After more than 30 years working for a large bank, the constant travel and long hours began to take their toll on Ben Mangels. He longed for more time with his family and more control over his time and life. He also began to worry about job security.
“As a highly compensated vice president, I started to see the writing on the wall. I wasn’t sure what the next round of lay-offs would bring,” explains Mangels. “I wanted to do something on my own. Something that I had more control over.”
Mangels began to think about what he wanted the second half of his life to look like. Business ownership had always been a dream of his and he decided now was the time to act.
“I decided franchising best fit my business ownership goals, I just didn’t know exactly which one. For me, it had to be an existing brand with a proven system that I just had to implement,” says Mangels.
Quickly ruling out the food industry, he explains, “Food just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to be so tied to one location. And there are a lot of things that go into that industry that I just didn’t want to have to deal with.”
Mangels recalls reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about Sport Clips Haircuts and decided to check it out. He says, “Sport Clips checked a lot of the boxes. I wanted something related to sports. The semi-absentee business model was a good fit for my lifestyle goals. And, it would allow opportunities to give back to the community.”
Mangels continues, “When I began to look into franchise opportunities it was at the height of the recession. It was a risk to start a business at that time, but I realized there will always be a need for haircuts. Hair grows the same in any economy and haircutting cannot be outsourced. It felt more recession resistant than my other options.”
He also found alignment with the Sport Clips business model, saying, “My time with the bank gave me invaluable experience with people management, as well as product management. We did a lot of online banking and I learned the importance of an online presence. These skills proved transferrable to the business model.”
Today, with three Sport Clips stores, Mangels will tell you, “As a team leader [franchisee], I spend a majority of my time managing and leading people. I don’t have the skills to cut hair; I hire talented people for that, my job is to help develop a team. I learned and really honed those skills in the corporate world.”
Mangels will tell you the beginning was not with a bit of a learning curve. He says, “Part of my early struggles had to do with me not embracing the system. I thought I could do it better. Once I started following the system is when I started seeing success.”
“When I first started, I tried to bring my corporate style of leading over. It didn’t go over well at all. Once I adjusted my approach things fell into place. I learned that it wasn’t as much what I was asking of them, but how I was asking it of them,” Mangels adds.
Today, Mangels’ stores have a healthy and supportive team culture. “It is very satisfying to help others become successful. One of the aspects of being a team leader that I enjoy most is helping my team grow personally and professionally. I think because I put a lot of intention into doing that, I have a lot of stability in my management team. It is important to treat them well.”
“This industry can have a lot of turnover,” Mangels continues. “Sport Clips is different though. The brand puts tremendous emphasis on development and creating defined career paths for stylists. Stylists can make a career with Sport Clips. I see this as a huge differentiator in this industry.”
Sport Clips’ robust support system is also another differentiator Mangels points out. “Over the past decade that I have been with the brand, I have watched the support structure grow bigger and better. The brand’s presence in my market particularly has grown considerably. And the online presence is incredible, and they will help you get your individual stores there too. Individuals members of the support team staff are accessible, and their help is invaluable.”
“From the grand opening plan to marketing resources, they have everything you will need in a box,” adds Mangels.
For Mangels, community involvement was another deciding factor for choosing Sport Clips. At the heart of the brand’s core values is the desire to give back. “I really believe stylists are some of the most wonderful, giving, artistic people I have ever encountered. They take care of people and are very generous with their time.”
Together, Mangels and his San Francisco Bay Area team members have looked for ways to give back to their community. “One of my favorite things we get to do is our August fundraiser for our area’s homeless student population,” he says. “People donate school supplies and a backpack in exchange for a free MVP. The past few years we have been able to make sizable donations to the school district.”
After ten years with Sport Clips and three stores under his belt, Mangels will tell you he has found what brought him to look into franchising, “My son is a professional soccer player and I now have the flexibility to take off midweek and watch his team play. That right there in itself is why I got into this. I have freedom and flexibility that was lacking in my corporate job. I also have financial stability and future opportunities to scale my business.”
Hear more from Ben Mangels on this July’s Validation Conference Call.