After the birth of their second child, Shannon Whitley and her husband, Taylor, wanted to raise their girls closer to family. They moved back to Whitley’s hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas. However, a long commute to her job as project manager in the health industry in Houston, along with 60- to 70-hour work weeks, began to wear on her. Whitley found herself open to the idea of finding new ways to create personal and financial freedom in her life.
Whitley’s father, a prominent business owner in her hometown, always taught her the importance of community involvement, and she saw entrepreneurship as a way to invest in her community, while also investing in herself. But with a full-time job and being a new mother, she was not actively looking for a business opportunity.
Then a family friend approached her with an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. Butch Gentry, owner of the local Sport Clips Haircuts, asked Whitley if she would be interested in becoming his business partner. “Butch was looking to grow his business, and my experience and skillset complemented his so well,” she explains. “He’s a great guy, and I knew I could learn a lot from him as well. That is important in a partnership.”
“As I looked at the Sport Clips model, I saw how well it is put together. I wouldn’t be starting from scratch; all the systems are in place. The core values of the brand were in alignment with my personal values. It was the kind of organization I wanted to be a part of because of the value it places on people and team culture,” Whitley continues. “Plus, my dad and husband had been clients there for years and were fans. All around it was a good fit. I may not have had haircare experience, but I understand the client experience, that and I am always up for a challenge, so I said yes.”
In 2015, Whitley partnered with Gentry, and by the next year they began construction on their second store. Ready to be rid of the long commute and long work hours, she quit her corporate job to focus on their growing business.
Whitley compared her corporate experience in medical office build out and staffing to the process with Sport Clips. “In my old job, I had to create a lot of the processes and spreadsheets from scratch. With Sport Clips, they had all of that in place already. I didn’t have to recreate it on my own. It took the guesswork out of much of the process. It was very well put together. It made my job much easier.”
As the business was growing, Whitley suffered a personal tragedy. Her husband, Taylor, passed away suddenly from cardiac disease at the age of 38. “Knowing that my girls and I were going to be ok financially was a huge blessing during that time. The financial stability the recurring revenue stream provides sets up for the future. And I had the flexibility to be there when my kids needed me the most.”
For Whitley, community leadership and providing a service to the community were important goals. Whitley established a foundation in her late husband’s name, providing character-based scholarships and grants to high school and college students who “show up” in meaningful ways for the people around them. “Taylor had this motto that he took with him in all areas of his life, from his career on the football field to his work as a vice president of sales to his role as a husband and a father. It was “Show up. Give a flip. Repeat.” So that is what we named the foundation. We want to recognize young people who are making a difference by valuing others. It’s amazing to see what an impact recognizing young people for doing selfless acts really has on them and those around them. I see people looking for the good in others, just like Taylor did.”
Through all of this, Whitley and her business partner Gentry are looking toward the future and opening their third store. The systems and processes in place as part of Sport Clips’ proven business model have given them the framework to scale in a sustainable way. For Whitley, growing the business had to be in a way that made sense for her family. “The flexibility that comes with being a business owner is really important to me. My kids barely know I even have a job, because I have so much control over my schedule. As a mother, being a Sport Clips team leader has been a good fit for my lifestyle and personal goals.”
To learn more about the Whitley Show Up Foundation, click here.
Sport Clips Area Developer Profile: Joe Klimek, Houston Market
Working in sales in the high-tech industry, Joe Klimek helped his startup company grow exponentially, but he still found his future uncertain. “We were doing well, but as more and more of the industry began to outsource offshore, there was a lot of the business that we couldn’t control. I wanted to invest in a business that couldn’t be outsourced. “
That’s when Klimek heard a radio ad for Sport Clips Haircuts and realized the haircutting industry was what he was looking for. “This was in 1999 and Sport Clips was still a relatively new concept. I didn’t know much about it, but I liked the idea of sports, and since haircuts can’t be outsourced, I was interested,” says Klimek.
After meeting with Sport Clips’ franchise developer Jean Booth and founder and CEO Gordon Logan, Klimek was even more interested. He explains, “Jean and Gordon shared their vision on how Sport Clips’ was positioned in a niche to meet the needs of the overlooked demographic of men and boys in a growing industry. I bought into the idea right away.”
“I loved the concept and felt very comfortable with the business model. The manager driven model meant that I could keep my day job. Also, my wife and I had young kids at the time in sports, so we knew our local market well. We felt confident with the marketing aspect of the business. It would fit in well with our lifestyle.”
At the same time, someone else was looking at the same territory, so Jean arranged a meeting between the two entrepreneurs. “Bill Vandrick and I had never met before that conversation, but we found alignment in our goals and decided to team up and buy a three pack. We have been business partners ever since.”
In that first year, Klimek and Vandrick went on to open three stores. Klimek says, “Sport Clips provided us with the vision, support and patience needed to help us get those stores up and running. Early on, Gordon recognized an area we were struggling in and set us up with a financial analyst. Things turned around for us very quickly after that.”
Having watched the brand’s training and resources grow and evolve over the years, Klimek says, “With such a proven business model, Sport Clips has been able to anticipate a lot of the common problems business owners may run into and are about to provide resources to help, shortening the learning curve. The training has continued to keep pace with the brand’s growth and is second to none.”
Adding, “The stylist recruiting resources, tools and systems are all top-notch. The analytics available to team leaders helps you make solid business and less emotional decisions.”
In 2004, Klimek and Vandrick took over the role of area developers for the Houston market. “We knew Houston was ripe for expansion. Neither of us knew the real estate side of the business, but we knew the support in that area was excellent, so we felt comfortable taking on the role.”
Klimek feels owning stores prior to becoming an area developer has been beneficial to his role of supporting the soon-to-be 94 stores in the Houston market. “I am able to set expectations with confidence, because I know what it takes to run successful stores.”
Having been with the brand for over twenty years, in addition to seeing the support and training grow with the brand, Klimek has also seen Sport Clips dedicate resources to foster one of its most important relationships, the one with its franchisees. As one of the first members of the Team Leaders Advisory Committee (TLAC) and later the Area Developers Advisory Committee (ADAC), Klimek recalls, “In the beginning, TLAC was just four team leaders and Gordon. We used to meet in the Mansfield’s kitchen, two of the other members. Now it has over 20 members and all of leadership is present at the meetings, and it is time well spent.”
“How the TLAC/ADAC model has grown with the brand shows how important communication is to the leadership of this company, and that they view it as a two-way street. It allows team leaders to voice their suggestions on ways to improve.”
And leadership has proved responsive. “I once brought a massager to a meeting and suggested that we use it in the stores. I remember feeling that I got kind of a lack luster response for what I thought was a great idea that we should all use immediately,” recalls Klimek, “Well, sometime had passed and I got a phone call from Edward Logan and he said to me, ‘I got one! It’s great!’. They had been testing it in the corporate stores and developing the most efficient processes around it before they implemented it system wide. Now it’s part of the MVP championship experience. This is an example of how this brand takes direct input and even make a change in operations to enhance the client experience while at the same time taking care to test and develop procedures so that it is not a burden on its franchisees.”
Klimek has this advice for all Sport Clips team leaders, “Get to know your TLAC representative and open a dialogue with them. Our input is important and it’s heard.”
When asked if he had any advice for someone who was considering investing for themselves, Klimek has this to say, “You need to have a passion for business ownership. This shouldn’t be just a hobby. You also need to be willing to follow a system. There is everything you need and more from a support standpoint. The system is thought out and proven, you just need to implement it. When a team leader struggles, most often it is because they are not following the system and making the decision to not use all the tools that are at their disposal.”
“A people first mentality is essential. It should never be about “me” but about “us”. Someone who wants to come in and dominate won’t do well. Successful team leaders develop their teams,” Klimek continues, “They take the time to understand what motivates their team members and also empowers them to make decisions.”
He concludes his advice with “Take the time to validate. Do your homework so you can set the right expectations and see if the business model aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals. The due diligence process is so important. Sport Clips has a very thorough and rigorous process designed to help you make the decision that is right for you. It is all about fit. They are committed to transparency because they want you to know as much as possible upfront. Read the Franchise Disclosure Document.”
As for his investment in Sport Clips, Klimek says, “This industry is one of growth. We have been able to scale and meet all our expectations, as well as help others do the same. My business partner and I are both very happy with our decision to invest. We have been able to take control of our destiny.”
Hear more from Joe Klimek on this month’s Validation Conference Call.
Learn more about the Sport Clips franchise opportunity
Meet Keith Laganosky, Regional Director of Sport Clips’ Northeast Market
Sport Clips Haircuts’ development team has identified the northeast as one of the biggest growth markets for the brand. With its favorable economic conditions and high consumer spending, the area is well-positioned for development. As the brand gains momentum in the area, it has capacity to support a far greater number of stores than it currently has. This represents a tremendous opportunity for the growth-minded entrepreneur to get in early and capture their share of this emerging market.
Keith Laganosky is the regional director for Sport Clips’ northeast market. Currently, he and his team of 10 coaches support the region’s 150 stores, with 13 more projected to open in 2020. He says, “Sport Clips offers a compelling business model with all the tools and support needed to be successful. The semi-absentee business model means you don’t have to leave your full-time job while you build your business, allowing you to scale at your own pace.”
Laganosky brings to the operational support team many years of experience. Having worked with some big names in franchising, in particular the food industry, he has a unique perspective on several aspects of the Sport Clips proven business model and culture. In his role as regional director, he brings expertise and experience to help Sport Clips franchisees build and scale sustainable businesses.
When asked about the industry, Laganosky says, “Haircutting is a growth industry. People will always need their hair cut. Sport Clips offers a great hair experience in a sports atmosphere. It’s a winning combination and the brand is positioned as a leader in its defined niche.”
Sport Clips’ defined niche is growing at an even faster rate. According to the website Research and Markets, the world’s largest market research store, the male grooming products segment is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 5.5 percent to $81.2 billion over the next five years. And what’s more, the site says that attitudes toward grooming and self-care are shifting, and the male demographic is expected to increasingly spend more on industry products and services.
“The Sport Clips model is time-tested and proven to be successful when effectively executed. The data driven systems give business owners in-depth knowledge to make good solid business decisions,” explains Laganosky. “In addition to the systems and processes, the brand’s robust training and support are above anything I have ever seen.”
Discussing the advantages of the business model’s structure, Laganosky says, “By design, the manager-led model gives team leaders the flexibility and freedom to focus on the business side and the big picture. Most team leaders aren’t stylists and can’t cut hair, so they aren’t bogged down by the day-to-day. Managers and stylists are empowered with the training and systems to help them best deliver the championship haircut experience. When people are empowered, they buy in and the working environment is elevated. I think this is one of the things that separates Sport Clips from anything else out there, the culture. “
As the brand grows in the northeast, Laganosky and his team are ready to provide support. “Starting a business takes a lot of work upfront, and we have our grand opening team ready to help our new team leaders get up and running,” Laganosky says. “From there, coaches meet with you and your team regularly. There are one-on-one meetings and success checks, as well as training camps. Our support is comprehensive and hands-on. You may be in business for yourself, but certainly not by yourself. Everything you need to be successful is here, you just have to execute it.”
Learn more about the Sport Clips franchise opportunity
Journey To Success: Top Characteristics of a Sport Clips Team Leader
You don’t need experience in the haircare industry to be a successful Sport Clips Haircuts team leader. In fact, we prefer you don’t! With more than 25 years of experience, our simple franchise business model has been tested and proven to work. We have found that for a business model to work, it must be a good fit for the business owner. So, we have assessed what makes a good team leader, and it is why Sport Clips has one of the most rigorous selection processes in all of franchising.
We have identified some of the top characteristics that make successful team leaders. And none of them involve being able to cut hair!
1: Goal-oriented and hardworking-Like any business venture, you need to be clear on your goals and then put in the work to get there. This offering is not a get rich quick scheme, it is a business that is built over time. Sport Clips provides the tools, guidelines and resources to help you reach your objectives, but success comes down to your ability to stay on course. Expect to invest time up front to learn best practices and to really understand the business operations; this is not something that happens overnight.
2: CEO mindset- Strong leadership and management skillsare important to Sport Clips’ effective manager-led business model. You need to be able to empower managers to run the day-to-day operations of the store. A team leader spends their time managing the managers and looking at the big picture, working on the business rather than in it.
3: Strong communicator- Being an effective communicator is essential to team leader success. Communication is the foundation to solid relationships and a strong team culture. This requires being engaged and attuned to the needs, goals and motivations of your entire team. Communication allows a team to work together to achieve common goals, and this starts with the team leader.
4: Supportive family and friends- Owning a business is truly a family affair. You are building a legacy for your family. It is essential that your spouse/family members are on the same page. While they may or may not be involved in the business aspect, their support and encouragement is a good indicator of whether you will be successful. For this reason, we encourage spouses to attend Discovery Day with franchise candidates, even if they will not be taking an active role in the business.
5: Passion for community involvement- Community plays an important role the success of a local business. Beyond boosting visibility and brand awareness, community involvement is about relationship building. It is at the core of Sport Clips’ values and giving back is a big part of its culture on every level.
6: Willing to follow a system– Sport Clips’ business model is proven and has easy-to-execute operations. Over the past 25 years it has built a strong foundation, providing comprehensive training and support for all aspects of being a team leader. To be successful with this model, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but rather follow the established framework.
7: People-first business approach- Sport Clips promotes what is called the “Heart of a Champion”. It sums up how team leaders can expect to be treated, and how team leaders should treat their team members and how team members should treat clients. These simple principles are at the core of how the brand interacts and conducts business:
Do what’s right.
Do your best.
Treat others the way they want to be treated.
8: Team building skills and a desire to develop team members- A successful team leader takes a servant leadership approach to their role. Recruiting and retaining quality team members is the foundation to a high-performing store. This requires investing in your team members’ development and growth – both personally and professionally. You will not be successful if you cannot make that mental shift.
9: Business management and marketing skills- Sport Clips team leaders come from a diverse background but one thing most have in common is business experience. Understanding key performance indicators and formulating a plan to achieve those objectives, as well as executing a marketing plan, are both transferrable skills from the corporate world. With the support, resources and tools provided by Sport Clips, the team leader devises and implements a business plan based on the best practices of a proven system.
10: Team player- As a team leader, you are in business for yourself but not by yourself. You are part of a team and a network of other like-minded business owners. The brand’s strong team culture is one of the things that sets it apart in the franchising world. Team leaders support and encourage each other, celebrating each other’s successes and helping to problem solve. Many will even say one of the most rewarding aspects of this journey are the relationships they have built.
Sport Clips is dedicated to the success of its team leaders. We believe this begins by determining whether this offering is a good fit for the individual. We have found team leaders who possess these characteristics go far in achieving their personal and financial goals with Sport Clips.
Learn more about the journey to success with Sport Clips here!