Sport Clips Area Developer Profile: Joe Klimek, Houston Market

Working in sales in the high-tech industry, Joe Klimek helped his Manufactures Representative company grow exponentially, but he still found his future uncertain. “We were doing well, but as more and more of the industry began to outsource offshore, there was a lot of the business that we couldn’t control. I wanted to invest in a business that couldn’t be outsourced. “

That’s when Klimek responded to a small ad placed in a local magazine with a picture of Jay Novacek for Sport Clips Haircuts and realized the haircutting industry might be what he was looking for. “This was in 1999 and Sport Clips was still a relatively new concept. I didn’t know much about it, but I liked the idea of sports and since haircuts can’t be outsourced, I was interested,” says Klimek.

After meeting with Sport Clips’ franchise developer Jean Booth and founder and CEO Gordon Logan, Klimek was even more interested. He explains, “Jean and Gordon shared their vision on how Sport Clips’ was positioned in a niche to meet the needs of the overlooked demographic of men and boys in a growing industry. I bought into the idea right away.”

“I loved the concept and felt very comfortable with the business model. The manager driven model meant that I could keep my day job. Also, my wife and I had young kids at the time in sports, so we knew our local market well. We felt confident with the marketing aspect of the business. It would fit in well with our lifestyle.”

At the same time, someone else was looking at the same territory so Jean arranged a meeting between the two entrepreneurs. “Bill Vandrick and I had never met before that conversation, but we found alignment in our goals and decided to team up and buy a three pack. We have been business partners ever since.”

In that first year, Klimek and Vandrick went on to open three stores. Klimek says, “Sport Clips provided us with the vision, local support from the coaches and the team from Georgetown needed to help us get those stores up and running. Early on, Gordon recognized an operational area we were struggling in and set us up with an experienced financial analyst from the salon industry. Things turned around for us very quickly after that meeting!”

Having watched the brands training and resources grow and evolve over the years, Klimek say, “With such a proven business model, Sport Clips has been able to anticipate a lot of the common problems business owners may run into and are able to provide resources to help, shortening the learning curve. The training has continued to keep pace with the brand’s growth and is second to none.”

Adding, “The stylist recruiting resources, tools and systems are all First in class. The analytics available to team leaders helps you make solid business and less emotional decisions.”

In 2004, Klimek and Vandrick took over the role of area developers for the Houston market. “We knew Houston was ripe for expansion. Neither of us knew the real estate side of the business, but we knew the support in that area was excellent, so we felt comfortable taking on the role.”

Klimek feels owning stores prior to becoming an area developer has been beneficial to his role of supporting the soon-to-be 94 stores in the Houston market. “We were able to set expectations with confidence because we knew what it took to run successful stores.”

Having been with the brand for over twenty years, in addition to seeing the support and training grow with the brand, Klimek has also seen Sport Clips dedicate resources to foster one of its most important relationships, the one with its franchisees. As one of the first members of the Team Leaders Advisory Committee (TLAC) and later the Area Developers Advisory Committee (ADAC), Klimek recalls, “In the beginning, TLAC was just four team leaders and Gordon. We used to meet in the Jan and Mark Mansfield’s kitchen and that worked very well back then. Now it has over 7 members on TLAC and 3 members on ADAC.”

“How the TLAC/ADAC model has grown with the brand shows how important communication is to the leadership of this company and that they view it as a two-way street. It allows team leaders to voice their suggestions on ways to improve.”

And leadership has proved responsive. “I once brought a massager to a TLAC/ADAC meeting and suggested that we use it in the stores. I had worked with TL’s Richard Buxbaum and Chris Martin in Houston to try it out prior to our meeting and we all felt it would be worth pursuing. “Well, some time had passed, and I got a phone call from Edward Logan and he said to me, ‘I got one! We really like it”. They had been testing it in the Austin corporate stores and developing the most efficient processes around it before they implemented it system wide. Now it’s part of the MVP championship experience. This is an example of how this brand takes direct input from TLAC and ADAC and even makes a change in operations to enhance the client experience while at the same time taking care to test and develop procedures so that it is not a burden on its franchisees.”

Klimek has this advice for all Sport Clips team leaders, “Get to know your TLAC representative and open a dialogue with them. Our input is important and its heard.”

When asked if he had any advice for someone who was considering investing for themselves, Klimek has this to say, “You need to have a passion for business ownership. This shouldn’t be just a hobby. You also need to be willing to follow a system. There is everything you need and more from a support standpoint. The system is thought out and proven, you just need to implement it. When a team leader struggles, most often it is because they are not following the system and making the decision to not use all the tools that are at their disposal.”

“A people first mentality is essential. It should never be about “me” but about “us”. Someone who wants to come in, not follow the system will struggle. Successful team leaders develop their teams,” Klimek continues, “They take the time to understand what motivates their team members and also empowers them to make decisions.”

He concludes his advice with “Take the time to validate. Do your homework so you can set the right expectations and see if the business model aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals. The due diligence process is so important. Sport Clips has a very thorough and rigorous process designed to help you make the decision that is right for you. It is all about fit. They are committed to transparency because they want to you know as much possible upfront. Read the Franchise Disclosure Document.”

As for his investment in Sport Clips, Klimek says, “This industry is one of growth. We have been able to scale and meet all our expectations, as well as help others do the same. My business partner and I are both very happy with our decision to invest. We have been able to take control of our destiny.”

Hear more from Joe Klimek on this month’s Validation Conference Call.

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