David Miller has always been an entrepreneur. Over the years Miller owned a variety of businesses and was a franchisee with six different brands. His list of businesses includes a convenience food store, laundromats, check cashing stores, tax services businesses, paint your own ceramics stores, restaurants and a multi-video store owner operator.
Looking back at the businesses he owned, Miller says, “For over twenty years, I owned a convenience food store and it was very demanding. This was my first business. Being open 24/7 365 is a lot of work.”
Owning a restaurant was no easier on Miller, saying, “The food industry is tough. There is a lot of overhead and waste that cuts into profits.”
As for the video stores, he says, “Unfortunately, we know what has happened to that industry. I knew it was time to look for a business model that offered more stability and that was not going to be replaced by the internet.”
While traveling between his video stores, Miller heard an advertisement for Sport Clips Haircuts on the radio and he was interested. “The concept sounded good to me,” Miller says. “I thought to myself, “The internet won’t compete with me for this business. It can’t cut hair.”
After learning more about the brand, Miller attended Discovery Day at Sport Clips headquarters and was impressed. “After meeting the leadership team, I was sold. I wanted to go into business with them, it didn’t matter whether it was Sport Clips Haircuts or selling tires. I was that impressed with the team, especially Gordon” he explains.
“I found alignment with the values as well. They are so simple, yet so important. I liked the value they placed on community and on teamwork,” Miller adds.
Having owned five different franchises before Sport Clips, Miller has a unique perspective on the brand and the support it offers, “Sport Clips goes above and beyond any of the other franchises I have had experience with. They are responsive to their franchisees and are constantly looking for ways to best support us. It really comes down to the people, and Sport Clips has some of the best.”
In 2013, Miller became a Sport Clips franchisee and had to make some adjustments in his approach to ownership. “Having been an entrepreneur for a while, it was hard for me to give up some of my old habits of doing it on my own. I had never had this level of support from a franchisor, so it took me a little bit to get used to,” explains Miller. “The system works. The five-point play is my go-to in the stores. Following the proven system and the values helps you to be successful. It is important to stay flexible and be positive.”
For Miller, a component of his success comes down to the management structure and putting people first. “Cutting hair is a skill, one that requires training and a license. I do not have that, so I rely on my manager to bridge that gap,” he continues. “I have an incredible appreciation for my managers and stylists. They work very hard. It is really about the people you have working with you.”
Miller goes on to say, “One of the foundations for a store’s success is the culture inside the four walls. These stylists can spend almost as much time with each other as they do with their families. If the stylists are happy and feel encouraged and supported, they will be able to offer our championship haircut experience for the client. I strive to be an employer of choice. I make myself available to my employees. I show up. I look for ways to help them and be of service.”
Giving back to the community has been another way Miller has intentionally built store culture. “We have been involved with national organizations like Ageless Aviation and St. Baldrick’s, and also locally, with the Ronald McDonald House. “We provide haircuts to families staying at our area’s Ronald McDonald House,” he states. “It has been tremendously rewarding to be able to contribute to such great causes.”
Miller has also been able to make his business a family affair. His son, Ryne, has taken on some operations and marketing duties, working alongside his dad, and it means a lot to Miller to share the business with his son.
With his eighth store set to open later this year, Miller says his decision to invest in Sport Clips has far exceeded his goals. “Being able to grow a business, make money and do what I love and love what I do all at the same time has been incredible.”
Hear more from David Miller on June’s Validation Conference Call.