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.
Jay Highley couldn’t have predicted that he’d someday jump into franchising. But after his son took a job at Sky Zone Trampoline Parks, he says he knew he had to be involved in the company. With three locations under his belt already, he plans to add more. Find out more below.
Name: Jay Highley
Franchise: I own three Sky Zone Trampoline Parks (Fort Myers, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Lee’s Summit, Mo.).
Franchising provides a turn-key way to own and operate a small business for those who have always dreamt of being in business for themselves.
What were you doing before you opened a franchise?
Prior to opening my first Sky Zone, I worked for Sprint as the head of the business customer unit and president of business sales. After I left Sprint in 2005, I purchased a startup called Integrated Mobile Inc. that was a managed mobility solutions provider for wireless services, where I served as president and CEO. Since then I have been involved with a number of early stage companies as either an investor, board member or advisor.
Why did you choose this franchise?
I originally learned about Sky Zone when my 18-year-old son went to work at a Sky Zone in Fishers, Indiana. After taking time to learn about the concept by speaking with my son, other franchisees and Sky Zone corporate team, I knew I wanted to be involved. I’ve always been very involved with innovative concepts, and after seeing the great potential the brand has, it was clear that it was a perfect fit.
How much would you estimate you spent before officially open for business?
The cost of build out for a Sky Zone park is in the range of $1.5 million and $2 million and this is in addition to a long term lease or cost of a construction of a 30,000 square-foot building in advance of opening.
Where did you get most of your advice/do your research?
When doing my research, I wasn’t really looking into any other franchise concepts. First and foremost, I did my homework on the indoor trampoline park industry to see which company had the most compelling value proposition and brand position within the industry. Next, I connected with the Sky Zone executive team and was wildly impressed with the team, the culture, the business plan and the brand’s growth trajectory. After reviewing all the elements, I knew my previous experience with fast growing companies would translate well for where Sky Zone was at the time, as well as where they were wanting to go in the future.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure you do your homework and research up front, but most importantly, find a concept that you are passionate about and one where you can see yourself getting up every morning and being excited about going to work. Be sure to dig deep into the numbers, and ask a lot of questions of both the franchisor as well as other franchisees in the system. Look for common “themes” during your research and dig deep into anything that consistently looks suspicious or problematic. Once you make the decision to move forward, commit yourself to success and don’t look back.
What’s next for you and your business?
I will be adding two more locations in 2016, so continuing to evolve and mature as a company and leadership team is critical to our success. Moving from a single location to a multi-unit model is a challenge and calls for the business to change in many ways. From implementing our own call center to creating a regional staff to direct the day to day operations of the parks, everything changes. From a personal perspective, it means that I will have less ability to “touch” every element and decision of our business and will look to my regional team to take on more responsibility and ownership -- something that is not easy for any entrepreneur.