As professional soccer players, Jason Webb and Jeremy Sorzano wanted to find a way to augment their income, so they coached soccer camps. While coaching these local camps, they began to realize there was a real need for soccer programs for this demographic. By bringing the program to where kids already were, at daycares and preschools, it brought a new activity for kids to participate in, and was also convenient for parents. Jeremy started the program in Charlotte, NC and it really took off, so Jason brought it to Harrisburg, PA.Soccer Shots curriculum. Jason is an active member of the NSCAA and currently resides in Hummelstown, PA.
Jeremy started his career playing soccer for the Charlotte Eagles. In the offseason, Jeremy started running clinics at a few local childcare centers and quickly realized there was a niche at running programs for children who were 3-5 years old. Simultaneously, he also had the opportunity to work for a startup clothing company called Zyflex, where he learned a great deal about running a business.
Justin Bredeman, Vice President of Franchisee Recruitment for Soccer Shots, played soccer at nationally ranked Messiah College for four years. In May of 2009, Justin became the third Soccer Shots partner. Justin brought with him 8 years of experience from Auntie Anne’s Inc., a pretzel franchising company, where he led a team that supported nearly 800 franchise units. His deep understanding of the franchise business model also comes from the knowledge gained from his 5 years of owning and running a Soccer Shots business of his own.
FC: What made you decide to join Soccer Shots in 2009, after years of experience in foodservice franchising? What are your current responsibilities in the company?
Justin Bredeman (JB): I was drawn to Soccer Shots for a number of reasons. First, I had the opportunity to work alongside two great friends whom I had known for a long time. Second, I grew up playing soccer and really believe that this sport, with proper coaching, can positively impact people of all ages. Third, I enjoy working with entrepreneurs, and helping people start up a business of their own. I watched how the company grew organically for several years and saw the potential it had. All of these reasons prompted me to make the leap.
I am the Vice President of Franchisee Recruitment and one of three partners that operate Soccer Shots Franchising. I spend a lot of time working with people interested in joining Soccer Shots, and provide support to current franchisees to ensure they are getting the most out of their business opportunity. I am also the Chair of Global Goals, our non-profit organization.
FC: Please describe your soccer training curriculum. What skills and values do you hope to instill in your students?
JB: First and foremost, we want the kids to have fun. In this day and age, kids are pushed into hyper competitive programs, so we want their first experience in soccer, and organized sports, to be a fun one. Secondly, kids at this age can actually begin to learn soccer basics, so there’s a great satisfaction for both our coaches and students to see them developing the fundamental skills of soccer. They can learn the basic building blocks of the game like dribbling, shooting, passing, and trapping — all while having fun. And lastly, we use the time with our students to teach character building words throughout the session. Concepts like “respect,” “appreciation,” and “encouragement” are worked into each lesson plan to teach students important life lessons.
FC: Can you tell us how your partnership with daycare centers works? Do you offer soccer classes to any other group or in any other venue?
JB: The school leaders give us permission to offer programs in their building so that the kids at their schools can attend. They are elective programs, so it’s up to the kids and their parents if they want to sign up. Our seasons are typically 8-12 weeks, with sessions held once a week.
We’re not bound to preschools and child care centers — we’ve expanded to elementary schools and park programs and have gotten a lot of positive feedback from parents. We offer Soccer Shots at these other venues so that children who aren’t affiliated with daycares have the opportunity to participate in our programs.
FC: How do your franchisees make money? How much do they typically charge for each student? What are the major business expenses for a Soccer Shots franchise?
JB: There is a low initial investment, since franchisees don’t have to pay for retail space, and we offer our program at established schools. Our business model is quite profitable at any level, yet our franchisees see higher profits as they have more accounts with more students. The major expense of our business is compensating excellent instructors. We want to invest in good coaches, and provide good training to uphold the high quality of our programs.
FC: What do your franchisees do on a day-to-day basis when it comes to running the business? Is soccer training or experience required? What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee?
JB: There is a lot of variation from franchisee to franchisee on what their daily tasks are. A Soccer Shots owner does not sit behind a desk 40 hours a week! Since they do not have a location for customers to come to, franchisees often spend a lot of their time visiting accounts where they have sessions. Some may have a few sessions they run themself. They also spend time meeting with directors of daycares to share more about the opportunity with Soccer Shots. And as the business grows, our franchisees spend a lot more time working on growing the business and the overall infrastructure of it. There’s really never a shortage of things to do!
Soccer experience is preferred, but not required. Having a passion for the sport and working with kids is key.
When looking for a franchisee, we want someone who is a great connector and wants to be involved in the community, or already is. It’s important to be a self-starter, and someone who can be a good educator of what Soccer Shots is with their community. It is also important to be able to put together a strong team and then lead that team. The owners that do well are the ones who surround themselves with a great staff.
FC: Can you name the top 3 factors that contribute the most to the success of a Soccer Shots franchise?
- Self starter
- Strong team captain
- Strong organizational skills
FC: What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment, royalty fee, and profit potential for Soccer Shots?
JB: The initial investment is about $16,000, depending on variable factors, and the royalty is 7% of revenue. Our profit margins are very strong, and the volume of business is the determining factor of how much a franchise owner can take home.
FC: To what do you attribute the company’s growth from 0 to 100 units over the past 7 years? How do you plan to achieve your growth target of 20 new franchises in 2012?
JB: Jason and Jeremy established a strong foundation when they started Soccer Shots. In the early days, they grew the brand with friends and people that they trusted. The concept works, and our franchisees have been very successful. So, a good number of our franchise owners have acquired additional Soccer Shots franchises. We expect more of that in 2012-2013.
Over the last 7 years, we’ve primarily grown through word of mouth and are now taking it to the next level through traditional and non-traditional ways. We’re fortunate that our current franchise community continues to refer other high caliber people interested in our business. Likewise, we’re doing more advertising in magazines like Entrepreneur and Inc. We’ve also been lucky to be listed as the #1 Children’s Fitness franchise in Entrepreneur’s Annual Franchise 500.
FC: Can you name a few franchises (inside or outside your category) that you admire, and why?
JB: The obvious answer for me is Auntie Anne’s — I spent 9 years in that system, working in franchise support and saw how well they maintained healthy franchisee relationships, which is not always easy. I have great respect for how their leadership worked with the franchise community in collaboration.
I also am amazed with how well Chick-fil-A has done with their operator selection and the excellent training they provide. While not a traditional franchise system, they’ve done an incredible job of establishing their culture and instilling it throughout their organization.
FC: What are your long-term plans for Soccer Shots? Do you see yourself branching out to other sports or catering to older kids?
JB: Our sweet spot is introductory soccer, so we’ll have to see what the future holds in venturing into other sports or age groups. We’re soccer guys, and if we did explore other sports opportunities, we would want to make sure our franchise community is okay with that decision. We certainly wouldn’t want to dilute Soccer Shots in any shape or form, but at some point we might be interested in additional opportunities.
We initially worked with kids ages 3-8 years, but due to a demand from parents, we expanded our curriculum for younger students, adding in 2-year-olds to our program. There’s a possibility that we might expand to older kids, but ultimately we’re an intro to soccer program, and that’s what we’ve seen success in.
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Soccer Shots?
JB: We have this incredible opportunity to impact kids with our program. We are investing in our coaches and our coaches are investing in their students. Parents recognize that this is a program that starts their kids off right with sports. Soccer should be fun, children should learn the joys of the sport, as well as the life lessons it can offer. In the foreseeable future, we don’t think there is a cap to our growth, since so many kids across the U.S. have yet to experience Soccer Shots. We truly believe Soccer Shots can very much become a household brand. We are excited about our future.