School of Rock CEO Rob Price Shares How They Quickly PivotedMorgan Gertler
You’ve probably heard of the School of Rock in some form — the movie, the broadway show, or the franchises all around the globe. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick education: The School of Rock has 270 schools around the world where kids earn music in a non-traditional way. Basically, they learn music through performance. There are tons of programs for kids of all ages, including adults. Rob Price is the President and CEO at the School of Rock and chatted with us about how COVID-19 impacted the management of business, but also provided some incredible insights that will be valuable for the long-term.
Working with Franchisees
Rob helps create team development and mentors many of the franchise owners. He also makes sure to be available for them whenever he’s needed. We all know that Rob CEO’s tend to be removed and not always present for the day-to-day operations, but Rob feels it’s important to be able to share knowledge and information with the franchise owners, as it will help them succeed and grow their locations.
In order to maintain seamless growth, a big focus at SOR has been finding the right technology and partners to support the expansion. Rob suggests finding technology vendors that make it easy to trust the software without a constant need to double-check it. This allows management teams to focus on other things such as strategy, growth, and customer service. This is an important aspect to keep in mind for franchises since it could be costly for them to test out different programs until they find the right one.
Leadership and Values During COVID
Business is always evolving, but with COVID-19 impacting just about all organizations, Rob suggests pausing the evolution, but not dismissing it. Growth and change can still happen but just needs to be reworked during this unforeseen time. Rob asked the team to do some “smart hustling” (we are clearly a fan of that!) to create remote options for their students during COVID. This is a moment to be a pessimist or an optimist, and Rob knew his team would have the right outlook to keep the business moving forward. After only about five days they had designed a fully remote program and were able to preserve the majority of their customers.
“If you came into COVID and didn’t have a purpose, it’s the time to figure out why you do [your job] and who you do it for.” – Rob Price
Rob talked about how important it is to confront the gaps in knowledge — be upfront regarding what your leadership knows and what is still missing. Then, bring in the experts to help fill those voids. And, you need to stick with your purpose, even during trying times. “It’s very difficult to thrive without being a purpose-driven company”, Rob commented. He said you have to be able to make quick decisions and rely on everyone — in the case of the School of Rock, thousands of people around the globe — to make good decisions. You need to operate from one song sheet, which ultimately should be your purpose. For School of Rock, the underlying purpose is a community, and this means safety is the most important thing. So, SOR closed their locations earlier than needed, but they are wired to take care of the community, so they felt this was the safest and smartest option.
The School of Rock is dedicated to performance-based music education — so they had to figure out how to keep the mission while supporting students remotely. With the mission of the business at the forefront of their operations — even during a pandemic — making the right choices was easy.
About Rob Price
Prior to coming to the School of Rock, Rob served as President of Edible Arrangements, which integrates an online business and 1,300 franchised stores worldwide. Before that, he was SVP, Chief Marketing Officer at CVS Health. He also held executive roles at Wawa Food Markets and H-E-B Grocery. In addition to serving as a director of Walker & Company, Rob is a member of the Alumni Board at Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA. He graduated with a BS in Applied Economics from Cornell University, was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and was a Henry Crown Fellow and Richard Braddock Scholar at the Aspen Institute.