Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you’re a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans Small Business Week kicks off this coming Wednesday, Nov. 4, and runs through Nov. 11, in honor of the men and women who wear the uniform, then bring those skills home to start businesses. Sgt. Cheston C. Syma is a notable example. The six years he spent with the Marines included stints in Baghdad, Iraq, and Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of the State Department's High-Threat Protection Teams, protecting U.S. diplomats and Congressional members in war zones. Eventually, this Marine came home and in 2004 purchased his first two franchises with Sport Clips, the sports-themed hair-care company for men and boys.
Today, Syma is up to 10 locations, in Texas. That kind of hard work helped inspire his franchisor, Sport Clips, to sponsor its annual "Help A Hero" veterans scholarship program, in partnership with Veterans of Foreign Wars. This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Sport Clips stylists at 1,400 locations will accept donations and on Veterans Day donate $1 per haircut toward a nationwide goal of $750,000.
Name: Cheston C. Syma
Franchise owned: Ten Sport Clips Haircuts locations in three states: seven in Houston, two in Chicago and one in Colorado Springs
How long have you owned a franchise?
I purchased my first 2 locations in June 2004
Franchising allows entrepreneurs to limit their risks by buying into a turnkey business model that has a history of success. Franchises also have the back-room logistics that a business owner will not need to replicate to achieve rapid growth and sustain success, [with assets] such as teams for marketing, data analysis and R & D, and industry experts.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a U.S. Marine with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, and a student at the University of Houston, studying business finance.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I chose Sport Clips Haircuts because the business model and concept resonated with me. The business model is a very simple one, easy to follow and the franchise had a great system to follow to ensure success. Men’s haircuts is a very recession-resistant business; no matter what the economy is doing, most men continue to get haircuts to maintain the professional appearance required in the workplace
Sport Clips gained a rapid foothold in the market in the mid '90s and spread nationally. And, of course, what guy doesn’t like watching sports in front of a big-screen TV while knocking off an item from the to-do list?
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The total I invested, per location, was $226,000, which broke down as: $97,000 for construction; $8,500, lease deposits; $50,000, FF&E; $30,000, franchise and software license and fees; $30,000, grand opening budget; $4,000, initial inventory; $2,000, initial store supplies; and $4,500, outside signage.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I received most of my advice from family, friends and existing franchisees. My research consisted of looking at the company from a client perspective and evaluating the long-term sustainability of the concept. Then I researched the company from a business perspective with the help of a CPA to evaluate the current success of existing franchises and forecast the possibility of my own stores' success through financial analysis. The best advice and information came from speaking to existing franchisees who were more than happy to share all the pros and cons of not just being a franchisee but a franchisee of Sport Clips Haircuts.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The most unexpected challenge came from recruiting. There is a finite pool of qualified and skilled applicants; and to be able to recruit, train and maintain enough stylists is always a challenge.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
My advice for individuals who want to own their own franchise is to do your due diligence. Research all the franchise options that resonate with you. Speak to other franchise owners. Hire a CPA to help understand the numbers, and visit as many locations as possible. You must love the concept to have passion for the business, and know that the more time you invest in your own business, the more successful it will become.
What’s next for you and your business?
My next goal for my business is to continue expanding, to leverage my assets and enhance my economy of scales. I have near-future plans to open eight more Sport Clips franchises in Houston and elsewhere in the country, where opportunities may exist.