About five years ago, Amanda Donovan found herself at a crossroads, unsure of what her next step should be. Following a job opportunity for her husband, Ryan, a private corporate pilot, the couple relocated to West Virginia from Kentucky. She then took a close look at what she wanted this next chapter of their lives to look like.
As a wine sales representative, the different alcohol laws in her new state made her job more difficult, making her question whether it was worth continuing. She worked sometimes up to 60 hours a week while her husband worked weekends, which meant they rarely had time together.
Donovan came to the realization that this was not the life she and Ryan wanted to live. The move presented an opportunity to pursue something new and different, she just wasn’t sure what that was at the time.
Her first thoughts were to start her own business. However, building a business from the ground up, and the learning curve that entailed, was not appealing to Donovan. Without any operational experience, she decided a franchise would provide the best framework for her to own her own business.
At the same time, Donovan and her husband were visiting family when her husband needed a haircut. “We stopped at the most convenient place, and by chance it happened to be a Sport Clips,” she says. “My husband had a great experience there. I realized there were no locations in West Virginia at the time and that sparked an idea.”
Having narrowed her criteria for her franchise investment down to three main points, Donovan explored Sport Clips Haircuts’ offering. First, the investment had to be relatively affordable. Forbes Magazine ranked Sport Clips as #1 in the “medium investment” category, citing it as being the best value for investment. It also had to be something other than an owner/operator model. Sport Clips’ manager-led business model gives franchisees the flexibility to set their own schedule and pursue other commitments at the same time. This appealed to Donovan’s desire to have more time with her husband and for travel. And finally, it had to have a high rate of success. Sport Clips has a stellar continuity rate of 97.6 percent, which is an outstanding achievement for any franchise system but even more so due to the size of the Sport Clips network with more than 1,730 open and operating.
Finding Sport Clips exceeded her initial criteria, Donovan made the decision to invest in the brand. Five years later, she will soon be opening her fourth store. Of her experience so far, she says, “Where ever I’ve been in the process, there has been the support needed to continue to help me grow my business. The team culture has been amazing. I have found a network of team leaders who are willing to help and encourage me.”
With her fourth store scheduled to open at the end of this year, around the same time Donovan will be taking on an additional role as well, the role of motherhood. Of her impending due date, Donovan says, “Because of the ability to set my own schedule and the fact that my husband is home for half of the week, we won’t need daycare, even as I am opening another store. That flexibility and freedom is priceless to me.”
Donovan has some advice for new team leaders, “Make sure you learn the system for yourself. Invest the time in the beginning. Learn what the numbers mean. Understanding the metrics, and being able to spot patterns, will give you a clear insight as to what is really going on in your stores.
“Don’t just phone it in. There is so much support, that it is tempting to just let Sport Clips do all the work, but you really should understand for yourself how it all comes together.”
Aside from the numbers, Donovan has some advice for what she sees as one of her most valuable assets – her managers. “Respect the role of your managers. Understand the hierarchy in the store and don’t undermine it. Make sure you have the right manager in place though. Besides knowing what to look for in the right person for the job, you also need to know how to pull the trigger and let them go if they aren’t the right fit.”
Donovan concludes, “Being able to build relationships is so important as a team leader. You need to be able to both challenge and empathise with your managers and that can’t happen without relationship. You have to be flexible and know how to motivate your team. The team needs to know that you care about them. They need to be able to come to you with their failures as well as their successes. It’s about collaborating and correcting together.”
Hear more from Amanda Donovan on July’s Validation Conference Call.