How to run a sports franchise

Jonathan Mills, business development director and franchisee for Premier Sport
Worked for the British Franchise Association and Cambridge United Football Club
Key tips:
* Recruiting coaches is toughest challenge
* Premier Sport is a management franchise
* Franchisees tend to be hands on but often delegate more as their staff grows
How to run a sports franchise What does a typical day – if indeed you have a typical day – involve?

Jonathan Mills: Time is spent liaising with schools, organising coaches, selling to schools, general organisation and logistics and also reviewing what is being delivered into schools, so it’s primarily about quality control.

FS: How does your role differ from someone who runs an independent business in the same industry?

JM: Support: the fact that we’ve already got a model in place, we’ve got some really exciting back-end systems, which mean a lot of the day-to-day things you do in the business – invoicing, recruitment, reporting, compliance, etc – are taken care of by our online systems. 

FS: How much involvement does the franchisor have in the day-to-day running of the business?

JM: They provide your website for you, provide the back end systems, provide your invoicing and a lot of web bookings are taken. They also help recruit, sell, and market  for all events.

Recruiting coaches is the biggest challenge, as with any business it’s absolutely imperative that you get the right staff who are going to then deliver your specific message into schools

FS: What are the most challenging aspects of your role and why?

JM: Recruitment. 

Recruiting coaches is the biggest challenge. As with any business it’s absolutely imperative that you get the right staff who are going to then deliver your specific message into schools. 

FS: What kind or problems have you encountered? How did you overcome them? 

JM: Again, a lot of it is staff based. It’s all about ensuring that if you get any issues with staff, you get into the schools and you talk to the relevant people and ensure that any problems are solved. 

It’s about the relationship between your schools and ensuring that your staff are doing that they should be doing.

FS: How hard is it keeping costs in check?

JM: Relatively simple. We don’t have a massive amount of transactions going in and out. The business is really quite easily measured and obviously, Premier Sport helps you with that in terms of what is paid out to the franchisor and the economies of scale that are provided for franchisees.

FS: How many staff do you have? Do you think you’ll need many more?

JM: It’s a management franchise, so you’re looking for anything from three members of staff. I know of one Premier Sport franchisee who has around 30 staff working for him.

FS: What sort of hours do you work? Do you except your hours to fall as time goes on?

JM: Yes. Initially most franchisees are quite hands on, and a lot of franchisees will be working in the evenings because they absolutely love what they do and are passionate about it.  

And obviously, the harder they work, the more profitable they’re going to be. 

Over a period of time, when the systems are in place and you’ve got your base of work, how you manage your time is down to you. If you want to be hands off and have people do the work for you, then you can do that.

FS: What are the major challenges in terms of adapting to change in this sector

JM: Legislation. It’s becoming harder for sports coaches to work in schools. It’s not as easy as it used to be, in the sense that you used to be able to knock on the door of a school and they would let you just come in and provide activities. 

The days of that have gone due to things like child protection, CRB checks, etc. From our point of view, that’s a positive thing because the more legislation there, the harder it is for Joe Bloggs to work in schools. 

That is better for us because we know we’ve got all those things in place, so we can quickly establish ourselves in schools and give them what they need from us.

About The Author

Matt Skinner Writer
Matt Skinner writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.