Craig and Sherí Magram own the i9 Sports franchise in Gwinnett County, Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta.
Craig Magram first discovered i9 Sports as a customer. His young son wanted to get involved in sports, but Craig was a manager/controller for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and “I was leaving the house at 6 a.m. and getting home at 7 p.m.”
Craig’s wife, Sherí, was just as busy. The family didn’t have the time for practices and games that would eat up three or four days a week. Then Craig found i9 Sports. Practices and games were both held on Saturdays, which made it possible to fit youth sports into their busy schedules.
“My son’s first season was in spring of ‘07. He went through the i9 Sports program for years, and he just graduated with a degree in sports management.”
After his son, Justin, finished his first season playing football and basketball, Craig was talking with the league organizer: “‘You can do that for a living?’ And the owner said, ‘Yeah, sure can.’”
Making a lifestyle change
At the time, Craig’s family lived in Colorado, but he now owns the territory in Gwinnett County, Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta. Craig had been wanting to make a change in the family’s lifestyle and decided to join the i9 team.
“My gut feeling was that it was the right thing to do. The reason I did it was for flexibility,” he says. “I gave up a pretty good salary to start an i9 franchise. I was willing to give up some income and make a more average salary so I could have more time with my family. But my wife and I have made it much more successful than I ever envisioned.”
Customer service is key
Craig worked in the customer service industry for 13 years before coming to i9 Sports. At Enterprise Rent-A-Car he started in sales and moved into accounting before ending as Business Manager/Controller. His time working behind counters was invaluable.
“You learn to understand what people are asking without them actually saying it, and when there’s an issue, you fix it.”
i9 Sports’ customer experience stands out in several ways. First, there’s the convenience of the one-day-a-week commitment, which makes youth sports available for families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.
But i9 Sports also provides staff on-site to help families navigate registration and practice-and-game days. “Families just trust us, and that is great to say. While we do have volunteers, it’s not just a bunch of volunteers coming and going. We have set people who oversee the programs. That organization piece is an extra level of customer service for families. Parents have somebody to talk to.”
Advice for potential owners
The couple says that the i9 Sports franchise offers a lot of assistance to its franchisees. “Support of the staff has been great. We don’t always see eye to eye, but they get me, and I get them. They have a huge support mechanism to allow us to be successful. But it’s on our shoulders to put in the work,” Craig says.
As one of the longest-tenured franchisees in the system, he gets a lot of questions from people who are considering investing in an i9 Sports location, or who are just getting started.
“I tell people it is a business, and your job is to make money doing it. You have to love sports and kids, but that’s not enough. You have to run it as a business,” he says. “I always tell people who are interested in franchising with i9 to find out what registration fees are. Make sure you are charging enough so you can pay your officials, pay your staff, and market your business properly to achieve growth. Talk to the people around you and ask them what they charge and how profitable they are. Then the question is whether you can do better.”
A great mission and opportunity
There are some great benefits to owning an i9 Sports franchise. Part of it is seeing kids grow up in your program, starting in Pee-Wee leagues, watching their skills and leadership abilities grow — and seeing some of them eventually working for you. “You get to see all the people that you impact,” he says.
And the ongoing relationships with families — who often enroll multiple kids and refer friends to i9 Sports — is great for business.
“I wish I would have done this earlier. I’m turning 50 and would have loved to start this in my 20s.”
To find out more about the business opportunity with i9 Sports, fill out the form on this page to download our free franchise report.