Music Go Round® franchise owner Ann Wood has been supporting the students in her local community by providing access to musical instruments they need to participate in band and orchestra since the early 2000s.
Throughout 2020, social distancing made group activities like band and orchestra challenging for a lot of school districts across the country.
“Nothing was normal during COVID,” Ann explained. “Kids weren’t able to try the instruments out.”
But in Duluth, Georgia, Ann has persevered, doing all she could to keep supporting local schools’ music programs and music students.
A 20-Year Initiative
“Necessity was the mother of invention,” said Ann. “Sales were down in summer, and we were searching for opportunities to turn that trend around.”
By her own admission, Ann didn’t know much about band and orchestra; she and her husband/Music Go Round co-owner, Jeff Perkins, spent 20 years playing guitar in a band together around Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.
Ann met with the teachers and administration involved with music programs to educate herself about their needs.
“I said, ‘Tell me what you want, what you need and how we can help,’” Ann explained.
In this scenario, the primary customer is the teacher, who then provides the instruments to students. The parents are an intermediary supporting students with their development.
Every time she got feedback, she would adapt the program to fit the teachers’ and the students’ needs.
Twenty years on, band and orchestra make up roughly 15 percent of their total sales.
How this Music Store Franchise Owner Handled COVID-19
2020 was a strange time for Ann as a music resale franchise owner. During COVID, she saw a noticeably higher number of people interested in playing guitar. It’s a trend mirrored by sales increases reported by guitar maker Fender. That’s great news, right? For a resale music shop, supply and demand need to achieve the right balance.
Overwhelming demand for guitar purchases put pressure on her inventory, which resulted in a new, temporary policy initiated by Jeff — if customers wanted to get access to inventory, they had to bring in a trade. The strategy paid off.
“In about two months, we were able to raise inventory to pre-pandemic levels,” Ann said.
At the same time, she and her team invested in making the in-store environment safe and convenient. She installed ionization air filter to kill pathogens; hired a new technician to implement a new sterilization process for instruments; and she added bell covers to the band instruments.
“Everyone had COVID burnout and wanted to have a place to go — what better place than your local music shop?” Ann added.
Ann also adapted her school partnership program. She used to visit schools and meet with teachers directly. This year, she mailed out promotional boxes with brochures that explained the partnership opportunity — along with a few goodies, including highlighters, pencils, post-its, sterilizers, Kleenex and other classroom essentials.
Knowing the pressure educators were facing in preparing for in-person learning, she started the campaign a week earlier than normal. She also sent a follow-up email informing the band and orchestra teachers that packages would be arriving.
How did she know which schools to send the boxes to? Thanks to the data recycling system, a proprietary database provided by Winmark – The Resale Company™, Ann was able to pull reports that showed which schools previous customers attended. Ann was able to target those schools, as well as those she had worked with in years past.
A Different Approach for Band and Orchestra
Considering the majority of Ann’s business is generated by guitar and other music gear, she had to learn a different way to manage band and orchestra instruments.
“When we buy guitars, keyboards and that sort of equipment, we do market research to make sure we get a fair market price,” Ann said.
With band and orchestra instruments, she does similar research, but instead of setting a fixed price, she creates a pricing range that reflects the brand and condition.
Another factor she has to keep in mind is reconditioning instruments is more involved than re-stringing a guitar, for example. She’s been fortunate to find a cost-effective local vendor to work on the instruments.
An Ongoing Initiative
In addition to the partnerships with local schools, she has continued to support other philanthropic initiatives.
“Last year, we donate instruments to a school in Haiti,” Ann explained. “We also donated to local Atlanta-based music programs where they put together bands together for underprivileged communities.”
Thanks to her persistence and perseverance, Ann was on track match sales targets this past August on par with corresponding figures from 2018. She credits her community for supporting her business throughout the pandemic.
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