Bobby and Lori Forrest came well-prepared for their second careers as multi-unit franchisees for Sport Clips. The couple grew up in Texas and met at Texas A&M University, where he graduated with a degree in engineering technology and she earned her master's in land economics and real estate.
As they approached 50 and decided to begin building their own business, they looked no further than the place where he gets his haircuts. "I was a customer and I liked the concept," he says. "We also liked their conservative approach of having franchisees continue to work their regular jobs until the shop was up and running. It took the pressure off the first couple of years while we were learning."
So after 27 years in sales and management with electronic components distributor, Bobby retired and joined forces with Lori, a commercial real estate appraiser, to buy two corporate Sport Clips salons and open a third. "We went from zero to three in the first year," he recalls. "We found our skills to be complementary. I spend my time on sales, marketing, hiring, and firing, and she works more in operations."
The couple spent those 3 years learning their new business before opening another salon. "We learned about owning a business. We were diligent and persistent and figured we'd do whatever it took. You have to be committed. If you get into it halfway, you'll get halfway results," he says, joking that if they'd started with the new store instead of the two existing stores, "We might have quit."
Their involvement in the community through church, school, philanthropy, and coaching their daughters' sports teams demonstrated the importance of networking and brought new customers to their stores.
Today the Forrests have 8 high-performing Sport Clips in Fort Worth and Dallas. "We're continuing to grow, but we're doing it in a more strategic way. There's no magic number for us. We've never said we wanted to own, say, 40 stores. We really want to focus on having the best stores and making sure we have more profitable averages," he says.
They attribute the mark they've made with their units to choosing a franchise "with a philosophy that aligned with ours, and completely embracing the system."
Often contacted for advice by fellow Sport Clips franchisees, the Forrests are happy to give back. "People were willing to open up to us when we got in and needed information, so we try to share whenever we're asked. We don't consider other franchisees our competitors. The better they are, the better we are," he says.
Name: Bobby & Lori Forrest
Title: Team Leaders (Owners), Divine Clips, Keller, Tex.
No. of units: 8 Sport Clips
Age: We're both 52.
Family: Daughters Chandler, 22, & Megan, 19
Years in franchising: 10
Years in current position: 10
We've been influenced by our parents, who were hard-working and pinnacles of integrity, and by our work experience. I worked for years in sales and management, and Lori, who has a master's degree in land economics, came from real estate and finance.
We retired from our "career jobs" at age 50, and now we have the flexibility in our lives that we were looking for.
About 40 to 50 hours combined.
What are you reading?
Best advice you ever got:
Be the best at whatever you do and have fun doing it.
What's your passion in business?
Being the best while providing a quality work environment for our employees to grow.
Find a niche and be the best at it. Big is not better--better is better.
Management method or style:
Develop people and empower and trust them.
Finding and developing managers.
How do others describe you?
Fair, truthful, compassionate, passionate, and energetic.
How do you hire and fire, train and retain?
Most managers are hired from within our organization. We set expectations when hiring. We train them to meet expectations, continually train them, and fire them only when they quit trying or quit caring.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth?
By client count and net sales.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10 years?
We'd like to have 12 to 15 locations. Our goal is to have the best stores--not the most. We look at average sales from all our stores combined to benchmark against others.
What are you doing to take care of your employees?
We do a lot of small extras like an annual Christmas party and special recognitions. We try to help them out in their personal lives as well as their professional lives. We look for what motivates them in their personal life and try to help them achieve it.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place?
We're not working on this yet, but it would likely involve selling the business or passing it on to our children. Our oldest daughter just graduated from college so we want her to work on her own for a while before making any decisions.
2014 MVP Influencer Award, Husband & WifeTeam
For Demonstrating Excellence In Franchising As A Husband & Wife Team
Why do you think you were recognized with this award?
How have you raised the bar in your own company?
What innovations have you created and used to build your company?
What core values do you think helped you win this award?
How important is community involvement to you and your company?
What leadership qualities are important to you and your team?
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