Validation Conference Call Team Leader Profile: Arif Taj

Arif Taj, multi-unit Sport Clips Team Leader in Southern California, has won multiple brand awards for his high performing stores, broken records for grand opening client counts, and has even been recognized as a small business of the year by his local community. Taj has done an exceptional job of creating a strong store culture resulting in above average stylist retention and recruitment rates. In fact, he currently maintains a waiting list of stylists who want to work for him.

Taj says, “A store culture will develop no matter what. It is up to the Team Leader to grow it intentionally and in ways that nurture and grow the team. You have to motivate and reward your team in ways that are meaningful and relevant to their life and their goals, not just your own.”

Taj will tell you a key to his success as a Sport Clips Haircuts Team Leader has been his team, “It’s about putting people first. A huge source of joy for me is to see personal and professional growth among my team members.”

Keeping with the Sport Clips philosophy of putting people first, Taj has made community involvement a top priority. He is on several Chambers of Commerce in his area and has partnered with various local charities. He has also found innovative ways to market his business, such as hosting block parties with free giveaways and special appearances by local celebrities, and utilizing social media like YouTube to get the community excited about new locations. Taj says, “The culture of your store reflects what you consider important or unimportant, and for us, it’s about our passion for our community and the people in it.”

Before coming to Sport Clips, Taj was already a successful multi-unit franchisee in the food industry. Owning a franchise in the food industry required a more hands on approach to the day-to-day operations which did not allow him to be as involved in the community as he wanted to be. He began to search for a business model that would allow him more personal freedom. His search for the right fit began with reviewing more than 3,000 franchises. He eventually narrowed it down to 10, Sport Clips being at the top of the list.

Sport Clips’ manager-led operational structure was a key factor in his decision to join the brand. He felt good about the company’s culture and its responsible approach to growth. The Mission Statement and the way team members lead by example all resonated with Taj, and in 2007 he became a Team Leader, what Sport Clips calls its franchisees.

“The way the business is set up is, if you do everything right and make sure you take care of your team and people, it really is a very, very easy model to work with,” said Taj. “It provides you with support and you can grow your business organically and feel good about it.”

Having gone through an extensive search for a franchise that fit his personal and financial goals, Taj is an excellent resource during the discovery process. He has some advice for someone evaluating a franchise. “Talk to current franchise owners. And, go to franchising shows. Visit the company website. You’re looking for several things. Find out about the support system, the internal structures, and plans for growth. And, pinpoint the kind of financials you need to buy a franchise and to break even. Also, you need to figure out what you’re looking for -- just one franchise unit or a growth plan for several locations? When you have that information, it should give you a good idea if the business is for you or not.”

Hear more from Taj on our monthly Validation Conference Call.