Sports and Business
| January 17th, 2011

Sports and Business

Sports and Business

Jaime Van Wye, founder of the Zoom Room, is the daughter of L.A. Lakers Hall-of-Famer Gail Goodrich. Jaime was invited to write a guest column on the intersection of sports and business for Franchise Times.

Here’s the full article:

Applying lessons from the ball field to your business model

By Jaime Van Wye, president of the Zoom Room. The franchise integrates dog agility, a type of obstacle course training, as well as its own brand of Canine Cross-Training® into the curriculum, as well as other dog sports such as Urban Herding.

As the daughter of Los Angeles Laker and Basketball Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich, I was raised with a love of competition and athletics.

Dad kept us busy running track, playing competitive ping pong, and of course, shooting hoops. In college, I begin rowing competitively and after graduation, I accepted a job at UCLA as an assistant rowing coach. During off hours, I trained dogs and eventually became aware that dog training was a lot like coaching. More importantly, I learned that the values of the playing field namely teamwork and an instinctual eye always seeking a competitive advantage applied equally well to the business world.

Businesses that encourage physical activity are doing well even in a down economy. Fitness gyms, children’s gymnastics centers and martial arts centers all know that sports are big business. People want to be physically active, but they also want to have fun. The ability to meld a workout with something enjoyable, like dancing, swinging a golf club or playing with your dog, makes clients come back and sets you apart from your competitors.

It’s no secret that a good workout also releases endorphins and leads to a greater sense of well-being and self-confidence. Combine a convivial atmosphere with an engaging, innovative and interactive curriculum, add a sweaty dose of endorphins, and you produce a genuinely happy business that clients are proud to patronize. Happier clients of course also means fewer customer service issues and increased word-of-mouth.

Those who love a good workout are natural proselytizers. The only thing better than shooting hoops or knocking around a tennis ball is doing it with your friends. The more the merrier in almost every sport. That’s why businesses that incorporate athletics enjoy such enthusiastic growth of their client base through referrals.

At the Zoom Room, our national dog training franchise, owners, along with their dogs, get a great workout. And dogs reap the same benefits as humans after a physical workout – an enhanced sense of well-being, greater fitness and fewer behavior problems.

We even host an agility league that is modeled heavily on children’s soccer programs, replete with referee jerseys, team names and uniforms, and even trophies for all the participants. Our clients range from 6-year-olds to professional athletes, and the thrill of competition is played out weekly in the standings.

Gyms and other businesses that incorporate athletics know that keeping clients excited and engaged is only half of the story. Employees and the franchisees themselves benefit equally from a diverse, well thought out curriculum. At the Zoom Room® we have an extremely important litmus test for all of our offerings: everything we do must be fun for our client and fun for the franchisees. If it feels like a chore, no one wins. This drives us to keep pushing the envelope.

Many of our franchisees have a background in coaching it’s a perfect fit to transition from coaching your daughter’s volleyball team to running a joyously sweaty business.

The hallmarks of a great coach are patience, a critical eye, and the ability to communicate and motivate. The best coaches are able to ground abstract concepts in imagery that enables athletes to make minute physical adjustments. Coaching people to train their dogs is no different. Dog training, oddly enough, requires a kind of “court vision” that rings familiar to those who have played sports the ability to anticipate events before they actually play out. Knowing where a tennis ball is going is not really that different from knowing where a dog is heading next, so we teach our franchisees and our clients to recognize visual cues that help them “read” their dog.

When we were children, sports meant the world to us: this is where we made new friends and tested both our mettle and our boundaries. But as we grow older, jobs, family and financial commitments tend to keep us away from a good workout, no matter our best intentions.

By cultivating a business model that brings athletics back into the lives of grown-ups, you can achieve fantastic success.

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