Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” For Jerry Eulentrop, Sport Clips Haircuts’ director of franchise development, this philosophy has become the backbone of how he approaches each interaction with a franchise candidate. “I want to help candidates get what they want, not just sell them on something that may not be right for them.”
Eulentrop has been in franchise development for close to three decades. His impressive resume includes a 14-year stint at The UPS Store and the last six years with Sport Clips, two brands currently ranked in the top ten of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Annual Franchise 500 Rankings.
His wide breadth of experience in franchising 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 the value proposition of any offering, not just Sport Clips. Maybe there is something else that is a better fit for them. To decide that for themselves, they need all the relevant information. 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.”
For Eulentrop, working in franchise development has been very rewarding. He says, “I work hard to earn the right to be a trusted advisor to candidates. Many are transitional entrepreneurs. They are looking for an exit strategy. Maybe they are in a corporate environment, perhaps they are experiencing burn out, seeing layoffs or some other sort of storm cloud.”
He continues, “They want to build something for themselves. 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 seeing them achieve that. It’s amazing to see those goals come to fruition.”
When interacting with franchise candidates, Eulentrop uses a tour guide mentality rather than a hard sales 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 answer them.”
Stressing the importance of validation, he says,” It’s about finding out if the brand and the candidate are a mutual fit and that is only possible if they validate everything on their own, independent of what I tell them. Trust but verify. Candidates should look for consistency across the board, from operations to owners to the company’s leadership.”
He begins with ensuring candidates have a clear picture of what they want. He says, “They need to define their goals, both midterm and long term, and understand what getting there looks like. Having a clear picture of their responsibility in regard to the business opportunity and whether it aligns with their values is key.”
He continues, “They also need to determine if the salon environment is something they will enjoy. It is a very different environment than construction or ice cream. This 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 franchise, it all comes down to following a system. Eulentrop says, “This is of utmost importance. The Sport Clips system is tested and proven. It works if you follow it. A candidate needs to demonstrate they can follow the system. Sport Clips’ discovery process is a very deliberate process by design. It is a sort of litmus test. 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, whose discovery process has been described as one of the most rigorous in franchising, is 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.”
Regarding what differentiates their process, Eulentrop notes, “Our process is designed to help candidates gain a thorough understanding of the offering. We give information in bite-sized chunks. This ensures candidates are able to digest the information presented to them without being overwhelmed. They will be given modules to work through. Each module builds off the other.”
When it comes to Discovery Day, according to Eulentrop, “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. 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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