How to Compete Against a Music Franchise

October 1, 2018

Do you have a School of Rock or Bach to Rock in your market? Perhaps your local Guitar Center or Sam Ash is now offering music lessons. Music education franchises are a relatively new and on the move phenomenon. The mom-and-pop music-shop can’t rely on homegrown charm and hometown loyalty.  You have to learn how to compete against these well-oiled operations. You gotta think like David if you’re gonna dance with Goliath.

 

Franchises Are Slow to Change

This is not a battle of attrition. It’s a battle of creativity, insight, and action. The scrappy music school can easily outmaneuver the slow and lumbering franchise. Below are three points worth considering.

So you want to offer ukulele lessons at your studio? It’s a unanimous vote; now you offer ukulele lessons. Franchises can’t pivot as quickly as that. This is a significant advantage you have.

 

Franchises are Faceless

Your business has a face. That face is you. When you step into a School of Rock, Jack Black is not there to greet you. When you step into a Bach to Rock, Johann isn’t sitting at a harpsichord to play you in.  When people step into your studio YOU are there to greet them. You are there to sell your business and form relationships.

Not only do you sit at the top of your corporate structure but you have constant face-to-face time with your customers. You hear directly from customers what they want and can easily get a sense of how well you meet their needs. A franchise relies on reports, surveys, and estimates to understand their customer. Your data is live. It’s hands on. It’s based on customers’ feelings. Franchises focus on wallets attached to humans. You focus on people.

 

Franchises Focus on Systems Not People

In order for a franchise to simply exist they need tight systems to create a consistent turn-key operation. Systems are the very essence of a franchise. The locally owned music school often lacks systems and could benefit from taking a page out of the franchise playbook. With solid systems in place, a mom-and-pop studio can outflank a franchise through grassroots marketing, referral systems and relationship building with current customers.

“Most franchise systems are developed to work with the minimum amount of talent needed to work the business model, that’s why they can grow so large without a specialized pool of people, they just need to train people to work the established system they have in place. People usually go to a franchise business for the product, not for the people.”  Gary Shouldis  

Gary Shouldis sheds light on a vulnerability within a music education franchise. Customers don’t buy things at a music school; they buy experiences. The product is the experience instructors create and the relationships they form with students. Go to any McDonalds and you’ll have a similar experience with identical food. Music education franchises are limited in their ability to streamline at this level. It’s hard to streamline people.

 

Embrace the Giant

The goal is not to beat the giant franchise. The goal is to thrive and position yourself so that a franchise can actually help your business grow. A music education franchise actually validates your business. Olive Garden, Chevy’s and Panda Express validate Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisine.  A franchise can build curiosity and educate your market on what it is that you do. Be strategic, be adaptable, tighten your systems and build relationships. The giant could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

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