As vice president of development for Sport Clips Haircuts, Jim Atkinson works diligently to ensure a championship discovery experience for all candidates. From acting as a trusted advisor when working directly with franchise candidates in the California, eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey markets to lending support and facilitating the discovery processes for all other candidates, his goal is to provide clarity and insight as candidates are learning about Sport Clips.
Atkinson has an appreciation for how monumental a decision investing in a business can be and believes it should come down to whether it is the right fit for the candidate, as well as aligning with their personal and financial goals. “Franchise candidates are looking toward the next phase of their life. My goal is to help them best decide if Sport Clips aligns well with what they are looking for.”
For Atkinson, this means spending a lot of his time listening to a candidate’s business goals and objectives. “It’s about exploring their ‘why.’ This is not a get rich quick scheme, it is not designed as an immediate income replacement. Instead the model is designed to mitigate risk by allowing them to keep their current income and plan a gradual exit from their day job. If the model aligns with their goals it should be viewed as an investment in their future with freedom and flexibility.”
Having worked with some of the biggest names in franchising, The UPS Store and Sport Clips, Atkinson is well positioned to answer questions and guide a franchise candidate through the discovery process. Starting his career in the operations side of The UPS Store helped Atkinson appreciate the importance of the relationship between the franchisee and franchisor.
“I have a lot of respect for the level of commitment Sport Clips dedicates to getting it right operationally. With 69 corporately owned stores in four markets, the company can test new products and procedures to ensure they are viable from an operational standpoint. If it is proven to work, they then take it to the system. This is just one example of how this brand is focused on the success of their franchisees.”
Atkinson maintains the same level of dedication when it comes to his role as the head of Sport Clips’ franchise development. “We are working more collaboratively than ever to ensure our real estate and operations teams are better aligned on any new addition to any market,” explains Atkinson. “We have a remarkable team of people in all support roles at Sport Clips. Continued collaboration will keep us focused on our core values and key operating principles and drive smart steady growth in all areas in the country.”
With more than 25 years of proven and sustained success, Sport Clips has entered the ‘mature’ stage of franchise development. “We have a huge responsibility to continue the brand’s history of smart and sustainable growth. Sport Clips has many years of consistent dynamic growth ahead. Our focus is on awarding franchising licenses to the highest quality individuals who are the best fit for our system.”
As a mature brand with such a strong track record means Sport Clips has added resources for helping franchisees with their exit strategies. “We have some franchisees who have been around for a long time and are now ready to retire and move on from the system. Sport Clips has committed resources to ensure brand integrity is maintained while we help facilitate those sales. This is good news for people coming late to a mature market and for franchisees looking to scale within that market.”
Another way the franchise development department has stayed responsive to the needs of the brand and franchise candidates has been to update its Applicant Learning Center. “We always strive to provide the best discovery experience possible. These updates should provide candidates with a great immersive learning experience as they explore the brand and ultimately determine if our model is a great fit for their business ownership goals. It will help us better communicate with them and help customize and enhance their discovery experience.”
Over his career, Atkinson has accumulated a wealth of franchising knowledge and business acumen to help advise franchise candidates about how to make the best decision for themselves. His advice to candidates is this, “Openly examine your skillset and determine if it aligns with what will be required of you. Leading stores takes people skills and community involvement. You also must be comfortable in a salon environment. For the right candidate, Sport Clips’ proven business model can be a path to freedom, flexibility and stability. It comes down to whether this is the right fit. With that said, make sure to have some fun with it as this is a high energy, fun industry!”