Franchise owners discuss how their backgrounds made them a perfect fit for business ownership with i9 Sports
Even though we can’t always anticipate what life throws at us, we do often see — with the benefit of hindsight — that certain experiences prepared us every step of the way for that next chapter. That’s how i9 Sports franchise owners Alex and Maria Martinez describe the last couple of decades of their professional lives.
Maria has a masters degree in social work and worked full-time as a social worker in the public school system for ten years. Alex spent almost 20 years in sales, selling everything from cars to mortgages. The Martinezes talk about those years of two full-time jobs outside the home with very young kids as physically draining and barely making ends meet while working incredibly hard.
“We were tired. We both worked long days and were stressed,” Maria remembers. “I worked in the school system, which is a government job, so there was a lot of bureaucracy. I felt underappreciated and underpaid.”
Alex adds, “I was fed up with my sales job. I didn’t make enough for how hard I worked. We lived paycheck to paycheck and waited on my bonus to be able to take the family out.”
In 2008, Alex and Maria decided to look for other career options. They had always wanted to own their own business, but they weren’t sure what. They realized, though, that signing with a franchise was a smart choice. “We didn’t have any experience owning a business, and we knew that opening a franchise business would be easier than starting something on our own from scratch,” Alex says. “With a franchise, you get support. You pay an upfront fee and they set you up.”
While researching online franchise business directories, Maria discovered i9 Sports and showed it to her husband immediately. A lifelong athlete and sports enthusiast, he was interested right away. “I played sports all my life and had dreams of going to the Olympics. After high school, I got involved in coaching. A career in sports seemed like the perfect next step,” Alex says.
Maria says, “We felt that something related with sports would ignite Alex’s passion. And working with kids and families fit nicely with my previous experience as a school social worker. It seemed like the ideal marriage.”
Alex and Maria celebrated the new year in 2009 by working on their brand-new i9 Sports franchise in central Dade County, Florida. Alex remembers that first day they were open for business: “We had to turn people away for registration. Parents and kids showed up at the field wanting to register and we had to say, ‘We’re sorry, but we’re sold out.’ It was a good problem to have, I guess.”
The couple has never looked back. Alex and Maria opened their central Dade County franchise with one venue in 2009. Today, that franchise has grown to three venues. They also have a second franchise, located just south of their first, which has two venues. They expect the business to continue its upward trajectory, as they have an accomplished and trusted team in place that works on site and program management, marketing and staff recruitment.
The Martinezes point out that i9 Sports helps them succeed by offering the best in technological tools and customer service. “We love the technology that i9 Sports offers,” Alex says. “Having a website that’s always maintained, always updated, accepts credit cards, and having a call center that takes all of our incoming calls are immensely valuable to us. We want to not do those things and at the same time, make money. All small businesses must keep up with the times, and i9 Sports does that well and their franchisees benefit.”
Like all good marriages, the Martinezes’ with i9 Sports offers the possibility of legacy. Alex and Maria want their two children to take over the business eventually. “We hope it will stay in our family. We hope to be able to see our business in 20 or 30 years and see how it’s grown and how it continues to be a great product in our community,” Alex says.
i9 Sports is the country’s premier youth sports franchise
i9 Sports is the nation’s first and largest youth sports league franchise that offers flag football, soccer, baseball and basketball to children between the ages of 3 and 14. i9 Sports provides a youth sports experience unlike any other by teaching the importance of good sportsmanship on the field and in life. With convenient, flexible hours that translate into an enviable work-life balance, and no real estate or large upfront inventory requirements, i9 Sports is a compelling low-investment franchise opportunity with an attractive profit potential. Our long-term vision is to become the undisputed leader in recreational youth activities worldwide by delivering a superior and extraordinary customer experience.