The Nisleys have grown their business from 1 to 3 locations
i9 Sports owners Micah and Tom Nisley are the 2023 Franchisee of the Year winners, an award given by the International Franchise Association.
The Nisleys were very surprised to learn they’d won the Franchisee of the Year award — they didn’t know that the i9 Sports® home office had nominated them. The nomination praised the Nisleys’ generosity with their time and resources in the network and their commitment to helping everyone succeed.
The Nisleys have been i9 Sports owners for 13 years and own three i9 Sports locations, but they started their business from scratch. How did they grow from first-time business owners to experienced, multi-unit businesspeople?
Starting out as i9 Sports owners
The Nisleys were living in Austin, Texas, when they first heard of i9 Sports. Micah found i9 Sports on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list, then learned of a very successful local i9 Sports business.
“We refereed flag football for that franchise — just to feel it out and see if it was something that we were interested in pursuing. In doing so, we just fell in love with the idea of i9 Sports,” Micah says.
Because the Austin territory was taken, the Nisleys moved to Dallas-Fort Worth to purchase their own i9 Sports business. At the time, they didn’t have children. Now they have two kids: a boy, Knox, 7, and a girl, Marley, 5.
“The idea of moving to start a business was very intimidating. When you open in a brand-new area, a lot of people don’t know what i9 Sports is. It’s not like opening a McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A.
“You have to educate people about why we run sports the way we do. You have to get people to understand the mission of i9 Sports,” Micah says.
Expanding the business
The Nisleys bought their first location in 2010, and their second in 2012. In 2022, they opened a third location.
“There’s so much I like about the business model of i9 Sports,” Micah says. “We have so much flexibility in our schedule. We knew we wanted to be home with our kids when they were born, and we were able to do that. And we liked the low-cost buy-in.
“There’s an easy path with i9 Sports to be able to obtain and reach your goals. It’s really about following the formula that’s set forth by the corporate office: making sure that you market and you run really good programs.
“If you can do those two things, you have great word of mouth and you continue to have an amazing customer base. We definitely exceed all of our financial goals,” Micah says
Their next goals
“Our next big goal is to remove ourselves a bit from the day to day. We’re still working on that. We look at some of our mentors within i9 Sports, and they are able to step back and manage the people that are managing the day-to-day operations,” she says.
“I think a lot of people look at what we do as just running sports leagues. Because that’s the basic level of what our business is.
“But what we actually do is large event planning. To be successful as an i9 sports owner, you have to have organizational skills and be able to plan huge events. It’s not just throwing some cones or a soccer ball out on the field.
“As long as you’re willing to put in the work, it’s lucrative, fun, and flexible. I think it’s a great business model.”
i9 Sports offers youth sports leagues, camps, and clinics for boys and girls ages 3 to 14 in today’s most popular sports: flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, and lacrosse. If you’d like to become an i9 Sports owner, get our free eBook now.