i9 Sports Franchise Review: Terry Reuter of Johnson County, KS

After a long time in the corporate world Terry Reuter is loving the challenges and benefits of owning a youth sports franchise

Terry Reuter

Terry Reuter


Terry Reuter put in his time in corporate America. There were pluses and minuses. And when the 2008 Recession squeezed him out with a nice severance package, he started looking for similar jobs. But then he thought… why? Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to try something completely new?

“I wanted to do something on my own. Something different. Start my own business,” Reuter says. “So, I started looking around at different businesses to buy. Finally a friend of mine said, ‘Well, why don’t you do something that you have a passion for?’”

That’s what led him to i9 Sports. Here, he shares his journey toward entrepreneurship.

What were you doing before you opened your franchise?
I worked in the corporate world. I was basically a budget and forecast manager for three different companies, and then I moved over to the IT side and actually became a project manager and implemented financial systems. I did that for about 25 years.

A woman in a red T-shirt high-fives a young boy in a helmet and blue jersey.

Working with kids and being involved in a sports-related business were both high on Terry Reuter’s wish list. With i9 Sports, Reuter found a win-win.

When you started looking for a business opportunity, what was it that clicked about i9 Sports?
I started looking in the area of sports and kids, because I have four kids that I helped coach, and I played sports all the way up through college. I discovered i9 Sports had both of those things: working with kids and also sports. I thought that that sounded like something that was really needed in the community.

When you started looking for a business opportunity, what was it that clicked about i9 Sports?
I started looking in the area of sports and kids, because I have four kids that I helped coach, and I played sports all the way up through college. I discovered i9 Sports had both of those things: working with kids and also sports. I thought that that sounded like something that was really needed in the community.

What makes i9 Sports different from other youth sports leagues?
I had a couple of kids that were real competitive and a couple of kids that were not as competitive in sports, and I felt like there was a gap between the two. There were a lot of programs for the really competitive kids, and there were other programs for more recreational players, but they weren’t well organized and didn’t seem to really fit the needs of the kids. So, I thought that an i9 Sports franchise was the perfect kind of business to start up in the area because there wasn’t anything like it.

When you got started, how did you build up awareness in the community? How did you get going with your marketing?
People here were completely clueless about what i9 Sports was and the type of sports organization that we were, so there were a lot of questions. I sent out direct mail, I did flyers, but the thing that seemed to really work well was getting out in the community, talking to people face-to-face. I signed up for a lot of area festivals and went to a lot of grocery stores and restaurants and fitness centers. Pretty much anywhere there were kids. I was able to explain what we were, and once people understood, a lot of people started to get excited about it.

Now that it has been eight years, how would you say that your business has changed?
It is well known and recognized now as one of the top youth organizations in the area. Word-of-mouth is a bigger type of marketing for us than anything right now. We still do all of the other things, like the flyers and the road signs and the in-person events, but providing a good program really made a difference for us because a lot of people are telling their friends and relatives about it and we are getting a lot of referrals that way.

How many employees do you have?
I have one full-time and I’ve got, probably between 15-20 part-time people. It fluctuates.

What kind of support do you get from the corporate team?
The corporate support has been really good. They’re there if I have questions. I’ve had a couple of really good business coaches throughout the years, and the things the home office is doing in the area of automating some of the processes really made running the business a lot easier. As the business is getting more automated, it allows me to focus more on the people and the things that help grow the business more.

What do you enjoy most about owning your business?
I love being able to work out of my home and getting to plan my own schedule. I love that freedom, that flexibility. I also like the chance to succeed or fail on my own. I’m a very passionate person. I’m the type that would never let the business fail. I’ll do anything it takes within reason to make sure that we’re successful. And having that decision-making power and not having to go through a manager at work or the CEO is really important to me. I can make the decision and do what I think is right for the business and keep the business strong.

What kind of person do you think it takes to succeed in this business?
It needs to be somebody who really does have a passion for owning their own business and having that drive to make sure they succeed. The initiative is critical, because when you start your own business you do face a lot of obstacles. It could be the competition, it could be just getting access to the parents from a marketing perspective. You bump up against a lot of obstacles, so you really do have to be resilient and have a real strong initiative and passion to be successful.

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