The Nortons Sport Clips Journey
Shaun and Angelique Norton signed on with the Sport Clips team in August 2012 and, soon after they opened their first Sport Clips store in Kokomo, Indiana. The next three years the Nortons spent time searching for an appropriate site for their next store.
Shaun reflects on that period, saying “It was a bit of back and forth. Prime real estate sites were tough to come by. The Sport Clips real estate team cautioned us against going with a substandard site. They have a proven track record of understanding what makes for a successful site. We had to trust in that, even when we were ready to move on a site we listened to their seasoned advice.”
During this unplanned, extended time between openings, the Nortons wisely used it to perfect their execution of the Sport Clips system, deliberately laying the groundwork that would position the team and them to capitalize on future growth opportunities.
All of this proved to be beneficial in 2017, the Nortons and their team opened and acquired a total of eight additional stores. In executing that expansion, they relied on the management structure laid out by Sport Clips and hired an area manager ahead of the growth. Shaun says,“Following the system is how I was able to seamlessly grow at such a rapid pace. The management structure is effective and makes growth possible."
He continues, “The learning curve is definitely shortened because of all the phenomenal tools set out by Sport Clips. The scalabilty of this model and the available resources are the only reasons we have been able to grow at such a rapid rate this year.”
Scalabilty and stability were two of the things the Nortons say were missing from their previous careers, which lead them to seek a change. Both starting out in the lending industry before turning to franchising, Shaun says, “When the housing crisis of 2008 hit, we realized we needed to build something for ourselves and family that was less tied to the economy, something that was more resistant to the ups and downs.”
Expanding to Real Estate Franchising
This lead them into a real estate franchise. He says, “It was an obvious next step for us. It utilized our existing skill sets, and rental property was the way the housing marketing was moving.” However, the owner/operator business model turned out to be a heavy time investment, and the Nortons began to experience burn out.
Shaun explains, “There was no name recognition with that brand. We had to spend a lot of time marketing ourselves as the expert, rather than people trusting the brand. It was up to us and us alone, and that model did not leave any way for us to grow the business beyond one or two locations. Angelique and I wanted a business that would scale.”
The Nortons then began to look outside of the banking and real estate sector. They had two main criteria for their next investment. The brand had to have national recognition, and it also had to be scalable. They whittled their list down to 10 brands from a variety of industries.
Return to Sport Clips
Sport Clips became the standout choice as they began to look closer at the offerings. Shaun says, “The brand is widely recognized. Most people have heard of it. That was a big plus. And, the manager run business structure gives us the freedom and stability needed to scale our business. The support systems and resources provided by Sport Clips was another key differentiator. We knew we would not be in this by ourselves.”
Having been in the same place, Shaun has some advice for someone considering purchasing a Sport Clips franchise, “When approaching such a big decision, you need to be honest about your work ethic. This is not a 'get rich quick' scheme. You need to put the work in your first store. The first store sets the tone for your others. You should be prepared to take the time to learn the business. Sport Clips provides everything you need, you just need to come into with the right attitude and mindset. All the tools are there, you just need to trust that.”
Recalling one of his first mistakes as a Team Leader, “I came in with a banking operational mindset and not a people first mindset. I was rigid and buttoned up. I took a look around and realized the problem was with me. Once I relaxed and started to put people first, things started to fall into place. I never knew one could get so much enjoyment out of their career.”
After so much growth this past year, the Nortons are looking forward to the new year and gearing up for continued future expansion. Shaun says, “I have set some aggressive goals for myself, and I know with the right people in place, the sky is the limit. Sport Clips has provided the framework for that.”
Hear more from Norton on our upcoming Validation Conference Call.