Sport Clips Team Leader Profile: Ryan DeMarco

From the bustling and chaotic floors of the New York Stock Exchange as a securities trader to the hushed halls of a massage studio as a franchise owner, Ryan DeMarco did not feel he had yet found the right fit for his lifestyle and financial goals. “My family is a main focus of mine in this stage of life. Recently our third son just turned 1 and our oldest son has special needs. I wanted to be more available for my family. I want to be able to do things like taking my kids to school. A high-quality franchise brand that offers support and long-term sustainability would give me the freedom and financial stability to do that,” says DeMarco.

For years, DeMarco worked in the securities industry on Wall Street. “When the economic downturn hit, I was laid off. After about six months of trying to get back into the industry, I decided that I wanted more control of my future, so I looked into business ownership,” DeMarco continues, “Franchising made sense to me. Statistically, franchise businesses have a much better rate of success than building a business from the scratch. All the systems are in place, the learning curve is lessened.”

In 2007, DeMarco decided to invest in a massage franchise. While he was successful, he found that after 13 years it was just not something he was passionate about. He began to look at other business models to invest in that better aligned with his skills and lifestyle goals. “I have a background in marketing. I wanted to spend more of my time marketing, rather than chasing people down when they don’t pay their membership dues. Massages are a luxury that at its high price point is often one of the first things people cut when they start to cut expenses,” says DeMarco.

DeMarco first looked at an organic juice franchise. “Having a child with autism, my family is always looking for organic and healthy options, so this opportunity appealed to us. But after spending time in the stores, I realized a lot of my time would be spent in the kitchen. It was not how I wanted to spend my days. Also, the employee high turnover rate turned me off.”

Back to the drawing board, DeMarco found the Sport Clips Haircuts’ business offering. He found that many of the problems he was experiencing in his current business were solved with Sport Clips Haircuts’ business model. “For one, haircuts are an easier sale than massages. They are a one-off sale, so there are no autopay defaults to chase down. People will skip a massage to save money, but haircuts are harder to skip making it a more reliable recurring revenue. The price point is an easier sale as well,” explains DeMarco.

Another problem DeMarco was having with a massage franchise was the tremendous amount of turnover at the front desk, saying, “It eats up a lot of your time and resources training new employees. With Sport Clips, the stylists share the front desk duties. And with the defined career path and opportunities for growth with Sport Clips there is greater buy-in. Stylists are invested and excited about the company. This is very different from the massage industry, where growth opportunities are limited.”

The team culture and exciting salon environment really also was a huge draw for DeMarco, “In a massage franchise, masseuses spend a lot of time in their own rooms. It makes it hard to build that team culture within the team because everyone spends so much time apart. Massages are meant to be calming and tranquil and the entire business is quiet. Day-in and day out, it’s hard to get excited about being there when all you want to do is fall asleep!”

DeMarco adds, “Having a good culture is what makes a business boom and Sport Clips has that. The salon’s open setting, with everyone together as well as the buy-in and excitement stylists have for the brand creates a fun and exciting environment, one that makes you want to be there.”

DeMarco considered other haircutting franchises, but just didn’t feel any excitement about them. “I compared Sport Clips to other brands, and they couldn’t compare to the atmosphere and experience it offers. You could walk past one of these other brands and not even know they were open. Simply put, they were boring. Nobody is offering the unique and exciting experience Sport Clips offers,” DeMarco says. “The brand has gone to great lengths to improve the client experience with things like technology for checking in online and seeing wait times. It makes a huge difference.”

And from a franchisee perspective, DeMarco saw Sport Clips offering more than other brands, “The support Sport Clips provides is above anything I have seen. The model is proven and tested, and training is comprehensive. I knew I could be successful with this model.”

With his first store scheduled to open December 12 of this year, DeMarco says his first task was to find the right manager saying, “Sport Clips has worked hard to be the employer of choice for stylists. The culture, training and growth opportunities make finding quality employees that much easier because it is a place they [stylists] want to work.”

When asked if he had any advice for those considering investing in Sport Clips for themselves, DeMarco had this to say, “You have to be a people person. You will spend a lot of time talking to people. Also know that this is not something you can phone in. You have to want to be a part of this brand and be prepared to put in the work.”

To learn more about how Sport Clips can help you achieve your personal and financial goals, click here for more information.