The Franchise: Canton, Massachusetts-based School of Rock operates nearly 350 performance-based music education centers in 15 countries. Founded in 1998 as a single school in Philadelphia, the company offers an array of music lessons for both kids and adults, including guitar, vocals, piano and drums.
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January 2019: Shortly after graduating from college and finding his degree in video production was not his passion, Matt McFarland started filling in as studio coordinator at a School of Rock in Caramel, Indiana. It was one of three School of Rock locations owned by his dad, Steve McFarland, and it was where Matt took drum lessons growing up.
“I thought it was just going to be a temporary thing. I ended up falling in love with it day one, realizing it’s such an amazing program for the kids and for the community.”
December 2019: Having decided that School of Rock was where he wanted to build a career, McFarland worked his way up to the role of general manager.
March 2022: McFarland joined his dad in becoming a franchise owner, with the joint purchase of School of Rock in Shorewood. The school opened in 2013 and is currently the brand’s sole location in Wisconsin. The McFarlands were already familiar with the Milwaukee market, having annually sent students to perform at Summerfest prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Somebody from School of Rock reached out to my dad letting him know the owner wanted to sell. We pondered it for a while and then ended up pulling the trigger. … Milwaukee is a city on the rise with its thriving cultural scene, making it a perfect place for a School of Rock franchise.”
March 2023: Since the McFarlands took over, enrollment at the Shorewood location is up 34% year-over-year. Moving forward, the brand is looking to expand its presence in Milwaukee.
“We want to follow the franchise model as much as possible. With Shorewood, we wanted to make sure we got back on track. It’s easy, in music, to get creative and do your own thing, but a lot of times things get off track and away from the School of Rock model.”
The franchise fee: $49,900