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Young Ones to Watch: Dave Wells
As the director of franchising for Sport Clips Haircuts, Dave Wells remains a cut above the rest

Dave Wells, director of franchising for Sport Clips Haircuts, got his start in franchising through an entry-level position at Mail Boxes Etc. shortly after graduating from the University of California at San Diego. Over the next eleven years, he moved his way up in franchise administration and development, got a front row seat for the company’s rebranding to The UPS Store, and became a key part of the team that managed the surge of interest that followed. He saw firsthand, the positive and negative consequences that come with such rapid growth and the strain it can put on an organization.

In September 2012, Wells was provided with an opportunity to join Sport Clips. With around 900 stores open at the time, he saw another organization ready to make a big leap and was excited to apply what he learned from his time at The UPS Store. Considering that just three and a half years later, Sport Clips now has close to 1,500 stores open, Wells is thrilled about his decision.

Why do you love franchising?

Last week, one of our franchisees from Pennsylvania went on a vacation to celebrate the fact that he had just quit his job to focus on his Sport Clips business full time. He signed on with Sport Clips several years ago and kept his day job like most of our franchisees do initially. He just opened his 10th store with us and is in the process of reinvesting in a big way - purchasing rights to develop another 13 stores in the area over the next several years and bringing his son into the business.

I also just got back from spending some time at the International Franchise Association (IFA) Convention with another one of our franchisees from Maryland who took similar steps last year after opening his seventh store. With a full time focus on the business, he is now quickly building to ten stores so his wife can join him on a full time basis.

Stories like these are what make me most proud of being part of an industry that epitomizes the American Dream. To be a part of an organization that allows people to invest in themselves, improve their quality of life, and build something for the next generation is rewarding in itself and I enjoy being able to celebrate with our Team Leaders (franchisees) as they make these life changing decisions.

What is the top challenge facing young people in franchising?

One word: perception. There is a dangerous; sweeping generalization that the Millennial generation is lazy, entitled and incapable when compared to previous generations. Granted, I am technically a Gen X’er, missing the Millennial cut-off by a year, but the biggest challenge these younger generations currently face is the stigma that we are somehow less capable than generations before us.

Sure, we do things a little differently and tend to be tied to our mobile phones more than our desks, but our lives have been ones of constant technological change and we have proven to be more adaptable than previous generations. We would rather work smarter, but are willing and able to work harder if that is what the situation calls for.

Next time you’re at the IFA or one of the great Franchise Update conferences, take a look around the room and see how many fresh young faces you can count. Not too many. Each year we see the same faces with different logos on their shirts. With a new franchise brand starting up every day, if we don’t begin to embrace some of the ways of the new generations and attract some more young talent, we are going to witness a severe leadership vacuum in the years to come.

What is your dream position/goal?

At 36, I’ve still got a long runway ahead of me and try not to get too wrapped up in guessing what the future holds. I think I’m in a pretty good place at Sport Clips and hope to continue to extend my influence there. Beyond that, we’ll have to see how the hand unfolds.

I do love a good growth story, though, and would love to be a part of building something from the ground up. I don’t know how I feel about starting my own concept (although I do have a few ideas rolling around up there), but I love the idea of finding a great idea in a small mom and pop business and helping them blow it up into a national brand. That is a roller coaster ride I would like to take someday.

To connect with Dave Wells on LinkedIn, click here.

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