September 26, 2022 I by Drew Holmes
On the Road Again
It’s Tuesday morning and I dropped Timothy off for his first day of second grade. Walking home as quickly as possible, I get the van and start my weekly route in the Thompson School District in Loveland, Colorado. If I have it planned out right, I will visit 15 schools between now and 4 p.m., which will get me home just in time for dinner.
Why would the owner of a music store have a weekly school service route? Originally, it was not by choice. But it’s one of the best things to happen to my business.
When I took over Boomer Music Company in 2008, I had been the only educational representative on staff. The territory encompassed just two school districts, requiring only two road days a week. We quickly added territory, and staff, so I left the road and stayed in-store. This gave me time for the proverbial “working on my business, not in it,” but now, more than a decade later, I felt disconnected from my institutional customers.
What I’ve Learned on the Road
Emelie, one of my educational representatives at Boomer Music, pulled me aside recently and told me she was moving to California. She had been with the company for several years and was covering a territory that included Loveland, the city where I live. No one on staff could take on that route, and I was not going to hire someone for just one day a week to do such an involved job. So, the answer became clear: I was going back on the road.
Emelie had given plenty of notice, so I rode along and learned the route. Some faces I knew from covering the territory before, but most teachers, and a couple of schools, were new. I had clearly not made the effort to see them in their classrooms.
During the height of the pandemic, one teacher who had not been doing much business with us sent a request for help with her beginners. Her plan was to segregate them by instrument type and have weekly sectionals until the end of the school year, a total of seven weeks.
This was the opportunity I had been seeking to help the program, so I volunteered to help with brass players all seven weeks. Driving home each week, I recorded a short recap video of the lesson and posted it to the store’s YouTube channel. These videos have morphed into my “View from the Road” series, a weekly peek behind the scenes at the store and on my route.
Working directly with the kids revealed that due to the pandemic, they lacked some basic foundational knowledge, such as how to take their instrument out of the case, assemble it, make a sound and put it away. So, my staff and I made videos for the YouTube channel, calling it the “Absolute Beginners” series. These videos don’t replace in-person instruction but reinforce the first lessons learned in class.
Working on a business is vital for growth, expansion and long-term planning. Cycling back to working in my business opened new doors that I did not even realize were there. I have increased customer connection, have my finger on the pulse of my community and see my store and what we offer from an outside perspective. Going back on the road was the opportunity I did not know I needed, but I’m grateful to have. MI
Drew Holmes is the owner of Boomer Music Company, ThePodcastingStore.com and DrumsWest.com. He is based in Fort Collins, Colorado.