Even before opening his i9 Sports franchise, Jason Kerrick was so passionate about the youth sports industry he wrote an entire book about it
Jason Kerrick has always been passionate about youth sports. So passionate, in fact, that he wrote an entire book about their benefits even before he was in the youth sports industry himself. As an i9 Sports customer, he appreciated the way the brand shared his beliefs about the positive impact sports have on kids’ lives. As an i9 Sports franchise owner in Glendale, AZ, he now brings that positive impact to kids in his community.
Kerrick also wanted to make sure that the numbers added up to make this a smart business decision. With i9 Sports, the former banker found an affordable franchise investment and a strong, scalable franchise model where he can provide a service he can be proud of.
What did you do before you decided to purchase the franchise?
I was in the financial services industry for about 15 years. I was a regional manager at a bank where I oversaw operations for about 13 different branches in north Phoenix.
What made you decide that it was time to do something different?
I’ve always loved sports and I love kids. I have two young kids who are involved in youth sports, and I had been a customer of i9 Sports at Arin Finger’s franchise in north Phoenix. My son started in t-ball when he was 3, and then continued to play other sports there as well.
Then I got some emails about owning an i9 Sports myself. I started looking into it and researched it heavily but decided that it wasn’t the right time to make the switch yet, since my daughter had just been born. But I kept my eye on it from afar and eventually re-engaged in conversations about it, decided to pursue it all the way and took the plunge.
What was it about the business that made you feel it was the right career move for you?
The main thing was my passion for the benefits of youth sports. Even though I was in banking, I wrote a book about youth sports that was published in 2015 called “The Transformative Effect of Youth Sports.” I’ve always been fascinated with the lessons that can be taken from sports, like leadership, teamwork, preparation, perseverance and healthy competition. I played a lot of sports myself growing up and my kids have always been involved with sports.
Also, the thought of being my own boss was appealing to me. After working for others for so many years, I liked the idea of combining my love for sports with the flexibility of entrepreneurship and the work-from-home model. Having two young kids, being able to set my own schedule means if there’s a kindergarten graduation I need to be at or one of my kids’ sporting events I need to be at, I can do that.
What inspired you to write a book about youth sports?
Writing a book was always a bucket-list item for me. I’ve always liked writing, I’ve read a lot of articles and other books on the benefits of youth sports, and so I just started compiling the research that I did. It took me almost a year to complete the book.
What have you enjoyed most as an i9 Sports franchise owner?
It’s just very different from the corporate world, from the more business-casual attire, to setting my own schedule to being able to get out on the field and being hands-on when the season is underway. With some aspects, like the marketing, there are a lot of parallels to what I did in the business world, but there are some unique differences and I really enjoy that.
How have you marketed the business and gotten the word out that you were starting up a new franchise?
I used a lot of the guerrilla tactics that they taught us in training, from road signs to flyers. I go to businesses and do in-person events, setting up a table at places where I know there are going to be large crowds of prospective customers. I get a pretty steady stream of leads from our online advertising and I follow up on those every opportunity that I get. Any time there’s a name and a phone number attached to it, I make sure to call and tell our story to that person. They may just be shopping around for different youth sports leagues, so I can try to tell them what really differentiates i9 Sports and hopefully earn their business.
What kind of person do you think it takes to succeed as an i9 Sports owner?
It takes somebody who is a self-starter, competitive and wants to push the envelope. In the corporate world, there’s a lot of structure that’s provided for you. Now that I’m on my own, I try to still put some of that structure in place for myself because there’s nobody that’s overlooking what I’m doing as much as when I was in the corporate world.
Why do your customers choose i9 Sports over other options in the youth sports industry?
A lot of parents give us feedback that they like the one-day-a-week model, that it’s nice for the practices and the games to be on the same day. I have some customers that have four kids enrolled in my programs – in some of the other leagues, they might have two days of practice and then a game on the weekends, so if you multiply that by four kids, that’s a lot of running around. If you’ve got four kids in our program where it’s one day a week, that’s a one-stop shop.
We get a lot of positive feedback about the sportsmanship values that we go over every week. They also appreciate the fact that we have a dedicated sports coordinator who has some expertise in the sport who manages and oversees the volunteer coaches. In too many other youth leagues, the coaches can be a little hit-or-miss if there’s nobody overseeing that. With us, you’ve got that sport coordinator who’s able to oversee the practices, help with the skills and the drills and provide support.
One of our big metrics is Net Promoter Score, which measures whether or not customers would recommend us, and we did 87% in our first season. That’s a pretty strong indicator that our customers are satisfied.
Learn more about the youth sports industry
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