A franchise business model can test the limits of leadership for most entrepreneurs. It requires a visionary concept or business model to make it aspirational. Moreover, it requires a wise leadership that understands that success must be a shared goal. Finally, it requires years of dedication, and excellence to achieve iconic status. Hence, franchise leaders require an intuitive understanding of great products, wisdom to share their success with their team, and a dedicated attitude. Doug Dickison, the Founder, and CEO of Destination Athlete® bring this iconic leadership to his franchise business.
A few years before that, Doug was a youth sports coach frustrated with the industry and it’s myriad of fragmented ways to support athletes. While working as a coach, he was completely concentrated on churning out the best young athletes for the country. He was frequently tasked with ordering athletic equipment and uniforms and working with players to manage game schedules. Soon, he realized he was running an endless race to nowhere. The sports equipment industry was huge and heavily fragmented. Furthermore, customer service in the industry paid little attention to the individual athlete. It became clear to Doug that something had to change drastically, and Destination Athlete® soon became a vision for the betterment of athletes across the country.
Driving Business with Conviction
Once Doug realized that there was a huge potential to deliver a new playing ground for athletes, he got to work quickly. He spent the next two years figuring out the practicalities of the business operations. During this time, he searched for various vendors in the space, looked for companies with a solid background to support his operations, and found exemplary customer service examples in companies like Nordstrom. He then set his sights on changing the conversation around sports. Since the lack of individual-focused customer service was a huge problem in the industry he developed innovative programs to serve the community across the country. As soon as the word spread, it did not take much for players and teams to sign on. Destination Athlete® became a one-stop solution for all youth and high school athletic needs.
During the first ten years of the company, Doug achieved all his set goals to bring his visionary business model to life with his intuition. This led to an exemplary faith among his partners and customers to continue working with Doug while he focused on operations and signing up new franchisees. When asked about his mantra to success, Doug noted, “I look for inspiration as opposed to motivation. I spend a lot of time talking to executives in other industries, helping them diagnose growth strategies as well as business model enhancements.”
Putting Your Team Ahead of Everything
A classic leadership lesson is often to put your team ahead of everything. Doug believes this is the motto to success for a sports team. He adds, “We help teams reach their full potential by helping them to become more efficient, functional, resilient, and ultimately successful.” The lesson may have come from his early experiences as a coach when his young daughter and son were active in sports. Hence, ordering equipment, uniforms, and investing in their future is a lesson that is as professional as it is personal to Doug. The lessons from these days have become the founding philosophy for supporting sports teams and their requirements at large. Today, his company prides itself on its motto, “EVERYTHING TEAM, EVERYTHING BETTER™”.
Picking Up Pace with the Franchise Model
During his primary market research, Doug became convinced that in order for his business to grow, he would need to invest in the franchise model. He said, “There were a lot of compelling studies which showed that the franchisee model is generally 400% more effective than a standard company due to the added motivation”. He believes that franchise owners who have “skin in the game” tend to outperform competitors under everyday circumstances. His vision quickly propelled his company to success, which today boasts of a countrywide presence and a flexible business model for aspiring entrepreneurs as well.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses witnessed financial turmoil, due to piled-up inventory and reduced sales volumes. However, Doug and his team weathered the storm with tremendous success, managed to even reduce costs, and launch new products. Doug credits the recent success to the flexible, virtual business model. Hence, Doug and his team have adapted seamlessly to the growing influx of challenges. Doug also credits their low overhead costs and a small fee of operation. He said, “Our innovative business model touts low overhead and has no special fees outside of a simple royalty structure so it is quite affordable. In addition, franchisees have exclusive geography.”
A Growing Partnership
Today, Destination Athlete® offers an array of innovative services and dedicated support for its franchisees. These include specialized training programs, customer care, access to nationwide vendors, personalized marketing tools, and athlete focussed 360 DEVELOPEMNT™ services. In its latest efforts, the company has recently launched a national, online fundraising platform. A one-time donation gives supporters access to a rewards app with savings of up to 50% to over 750,000 local and national retailers, including travel rewards. Fundraising is made easy, effective, and built for success.
Furthermore, Destination Athlete® recently launched a new MVP Sprint Robotic Tackle Dummy. This innovative new product is an addition to the company’s growing list of premier products. The MVP Sprint Robotic Tackle Dummy became an athlete favorite during the pandemic as it reduced injuries to athletes and helped them minimize contact with others on the field. Both these innovations earmark a successful beginning for a company committed to making its franchise model a key success.