"We can’t take our eye off the ball." Appropriate words coming from the vice president of franchising for Sport Clips, Pete Lindsey. The franchise, which was founded in the 1990s, only started franchising outside of the United States in 2013. The reason? The franchise is very judicious about who it partners with, and takes great pride in its relationships with its franchisees. In this Face of Franchising interview, Pete tells us more about one of the newest franchises in our Top 100 Global Franchises Ranking, as well as a little about his personal franchising background.
What is your professional background? How long have you been with Sport Clips?
I have 25 years in franchising. I was a franchisee, AD co-op President, National Operations manager, and National Sales manager with The UPS Store (formerly Mail Boxes, Inc.); a system that when I joined had 900 franchises and when I left had 4,500. I have been with Sport Clips going on 4 years.
What is the hair salon market outlook for 2015?
The hair care industry will drive more than $50+ billion in total sales in 2015. It will remain a very competitive market with those operations that provide exceptional value, a memorable experience and execute at a very high level demonstrating care for the client, excelling in 2015.
Sport Clips was successful for many years before moving past the borders of the United States. What went into the decision to take international expansion slowly?
Our founder Gordon Logan has always been focused on people. We understand the countries that we would be interested in considering, but we focus on who would be the best partner. Sport Clips has a strong values based culture so it is vital that we work with like-minded people. If we find the right people we will consider the country.
What were some special concerns you had expanding the market for your brand?
Sport Clips is a very support intensive operation. As we are working with licenses service providers (stylists), we need to have a support structure in place prior to expansion. We focus on men’s hair so we make sure we train our stylists on how to cut men’s hair and how to provide that one and only Sport Clips experience that the guys that have experience it know what I am talking about.
Was there anything that surprised you about expanding into Canada?
There are always surprises. Applying our operations to a new country where the law may be different, addressing the ever important cultural differences and nuances of site selection were all things to address in our application of the brand on Canada. One of the biggest changes was branding to hockey vs football or baseball in the US.
What kind of person would fit in Sport Clips franchise system the best?
As we are a semi-absentee model, we are looking for those people typically in a corporate structure that are not satisfied with life’s flexibility and do not see clearly their quality of life in retirement. From there we need to see a candidate who works and is very comfortable with people. Working with stylists/artists requires a different approach than corporate environment suggests and we need to see that our candidates clearly understand the difference. With our emphasis on people/management skills, it does lend to a variety of franchisees from healthcare/insurance/financial services to franchisees of other systems that want to diversify their portfolios with a more recession resistant business.
What the #1 piece of advice you would give a first-time franchisee?
There are very typical ways to evaluate a franchise but with what I have learned I would focus on a few additional ideas. I would look hard at how many existing franchisees were buying more licenses. This is a strong indication of the strength of the brand and system. I would look at how many closures the system has and also how many stores are transferring in a typical year and is this trend going up or down. And finally, FranData has come up with a new measurement called continuity rate that really measures how long franchisees typically stay with a system. I believe this will be a core metric for evaluation for those considering franchise ownership.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other franchises considering making the leap out of their home country?
Know how your brand translates into the new market and find the right partners. We found wonderful partners in our Canada expansion and they are getting ready to open our 21st location in just over two years with 30 more licenses in process. We have and are very excited about our Canadian team.
Are you looking forward to expanding into other countries soon?
We don’t have this on a timeline. We are always looking for productive partnerships be they franchisee or a master licensee. Our core is to make sure that we are doing all we can to help our franchisees (team leaders) be as successful as they want to be. Gordon always reminds us that we need to keep a laser focus on our operations and to continue to provide an exception haircut experience. If we continue to do that all will take care of itself. So any expansion Sport Clips considers, degradation of any existing Sport Clips support to our franchisees will not be acceptable. We can’t take our eye off the ball.
To learn more about the Sport Clips franchise opportunity, click here.