Giving back through business ownership

Community, kids and customer service made i9 Sports the right choice for this franchisee

For i9 Sports franchisee Kathleen Seifert, our franchise offered a lot of opportunities, including the chance to work with kids and sports, the chance to give back to her community and the chance to be a business owner. Now well-established in her market in South Durham and South Orange County, NC, Seifert frequently hears from people who appreciate what her business does for the community. Here’s what she had to say about the franchise opportunity.

i9 Sports franchisee Kathleen Seifert

i9 Sports franchisee Kathleen Seifert

How long have you been a franchisee?
We have been franchise owners since April 2010.

How did you learn about the youth sports franchise opportunity?
Our son was playing in the southern Wake County i9 Sports program, and my husband really enjoyed being out on the field. It combined passions that both my husband and I have: kids and sports.

We decided we’d like to take the opportunity to own a business instead of sitting back and in 10 or 15 years saying, “We wish we would’ve done that.” My husband still has his career separate from i9 Sports, and I took over the business aspect. He’s a sounding board and a partner, while I handle the business day-to-day.

What do you enjoy about owning your i9 Sports franchise?
The impact that we’ve had in the community. We really feel we’ve been able to give back to the Durham and Chapel Hill areas. We give back to the schools by supporting their health and wellness initiatives, as well as doing free events for the school. It’s rewarding to hear people say, “We really like you” when they find out we run the i9 Sports franchise.

What would you say your typical day looks like?
Over the last year, we hired and trained a program director, so a lot of what I’m focusing on now is setting up connections and meetings to make sure that the business is on a growth trajectory.

What kind of person do you think it takes to be successful with i9 Sports?
It definitely takes somebody that is outgoing and self-motivated. It helps to have a passion for working with kids and adults, because if you can’t deal with that, especially the adults, it’s going to be a big drain. So for me, that’s the big thing. You can’t be meek and mild in this business. You’ve got to have a pretty large personality.

A young girl runs around the field during tee-ball while wearing an i9 Sports-branded uniform, hat and helmet.

Working with kids and sports made the i9 Sports franchise opportunity very appealing to franchise owner Kathleen Seifert. The strong support and business model made it even better.

Why do people choose i9 Sports over, say, a park district or a travel league?
People choose us over community recreational leagues because we’re more organized. Parents of my generation are willing to pay a little bit more for great service. We provide a level of customer service that just isn’t there with the rec programs.

And when it comes to the travel leagues, not everybody wants to travel all the time. There’s a time and a place to be competitive; personally, I don’t feel it’s in elementary school. I’ve been blessed with working with numerous colleges in the area, since I am in Durham and Chapel Hill, and the big push from the coaches is to have kids involved in multiple sports. We provide that, so parents don’t have to say, “Oh, where’s a good basketball program? Now where’s a good football program? Where are all these different good programs?” We’re good in all of them.

We’ve got four kids, and we started as i9 Sports customers when they were really little, so it’s a product that we’ve always believed in. I think that’s an important piece for owners – to believe in the product. And that comes through with all the fellow owners that I have been in contact with.

How do you feel about the future of the brand?
The exciting portion for me is that we’re improving and getting stronger and stronger. We’re very blessed at the local level, in that there’s three territories here and strong brand recognition, so everybody celebrates in each other’s successes. The corporate team and our business coach are very supportive, and they push me when they need to in order to help me achieve the balance of family life and business life that I want.

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