Working with Radius Realty Advisors, Richard Buxbaum has spent years helping Sport Clips Haircuts franchisees (Team Leaders) find optimal real estate sites for their stores. It was through this role that he came to a transformational realization.
“I was sitting across the table from a franchisee signing a lease for a great location and it hit me,” Buxbaum explains. “While I was making a one-time fee on the deal, this franchisee had just secured an additional revenue stream which would be making him money for years to come. I wanted to be on that side of the table.” He knew then Sport Clips could help him achieve his long-term goals of financial freedom.
His area market, however, was closed to new franchisee development. Houston is a mature market for Sport Clips. Their dedication to responsible growth places priority on existing Team Leader expansion, meaning sometimes they close markets to new franchisees. The fact that Houston is a mature market did not scare Buxbaum off.
Buxbaum knows the market well. He has spent the last eleven years working side by side with Sport Clips Area Developer Joe Klimek as his real estate broker. He helped the market grow from just 20 stores to more than 85. “The market still has so much potential left, which can be directly attributed to Sport Clips’s approach to sustainable growth,” says Buxbaum.
With his experience as a broker working on the market projection maps with Klimek, Buxbaum understood that the market could easily support more than 100 stores. When the opportunity to buy two existing stores came about, he knew he had to seize the opportunity. Once in the network, there were additional opportunities to grow and it was quickly apparent the contrast between the number of stores already open and the quality of sites remaining was never really a concern.
“In my role as a real estate broker, I have worked with many other franchises,” Buxbaum states. “None of them have the infrastructure or the marketing and real estate support that Sport Clips does; nobody is in their league. In particular, I have never seen another franchisor execute on their real estate process as well as Sport Clips, both internally by the Sport Clips real estate team and at the Area Developer level. Their real estate priority policy was a huge reason that I made the jump with the brand.”
The Sport Clips real estate priority policy allows the brand to stay ahead of the competition by encouraging Team Leaders to take a cooperative approach to market development. Instead of assigning exclusive territories or specific sites to each Team Leader, territories are strategically overlapped. Available sites are offered to Team Leaders based on their position in the priority policy. That way, if the Team Leader in first priority is not in a position to move forward when a viable site becomes available, there is someone behind him/her ready to move forward and prevent the site from falling to the competition.
“All the team leaders in the market are very supportive, and part of that can be attributed to everyone knowing where they stand at all times,” explains Buxbaum. “The real estate priority policy keeps everything fair, otherwise it turns into the wild west. I have seen this happen in other brands. Things can get very messy, even ugly, when there is no policy in place. Well thought-out policies like Sport Clips utilizes is the exception, not the rule.”
In addition to the discerning real estate policy, the solid infrastructure, superior level of support, and team culture within the Sport Clips network attributed to Buxbaum’s decision to invest in the brand.
He notes, “In my line of work, I have a lot of experience working with franchisors. Sport Clips has the best infrastructure out there.” Over the years, Buxbaum had become very impressed with the hard work and dedication Klimek demonstrated toward developing and supporting his market.
“He is amazing to work with. Joe goes the extra mile and is a tremendous asset to the team leaders he supports. Knowing Joe would be supportive of the move was a big reason I became a team leader. The support and training he and his team provides fills in the gaps.”
Buxbaum trusts Sport Clips for their steadfast foundation, systems and processes. The manager-led semi-absentee business model of Sport Clips allows Buxbaum to leverage himself, allowing him to grow his core business. This also plays to his strengths: his leadership and managerial skills. “I find if I approach my stores with a people first mentality, we succeed as a team. I truly respect my team and this is very much aligned with the approach the brand has as well.”
He continues, “The Sport Clips culture for team members is above and beyond other competitors. There are so many opportunities for stylists with this brand. When development opportunities are available, you always attract better talent.”
With his extensive franchise real estate knowledge, Buxbaum understands what goes into sustained growth and, because Sport Clips approaches their growth responsibly and prioritizes existing Team Leader growth, he felt comfortable making the jump to Team Leader. Combined with their well-built infrastructure and support systems, he is able to scale his investment exponentially while still keeping his day job. He concludes, “Being a team leader has made me such a better broker. I understand both sides and have a better understanding of what win-win looks like. It’s tough to find a broker that actually understands, first-hand, the value of real-life, quality real estate directly from a tenant’s first-person perspective. The real estate priority policy keeps everything fair and helps everyone plan ahead; you can’t beat that when you’re a franchisee trying to understand a daunting process and worrying about where you’ll end up operating your store. It’s a big deal!”
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