This Franchisee Found a Business That Rocked His World When Ken Hall of Tennessee found School of Rock, he says he found the courage to leave his corporate gig and finally listen to the music.

By Entrepreneur Staff

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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email franchiseplayers@entrepreneur.com.

For Kenneth Hall, rock'n'roll has always been a passion, but one he pursued only on his free time: He worked at PepsiCo for 27 years in sales and marketing and oversaw food service for a Pepsi division as a regional sales manager. But he yearned to move to an industry that struck an emotional chord.

Then, one day on a plane, he was reading Guitar magazine and spotted an ad for School of Rock, a franchise whose owners run schools offering music lessons in their favorite genre. For Hall, the pieces fell together. "Honestly, it was not like I was searching out all these different businesses for the perfect franchise," Hall shares. "However, when I saw this opportunity to own a business with two of my biggest passions of music and teaching, it just aligned perfectly."
Name: Kenneth Hall

Franchise owned: School of Rock Germantown, Tennessee

How long have you owned a franchise?

Three-and-a-half years.

Related: Three Franchises Far From Business As Usual

Why franchising?

I had never thought about franchising or owning a business before, but the opportunity to open a business that that makes a difference in kids' lives was just an amazing opportunity. I was looking for a way to channel my passions into a career, and once I found School of Rock, I knew it was the perfect choice for me.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Prior to opening a School of Rock, I worked for PepsiCo for 27 years in sales and marketing. I oversaw food service for a division of Pepsi as a regional sales manager. After more than 20 years at Pepsi, I realized I wanted to work in an industry that I had a strong passion for. Working at Pepsi was a wonderful opportunity, but I knew there was more I would like to do, and eventually I went back to school, received my MBA and planned on becoming a teacher. I love teaching, interacting with kids and making a difference in their lives, so I thought this was the best way to follow my dream. I had such a great job with Pepsi, however, that I couldn't leave just yet.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

My two passions are music and teaching. I knew I would love to combine the two passions into one career, but I had no idea how. I had my MBA, was thinking of teaching, but still working at Pepsi. One day, I was on a plane reading Guitar magazine when I saw an advertisement for School of Rock. I was ecstatic, because here I was, receiving my answer on how I could combine my love for teaching and my love for music.

I came home energized, but cautious, because I had never thought about opening my own business. But I kept taking steps forward and finally decided to pull the trigger, and we opened our school in August of 2012. Owning a School of Rock is so rewarding. We have kids come in who lack confidence and self-esteem; they even have trouble looking you in the eye. But they start learning an instrument, and six months later, you see them step up to a microphone to perform. It's amazing to see the transformation. Our parents often say the school is a second home for their kids, and we love being a safe haven where they can interact with friends and do what they love.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

My cost was $275,000, which included working capital, franchise fee, build-out, gear, legal, signage, grand opening marketing, etc. Then we had furniture, computer hardware, insurance, charters and licenses.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

Honestly, it was not like I was searching out all these different businesses for the perfect franchise. I was not really looking to open up a business. However, when I saw this opportunity to own a business with two of my biggest passions of music and teaching, it just aligned perfectly with what would give me the courage to leave the corporate world.

Related: 'Mother Knows Best' Inspired This Franchisee to Truly Listen to the Music

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

[They were] the cost of doing business and delivering on net income objectives, the ongoing cost of equipment replacement and repair, and scheduling challenges.

Related: Franchise Players: How This 'Computer Mom' Became Franchisee of the Year

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise? Find something that you truly have a passion for, and can have fun doing, as of course owning your own business will require a great deal of your time. Ensure that you will have the support you expect from the franchisor. Have realistic financial goals in mind and take the time to write a business plan. Hire great people and treat them well.

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