How This Self-Starter Became a Multi-Unit Franchisee with i9 Sports

Our scalable business model can support growth for multi-unit franchisees

One of the best parts of business ownership is having the opportunity to drive your own destiny. For multi-unit franchisee Jeff Mackey, that was the appeal of i9 Sports. He felt that he was at a plateau in his career, and he wanted to build something of his own.

i9 Sports multi-unit franchisee Jeff Mackey stands on stage and waves next to i9 Sports CEO Brian Sanders, who is standing at a podium nearby.

Multi-unit i9 Sports franchisee Jeff Mackey with CEO and Chairman Brian Sanders

Mackey went from fitness equipment sales to running three youth sports league franchise territories. How did he do it? Read on to find out.

What were you doing before you became an i9 Sports franchisee?
I was in the specialty exercise equipment industry, selling high-end health and fitness equipment to health clubs, hotels and commercial facilities. I was in that field for about 10 years before I started my first i9 Sports franchise.

What made you decide it was time to own your own business?
As time went on in my previous career, I realized that my opportunities for advancement were somewhat minimal, and something inside of me just said that I always wanted to do more, I wanted to be able to truly control my own future. I wanted to build something that I had a direct hand in growing and managing. That’s what led me to start exploring other options outside of my previous career.

When I was doing the research, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to do something for myself. I figured a franchise would be a great option to go with, to follow the model of someone who’s done it before.

When I was searching the Internet trying to find something that just jumped out and appealed to me, i9 Sports stuck out because it is sports, it’s kids, and I knew I would really enjoy that. You’re always going to have kids playing sports, so the opportunity for a successful business is always there. It’s definitely not a fad.

How do you manage being a multi-unit franchisee?
To manage my territories effectively, I keep the lines of communication wide open. I have a full-time staff member in each of those territories. We do group meetings on a weekly basis amongst all of my franchises to share experiences, challenges and success stories.

Another cool thing is that our storefront is the Internet. It’s not like we have this physical storefront that someone has to manage. We just have to take care of all of our duties throughout the week, hire the right staff and secure the venues. I lean heavily on my people that are in the markets to control those tasks. I’m able to look at the numbers, evaluate our customer satisfaction, look at our renewal rate and look at trends within the business that can help me dictate how each territory needs to be managed.

A young boy in an i9 Sports jersey holds a mouthguard and gives a thumbs-up to the camera.

Mackey says self-starters with a knack for networking and marketing can build successful businesses with i9 Sports.

How does the i9 Sports corporate team support you?
They’re awesome. Our home office is great. They have a very firm understanding of what each individual owner’s needs are. They’ll check in with me to see if I need anything, but at the same time, being a tenured franchise owner, there’s typically not a lot that I need from them now.

When I was just getting going, they knew they had to kind of hold my hand a little bit. That really helped me be successful launching my business. And right now if there’s anything that I do need from them, I have a dedicated business coach, and we have a very responsive IT department, purchasing managers, marketing team and HR department. They’re fantastic.

What kind of person do you think it takes to succeed as an i9 Sports franchisee?
You definitely have to be a self-starter, without question. This is a home-based opportunity, and if you’re in a new market, most people don’t know who you are yet. You’ve got to go out and be willing to network and market your business effectively, which means you have to be a self-starter and confident in your brand and in yourself, and you have to be willing to listen to your customers as well.

A young boy in an i9 Sports baseball uniform smiles and raises his arms in the air with a caught baseball in his glove. A boy crouched beside him is prepared to catch the next ball.

Multi-unit franchisee Jeff Mackey opened his i9 Sports in order to take more control of his career.

What would you say you enjoy most about being a franchise owner?
The thing I love the most is it’s up to me to be successful. No matter what franchise model you’re in, whether it’s i9 Sports or it’s Subway or it’s McDonald’s, it falls upon your shoulders to listen to customers, adjust to your market and deliver a premium experience at all times.

Our future is as bright as ever. Our company continues to grow each and every day because we listen to our customers. We evaluate trends that are happening in the markets, and we are always trying to adjust our product to make sure that we are delivering the product that our customers want and desire.

Learn more about single- and multi-unit franchise opportunities

If you want to learn more about becoming an i9 Sports franchise owner, whether you’re looking to own one territory or become a multi-unit franchisee, fill out the form to download our free franchise report, continue exploring our kids sports franchise research pages or visit our blog for the latest updates and profiles of current franchise owners.