When Tom Sharman began losing his vision due to a rare genetic condition, the first thing that his parents, William and Mary Beth, were worried about was his future. How could they make sure Tom would be able to provide for himself over the coming years, and even after they were gone? The family found a solution in franchising. Today, the father-son duo owns two Sports Clips franchises that operate with an owner-investor model, allowing William to continue working as a minister and helping provide Tom the support he needs. Here's how they found a franchise that was the perfect fit for their family.
Name: William Robert Sharman III (Bob)
Franchise owned: Two Sports Clips in Greensboro, N.C.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Franchising offers brand and service/product protection plus advertising and support. The home office of the franchise (if it is a successful franchise) takes seriously the responsibility of setting and keeping standards for services and products offered at the highest level possible, plus requires buy-in to advertise on a local, and national level.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I am a Presbyterian minister and continue full-time pastoral work in the church.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Sport Clips has an “owner-investor” model, rather than an owner-manager model. That is, the owner hires and has trained a manager and team to run the store on a day-to-day basis. This model is perfect for our son, Tom, who is disabled and would not be able to run an independent business, and who would benefit from the above mentioned advantages of a franchise.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We invested a little more than $100,000 of our own money and received a matching business loan. This amount got us built out and running, though it should be noted that it included the license fees for three stores.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I have a business degree and had owned a successful small business, so I was “in the neighborhood” as they say with regard to understanding the set-up of a small business. I also consulted with a franchise broker. Also, Sport Clips provides great support services prior to investing—that is, they are very careful about who becomes part of their system; thus, they give a fairly clear picture of what is involved in financial and time requirements.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
When it comes to patience, it’s easy to “talk the talk,” but it can be challenging to “walk the walk.” There are always exceptions, but in general, a business takes time to really get going and be healthy and mature. With a great model like Sport Clips, we experienced profits much sooner than we expected. Plus, Sport Clips sets high standards for itself and its franchisees. So, they kept helping us with basic store analysis for creating excellence, which eventually led to even greater profitability.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
The advice I would offer is tried and true and shared by everyone who has gone through the start-up of a franchise business:
- Trust the formula. If you are not 100 percent sold on the formula of a particular franchise of interest, you would be foolish to sign-up.
- Have patience -- work the formula.
- Hire a great manager. Tipping points don’t just happen -- they are almost always related to a great personality in management who is driving the process.
What’s next for you and your business?