested significant amounts of money in this business, some their entire retirement bankrolls, and to have to deal from a position of fear of retaliation from the CEO simply isn’t right. There are many smart owners with skill sets that exceed those on the corporate side and to have to work in this environment is really counterproductive.
As a Franchise Owner of School of Rock, the product we were sold is not what we purchased. The corporate team does a great job of selling franchises with little to no support once opened. The CEO Dzana Homan is doing a wonderful job at destroying the company that used to thrive because of the culture and passion for music education. Now, there is ZERO music department, no curriculum, no on going training, and no corporate staff in charge of improving the product we sell to our clients. The one and only thing to corp team is concerned with is their how much money are they making. The franchisees are left to fend for themselves.
The total investment to be expected is seriously understated. In order to have a successful school we had to invest 3-4X what we were quoted. Instead of meaningful support, I was repeatedly told I needed to spend money on unnecessary items and was given inadequate advice on everything from our grand opening all the way to how to price our programs. I am on our third billing and scheduling software platform and it is highly inadequate for what the owners need. There are no standard operating procedures, no training manuals, no training department, no curriculum, and no support in regards to operating our business effectively or developing leads. We pay very high royalties fees and brand funding fees with little to no national marketing campaign. SoR tries to rely heavily on the School of Rock musical and the Nickelodeon TV show to be recognized nationally, but we are not a musical and we are not a TV show. We are a music education program that needs a strong and legitimate curriculum with a strong training/educational team supporting it.
It was not disclosed prior to or upon signing our FA that we were required to have performing rights licenses in order to operate our schools. When asked to address the situation and give guidance, Corp has consistently ignored us and continues to delay giving the system a legal and consistent answer. This is one more thing that the franchisees are being required to pay for and did not plan for.
There has been a massive amount of turnover in the Corporate structure since the arrival of Ms. Homan. In three years, we have lost a significant amount of knowledge due to the departure of long term employees, some of whom were original to the Paul Green School of Rock Music. We have lost VPs of Marketing, COOs, CFOs, and the entire training department, which is now being run by the former IT manager/director. Corp school employees have been moved into positions for which they are not necessarily qualified and there is a revolving door for the Franchise Business Consultants (formerly known as Director of Franchise Operations), leaving the majority of the owners without any type of support for months. I have had as many FBCs as the number of years that I have been open and no regular support from any of them. The owners continue to ask for meaningful and effective marketing campaigns delivered within enough time to make an impact in their markets but campaigns are typically rolled out late in the game. We have asked for editable marketing materials to use in local markets only to be met with demands for phone calls to be “called down” by the “principal” and berated.
This is not the business that I bought into and has seriously declined within the past 3 years. Ms. Homan has effectively alienated the owners and made them afraid to speak up lest they be the recipient of retaliatory actions. She has behaved aggressively towards staff and owners and refused to recognize or interact with the independent franchisee organization after essentially disbanding the FAC. We are treated like children, when in fact, the majority of owners within the system have a great deal of experience in the professional realm and that knowledge/experience is wasted and ignored.
The relationship with the executive management team is not pleasant one, and is often confrontational. There is little to no trust in the CEO or the staff due to the constant fear of retaliation. This business used to thrive because of the passion for music education and the culture that was created across all of the schools. This culture has been destroyed and schools are left to their own devices to figure out how to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, the majority of owners still have passion and that is what keeps it going….but it doesn’t pay the bills.
Thanks for these comments. Keep them coming.
Question: Has anyone attempted to communicate these complaints to management at Sterling Partners?
It only takes one wrong hire to ruin something great. I’m sharing some first hand experiences with Dzana Homan as she destroyed an otherwise beautiful company. She has done damage to the integrity of the brand and it’s so unfair to the many beautiful people who dedicated their hard earned money and their time to trying to foster the music in the communities they serve.
I’ll begin with some direct quotes:
“This is why you don’t hire women with kids, children are a weakness.”-Ms. Homan when she found out an employee was pregnant and had limited travel ability.
“Get that fat Asian bitch out of my school” – Ms. Homan when she found out that an employee had given her two weeks notice.
“Why didn’t you tell me she was gay, I could have flirted with her to get what I want” – Ms. Homan mocking homosexual member of School of rock community.
“She’s not pretty enough for LA” – Ms. Homan regarding coworker
“Zack Wylde, the lead guitar player in Black Sabbath” – Ms Homan on national television embarrassing the brand.
“I will make his life miserable with meaningless work until he quits”- Ms Homan on her tactic to not fire someone as to not pay severance.
Has call with Franchise Advisory Committee and tells them they are to dismantle. Recommends that they stand up at the conference in front of the company and announce they are dismantled. Hangs up the call, waits for one franchisee who attended in person to leave and then plays Another One Bites the Dust on her computer in corporate office and laughs in celebration at the thought of them humiliating themselves in front of the company.
Drinks vodka and orange juice in office and becomes inebriated. Begins screaming at employee for being insubordinate.
Becomes angered in meeting and says “I wish I had a little animal that I could squeeze” as she crushes paper mimicking killing said animal.
Misses call after call after call while team members were working diligently to solve copyright issues and curriculum issues with Hal Leonard publishing. Ceases all progress with no alternative plan.
Tells Schools she is coming to visit the school and will attend the school’s event . Flies first class, stays in 5 star hotel, never shows up at school or event.
Threatens franchisee of one of the largest schools with kicking her out of the system because the franchisee disagrees with her strategy.
Announces company strategy at first conference as “increase top line revenue and increase bottom line revenue.” Except that isn’t a strategy that is the outcome of a strategy.
Releases “Black Friday” marketing collateral with African American student as the model. Makes zero sense. Don’t understand that connection.
National Press is almost only about her and her escape from her home country. With her the kids come last.
Overweights and overvalues the effect that “School of Rock Musical” and Nickelodeon television show will have on brand. Effects are basically zero positive and actually trivialize the real School of Rock experience.
All of this happened in front of my eyes. Don’t let this reflect on the owners. They are the victims. Do the right thing.
In answer to the Admin question if we have attempted to communicate this to Sterling, the answer is “yes.” I believe Ms. Homan tells them we are a “handful” of disgruntled owners who do not know what we are doing and that her team provides direction that we do not follow. [untrue]
With regards to all the other comments posted here, I have experienced the same.
Here’s one more point as to corporate’s incompetence: we are having a corporate conference call today to discuss Summer Camps. We start camps in June. (That’s 6 days from now.) Everything for camps needed to be completed MINIMUM of 60 days ago.
I love my students, my parent community, my teachers and my staff. I feel ripped off that I have to pay Corp 11% off the top PLUS $8 for every email address I have PLUS a fee for the software they require us to use (which, by the way is not specifically designed for music schools but is partially owned by the CEO we had prior to Ms. Homan) .
Speaking of royalties, Corporate hosts a music festival for our students to participate in. We pay Corporate a fee established by Corporate in order to participate. Then when we collect the fees from the student, Corporate takes their royalty on top of that. Double Dipping?
The post above about Dzana’s comments is so distressing, but I can definitely see those words coming out of her mouth, and that mindset has probably has started to permeate some of her staff. Almost every interaction is adversarial, to the point where you almost go out of your way not to have them. Maybe that is the intent. I wonder if the powers that be at Sterling had to invest their personal money in a franchise, would THEY want this person in charge of their personal money. I, for one, don’t and would welcome a change at the top. Then maybe we can get back to business.
When I became involved with School of Rock, I purchased two locations. I opened the first location in 2014, and in 2015 decided it was not worth the investment to open my second location. When I was on the phone with the VP of Franchising, I was trying to explain my reasons for not wanting to open location number 2. What I was expecting were solutions to the problems, or even maybe an ounce of sympathy. What I received instead was, “You seem very unhappy, maybe you should sell you school”. Boy, do I wish I could, but who would be dumb enough to buy it?
I spent my life savings on this business, and have received nothing in return. I make no money, even though my school is busy. When I was sold this business, I was told I would break even at 70 students, I am not at 140 students and am hardly making enough to pay my loan payments.
Dzana Homan is a disease to this company. She has pushed out every talented corporate staff member, and she only cares about herself. She even got into multiple legal battles with some of the largest franchisees, simply because they were a treat to her. She is constantly attempting to retaliate against owners because they do not agree with her.
In April of 2016, Franchise Business Review conducted a franchisee satisfaction survey for School of Rock stating it is important for everyone to participate to share their franchise ownership experience. We were told it would take 10-15 minutes to complete, when in actuality it took several hours for most owners due to the comments and feedback that the owners added with their answers. Despite numerous attempts to receive all of the survey results from SoR Corp and Ms. Homan, the franchisees have still yet to receive the results other than a lot of numbers. Despite numerous requests to be given the owners’ comments and feedback, we have yet to see any of these results. Ms. Homan seems to place little to no importance on the fact that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best choice, a good amount of the questions were ranked 5 with some below. To our knowledge the results in totality were never published.
Dzana is stubborn and/and or ignores us ftanchisees, Adittionaly she shows no interest in franchisees outside the US, no longterm goals for the brand, and she also sweeps problems under the rug, and has made false promises. She is also unpleasant in her demeanor and can never accept any faults on her part.
She should be fired
The comment above that outline some of the personal attacks she was purportedly made seems like some inside information for her senior team. My understanding is that the Sterling Partners Board was made aware of these issues as well as others, and they have done nothing about it. They are as culpable as she is. I also am embarrassed by the lack of action of the senior management team. They see all this stuff going on and they do nothing about it…but maybe they are in a position of saying ‘well others have raised issues to the Sterling Board and nothing happened…then why should I?’. Talk about a hostile work environment. I love the business itself and that is what keep me (and probably a lot of owners) in the professions. We just need the CEO and the Sterling Partners Board to know we have zero confidence in their ability to run this business.
Dzana is BIG on PROMISES, short on DELIVERY.
She has done a great job of demoralizing staff and owners through her adversarial tactics.
When a board member has to take the stage at an owner’s conference to defend the CEO, because we have trouble working with her “style” it’s a glimpse into the delusion of the board members. Promises made at owners conferences not realized is typical of School of Rock. Vendor relationships, technology improvements, curriculum enhancements and development, corporate and academic partnerships – so many promises and so short on delivery. Sure changes have been made, it would be unfair to say there has been zero progress, but the pace is sluggish and the quality is lacking. When tools or products are released, it’s hard to tell if legitimate stakeholders were engaged, and deliverables were tested for usability and quality prior to launch. We’re told there were pilot schools, but it’s always top secret of what schools and which people participated. We can never ask them questions.
A survey was conducted last April and HEAVILY promoted by corporate executives. However, results were delivered in a “pick your favourite” approach, and the real issues were left in the closet. Skeletons not to be discussed, because there was no interest in addressing the root problems inherent in the business. Takeaways and action items are like dust in the wind.
Requests for meetings, follow up from meetings – no agendas, no action, no results best sums it up.
Failure to acknowledge owner’s assoction to have 2 way communications with owners – since 2015 the members have created an Independent Franchise Association to try to bridge relationships between owners and corporate and work together to fix problems and grow the business and the brand. There has been next to no interest by Dzana to recognize this group, despite the fact that most successful franchises have an IFA that helps to build the business. We are looking for Value for Fees and to get a solid ROI for our money and time – this is a business after all, not a Not For Profit engagement.
I have purchased my first franchise recently. I have had great success in my market and even recognised by corporate as a big success. However, even with great opening numbers, I too cannot seem to figure out how to make money at this business.
I was warned by some unhappy franchisees before I decided to move forward. Thinking maybe these were a limited few, and I went with my gut and did it anyways. But what I have been reading here is very disturbing, and maybe it is more the norm then the exception that we have this many upset franchisees.
My attitude was screw corporate, I do not need them. I know enough about running a business and marketing that I am going to be successful despite their lack of support. However, I pay lots of money to corporate and get nothing in return, which eats into my bottom line. So it is now a problem for me.
Don’t know if I blame the CEO entirely for the lack of success I am having as a franchisee. Not in number of students, but in actually making money. Maybe the business model is flawed? Unless you come into this with very deep pockets of cash, no debt, own the building so you do not have to pay rent, you cannot make a profit with less than 150 students.
The numbers tell the story. Anyone else out there agree? That is not what they told us in the sales pitch.
It was interesting to receive the email from Dzana touting the facts. The fact is that you can have many channels of communication set up but if you retaliate against owners who share concerns or who disagree with your approach, there will be no communication, and I think Dzana knows that and has deliberately set it up this way. She views any dissent or pushback as a threat to her job/position and she has consistently worked to keep owners quiet. One of the ways she does this is through her preference of speaking to owners individually. At first you think she cares and understands, but then once you take advantage of the direct communication channel to express a concern or you speak up, she slaps you back….hard. This has happened to me and there is no mistaking that the intent is to instill fear of losing your school. But it’s all in a one-on-one call so there is no record to use against her.
She mentions her CEO calls. This intimidation is why when there have been calls with her and the owners, there are no questions. Unless you are fond of creating problems for yourself, you will keep your mouth shut and stay off her radar. She points to these calls as demonstration that she is engaging but this is not engagement. It is also interesting to speak with corp staff “off the record” as they seem to all be afraid of her and frustrated as well. None of them seem to be able to speak up to the board either which is a shame. We all need a change of leadership.
In buying this franchise, I made certain assumptions which in hindsight I probably should not have. I thought at a minimum I would get advertising support and that the franchisor would work to bring the School of Rock brand front and center. The only advertising I see is to sell new franchises. We are sent graphics to use locally. Graphics are something I can afford to do myself. If our shared brand fund contribution is to be used it should be for something I cannot afford like complete turnkey advertisements that have a consumer message that has been researched and works. I would like to see what a franchisee from say Dunkin’ Donuts gets and what their royalties and brand fund fees get them. The School of Rock franchise has been in place 15 years and we really get nothing other than them tossing out some PPC that is hit or miss and does not allow us to do what works in our markets without competing against the corp PPC. Graphics with logos are a brand strategy not an advertising strategy. We need more students and our franchisor either has no idea how to do that or chooses not to spend to grow the business.
There are other business issues that are pretty bad in this franchise. Dzana states that there are two Music Directors (they were initially announced as managers btw.) These are two people who work full time in corporate schools as Music Directors. They answer questions on a help desk part time for a network of 200 schools This is like have a corporate store owner in a food business available on a chat wall to answer questions about recipes while they are making sandwiches. That is definitely a type of support. But there is no one with a music background innovating new programs or delivery of current programs. Keeping it fresh, staying ahead of trends and what kids will respond to and what will bring in more students.
There is little, if any, thought given to financial impact on franchisee of decisions made at corp. They are good at squeezing every nickel out of the network, and then if we say ouch they get pissed and say we are a handful of complainers. The approach is always a defensive one on their part: If you are not doing well it’s your fault Mr. Franchisee, not ours. The fact is they have not figured out how to make a turnkey business. The fact is that at 11% it’s pretty hard to make this business financially successful if there is no robust ability to stuff the pipeline with new students on a regular basis.
This is a great business with great people in the system who want it to be successful. I hope that whoever is in charge this (the SOR Board?) will help us get back on track and focusing on fixing the issues.
What does it say about School of Rock as a smart business investment – when owners choose to invest elsewhere:
Former CEO and current owner – started his own art school franchise
Largest School of Rock Investor – investing in programming schools
Other franchise owners – investing in or starting their own franchises outside of School of Rock
Over the past 3 years we’ve seen a number of SOR owners invest in franchises outside of School of Rock – bread, art schools, programming schools – instead of further investing in School of Rock.
While these people are all entrepreneurs and have an ability to grow wealth, what does that say about the faith in the projected success of the brand? What does that say about the ability to build and grow your investment with School of Rock? Why are these business owners not building more SORs if it is such an amazing investment? High royalties, uncooperative leadership, ineffective and expensive technology systems – so many reasons to look elsewhere to park your investment funds.
Dzana can claim that the system is growing, but how much more would it be growing if it was healthy? Fix the leadership and the problems that prevent owners from being successful and the brand and system will grow. Owners want to get a good return on investment, but will look elsewhere if they can’t achieve their goals.
Regrettably, I have to agree with everything above as well, knowing firsthand what it is like to be on the receiving end of the CEO’s retaliation tactics. Unfortunately, time and money have been wasted defending myself and protecting my investment against her frivolous allegations, which could have been spent on my business. Sterling Partners is aware of Dzana’s reckless behavior and chooses to ignore her actions. She should be fired, and I should be reimbursed.
I am surprised there are not many, many more comments up here. I think it could be due to paranoia and owners that really worry about sharing their honest feedback. Based on my conversations with many owners system-wide – the issues are not confined to a small group of owners.
All comments above are valid, and I think we’re all waiting to see if we get any ‘real’ response from corporate or Sterling. It always seems that issues are raised, then ignored. I don’t believe these can continue to be ignored. We’re all hoping to make this business successful – but that won’t happen in the current environment.
It looks like someone else mentioned that there are other franchises who have opted to take their investment money and put it elsewhere. Having the ex-CEO of School of Rock opting to build his own franchise system seems to speak volumes about him having faith (or lack of) in the SoR system. I have no doubt that this system can be nurtured and can grow, but not with this administration and this CEO. She is delusional in thinking that her efforts are contributing to any system growth; corporate schools barely grow year over year, and the franchisee schools are doing double-digit growth. Growth with little support and a completely dysfunctional relationship with the CEO. I have hope that if they can replace her and retool the senior team, we can get this to work. Just curious if Sterling Partners is really interested in that…based on their turning a blind eye to what has been going on, it might be some private equity company looking for an exit strategy.
I think among the owners there are still many that are concerned about retaliation, and that is why they haven’t spoken up. It has been that bad for that long. She has targeted high profile franchisees and initiated default proceedings against several of them. Defending defaults takes money and time, and owners tend not to have much of either, so they don’t risk it.
She is in the wrong position with the improper qualifications and the absolutely wrong personal makeup, and her senior team, the School of Rock LLC Board and Sterling Partners are all at fault for letting this charade continue. Not sure how they all sleep at night.
As a franchise who has had contact with former corporate employees, we agree that Dzana’s leadership at School of Rock has been deeply disappointing and based on our conversations with those folks, profoundly dysfunctional. We are fortunate to have a school that is becoming successful and has gradually gained students, but we also feel the profitability of the school was oversold and we would not suggest that anyone purchase a franchise based on the franchise price, the franchise fees, the cost of a buildout and the challenge to get the right employees to build the right culture. It takes years to build a student base from the ground up. It’s a franchise that requires a lot of personal attention and is not an investment. We do it as a labor of love.
I am a long-time School of Rock franchise owner. Unfortunately, I must post this anonymously because the fear of retaliation is well-founded.
Unfortunately I have to concur with most of what is being written in this thread.
I do not have confidence in nor do I trust Dzana Homan’s leadership.
The turnover of the organization is so frequent that I have no relationship with anyone at Corporate whatsoever anymore. I have not talked to her in person or email in over three years. The tone and passion for the organization that once existed, and our purpose are completely gone.
Her focus is on petty things and she misses the point on major issues. Get your P/L on time or or get a compliance letter, but she can give no real direction on copyright issues. Not to mention that now that they have realized this copyright issue they are forcing the liability back on the schools with no real answers. All they care about is shifting the liability and taking it away from them.
Basically her direction with this is how to fly under the radar, but no real solution. She claims that she is approachable, yet has not even acknowledged the last three emails that I have sent much less given a response to my concerns. I do not feel her goals are remotely aligned with the owners with all of us striving for success.
It is almost like she can’t make the connection that the more successful we are in the schools, the more successful they are. In addition, if more schools were successful they could sell more franchises. It always seems it is about what she wants and will rarely consider another perspective.
While I love what we do at the school level and feel this is incredibly rewarding, I have no real confidence in the future due to Dzana Homan’s leadership.
Little has been said about the real heroes in this business. The owners.
If Sterling would recognize that the owners are the precious mindshare in this company and work with us, we can build a great organization where everyone wins. The problem starts at the top. The current leadership of Dzana Hohman is not visionary, collaborative, inclusive, innovative or interested in building a partnership model with owners, and this approach has spread down the chain like wildfire.
SOR has become every other shady franchise that none of us wished to buy into. It was not like this when we bought into this business. In fact, one of the executive members was adamant that there was a “No A$$Hole Rule”. SOR wanted to bring on bright, savvy business partners to build the brand and the system. SOR was a business for people who didn’t expect to get rich, but could make a good return on investment, have fun opportunities, and work with some amazing people. Many assurances when we were courted, but after the sale and the insertion of a new CEO there was a radical shift.
The current mindset is that owners are unpaid laborers who should be on call to manage the business at all hours (because you could get a lead at 3 am that you should respond to within 10 minutes), be subjected to the dominance of the operations and leadership group – and hold ALL OF THE RISK in the business. If you don’t comply to MONTHLY P&Ls (when we signed on, there were no P&Ls collected and were told – maybe annually would be the request from corp) you are in default and will be sent a threatening letter from corporate. Sometimes those letters, aren’t even customized and you get [name] as the salutation.
Owners are treated like low level subordinate employees and there is little respect for the fact that most are successful in their careers and have much to offer to build the business. Many have to work in other jobs or run side businesses to support their School of Rock, and pull very little, if any profit from their school. These are not “absentee owners” who choose to work elsewhere and let their business run. These are kind, caring people who are working double or triple time, and often rely on family members and friends to keep all the balls in the air and pay the bills. In return, they incur volumes of stress because a business to consumer model dealing mainly with children comes with a host of complex problems on its own.
Owners got into this to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and many have developed health issues, relationship issues, and have drained retirement savings. When surveyed, many would not recommend buying this franchise to others and would not buy again if they knew what they know now. We are now starting to see some of them give up and relinquish their schools back to corp or close completely. It’s heartbreaking.
I have owned a school for many years and have to say it was the worst business investment I have ever made. Most days I wish it would just go away and I could close the doors.
Dear Broke Owner, If they eliminated the Brand fund would that help? I’m pretty sure it would help me.
Eliminating that Brand Fund (AFTER eliminating Ms. Homan and her team) seems like a great idea….especially given that in the past year owners have created some amazing video and ad creative for marketing their schools THAT WORKS. We pay into a Brand Fund that gets us mediocre marketing content that doesn’t resonate with the lions share of the schools. They say they have done extensive research…. yet those research results are never shared. What market are they researching? News flash…we are an INTERNATIONAL brand and our marketing content and creative should reflect as such. We owners also invest in some pretty heavy marketing that actually benefits schools around the globe….shouldn’t that be what SoR is doing? Shouldn’t they be marketing our business so as to become a household name?
We’ve been promised some great video content to come. “We’re working on it” they say …. but within minutes owners push out video content and share with other owners for a fraction of the cost. All we need is good content.
Ms. Homan likes to say we are an entertainment brand. We are a MUSIC EDUCATION brand.
Ms. Homan….Owners have come to you with resolutions to issues and you turn a blind eye then call us whiners and complainers when confronted with the hard questions. You have stated that you are glad to start the CEO/Owners’ calls again (which only serves to prove our point that you stopped having them). If you do actually start these calls again, please promise us this…you’ll stop spouting off erroneous numbers, stop taking credit for “wins” that were achieved by the owners, stop telling us that we need to come to you with solutions when that is all we do, and stop treating us like disobedient employees. Our fees pay your salaries, so Corp. needs to start working for us and build the brand. Otherwise, stop charging US for the work that YOU are supposed to be doing.
I wonder what company is going find her “escape story” compelling enough to hire her. Maybe a few vodka and orange juices will help. I wonder if the door hit her in the ass on the way out.
So glad she is gone. There’s now a collective calm over the organisation. New guy seems to be in place to facilitate the sale of SoR to another company, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! She did so much damage, it may be unsalable.
Does any have the pdf of 2019 or the latest pdf file of School of Rock Franchise Disclosure Document? I really appreciate the help!
contact ADMIN at unhappyfranchisee[at]gmail.com. I’ve got the FDD.
Curious if things have really improved now SoR is under new leadership. From what I can see in the FDD fees to corporate haven’t gone down, but perhaps owners are now getting something for their money. So does this model make financial sense now?
Are things better? Seems like the complaints stopped after the leadership change.
In 2018 School of Rock reacquired 21 locations from franchisees and had one closure. You should consider the 21 units as failed franchises in this case until SoR proves differently.