As a digital marketing expert, Jeremy LaDuque has helped numerous franchises over his career. He is a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) and sits on an advisory panel for the International Franchise Association’s annual FranTech: Franchise Innovation Conference. So why did this established industry expert and successful entrepreneur choose Sport Clips Haircuts as his only franchise investment? “I believe Sport Clips is one of the best franchises out there,” says LaDuque.
LaDuque’s relationship with Sport Clips began in 2008. At the time, the brand had around 400 stores. Today, the Sport Clips network has grown to more than 1,700 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Over the last decade, LaDuque has had a front row seat to this impressive growth. Attracted to the team culture it continued to maintain despite its dramatic growth and the emphasis placed on existing franchisee expansion, he knew he wanted to grow his relationship with Sport Clips beyond just being a vendor. LaDuque wanted to become an owner.
As a vendor, LaDuque help provide digital marketing support for the brand. Sport Clips tasked his company with building software allowing Team Leaders to create individual store websites. Of his work, he comments, “Streamlining this important aspect of marketing allowed for greater scaling for team leaders. This is where I first saw the priority Sport Clips placed on growing with their franchisees. They sought out the best tools for their network.”
Working with the brand, LaDuque found Sport Clips treated its vendors better than most of the systems he had experience with. He says, “They recognize the challenge vendors have in keeping up with their scaling pace and have given us the latitude to learn from our mistakes. It’s evident they care about their people. The stepped up with fundraisers and outreach immediately after the recent hurricanes. They wasted no time; they leapt to action.”
LaDuque also found himself impressed with the Sport Clips culture. He describes it this way, “I have attended many franchise conventions, and oftentimes these are filled with frustration and anxiousness. Not the case with Sport Clips. People come away from the National Huddle inspired and encouraged.”
Recently, with an eye on future retirement, LaDuque was looking to diversify his business holdings. When three stores became available in his area of California’s central coast, he immediately saw the opportunity to invest. He comments, “Owning multiple franchise locations was part of my long-term investment strategy, and nobody does it better than Sport Clips. When these stores came up for transfer, I saw a great opportunity. I felt well positioned to drive business in the right direction at those locations.”
The decision to invest in Sport Clips was an easy one for LaDuque. Only two franchises met his personal criteria for investing. He explains, “The business model had to be owner/investor. It also had to be a store manager led model. The concept also had to provide flexibility, as I have a day job to maintain. And I had great respect of the leadership team. I wanted to go into business for myself, but not by myself. And nobody provides support better than Sport Clips.”
In early 2017, when the opportunity presented itself, LaDuque and his business partner, Steve Bridge, moved to action, buying the three stores and an additional license. Leveraging his business ownership skills, strong people skills, and unique strength in small business marketing, LaDuque found the transition from vendor to Team Leader a positive one.
“I had been a supplier for so long, it was a bit of an adjustment to actually become a franchisee. I realized how important it is to ask for help when you need it,” states LaDuque. “Sometimes people, especially entrepreneurs like myself, think we can do it all by ourselves. But the support systems are there for a reason and when you rely on those, you will succeed. Follow the model. It works.“
LaDuque realizes the value of being part of such an established network. “By joining Sport Clips,” he says, “I benefit from their buying power. They can structure relationships with vendors far better than I could ever do by myself, which helps maximize revenue potential.”
Even with such an established network, LaDuque still feels valued as an individual Team Leader. He comments, “I feel listened to. They have put great intention into building a trust culture with their franchisees. Trust is important when they come to us with new systems to roll out. The company is forward thinking, which is how they are able to provide the best tools to their network. The level of trust between franchisees and franchisor within Sport Clips is something I have not seen anywhere else. It’s a very unique thing in franchising.”
With his extensive marketing background, LaDuque has some advice for Team Leaders looking to promote the brand name in their communities. “With the ever-changing technologies and techniques in marketing, it can all be overwhelming,” he explains. “If you are not very tech savvy, use the support systems available to you. Sport Clips has put some very comprehensive tools in place to fill in the gaps. And they provide a weekly webinar to help to you keep ahead of the trends.”
He continues, “Networking is an effective marketing tool. Join your local chamber or rotary club. Get out there. We recently started advertising with a local university and also a private school. Find out where your target demographic is and be there.”
Having a close relationship with the brand over the years, LaDuque gained insight into the company’s culture and support systems. With his background and expertise in the franchising world, he saw the tremendous investment opportunity Sport Clips business model presents. He concludes, “Being an owner with Sport Clips gives me the flexibility to pursue my other business endeavors while providing a long-term and sustained revenue stream.”
To learn more about how Sport Clips can help you reach your personal and financial goals, get the ball moving here.