Father’s Day is a time to pay tribute to the special relationship
fathers have with their children. For Al and A.J. Rodriguez of Pittsburgh,
this relationship is also a working one. Together they make up a multi-unit
franchisee team. The duo officially began working together in 2014 and
has grown from seven stores to 13 in the time since. As they continue
to grow the franchise presence, Al and A.J. bring to life
a team culture that is an integral part of the Sport Clips Haircuts brand.
“I’m excited to work with my Dad to take our Sport Clips presence
to the next level,” says A.J. “We have 13 stores open and
are expanding our back office, adding to our support staff, and have aggressive
growth plans ahead.”
Dad Al adds, “A.J. came to me his senior year of college, and we
sat down to outline a plan to have 25 stores open in the next few years.
He started doing maintenance in our stores and learning the Point of Sale
(POS) system. Now he’s focusing on growing the business. Every day
over the last three years, I’ve seen him adding value and building
The seeds for entrepreneurship were planted early when Al, a 34-year Ricoh
strategic account manager, set a goal of retiring by age 50, which he
did two years ago. He invested in Sport Clips 11 years ago, as most of
the hair care providers’ franchisees do…while he was still
working. He tells that running the Sport Clips business became his “third
child” at the dinner table, in addition to A.J. and daughter Janelle.
A.J. supported his Dad's franchise investment at the young age of 12,
by donning the mascot “Sporty” for events and doing neighborhood
marketing for stores. More recently, while at High Point University in
North Carolina, A.J. started a Student Painters business and would often
call his Dad for advice.
“Running a service business out of your truck is very different from
a retail business with brick and mortar, like Sport Clips. The thing that
has most surprised me is how fun it is,” notes A.J. “But there
have been some challenges. When we disagree, it’s hard, but I’ve
learned so much.”
Al agrees, saying it’s difficult to “turn off” the business
since they’re both very driven. Even so, he says he’s learned
from A.J., as well, “He’s adept at Excel and started doing
some analyses and dashboards around key business indicators that are fueling
our success and growth.”
A.J. gives the credit to his Dad, saying these were his ideas, and that
he’s been able to help him execute. It’s the way they make
teamwork work. Here’s their advice to other Father/Son teams:
- Spend plenty of time together teaching and learning – Don’t
expect the other person to know the “why” behind a project.
Take the time to explain the benefit of what they’re doing.
- Reward and congratulate one another – Small and large victories are
important. Take the time to tell them so.
- Turn work off at the end of the day – Al says A.J. and he were watching
a basketball game together when he says he looked up and saw they were
both on their laptops, “There comes a time when you need to turn
it off and enjoy the game.”
Working together to reach their business growth goals, this father and
son duo have made pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams a family affair.
Sport Clips’ semi-absentee business model makes multi-unit ownership a priority, giving people like Al and A.J.
the platform to expand their investment exponentially. Their commitment to
Sport Clips’ team spirit is just one of the things that makes them successful and helps them continue to grow.
Thank you to Al and A.J. for their commitment to the system, and Happy
Father’s Day Al and all the other fathers out there working hard
for their families!
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