Bach to Rock Franchise Review: Q&A with David Ferguson
Posted on: June 23, 2015
How a lifelong passion for music led a construction executive to start a Bach to Rock music franchise without quitting his day job
David Ferguson’s success as a Bach to Rock music franchise owner in Folsom, California, is the result of his lifelong passion for music. This passion led him to open a music franchise while still maintaining a full-time job as a construction executive. David’s Bach to Rock has been open for a little over a year, but already he has seen, felt, and heard the positive impact that Bach to Rock has had on his community, the parents of his students, and on his students themselves. By encouraging his students to learn an instrument by playing the music that they love, he has watched their confidence build and their ability to play increase.
This is his story:
What were you doing before you purchased a Bach to Rock franchise?
I am a construction executive; I didn’t quit my job when I decided to own and run a Bach to Rock franchise.
What drew you to Bach to Rock?
After reviewing multiple franchise platforms, including beverage and food service chains, I saw an advertisement for Bach to Rock. I have been a professional musician for the majority of my life, while still holding down a professional day gig. The Bach to Rock platform was something I could readily embrace. When my daughter turned 5, and I was looking for a local piano teacher, it became apparent that there was a significant void within this industry sector in my area.
What is the support like from the corporate office?
Corporate is there every step of the way to guide you through the process. They have a vested interest in your success. They have adapted their style to match your needs and timetable. Being on the West Coast, I have had many conversations after hours, and they are committed to serving you and your location. They have become family and are really good people.
What sets Bach to Rock apart?
Our innovative thought process in regard to music lessons. We really emphasize and instill in our students that the love of music should come first. Our students should enjoy playing, so we encourage them by letting them choose what they want to learn, and we branch out from there. We also encourage a sense of community among the students by letting them form bands, by setting it up so they practice the way real bands practice. We help them get shows in the community. We really boost their confidence.
What were music lessons like for you as a kid?
I took piano lessons from kindergarten through senior in high school. My lessons were classical — ugh, it was tedious! Why subject kids to playing music they don’t like? I believe that music and food are similar in that you develop a palate. As an adult, our palates get more refined — people begin to appreciate classical music as they get older. Younger people like what they hear on the radio, and I have yet to meet a child that only listens to classical radio.
I took trumpet lessons from fourth grade to senior year in high school — ugh. Again, it was tedious and boring! Finally, in my senior year of high school, I was allowed to play the drums. Because of all my previous music experience, I grew at an exponential rate on the drum kit. By my sophomore year in college, I was able to take the first chair in the jazz band, and I held that position until I graduated.
When I saw how Bach to Rock approaches music lessons, I knew that this was the real route for children or beginner students. Letting them play music they like helps them practice and grow on their instruments. Forcing music upon them that they don’t like or appreciate makes practicing an arduous task — and that hurts the learning process. I really believe that playing and practicing music should be fun.
How important are the teachers to Bach to Rock?
Teachers are your most valuable assets. They are your front lines of direct interaction.
We have an excellent core of teachers and a really cool atmosphere at our location. It feels like a family. We may not all like the same types of music, but we share the passion for it. Finding passionate teachers who are great with children and adults is an important part of building your school’s atmosphere.
It is easy to find music teachers among the young adults graduating from college with music degrees. The key is to find the ones who will enhance your school’s public perception. We look for people who are very passionate about music, have great personal skills and personalities, and the ones who can play more than one instrument. This gives us a teaching staff that is flexible, and our teachers aren’t stuck with any one lesson type.
Our enrollment has been high, so we just finished a second hiring phase. We get a stack of resumes from placing ads and from word of mouth — and we weed through them carefully to find our potential teachers. We hold interviews and have them play their instruments for us so we can gauge actual music proficiency. We don’t look for virtuoso players, as the best players can make the worst teachers.
From there, it is an easy selection: will they be an asset or a liability? We look for people that we would invite to a dinner party; people that can hold a good conversation and are interesting.
What’s your favorite kind of music?
I like all kinds of music: funk, Latin, jazz, fusion, West African, Middle Eastern, EDM, flamenco, R&B, classical, etc.
Do you have expansion plans?
Absolutely! Once I am able to track my growth and equity recapture rates and timelines, I will look into other locations. This business is brand new. My location has been open for just over a year.
Did you look at School of Rock, too? If so, why did you pick B2R?
No. The material the kids play in that school is not always age-appropriate. I watched their hand-picked group of kids play “Keep it Greasy,” by Frank Zappa. It is a very tough song to play, but the lyrics are really adult. I’m a parent, and having kids play songs like that does not bode well for the community.
What has the response been in the community to your Bach to Rock music franchise?
The community has supported us since we opened our doors. We have a Open Mic night once a month, and it has grown into a potluck dinner, as well. It is a humbling experience to own a Bach to Rock because you are a part of your local community — instead of some other kind of franchise that has no connection to the community. The amount of gracious parents that have personally thanked me for opening this location has been staggering.
A new teacher asked our core teacher group (including myself) to be the house band for a production of Rent. The conversation took about 25 seconds. My core group looked at me and asked me to play the drum kit, and we nodded heads in agreement. I look at it as another route to show that Bach to Rock actively supports the arts in our community, and besides, as an owner, you never pass up the chance for free marketing.
What is the most fun part of your job? What’s the most challenging?
Interacting with fun people while playing and recording music at will. Being a musician, owning a Bach to Rock doesn’t qualify as an actual job…well, not to me.
The most challenging part of the business is marketing, which is not part of my skill set. Luckily, the corporate team is always available if I need help with anything.
What kind of person makes a good Bach to Rock franchisee?
Anyone with a passion for music and their community. If you are looking for net/net investment strategy, buy a national fast food franchise. If you want to have fun, look at the Bach to Rock music franchise.
Would you recommend Bach to Rock to a new franchisee and why?
From my research, every other franchise out there will force you to quit your day job. Well, I still have my day job, and my Bach to Rock location is in the black. I didn’t want a franchise in the mindset of buying myself a job. I wanted something that added value to my passions. My location is a candy store for musicians. My teachers are fun and enthusiastic. This isn’t a job for me — this is fun.
After being open for my first year I can honestly say that I smile more, laugh longer, embrace humility and I am surrounded by an awesome staff that loves to play music. Owning a Bach to Rock music franchise has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. To any musician — if you want to look at a franchise, Bach to Rock should be your only selection.