Rockstars of Tomorrow is a rock school franchise concept that teaches children and adults the joy of music via group and one-on-one lessons in guitar, drums, bass, keyboard and vocals. The company launched its first franchise in 2014 in Norco, California.
As a professional musician for over 40 years, Brad Cummings has always been his own boss. Brad played bass with Sting, The Doobie Brothers, and Cheryl Crowe to name a few famous artists; yet after seeing the Rockstars of Tomorrow concept first hand, he decided to begin a new career teaching music. In November 2013, a friend referred Brad to the Small Business Development Center hosted by Long Beach City College to receive assistance with opening his franchise.
SBDC Business Advisors Mike Daniel and Nate Jemison helped Cummings and his wife Stephanie, prepare financial projections, financial statements and a loan application as well as connected them with potential lenders. The advisors guided Brad and Stephanie through obtaining permits and licenses from the city of Long Beach and assisted them with creating a strategy for attracting new customers.
Package It Right
Daniel and Jemison helped the couple create their financial projections and organize their loan application package to obtain financing. Daniel also connected them with a bookkeeper to keep their accounting to date. “Mike took the time to look at our business plan, run some numbers and financial projections and organize it all on Excel,” Cummings recalls. “He was really integral in getting the application packaged up.”
Find the Source
Cummings had approached his own bank for a loan, but since the bank was not an SBA approved lender and Rock Stars of Tomorrow was not an established franchise, they were unable to help. Daniel and Jemison introduced him to several potential lending sources, including a banker from Chase who visited the location and was “very impressed,” Cummings says. Ultimately, however, Cummings chose to go with a $40,000 loan from the City of Long Beach.
As the business location was formerly home to a dog grooming shop, building it out and transforming it into a full recording studio and rehearsal space required a great deal of work. The couple had to upgrade electrical systems to handle the power demands, build an ADA-compliant restroom for customers and soundproof the space so residential and commercial neighbors wouldn’t be disturbed. The SBDC’s knowledge of the permitting process at the City of Long Beach helped ensure that it all went smoothly.
Target the Market
“Mike has helped by getting me in touch with people that can help promote this place.” For instance, Daniel introduced the couple to students at Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach who interviewed them, videotaped Rockstars of Tomorrow students performing and posted it on school websites. The publicity spread the word about Rockstars of Tomorrow among a prime target demographic: college students. Daniel also helped Cummings identify four main target markets and the channels in which to attract those markets.
Rockstars of Tomorrow opened in March 2014 and was profitable within a year. Today the company has more than 60 students and eight to 10 independent contractors teaching music at any given time.
Cummings’ immediate plans are to upgrade the company’s website, grow the business and continue booking live performances for his students at local events and venues. These performances not only give the students a chance to hone their chops, but also attract new customers. To reach his target markets, he is creating a “Mommy and me” class for infants and children up to age 5 that will teach beginning articulation, hand-eye coordination and motor skills. He plans on using a daily deal to attract mothers looking to advance their children’s skills as well.
“I’ve been self-employed all my life,” Cummings says. “When you’re self-employed, you get up every day and you’ve got to make something happen. If you make it happen, the sky’s the limit.”
“[My SBDC Business Advisor] is a small business owner himself. He gets the challenges of what we’re doing. The SBDC is a great resource. They can help you find financing, tell you if your business model makes sense, research the competition—all those things you should be doing.”-Brad Cummings, Franchisee, Rockstars of Tomorrow