Ep109: Matt Mueller

On the More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast today, we're talking with Matt Mueller from Bergen County, New Jersey, and Matt works with a franchise operation called School of Rock, a music-based after school program for kids.

I love the concept, and Matt is an enthusiastic student of marketing and wants to really do the best thing for their operation to grow, expand, and to get new students.

Their real goal is to get to 200 people who are recurring monthly members of the School of Rock program and will stay forever, and what we found in talking about it, is this is a business that's very 'After Unit' oriented. So we talked about some bootstrap marketing opportunities, including offering a way for the existing students to refer new students, before talking about some longevity ideas and how to really expand their offerings.

If you have a business that's very 'After Unit' oriented, sometimes the best way to continue to grow is to really tap into the existing people you have, to make and create a culture of referrals so it grows organically.

Often people are interested in 'how do we go out and create a Before Unit strategy' here, but sometimes an After Unit strategy is the way to go.

Show Links:

Waldwick School of Rock


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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 109

Dean: Matt Mueller.

Matt: Good morning sir.

Dean: Hey, how are you?

Matt: I'm doing well. I'm doing well. I followed you and Joe out here for a while. It's great to connect with some marketing methods.

Dean: Well it's all very exciting. Tell me, where are you calling from?

Matt: Sure. I'll try to give you a pinpoint location. I'm in a suburb of New York City, Bergen County, New Jersey. Are you familiar with Bergan County?

Dean: I know Bergen County. Park Ridge.

Matt: Yeah, I'm in Hillsdale, which is by Paramus or Ridgewood, or Park Ridge or any of those towns.

Dean: Kinchley's that's the place to go.

Matt: Yeah. Kinchley's Pizza.

Dean: You're in Park Ridge, that's right.

Matt: No. No. Kinchley's Pizza is actually about two miles from the Waldwick School of Rock. That's why we're on the call today. This is all great.

Dean: Okay. There we go. When I come up to visit, we'll have to stop by the School of Rock. I have a college buddy that lives in Park Ridge. I know about Bergen County, so that's awesome.

Matt: Perfect. Perfect.

Dean: Tell me about what you've got going on? I love this whole idea of the School of Rock. Tell me what this is all about.

Matt: 100%, I'll give you just a 30 second background on myself just to preface it, if it's all right.

Dean: Okay.

Matt: I would almost describe myself as a serial salesperson where I've sold for a lot of different companies and really enjoyed the salesperson consultant role and run away from the manager, managing a team role of responsibilities, if that makes sense. I enjoy the sales process. I enjoy marketing. I did a brief stint selling Tony Robbins seminars. I've sold business to business printing supplies. I've rented real estate apartments, I have a real estate license. I've done a lot of things, that's what I'm trying to say. Yet peeking behind the School of Rock has been interesting for me. Have you heard the term fino, F-I-N-O?

Dean: What, F-I-N-O. I have not.

Matt: It's something that I ... It's what's called a Franchise In Name Only. Have you come up across that?

Dean: Yeah. Yeah. I like that idea. It's similar to ... Well tell me what the concept is. It may be similar to what I talk about with syndication. Tell me what that means?

Matt: What I mean by Franchise In Name Only is, the franchise model as I describe it, and School of Rock is a franchise. There's a couple corporately owned schools, but primarily they're individually owned and operated. My idea typically of a franchise is you open a Mcdonalds, your product is a Big Mac, and your product is the same at pretty much every location. Your job as a manager or a business owner is to run the business and not focus on the product side because the corporation took care of the product. The product is the same at every place, does that make sense?

Dean: Right.

Matt: The School of Rock, our product is our unique teachers teaching students running a unique band where we put on a unique show. In my mind it's a Franchise In Name Only because every school has unique teachers, every school has unique students. Every school is running their own show. The franchise model, it might have some ties in to a Re/max model where the franchise could be different, I don't know. The thing I'm trying to figure out is, the school I'm working with is owned by a couple of truckers who are a little bit hands off and a general manager who's running the place great as a music manager, but they're not doing a ton of marketing. I'm coming in here as someone who's done some marketing and really trying to help grow the business from where it's at about 70 to 100 students to getting it back to 150 to 180. I'm going to cut off there to not ramble too long.

Dean: I get it. Most of the time what I've observed with franchises is that they are what I would call usually during unit operational franchises where what you're buying is the model for running a business that gets a result that you deliver to your clients. Where they primarily don't have any support or people are left on their own is in the marketing and in the relationship building and all of that kind of stuff. The before unit and the after unit of it. It sounds very similar. It sounds like they give you ... "Here's the operating manual. Here's the branding. Here's the ways to do it, the guidelines and everything, how to run the franchise." Then you are on your own to try and build it and get clients. Does that sound like what you're facing?

Matt: I would say that's pretty spot on.

Dean: Okay.

Matt: Corporate helps us out to give us about 10 leads a month, but that's not enough to really get to the numbers we need to be. That's why I'm hoping, I'm on the call today to figure out some strategies, whether they're lead generation-

Dean: That would be perfect.

Matt: Whether it's working with other businesses.

Dean: I got you. Walk me through the model real quick, so you're 70 to 100 students. Is it a monthly membership? How does it work?

Matt: Yep. Our typical student is coming to lessons once a week and it's a monthly fee. The cost is about 329 per month, $329. From there about half our students will also join one of our bands where that cost jumps from 329 to 355. There's a very small upsell from lessons only to the program with the lessons and the band, which in my opinion is a great value. I think our lessons only is a little bit overpriced. One thing I might consider as a possible marketing test, maybe bringing that lesson only price down. I listened to one of your initial calls with Joe yesterday where you were describing the More Whiskers, More Cheese.

I want to try to make it more of a no lose situation for people. Maybe they can get a money back guarantee on the first month. Something that they do a trial lesson, we give away free trial lessons as marketing of course. Something that they can't say no to. It's a low entry fee for the first month. You don't like it. It doesn't work out, we'll give you your money back. To try to get the barrier eventually a little bit lower, but those are our two price points, either 329 or 355.

Dean: Got it. Then what is the way that you find people right now? Right now you've got 70 people paying somewhere between 329 and 355 a month.

Matt: 100 and it's the summer, so some are on summer break, they'll come back in the fall. We'll get up to over 100 in September. Primarily, we've got a couple leads that corporate sources from the internet from marketing SEO type of things. We did a Food Truck Festival. There was this Food Truck Festival in town, we were a sponsor of it. We played it all day. We collected some leads. I've been following up with those leads trying to set trial lessons. We just don't have a systematic way of taking those leads and putting them into an auto-responder. How frequently should we call those people? How frequently should we email those people. It's a lot of stuff that my marketing mind is trying to figure out and I don't necessarily have direction from corporate or from a manager who has run this business successfully. I'm utilizing the stuff I've come across and really being on the call, because I think we need some help overall. I want to talk to you. I want to talk to other successful School of Rocks and figure out what we can do a little bit better.

Dean: Yeah. That is the model 329 or 355. Are there any other?

Matt: Yeah we do a kids program for four to seven year olds. We charge about 160 a month. We also do an adult program that we charge about 160 a month for as well. Any student that wants to take an additional lesson, somebody wants to do guitar and bass, that's going to be an extra 229 a month and we have some students doing that as well.

Dean: Got you. What's the age range, who's your sweet spot, your ideal?

Matt: 100%, so we cater really to I would say six to 18 year olds. Anyone until they've gone off to college for the most part.

Dean: What would be the ... Six to 18 is a pretty big range. If you were to do a distribution of the 100 that you have right now, what would the median age be?

Matt: It might be eight to 16, maybe 10 to 16. There's probably less little kids and less older kids. It's definitely, probably more skewed in the middle of that range.

Dean: That's great if you can keep somebody from that 10 to 16 that would be a great thing. How long to people typically stay?

Matt: That's what I'm trying to figure. I've been there since April, so I've been there a couple months myself in a working role. I've been a student of the school for a little bit longer. I would think if we sign a new student on, the chances that they stay for six to eight months to a year is pretty good. I know that we've had students with us for years. I don't know that myself I have a great number on the average student we enrolled has stayed for one year or two years total or a number like that. It's something I probably have to dig into a little bit more myself.

Dean: Right. This was a classic layout of the before unit, the during unit and the after unit. Primarily the goal of a business like this is to ... It's an after unit based business, where you get into the ongoing relationship with people. The goal is to find, what's the capacity that you could ... What would be full?

Matt: 100%, let's say we're operating at 100 students charging $300 a month, bringing in 30 grand as a total business. We could get up to 180, 200 pretty easily. We would love to double it. We've got room to do that. We've got room to hire more teachers, we've got space. There's other schools in the country that are at much higher numbers than us. It's sometimes a struggle for us to figure out, "Hey, we're in Bergen County in this great market."

Dean: Yeah. Yeah. Really.

Matt: Is it competition? Are we not doing enough marketing? What's our little thing? That's why we're here.

Dean: Okay. This is a really cool opportunity then in that you're in an area where kids are encouraged with after-school programs and all the extracurriculars. Parents are very supportive of that in your area.

Matt: 100%.

Dean: They want to get their kids-

Matt: The school systems are great here. People move here to raise their kids. This is a great place for all that.

Dean: Exactly.  I have been doing that for 30 years now. It's always full. That's a cool thing. The goal I guess is when you overlay, I was looking at this and doing the analysis. I would look at your after unit and see what's the health of this right now? Part of it is defining where does it cross over into the after unit, where somebody is maturity and ongoing? I would put that at the three month mark kind of thing. I would say that the goal would be if you can get somebody over the third month that they would continue in perpetuity, that they would continue going. There's really no reason for somebody to stop. They would continue as long as they were progressing and having fun, right?

Matt: 100%.

Dean: It's really an interesting model to think about how to keep people engaged and looking forward.  When somebody joins a band, what's the outcome of that? It would be really interesting to see, is joining a band part of the longevity of the equation?

Matt: 100%. Getting students from lesson only to joining a band and just to clarify, the way bands work is we have a venue in our School of Rock, a little stage set up. The typical way that joining a band works is we run about four shows a year. Once every school semester. Let's say we want to do a Green Day versus Red Hot Chili Peppers show. Starting in September we'll take some kids doing lessons, put them in that band. Have them practice for three months, then actually play a show in December both at our venue and at a local venue in Teaneck, a real music venue that real bands play at.

Dean: Sure.

Matt: That is the School of Rock experience that really sells and keeps kids because that's what separates us. There's a ton of places to go take a music lesson. There's a ton of teachers that can come to your home and teach you something. Very few places you can actually get on stage, play with a band and have that experience. Us getting kids to the band level. Getting them to get that experience and also get better because of how much better it immerses them in the whole thing. That's where the real buy in happens and that's where our super fans are created. Any super fan we have is in our band. That's the goal of the School of Rock is to get everyone at that level for the most part.

Dean: I like that idea. That's a cool thing. It's almost like they're getting out there. If you model what the rock star life is about kind of thing where-

Matt: 100%, and I don't know if I can bring up this analogy but you can only learn to play basketball if you're shooting hoops in your driveway, that's like practicing an instrument by yourself. You can only really learn to play the game of basketball when you get on the court with five other people and you have to hold your position down and know what your space and your timing is.

Dean: Yes.

Matt: That's what playing in a band is. It's a whole other level of development as a musician and that's why we're so successful.

Dean: Yes.

Matt: We're successful at the music end, we've got to get successful at the marketing end. Did I answer your question though or did I go off or?

Dean: I'm just looking, I'm seeing all the different ... All the possibilities here of where you're heading to. Do you do any video showcasing or do you help them set up a YouTube channel or?

Matt: No. I have so many ideas that we just quite haven't had the bandwidth for. I think we should do a lot of things. I think when we have a show out in September, like a kids go to the music venue. We should be taking some type of professional video of them. Maybe it's just one song, tagging all those kids and posting it to Facebook or whatever so that their friends can see their cool friend in the band. Maybe get a little jealous and say, "Hey, I want to do that." Try to use the kids as our stars and our promotional tool.

Maybe do a Waldwick School of Rock YouTube channel where we do a bio on our teachers and introduce them and they do a free lesson on their favorite song or something. Maybe we create a video about the School of Rock where every free trial comes in, we email that to them before they come in so they're excited to come in and then we have a post follow-up series of here's why you should enroll and student's stories. I have all these ideas. I don't quite have the time or the bandwidth to get these things going. I don't want to ramble to much, but those are some of the ideas I was thinking about.

Dean: Neat. I think then because that would all ... This organic marketing of it that these kids are in the band sharing their YouTube channel and in the background is the School of Rock soundstage, logo. The lower third, there's lots of opportunity there that they're being showcased kind of thing as an opportunity. Let's talk about how you get people initially. What's your best strategy to spend money to find somebody, right now.

Matt: If you think that's good. Did you say what best strategy to spend money to get people?

Dean: Yeah.

Matt: I think the issue is the school hasn't been super profitable for so long. I think the original owners are very hands off and just not so involved in day-to-day. They don't even realize they need to be marketing. I'm just being honest. They're more like hands-on technical people than they are overview people. I've been talking with PostcardMania, are you familiar with them down in Florida?

Dean: I am. Yep.

Matt: I think they might be a good approach to spend maybe three grand and do a postcard test on to try to get some new students. That's the type of thing I want to approach the owners with. Do you think that could potentially be a good ROI for the business?

Dean: Before I would jump into that, I would look at figuring out what's going to be the thing. The offer that's going to work right because postcards, just the distribution method of getting right to the people that you want.

Matt: Are basic method of just getting people in the door is to offer the cheese of a free trial lesson. That's our upfront offer, that's the cheese. Free trail lesson, you've got nothing to lose, come and check out the school. Anytime I get an inbound email from our marketing team, my subject line typically is "Would you like a free music lesson, Waldwick School of Rock?" Something direct, to the point. Everyone emails me back, "Sure Matt." That initial getting them in I'm good with. I guess it's more the making sure we show them a great experience upfront, having a path to enroll them to success. Then maybe defining what success as a new student looks like. Maybe asking the parents, maybe asking the kids, "What do you want to accomplish in three months?" Showing that we hit those goals so that somebody stays on long-term. We as the parent or the teacher don't know exactly what the expectation is, how can we necessarily deliver that result? That's something I think we could help get better on too.

Dean: Yeah, right now this is probably a really good time to work something into here in that it's back to school. This is the time when they're probably looking for after-school things. Excuse me. One thing that might be a really easy way to do something is do you ever do any referral type marketing with students who are already enrolled to give a free lesson to one of their friends.

Matt: We tried a Bring a Friend program once, you bring a friend to a lesson. What I'd like to do is maybe a one up offer to that is invite all our super students that have been at the school a long time. You refer a friend, you bring a friend, maybe you get a free month of lessons yourself. That's worth 300 bucks. Try to incentivize them, maybe you get something of real value.

Dean: Right.

Matt: To try to encourage that because there's so much revenue on the back end if we get a new customer that stays with us for a year, that we can give away. I've even thought about giving away a month of free lessons instead of one free trial lesson because then you really get somebody in the school, they like it. They like it. They like it, then they don't want to stop. As opposed to a one off. I don't know if the school wants to do that or corporate wants to do that, but I think you could play with a lot of the model and improve it to where it's easier for people to say yes to. That's what you want to eliminate as the road block.

Dean: Right, well you look at it that what's your ... This is where I go with this often is thinking that when you don't have money to proactively market, what you have is sometimes excess capacity. If you've got ... Are the instructors salaried or are they-

Matt: The instructors are hourly. It's a much smaller hourly rate for the instructor than it is for the person paying. We can afford to almost pay the instructor for a month-

Dean: That's what I mean. When you look at that-

Matt: Take it as a loss if it doesn't work out because six out of 10 people we give the free trial want to enroll or whatever the numbers work out to.

Dean: Right. Now you're on to something, but if that is a thing, and that's true then the ... I'll say that sometimes it's less expensive to get the result for somebody than it is to convince them to give you money to get the result. Meaning that whatever it costs you, let's say it costs you 50 or $60 to give somebody a month of-

Matt: Lessons.

Dean: Lessons. That's your real cost on it. That can be less expensive than the marketing campaign to convince somebody to give you $329 for it initially.

Matt: 100%. I'm with you 100%.

Dean: If you know that six out of 10 are going to continue on and you win. That's really the way to do that. That's an opportunity you want to be able to fresh start where it could be a, Back to school is one opportunity for that. Christmas is another opportunity for that and the New Year is another opportunity for that. Just maybe looking at the orchestrated opportunity here of the opportunity of going back to school people are going to be talking about what different after-school programs they're doing. This might be a great opportunity for kids to give their friend a free month at School of Rock.

Matt: I'm with you. I'm with you.

Dean: That could be a really ... But it's an interesting thing if you look at that as a multiplier strategy. When I look at the after unit, the thing that we're measuring is your return on relationship. Meaning you've got 100 students right now, also 70 to 100 whatever it is. Right now what we're looking for is the metrics that are going to drive this for us. It's going to be one metric would be keeping people longer, that would be retention. The other thing is referrals. How many people are the people who are already there bringing into the School of Rock?

Matt: I'm with you. Leverage the relationships we have with our raving fans so to speak. It's unique that we actually have people that are repeat customers that we've known for years that really like us. Not every business and every franchise has that. It's a unique model with a repeat customer base.

Dean: Yeah, that's exactly right. It's almost like if you were to put together a little letter or package to send to your 100 and give them free, I've used different examples of this. But call them golden tickets, where somebody can give three friends the opportunity to come, that would be a big win.

Matt: I'm with you, leveraging the relationships. It all comes back to relationships. No matter what business you're in, relationships always.

Dean: Absolutely. That's the way referrals work anyway, right?

Matt: Yeah. I want to run one more thing, there's a couple schools or other businesses, there's a math teaching school called Mathnasium by us. They've approached us as trying to do a little B to B marketing to each other's customer-base. They email out an offer to our customer-base. We email out an offer to their customer-base hoping to give away some lessons, attract some students. You have a recommended verbiage or model or how to approach that because we've toyed with the idea that somebody comes and drops of a couple pamphlets at our business, we drop of pamphlets at their business, but that doesn't go anywhere. It needs to be some type of systematic way where you email people, you give something away to make that more effective. Any thoughts on that?

Dean: Part of the thing about looking for those types of synergies, with similar businesses is getting the lifetime relationship with people. Looking at what are the adjacencies to your business that are going to be the equivalent or that are going to be complimentary for what they're doing. When you look at If you think about School of Rock that it might be a natural thing to have ... I'll just throw something out. The first thing that comes to mind is having them getting rock star hairstyles or getting the right clothes or getting-

Matt: Yes.

Dean: Do you know what I mean?

Matt: Yeah.

Dean: Things that are going to amplify their experience.

Matt: Okay. I'm with you.

Dean: Other things if part of the philosophy of it is the first kind of thing that cool things, cool being smart, a smart musician kind of thing. You're thinking about the math sense of the way of getting ready for counting and understanding your contracts and your royalties when you're a real rock star. You make it cool that math is going to be a valuable thing for them, that may be a nice tie in for the Mathnasium.

Matt: I'm with you. I'm with you. Let's say it was a hair salon. Get a rocking haircut. Is there some way to form a relationship where we give away a free haircut lesson.

Dean: That's the whole thing.

Matt: They give away something back and forth and we try to form, "Be a rock star here and at this place too." Try to work with a bunch of local businesses that maybe we just pick one of. Be it one hair salon, one this, one that.

Dean: Yes. I think that's all part of it. It's all part of building you’re.... You are the mayor of that category. All these other businesses, none of them are really thinking about what else is going on adjacent to them. Do you sell instruments?

Matt: We don't sell instruments. We do a little minor set up work. I've thought about selling instruments or picks or maybe even approaching a company to store some musical stuff in there as a side line.

Dean: Who does in-?

Matt: Guitar Center.

Dean: Bergen County. Who does that?

Matt: Tricky though, they just started giving lessons. That might not be a relationship we can work.

Dean: Okay. Are voice lessons included in the services that you offer, or?

Matt: 100%, yeah.

Dean: You've got all of those things the technical lesson stuff. You were on the right path of what's all completely involved in the rock star life. It's the clothes, and the hair, and the instruments. Do you teach them ... You provide services for recording and all of that stuff?

Matt: A little bit. We've got some sideline recording stuff, just haven't quite had the students or the bandwidth to really get that up and running yet, but that's all there. We've got the capacity to do it.

Dean: That might be something. That might be an interesting thing of putting together part of the thing for them to look forward to is the band looking forward to recording their mini-album, their EP or something. Where they are looking forward to recording their cover songs or their even teaching songwriting, maybe write their original stuff. Getting them involved in this ecosystem of it being an ongoing thing.

Matt: 100%. 100%

Dean: Yeah, that's all after unit based stuff. It feels like if you had that opportunity for the kids to give away, offer a free month for someone, especially now as back to school, it would really be just a letter with three golden tickets. You make it look like it's a valuable-

Matt: Like a Willy Wonka thing.

Dean: Exactly. Make it look like a valuable thing that they get to give these.

Matt: That makes sense.

Dean: It seems like it would be a very low risk way to grow.

Matt: Very small loss leader for business to return, 100%.

Dean: Absolutely. I think that part of those things if you're looking that way is almost like a reality show. People do some live videos from the, what's it actually like at the School of Rock band kind of thing. What would that look like? Are any of the bands that are playing, are they surprisingly good?

Matt: Yeah. No. We do, the kids put on a surprisingly digestible show after three or four months of practicing. It's definitely something where we can use that as a marketing tool. It's a great idea to do a live video from a practice sometime. "Hey, here we are, School of Rock." I'd love to do even a live video walk in from our school. As a YouTube video where you approach the school from the outside. You walk in and meet the manager, you meet the crazy front desk person. You check out everybody giving a lesson. You do this. That type of thing.

Dean: I think it's great. It's really an interesting thing, I saw an interview with Scooter Braun. Do you know who Scooter Braun is? The guy that manages and discovered Justin Beiber.

Matt: Okay. Okay.

Dean: He found Justin on YouTube and he discovered him through YouTube being a big superstar. Where are we at right now then? We talked about the executable strategies we can use there.

Matt: I think executable strategies would be potentially see if we could consider going to our super fans to give them golden tickets of a one month off strategy to refer friends, give their friend a month and earn themselves a free month. Potentially try to leverage some live video-

Dean: See I don't even think, part of the thing about the incentivized thing is I don't think that you-

Matt: Need to give a free month of lessons to them.

Dean: No.

Matt: The idea is giving it to a friend.

Dean: Exactly. They win.

Matt: My manager's going to like that a lot better then.

Dean: No. I think that's the thing, you don't have to incentivize referrals because they're not doing it as a favor for you, they're doing it as a favor for their friend.

Matt: Typically people like giving referrals too. Like where if-

Dean: Absolutely.

Matt: You recommend a good movie somebody saw. Like, "Hey, check out this great movie. I'm telling you because I like you." It's a friendship type of thing.

Dean: That's exactly right.

Matt: It also elevates our students a little bit more with some cool power like, "Hey pick three of your friends and give a way some music lessons, you've been one of our best rock stars for the past year."

Dean: That's exactly right.

Matt: It helps them become a little bit more loyal to us.

Dean: Yeah. That makes sense. That whole thing and then when you start looking at it, that your goal is that if you can create this 30 day experience that once somebody comes in for their free month that six out of 10 of them continue on and that they refer somebody.

Matt: Right.

Dean: If you start setting that as your objective for the ... That makes the economics of it work even better that it's self-perpetuating that way.

Matt: I think it's a new focus for us where ... Not to just be it, but a lot of teachers just go day-to-day, students come in, they teach them. There's not always a proactive focus on, I have a new student, I have to keep this student for a month or six months. I think having a focus of making sure we're giving somebody the best possible customer experience in the first month where you blow them away and you keep them. It's good for the customer. It's good for the business owner. It's good for the teacher and everybody wins. It makes a lot of sense.

Dean: It's kind of an interesting ... I'm just thinking how you could keep the ... How you could model the real rock stars calendar in a way. If you think ... How often do you do your shows?

Matt: We do them typically four times a year, once per season.

Dean: How long does it take somebody to find... Wow.

Matt: Welcome to New Jersey. We're back in Manhattan, right?

Dean: How long is it before somebody joins a band typically?

Matt: That's a good question. I think it depends, it's a little unique, because every student is unique, but maybe six months.

Dean: Okay.

Matt: Maybe sooner.

Dean: If you looked at the goals, if you looked at the development of an artist, maybe they get the six months is getting to the point where they get good enough to get selected to be part of a band. Maybe that's the thing that they're looking forward to is the band selection is part of your progress in this. "Hey, congratulations you're eligible to be part of this band." Then when a new band forms, then they're likely to continue because they can't let the band down. Imagine that retention within a band format is higher than the individuals.

Matt: 100%. 100% our bands do end though, every couple months. Do you know what I'm saying?  Our bands will end every couple months though. Let's say if we have a Green Day band that's practicing now for December. We put on a show for December. We'll probably flip the calendar to run another type of show and reorganize the kids a little bit.

Dean: I got you.

Matt: I'm with you because the retention of anyone that gets in our band programs is huge. It's really unique for this business model. There's very few businesses I've looked behind that have all these auto-filled customers at a pretty decent chunk. They pretty much want to come back on day one.

Dean: I'm looking at that thing of looking forward to, that the band is there, and then not that the showcase is the end, but it becomes the ... Maybe out of that they get the live CD or their live album that comes out of it.

Matt: Again I'm with you. We have what's called the House Band, which is our elite students. That's where the promotion could happen. That's the top pinnacle and those students actually get to go across the country and tour with School of Rock on a Summer Tour thing.

Dean: Oh wow.

Matt: We didn't get our group together this year just because I don't think we had as quite of an A list cast, and our enrollment's a little bit down. But next summer, last summer we had it and hopefully we'll be back next summer. I like your idea of taking somebody from a progression where come in new, they get promoted to one band, they get promoted to another band and now you've joined the Elite House Band. Our House Band members don't really leave us. Those are the people that we have forever.

Dean: That would be a cool thing. Do you know I think there's something about a YouTube strategy for this as well with some local targeting in New Jersey or in Bergen County kind of thing. Are you familiar with Boyce Avenue?

Matt: No, it's a new term or a new thing for me.

Dean: Well Boyce Avenue is a band.

Matt: Okay cool.

Dean: They started out, they're I think a really amazing case study in this in that they started out as a cover band. They would do what was really brilliant is they would take the really popular song of the moment, whatever is really popular right now, top of the charts. Then they would do a really stripped down, almost not acoustic, but a minimal version cover of that song. Right at the peak when you're most interested in that song. It's at the point where you're just about to lose interest in it. Do you know what I mean? You've heard it a lot-

Matt: You leverage it.

Dean: And you like the song.  I don't know how many subscribers they have now, millions. They're one of the top YouTube sensations.  Last I saw was about $5 million a year based on that foundation of being really good, but doing-

Matt: The popular stuff.

Dean: Yeah. Then they would use that audience then as an opportunity to... Now when they did original songs it's like here's these really cool things. Now we know them. This is why things like American Idol work so well is that you get to know the artist by their interpretation of the songs you already know and like. Nobody is looking for new music just ... Another thing, when we're in the car and we're going through the radio, you're looking for songs that you know. You're looking for your favorite songs.

Matt: You're looking for something that's going to develop an emotional reaction, which is typically something from your past.

Dean: Yes. Then when you see this person, now you've got a context for how good they are by how well they did the song that you already like. Now, once they subscribe and they're used to you, then they were able to bring in the original material. That was really how they built the foundation. Anyway, how that could fit one of the strategies for you could be helping people start their YouTube experience. If there's a School of Rock equivalent for the school of audio and video production kind of thing, that might be a nice alignment. Like Mathnasium, instead of just the math, if there's ones that teach video and video editing that they could learn to video record and edit videos and create YouTube channels for the School of Rock performer’s kind of thing. That may be an interesting adjunct, something that you could do.

Matt: I'm with you and along those same lines, I thought that we should get an instructor house band together where maybe every month, let's say because we don't want to put too much on ourselves, we do a popular cover of the month. It showcases our instructors doing a popular song so that, "Hey, I get to know the instructors, I get to know the song. I want to go check this place out." It becomes a way that every month there's something new coming out from us. I think we need more grassroots type stuff that builds over time with that.

Dean: Because it puts the instructors-

Matt: On a pedestal, yeah.

Dean: On the same, yeah. It puts them that these kids get to aspire to being like those kids. They don't know the difference between mainstream celebrity and manufactured celebrity.

Matt: Is there a difference today, but that's a whole other topic.

Dean: There really isn't. Right? Look at all these YouTube stars, YouTube stars are the celebrities. There's more kids who know the YouTube stars than TV stars for sure.

Matt: It's nothing and what's going on with YouTube and not to ramble on the guitar thing too long, but have you heard of what's called the Van Halen effect? This might be an interesting marketing thing for you to have you the Van Halen effect before?

Dean: No. Tell me.

Matt: Van Halen, guitar player. Eddie Van Halen, guitar players describe what's called the Van Halen effect where every guitar player when came out, 1981 or whatever it was, put on the album and literally fell back in their chair and had no idea how Eddie was playing anything, like Eruption and all stuff. He was like the next Jimi Hendrix on the next level where literally he changed the way people approached the instrument. People had never heard anything like that. That was the Eddie Van Halen effect. What's going on with the YouTube is there's a lot of "famous" YouTube musicians nowadays that don't have a band, have never played anywhere, but have millions of views of them just playing over a backing track in their bedroom and they're awesome.

They get known and promote themselves that way. What I mean by the YouTube effect is you almost have new guitar players introducing people to a different style they've never heard before, kind of like the Van Halen effect and YouTube has allowed artists to get the word out. The long point of that is YouTube and those channels are allowing people to share themselves in a different way, but also bringing new things to the table because information is getting out there so quickly. It was a long point, but I really think the Van Halen effect is interesting, the more I think about it.

Dean: Yes. There's a guy on YouTube. I think you can do a search on a 401 Drummer. This guy is a really great drummer, but he does remixes of popular songs. Where he broke out was he did a Lady Gaga song, a rock remix of Just Dance but it's really drum heavy. It's just the camera on him and his drum kit. It's well lit. But it's really a drum-centric approach to that-

Matt: I'm with you. I like it.

Dean: To keeping people engaged in something, I think really helps.

Matt: I'm with you. I'm with you.

Dean: Okay. Well, I think we hatched some pretty good evil schemes there. I think for sure the easiest, lowest hanging fruit would be the golden tickets.

Matt: 100%, I'm with you. I think improving some of our customer experience, maybe doing some self-marketing. One quick question. We got to a point last month where we decided to stop paying the cleaning people $300 a month to clean the place. We're going to start paying the cleaning people again, should we take that money and instead put that to a company like PostcardMania or something? Because isn't getting more customers in more important than cleaning the place? I think sometimes we have our money budget not in the right place. I don't want to go over our time too much, but-

Dean: No. I think that the way that you want to look at it that the best thing you can do right now is encourage and facilitate your current students be bringing in new people. That could easily get you to 200.

Matt: Got you. Okay.

Dean: You're going to find people like them.

Matt: 100%. 100%. Well Dean, I really appreciate the time. I've had a couple interesting breakthroughs. If you ever do make it to North Jersey, I will take you out to Kinchley's and you've got a treat on me. Feel free to stop by the School of Rock in Waldwick anytime you're out here.

Dean: Thanks so much Matt.

Matt: All right. I appreciate it Dean, thanks so much.

Dean: There we have it, another great episode. I always love hatching evil schemes. Sorry we had a little bit of some audio difficulties there, but I think you got the big idea here. One of the things of course that we talked about is orchestrating referrals and using your after unit as an opportunity there. One of the things that I've really been focused on is how do we really use the psychology of what's going on when people refer to really move that in the direction of being able to orchestrate referrals. We don't just serendipitously let them happen. I've got a great report on this at GettingReferrals.com. It's based in real estate where I say it's the Secret Psychology of Why People Refer Real Estate Agents and how to be the only one they refer, but here's the secret is that you could replace real estate agents with chiropractors, or financial advisors, or anything, whatever it is that you do, the secret psychology of why people refer anyone is what we're really talking about in that report.

This conversation brought that up for me and you can get a copy of that at GettingReferrals.com. If you want to see where perhaps the biggest opportunity for your business is, go to ProfitActivatorScore.com and try our Profit Activator Score Card. It'll take you through a series of questions that'll help you identify where the big opportunity is for you. Where you have the biggest room for improvement and where your great strengths are. It's very enlightening for you to have this kind of assessment to see where you stand. That's it for this week, if you want to continue the conversation, you can go to MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com. You can download a copy of the More Cheese, Less Whiskers book. If you'd like to be a guest on the show, just click on the be a guest link and that will tell me a little bit about your business. Then we can get together and hatch some evil schemes for you. That's it for this week. Have a great week. I'll talk to you next time.