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.
Playing to their interest in athletics, Jamie and Roger Linn -- he a former arena football player -- chose to go into business for themselves through an i9 Sports franchise. Here, the winning husband-and-wife team talk about their fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy, the advice from those who coached them through those early, nerve-wracking days and their game plan for future success.
Name: Jamie and Roger Linn
Franchise owned (location): i9 Sports Albuquerque
How long have you owned a franchise?
Just more than three years.
We liked the idea of being in business for ourselves, but not by ourselves. Having a support system and a workable plan was worth the royalties required. Having people in your same situation is a fantastic resource to bounce ideas off of.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
After playing arena football for five years, I worked as an advanced projectionist in the convention industry, doing behind-the-scenes work handling audio and visual needs for major conferences. Jamie worked as an information technology consultant and graphic designer.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We looked at possible business options that would pique our interests and play to our strengths. In 2004, Jamie found i9 Sports which we chose after extensive research and visits with five other franchises.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We'd say $80,000. There was a $25,000 franchise fee, a $15,000 additional territory fee and $40,000 in equipment and marketing.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We spoke to a lot of the top-performing franchisees in i9 Sports. Everyone was very helpful, sharing their experience and knowledge.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Because we hadn't owned a franchise prior to getting involved with i9 Sports, we were apprehensive about whether or not we knew enough about the industry to find success. Before launching our franchise, we were fully prepared to embrace the fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy.
Luckily, our nerves were completely calmed by the fantastic network i9 Sports has in place to support its franchisees. You’re never left feeling alone on anything, and that’s absolutely been a huge factor in our success. Had we had to do this on our own, we've no doubt there would have been many more stumbling blocks and obstacles. Being able to shape your business based on the strengths and weaknesses of your fellow franchisees eliminates the learning curve and has been extremely beneficial. The i9 Sports business coaches have also been an asset to lean on and helped us make the right steps along the way to ensure profitability.
Furthermore, another huge factor in our success has been the strong IT department i9 Sports has available to franchisees. They have allowed us to have a website up and running quickly. Not having to create our own has been a huge benefit since our online presence is a critical component to our business.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Start by choosing a franchise that sparks your interest and that you can envision yourself doing for a number of years. Talk to a minimum of five top-performing owners. Be ready to continue working other jobs, and don't expect to pay yourself from the new business for at least a year. You have to put the money back into the business for a while in order to grow it.
What’s next for you and your business?
We're looking at expanding to 10 locations within our territory by the fall. Because we're one of the fastest growing franchises in i9 Sports’ history, we work together with the corporate team to ensure our growth is successful and profitable. We also always look to improve our customer experience and perfect our process. That, in turn, will equal growth.