The CEO behind TGA Premier Sports tells 1851 how the sports-centric brand continues to experience growth.
When Joshua Jacobs first started TGA Premier Sports back in 2003, he saw the business as an after school golf enrichment program. Franchising wasn’t on his mind until demand started growing — after fielding dozens of calls from interested entrepreneurs, Jacobs and his team started looking into what it would take to create a turnkey model that franchisees could easily replicate.
Today, TGA Sports has a total of 118 franchise units in its system — and that number is continuing to climb. 1851 spoke with Jacobs to learn more about how the sports-centric franchise is experiencing success in the industry.
How did you first get involved with the franchising industry?
I launched TGA in 2003 in the Los Angeles area as an after-school golf enrichment program. IT quickly morphed into summer camps and specialty programs, ultimately becoming a self-sustaining model for growing the sport. Two years in, we started receiving calls from entrepreneurs and PGA golf professionals asking how the model works and how many kids and families we had served. After about the 15th or 20th call that we received, we got smart and said, “I think we have something here that nobody else has.” After doing market research, we realized that a concept like ours didn’t exist. So, we began creating a turnkey business solution and started franchising at the beginning of 2007.
After the golf franchise launched in 2007, we reached about 40 open units. Then, The United States Tennis Association (USTA) called us up in 2011 and said that they were interested in partnering. We launched that national partnership and tennis franchise in 2012, which became our second system. Then, in 2015 — as Amazon began evolving their distribution platform — we realized that we had that same type of platform to do anything with our model. We had the infrastructure already in place to run any type of after-school or youth event. We also believe here at TGA that sports change lives. So, we worked with the Olympic Committee to launch our third franchise system in 2017. That system is more team sports oriented. To date, we have 58 golf franchises, 47 tennis franchises and 13 team sports franchises.
What do you love about the industry?
What drew me to franchising was everyone who called up and said that they wanted our business infrastructure and support system. As we dove more into the details of what exactly it was that they were looking for, we found that it was mainly marketing support. At the time, I had come advisors, and it hit us in the face that this was a franchising opportunity. What I love about franchising is that it’s not an employee/employer relationship. The better they do, the better we do — and vice-versa. There’s a vested interest in all parties to help each other grow.
What I like about our system specifically is that there’s no competition. We have defined exclusive territories for our franchisees, and they aren’t competing with another one of their colleagues right down the road. For me, I think that’s a great mindset for our franchisees.
What do you wish you could change in franchising?
There’s honestly nothing that I’d really change. I find franchising to be a really intriguing way to grow your brand.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since you started out in franchise development?
I think that we’re starting to see brick and mortar related companies pop up less while home-based service related companies are popping up more. There’s a real opportunity — especially as the population continues to climb — in that segment of the franchising industry. These service-based companies are going to be really valuable moving forward.
What makes a great franchisee?
Someone who is passionate about sports, kids, families and their community. They also need to pay attention to detail and have an ability to sell themselves. We see that as being our top priorities. If they have experience behind them managing people, that’s also definitely a plus.
What’s the number one thing that sells franchises?
Public relations. PR is our number one driver for franchise sales. For the first 10 years, we did not advertise our franchises. It was all PR and organic growth, and we got to right about 100 franchises without any type of advertising. Since advertising, we’ve seen success from some small campaigns on Facebook and with bloggers. But still, the number one driver is PR.