Before I share my interview with Greg Moore, who owns the School Of Rock franchise business in West Des Moines-and his just-announced 2nd music education franchise location, Marion-Cedar-Rapids, Iowa, I need to share a few things.
First off, Greg was my client. I guided him through the franchise-buying process.
Secondly, we have a few things in common.
The first thing?
I lived in Iowa for a short time. As a matter of fact, the radio station I worked at was close to Cedar-Rapids, Iowa, where Greg opened his first School of Rock franchise location.
The second thing we have in common is that we both play musical instruments.
Lastly, the 3rd thing we have in common is our love for Led Zeppelin. But there’s more.
In Greg’s eyes, I’m kind of a big deal. Why?
Because I attended the April 27, 1977 Led Zeppelin concert in Cleveland. That’s the one where the most famous bootleg recording of a Led Zeppelin concert was created (look up Led Zeppelin, Destroyer).
(The Cleveland Led Zeppelin concert!)
Now that you know that, let’s get down to business.
Specifically, the business of owning, operating and rockin’ a School of Rock franchise.
Greg Moore’s School Of Rock Franchise Story: The Interview
Me: “What attracted you to the School of Rock franchise opportunity?”
Greg: “I’m a lifetime music enthusiast and played in various band programs throughout my school years. I missed the readily-available opportunity to play with other people when I became an ‘adult’. Also, my son took to playing guitar and later bass and drums as well. He was taking lessons at the local music store. It was becoming obvious to me after a while of seeing him progress that he needed to play with other people if he wanted to keep moving forward with his music. I was invited to a School of Rock performance by one of my best friends in high school (also played in band) in the Chicagoland area. His son was in the program. I was amazed at the performance – the professionalism, the skills of the kids, and the overall high quality of the performance…which was at a legitimate venue in downtown Chicago. And the kids seemed to be having a blast playing with each other, too! I immediately was jealous that Iowa didn’t have anything like that for kids (and adults). It seemed like a perfect outlet to learn and play music in a fun environment. Then I started looking into music franchises…“
Me: “Please tell my readers about your background, and why you felt it was time to become your own boss with a ‘Rock School Franchise’.”
Greg: “My career has been in sales and marketing in medium sized, privately owned companies. I’d gotten to a point in my career where I was very comfortable doing what I was doing, but realized that further upward movement really wasn’t an option – my boss is only a few years older than me. I wasn’t unhappy with my job, but just felt like I was becoming stagnant doing the same thing year after year and not being challenged. I had lost passion for that business, and though I enjoy the people I work with as well as my customers, I felt that maybe it was time to try something different, especially having just turned 50 and realizing that I only have so many more productive career years ahead of me. Fortunately, it seemed that trying the franchise thing wouldn’t require me to quit my ‘day job’…at least not initially. That made me even more interested in trying a franchise, knowing that I wouldn’t have to completely leap in without the safety net of my current salary. “
On Making The Decision To Buy A School Of Rock Franchise Business
Me: “How long did it take you to get franchise information on SOR, do your research, and make your decision to become a franchisee-from beginning to end?”
Greg: “The process took about 6 months. I didn’t rush it. I investigated a couple music-school franchises in detail with the franchisors. I also casually looked into other franchise opportunities. I engaged a Franchise Advisor (you-Joel) to help me think through the process. Perhaps one of the most valuable things you helped me with was to understand what my primary functions would be as a franchise owner and to think about whether those functions fit my skill set as well as would be enjoyable to me. And at SOR, my primary functions are basic business management as well as the sales and marketing of the school in the local market. Also training the staff to ‘sell’ potential students (and their parents) on the benefits of the SOR music education program. It seemed like a good fit for me skill-wise. And so far, that’s played out well. I’m glad Joel gave me that advice.“
Me: “Where did you open your 1st store, and how long did it take after you signed your franchise agreement?”
Greg: “I opened my first school in the suburbs of Des Moines, IA (West Des Moines). It took 7 1/2 months from signing to opening.”
Me: “I remember referring you to a franchise attorney with an office in Iowa. Did he help you better understand the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and your franchise agreement? Would you recommend that anyone buying a franchise hire a franchise attorney, and if so, why?”
Greg: “Your referral to Rush was helpful. He understood the franchise structure and was very helpful with pointing out the commitments I was making by signing the franchise agreement. He also has practical business experience with franchises and has offered great advice on everyday issues including lease procurement, and avenues to pursue for marketing my School of Rock business. He’s almost like a business ‘partner’ who can help with professional support when it’s needed.”
Me: “Tell my readers about your workday. And please tell us about your School of Rock business, some highs and lows.”
Greg: “My workday is HECTIC, but I wouldn’t trade it in. I work my ‘day job’ from 8 until 5 or 6pm. I work from home which has turned out to be a blessing for me in trying to also run the franchise. Throughout the day, I’ll email or talk to my franchise employees on various issues. After I’m done with my day job I go to the school at least 3 times a week. I participate in the program which has been helpful to get a customer’s perspective on the benefits of our offering. I usually spend 2-3 hours there when I go. I have general managers running day-to-day operations which gives me a little more flexibility to do my day job as needed.”
More About Greg’s 1st School Of Rock Location
Greg: “The West Des Moines school got off to a GREAT start. We opened in Dec 2019. We were exceeding our enrollment goals handily. It was exciting. The program was going well, too. It was extremely gratifying to see new musicians of all ages performing together, enjoying themselves, and rapidly advancing their skills. Then COVID. We had to shut down day-to-day operations at the school for about 2 1/2 months and had to do lessons remotely (via Zoom). We almost immediately lost about 25% of our enrollment. And growth came to a complete halt. It was scary – I have a lease and an SBA loan to pay on. There were many moments when I thought I might run myself out of capital. Fortunately things opened back up and it was amazing…enrollments starting pouring in again and soon it seemed like COVID hadn’t had an impact on our business (except for all the sanitization protocols which we still follow, mandatory mask requirement, social distancing, and barriers placed between performers as needed). Today, we have achieved profitability in the first location. The enrollment count is within striking distance of my 5-year goal!?! And the second location (in the Cedar Rapids area) opened just over a month ago.”
Me: “Will your business help produce any potential future rock stars? Are you permitted to mention any of them?”
Greg: “The business has the potential to do so. There’s been SOR students that have made it on The Voice and American Idol. The opportunity to get the skills and the access to other musicians is there. There is also direct access to music industry professionals for serious aspiring rock stars. But I think the biggest benefit to people who enroll in our program is finding their ‘thing’. For many kids who come to us, they haven’t yet found their ‘thing’. They may not be sports enthusiasts. They may not be engaged in other school clubs or organizations. Finding music as their ‘thing’ is a big deal. And for them, getting this experience of learning to play and collaborate with other musicians is a skill that they’ll have and be able to use for the rest of their lives. It’s also amazing to watch kids’ overall self confidence grow as they progress with our program. In my personal opinion, helping students find their ‘thing’ is much more valuable than being able to say our school created a rock star. But it certainly would be cool if we had a role in creating the next John Bonham, Geddy Lee, Eddie Van Halen, or Ann Wilson!!”
Greg Moore Opens A Second Franchise Location!
Me: “I understand you just opened your 2nd franchise. Congrats! You must feel confident about the future. How did your 1st franchise do during the pandemic, and what did you learn?”
Greg: “I think I touched on some of this in my other answers, but I definitely learned that music can survive a pandemic. While it was a scary time to go through the height of the pandemic as a new business owner, it was encouraging to see a significant group of customers stick with the program and be willing to learn through remote programming. I never in a million years would have thought we’d be teaching drums and guitar via Zoom, but it worked when it needed to. And we also were able to expand our geographic footprint a little bit in the process. We still have students who do remote lessons that live in rural communities further away from us that don’t have a local music school where they live. So I guess what I learned is that if you can think creatively to come up with solutions to adverse business situations, you have a decent chance of figuring out a way to navigate the obstacles. And I have to say that SOR was extremely helpful in coming up with creative ideas to help me as a franchisee to retain students during the height of the pandemic.”
Me: “Is there anything you’d like to tell anyone thinking about buying a franchise?”
“I touched on this before, but I think your advice about trying to understand what your role as an owner would be and determining whether that role would be 1) appealing to you, and 2) fit your skill set well was excellent advice. In my case, I don’t teach music lessons (nobody would want to pay me for lessons – I’m not nearly good enough!) but I get to interact with the students and families, engage in sales (enrollments) as well as lead our team to optimizing their sales skills, and engage in local marketing of the school. It fits my skills well, and I truly enjoy what I’m doing.”
In Which Greg Talks About The Importance of Talking To Existing Franchisees
“Also, it’s critical to speak to other franchisees for any franchise you’re considering purchasing. And not just the ones the franchisor refers you to speak with. Teaching me that was very helpful to me in so many ways. Plus, several of the franchisees I spoke with early on I keep in touch with today. They’re very helpful.“
Me: “I’m glad I was able to help you become your own boss. And I’m proud of you! You opened another location during a global pandemic. Wow! With that being said, is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?”
Greg: “Just that I’m glad I took the risk. I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t trade it for my life before SOR. I’m hopeful that over the next several (??) years I can transition from my current corporate job into SOR full-time as a second career. The nice part is that I don’t feel huge pressure to make that transition and I feel more and more confident that I can run the franchises as I’m doing now while also maintaining my ‘day job‘.”
Thank you for taking the time to compose your answers for this interview. I have a feeling they’ll benefit anyone looking to buy a franchise.