Our youth sports business is adding another sport to the roster and building on our 15 consecutive years of record revenue
It’s been another great year for our youth sports business, and we’re looking forward to an even bigger, better year in 2019. We had a sit-down with CEO & Chairman Brian Sanders to discuss i9 Sports’ goals and plans for the upcoming year.
How are you growing in 2019? What are your goals for growth?
We are looking at a huge year ahead. From a very high level, we’re looking to build on our 15 consecutive years of record revenue for the brand. Specifically, we are looking to add 15 to 20 new franchise locations in priority markets such as Chicago, Northern/Southern California and the Northeastern corridor — Philadelphia up through New Jersey and New York. We’re also looking at Salt Lake City, Utah, and Minneapolis among our key priority markets. We have already sold out of certain markets across the country, so territories are moving quickly.
What areas are sold out?
Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Denver are virtually sold out. I wouldn’t say completely sold out, because you never know when we might have a resale opportunity.
How do you expect to end 2018 in terms of total units?
We anticipate ending 2018 with 143 total franchise units.
What are franchisees looking forward to for 2019?
That’s the amazing thing about our business… there are so many opportunities for growth. As I mentioned, it’s really going to be a huge year for our franchisees. Two major growth initiatives fall within our sport offering. We launched our proprietary version of lacrosse, ZIP Lacrosse™, in the second half of this year. Based on results so far, we expect to see our franchisees take this sport and run with it in 2019. There’s big upside here!
We also have another exciting sport launch. We are piloting the launch of this new sport in the 1st quarter of 2019, targeting a nationwide launch later in the year. This sport is not something most other youth sports organizations are offering. It will not only help better serve our customers by giving them more choices to sample and develop their physical literacy in different sports, it will add another potential revenue stream for our franchise owners.
What are some other differentiators?
One of the major differentiators of our model is our industry-leading technology. We have built a platform for our operators that allows them to manage virtually every aspect of their i9 Sports business through our proprietary software called Franchise Manager. It includes a personal dashboard where franchisees get up to the minute key performance metrics of their business as well as important daily checklist reminders for operations. We’re going to be taking a big leap forward by completely refacing/redesigning our customer website as well as the proprietary software that supports it.
The enhancements will allow us to present all the sport offerings and programs that we offer our customers in a way that is much more customer-friendly and allows the franchise owners enhanced reporting behind the scenes to see exactly where their business is growing most rapidly and where their biggest opportunities are.
What other developments in 2019 will help franchisees operate more efficiently?
We are introducing new financial planning and benchmarking software that will allow our franchise owners to better track their financial results and to see how their financials stack up against averages across the network. As a business owner, one of the key reasons people buy an i9 Sports franchise is to support our mission of helping kids succeed in life through sports. But our franchisees also want the financial independence associated with owning their own business. This new service is going to make it easier to see profit opportunities so each owner can get the maximum reward for their effort.
That’s fantastic. Is there anything new in terms of adding field support for i9 Sports owners?
It’s important to point out that each franchisee already has a personal Franchise Business Coach assigned at the time they join our team. Beyond that, we actually amped up franchisee support this year by adding a Manager of Sport Programming and Education and a Digital Marketing Manager, both of whom lend tremendous expertise and support to each owner. In 2019, one of our other new initiatives at the field level will be to enhance the tools and training we provide the volunteers who coach our young players. The field is where the i9 Sports Experience is delivered, so we want to help each volunteer coach better understand our culture and how to properly coach youth in each sport. These new tools will also be delivered using technology.
We have a very big year ahead!
If you’re interested in owning your own youth sports business, we invite you to learn more about the i9 Sports franchise opportunity. Just fill out the form on this page to download our free franchise report. You can also explore more about our brand on our research pages.