“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
These words are the foundation of how Jerry Eulentrop, Sport Clips Haircuts’ director of Franchise Development, approaches each interaction he has with a franchise candidate. “I want to help candidates get what they want and assist them in determining if Sport Clips is the right franchising vehicle for them on their road to freedom, flexibility and long-term stability,” he says.
Eulentrop has been in franchise development for almost three decades. His impressive resume includes 14 years with The UPS Store and the last seven years with Sport Clips, two brands consistently ranked near the top of the annual Entrepreneur Franchise 500® rankings.
Eulentrop’s extensive experience gives him the unique ability to answer candidate questions about franchising in general, as well as specifics about Sport Clips. He says, “My hope is they better understand what makes a particular franchise opportunity a good fit and why. It has to be a mutual fit.”
This means taking into consideration a candidate’s experience, present situation and future goals and matching that to a franchise opportunity with a compatible business model, culture, values and ultimately potential return on investment.
“I don’t want to see them struggle in a model that doesn’t fit their financial and lifestyle goals. That isn’t what is right for them and that isn’t what is right for the brand,” he explains.
Working in franchise development has been very rewarding for Eulentrop. “I work hard to earn the right to be a trusted advisor to candidates. Many are looking for transitional entrepreneurship opportunities,” he explains. “If they are in a corporate environment, they are often experiencing burn out, seeing layoffs or some other sort of storm clouds. They are often looking for an exit strategy that allows them to keep their day job in the short run while they ramp up a business that ultimately gives them an opportunity to leave corporate America.”
He goes on to say, “They want to build something that helps them achieve financial freedom, lifestyle flexibility and stability. One of the best parts of my job is to see people who have come to Sport Clips for those reasons and getting the call from them the day they quit their corporate job. It’s amazing to see those goals come to fruition.”
When interacting with franchise candidates, Eulentrop uses a “trust but verify” approach. “Right off the bat I tell candidates in our first conversation, ‘I hope to gain your trust through this process but in the meantime, you should verify what I tell you.’ I let them know they will get all their questions answered, and I can help by providing resources to facilitate that, but I will not be the one to directly answer all their questions.”
The first step is to ensure candidates have a clear picture of what they want. He says, “They need to define their goals, both mid-term and long-term, and understand what getting there looks like. This also means having a clear picture of their roles and responsibilities to make sure the business fulfills its potential.”
He continues, “While Sport Clips is a ‘manager-managed’ model our franchisees have regular, active engagement with their business. They need to determine if the salon environment is something they will enjoy. It is a very different environment and is a people-first business model. They must be comfortable managing and growing people.”
With so many tools and resources available to the Sport Clips franchisee, it ultimately comes down to following a system. Eulentrop says, “This is of utmost importance. The Sport Clips system is customer and time-tested, and it comes down to whether you can follow a proven model and system. Likewise, a candidate in Sport Clips discovery process also needs to demonstrate they can follow the process from application and qualification through to approval. Candidates who come in with a defined timeline probably won’t be a good fit for the business model. It is important to have patience in the process.”
Sport Clips’ discovery process is one of the most rigorous in franchising and known to turn down a fair number of candidates even up to the final stages. Eulentrop explains, “The proof is in the pudding; the brand’s high continuity rate shows they know who will succeed with the Sport Clips model.”
When it comes to Discovery Day, Eulentrop has seen some brands treat their discovery days as a dog and pony show. But with Sport Clips, Discovery Day is about filling in the final pieces. “It allows the candidate to meet the leadership team and for both parties to see if they are a good fit for each other,” he states. “It is important for a candidate to know who they will be working with. This is usually where the final decision is made.”
Helping people achieve their goals of diversification, a stronger retirement and more personal and financial freedom, has been rewarding for Eulentrop. He concludes, “Seeing a person who came to this process burned out from their corporate job, wanting to build something for themselves and their family, actually be able to quit their day job and grow their business, that is very rewarding. And with Sport Clips I get to see it a lot.”
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