Top Players in Franchise Development: Pete Lindsey
Top Players in Franchise Development: Pete Lindsey

After witnessing the positive direction that Sport Clips was heading, Pete Lindsey, the brand's Vice President of Franchising, decided he wanted to be a part of it.

Few brands can boast the kind of sustainable growth that Sport Clips can. A simple Google search yields telling results. “Sport Clips Ranks as Top 10 Fastest-Growing Franchise;” “Sport Clips Scores as Top 15 Smartest-Growing Brand;” and “Sport Clips Soars to #16 in ‘Franchise 500.’”

Beyond the headlines, though, there’s an even more impressive story to tell. The company grew from 772 franchise units in 2011 to 1,167 by 2013. Today, there are more than 1,530 locations. They have a presence in all 50 states and in five Canadian provinces. Since 2010, Sport Clips’ average unit volume has steadily increased year after year. And over the past six years, the brand has experienced consistently strong same-store sales growth that hovers around seven to 10 percent—an average that’s unmatched in the brand’s category. Those strong unit-level economics carry even more weight when you learn that during that same time frame, Sport Clips has only closed six stores within their fast-growing system.

Now, as the brand continues to charge forward, one thing is clear—Sport Clips isn’t growing just for the sake of growing. Sport Clips is aiming to become the leading men’s hair salon the right way. And that’s through smart, sustainable growth. Helping to guide Sport Clips in that quest is Pete Lindsey, the brand’s Vice President of Franchising.

Prior to joining Sport Clips in 2011, Lindsey worked as the National Sales Manager at the UPS Store for more than 19 years. But after witnessing the positive direction that Sport Clips was heading, he decided he wanted to be a part of it.

“When I was first introduced to Sport Clips in 2011, I saw a strong brand on the brink of something big. They were aiming to hit 900 stores, and I knew that it would be an exciting place to be as they pushed past 1,000 and toward 2,000. Today, I still feel that same way—our brand continues to grow because we’re unwilling to compromise on the quality of franchisees that join our system,” Lindsey said.

1851 spoke with Lindsey to learn more about what makes Sport Clips’ steady development so successful, and his plans for the brand in the future.

What makes your brand’s franchise development process tick?

I’ve been in the franchise industry for more than 27 years. During that time, what I’ve discovered is that you have to ensure that the folks coming into your development process fully understand what the opportunity entails. In order to do that, you have to limit the information you give to them at any one time. That’s because, when they have too much information all at once, it’s hard for them to process and understand the situation fully.

At Sport Clips, we have a series of interactions that will focus on certain areas at a time—and that works for us. We break up the process so they better understand the business, the FDD, the marketing and our operations systems one step at a time. People tell us they appreciate the process, they understand it, and it’s easier to wrap their heads around this franchise venture they’re about to embark on.

It’s also incredibly important that prospective franchisees talk to existing Team Leaders. They can talk directly and in an uncensored way about the experience, shedding an honest light on whether or not Sport Clips is the right lifestyle fit. We also have a lot of team leaders from a wide array of backgrounds—insurance, airlines or multi-brand—that we can put them in touch with so they fully understand what it means to be a Sport Clips franchisee. That really helps to ensure that when they do come on board, they fully understand and embrace our system and our culture. It’s so important to use that franchisees have a real understanding.

What have been some of your brand’s major milestones?

Passing the 1,500-unit mark was big, but what’s so incredible is how the culture of Sport Clips remains unchanged. We’ve become one of the largest franchisors on the planet, but we’ve retained that small company feel that the brand was founded on. And for a company going from small to big, it’s pretty easy to lose yourself. Our founder, Gordon Logan, is responsible for a lot of that. He always said that we can’t develop faster than we can support our stores. We could add 500 stores in a year with no problem, but we’re picky about real estate and the people we want to join our team. That keep us within our means, and it ensures that we’re growing sustainably.

Hitting any kind of numerical milestone is important, but true greatness is measured in making sure that whatever you’re doing in terms of growth, you need to always fulfill your mission to support Team Leaders and give them everything they need to reach their full potential.

What are you most proud of?

The executive team that I have the pleasure of working with every day is one of the best I’ve ever been a part of. You’re sitting in a room with them, and you really feel like there’s nothing you can’t do or accomplish. When you’re working with good people and a great team, I don’t see life getting any better than that.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to grow their business?

This sounds cliché, but it’s so true—just follow the system. It just works. I need to look prospective franchisees in the eyes and know that they get the Sport Clips system before I let them sign.

At the executive level, it’s about showing that you believe in the brand. When we show how much we embrace Sport Clips, it drives culture and it drives confidence throughout the whole network. People will believe in you, your brand and what you do. The future of our company really is in such great hands. Growth will come from those that are passionate and really develop a sense of loyalty. At Sport Clips, we’re fortunate to have that.