Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Debra Sawyer

Red Banner with HOF EpisodeThis episode is an interview with Debra Sawyer, a Team Leader with over 20 stores in VA and FL who was recently named a "Franchise Rock Star" by the Franchise Business Review. In this episode, Debra speaks openly about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and franchising. She also gives us a glimpse into how she successfully navigated the early years of juggling franchising with a full-time job and raising her daughters, what she would have done differently and what makes being a Team Leader at Sport Clips so special.

Chad Jordan and Debra Sawyer holding a microphone

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
August 8, 2019 Debra Sawyer Team Leader The highs and lows of franchising and entrepreneurship

Each episode of the Podcast is also available on iTunes and the Google Play store. 

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Chad Jordan: Hey, everybody. This is Chad Jordan from Sport Clips. This is another edition of our Hall of Fame podcast. It's going to be a good one. I've got literally a rock star with us today. We're going to get into her rock star status. Birthday girl. We just spent the day yesterday traveling all around her market and doing some fun stuff. But without further ado, why don't I have you introduce yourself for me, please?

Debra Sawyer: Hi, I'm Debra Sawyer. I'm a team leader with stores in Virginia and in Florida. This is my fourteenth year with Sport Clips. I've got 21 open stores. I get the keys to store 22 on Friday. Store 23, I already have a signed lease, and just threw down an initial LOI on store 24.

Chad Jordan: I said we toured ... We toured one of your markets. I should have been more specific. We did not go all the way to Florida. We went around the great state of Virginia, in Richmond, and had some good times.
We're going to get into some cool stuff today. Debra and I, again, she spent her birthday driving me around, eating Chick-fil-A while she drove. She's a multi-tasker. She's an amazing woman. You're going to find out more about her story obviously today as we dive into it.
But one of the things that we kept talking about was her franchising experience at Sport Clips, what got her started her, her and her ex-husband Tony, how many years ago?

Debra Sawyer: We're in our fourteenth year.

Chad Jordan: Fourteenth year, yeah. So 14 years ago decided to do this. We thought the theme of today's podcast could be the highs and lows of franchising and entrepreneurship and all that fun stuff. We might dive deep into some scary territory, not for the YouTube version. Hi, if you're watching this on YouTube.
But maybe for the podcast version, I'll put in some dum, dum, dum music or something when we go to one of the challenging periods of being a team leader, because the truth is any job, any entrepreneurial endeavor is going to be fraught with risk, is going to have some scary moments. It's how you battle through those and survive those that really test your mettle and prove who you are.
Debra and her story have just been so amazing that I had to get it out here and capture it. Like I said, she's a rock star, so we're going to get into some of the awards that she's win, some of the fine moments in her career here at Sport Clips. But let's take me on the journey real quick. I told Joe we wouldn't go back too far and get into all the details on when you signed your franchise agreement. I don't even know all that kind of stuff. But where were you ... You're a mom of ... You've got, what, two daughters?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: Two daughters. They're 13 and 16.

Chad Jordan: Now?

Debra Sawyer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Jordan: Your background, you're a numbers lady.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: I'm literally the dumbest person in this room by a country mile. Your background is what?

Debra Sawyer: I'm a CPA and a certified financial planner. I have a master's degree in taxation.

Chad Jordan: You were doing fine in life 14 years ago, so why franchising? Walk me through all of that, if you don't mind, please.

Debra Sawyer: Being a CPA and a financial planner, our neighbor were ... They were looking at different franchise opportunities and they're like, "Hey, will you help evaluate the different opportunities that we have?" We looked at it. My ex-husband was also involved in it because he's a CPA and a financial analyst. They were looking at all sorts of concepts, from used clothing, food, and Sport Clips was what they were looking at on the hair side.
We really liked the hair industry. We liked the fact that it's not something that's trendy, although the haircuts might be trendy. It's not something that even if you're unemployed, you're still going to get a haircut. You might expand your haircut cycle, but you're still going to get a haircut.
I also had a background in hair. My grandmother owned three full service beauty salons in San Francisco. When I was a little kid, I used to be with grandma for the day and swept up hair. She gave me $0.25. Way back then, you got multiple pieces of candy for $0.25.
Then in high school and college, I did work for another hair care salon as a receptionist. They owned seven stores, and I worked for them both in high school and then I transferred to their location when I went to college.
I'd been in the hair industry, had been around it. I was a little bit more comfortable with it and was able to recommend it to our neighbors. They ended up signing on with Sport Clips.

Chad Jordan: Was Sport Clips already in the Virginia market at the time?

Debra Sawyer: There was one store open.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: [crosstalk 00:04:55].

Chad Jordan: It was emerging, but it's not like it had household recognition.

Debra Sawyer: No.

Chad Jordan: Nobody knew who Sport Clips was at the time.

Debra Sawyer: Not at all. We had seen it. We had lived in Texas, and so we had seen the store in Texas. But that was about it. We ended up signing on. We became the first team leaders in a different market. We actually took the market away from Richmond.

Chad Jordan: So you advised this neighbor.

Debra Sawyer: Our neighbors signed on.

Chad Jordan: Okay. They did it.

Debra Sawyer: They signed on in Richmond.

Chad Jordan: You liked it so much that you thought, "Well, if we're going to recommend it for somebody else, may we should ... " Had you already been thinking about franchising yourselves?

Debra Sawyer: No, we had not.

Chad Jordan: It was this whole thing that walked you down the path of want to do it.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. When I walked away from public accounting and the partnership track, I was going to end up buying the textbook company that I went to work for. I was going to be buying it from generation two. They're like, "In five years, you're going to buy it."
13 years later, it was still in five years, because they went through some situations of one of the owners got divorced and he's like, "Hey, I still need a job." I'm like, "Okay. I don't need you because I can write around everything that you do." He goes, "All right. Let's control our own destiny." That's what we did.

Chad Jordan: Your daughters? Man, one's in diapers at that time, right?

Debra Sawyer: When I actually first met my area developers, Jessica was ... She would have been under two months old.

Chad Jordan: Oh, oh my gosh.

Debra Sawyer: My first real estate tour, I was literally nursing and looking at real estate with her.

Chad Jordan: How does that factor into your decision as ... I mean you got this transition in your life. You got two little munchkins. Is it, "Hey, we better make this decision now," or was it scarier because, "Look what we've got. We've got these bundles of joy, and we don't want to mess this thing up"?

Debra Sawyer: I think coming out of public accounting where you were used to working long days, I mean the joke back then was billing more than eight hours. It was very standard to work 10, 12, 14-hour days. Especially towards tax season, 18-hour days were not unheard of.
It was a bit of a challenge. I was lucky in the fact that I got to write the textbooks from home. Then I would be on the right teaching. But I'd be out for three weeks and then back home for like two, three months. I had a little bit more flexible job.
It was a little bit crazy when you have two full-time jobs, two little kids, and then you threw Sport Clips. We also opened four stores in under 18 months. I don't recommend that, just for the record. But it-

Chad Jordan: Did you only open stores or did you buy any existing stores?

Debra Sawyer: No, we opened it first.

Chad Jordan: Okay, okay.

Debra Sawyer: We opened four stores before anything ever happened.

Chad Jordan: All here in Virginia or where?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: All in Virginia. That was just right out of the gate. We wanted more than one store quickly. We were the first team leaders in the market, so we had wide open real estate. We really went after multiple stores because we're like, "What if store number one isn't good?" We wanted that diversification right out of the gate.

Chad Jordan: Hedging your bets.

Debra Sawyer: Let me tell you, it panned out well. Store one and three were strong out of the gate, two and four not so much.

Chad Jordan: But you had coverage because of the strong stores.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. That led us down that path of being able to keep going as we developed those four stores.

Chad Jordan: How long before you realized, "This thing can really work and I might be able to transition to this full time"?

Debra Sawyer: Quite a while. I will say the president of Sport Clips, after we opened the four stores, came out and was touring, and asked to meet with us, took us to dinner. He did say, and Gordon is aware of this now, he asked us ... It was [Cleet 00:08:49]. He was like, "Knowing everything that you know, would you do it again?" Without hesitation, my ex-husband and I were like, "Yeah, no," and there was probably a few more words, as you can guess, before the word "no".

Chad Jordan: Well, how many years is this in?

Debra Sawyer: We were ...

Chad Jordan: Still ...

Debra Sawyer: ... about two years in at this point.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: Four stores opened, two years in.

Chad Jordan: Yeah.

Debra Sawyer: We're like, "Yeah, no. Wouldn't do this again." We're like, "Full-time jobs, two little children, and doing this. Nights, weekends, this is what we're doing." Stores one and three, good; two and four not so good. It needed that time for those stores to develop. I remember when we had a fifth license, and they're like, "Are you going to build the fifth store?" We're like, "Yeah, no."

Chad Jordan: Over our dead body, right?

Debra Sawyer: "Yeah, no." I remember when I bought a sixth license to build another store and I called Cleet. I'm like, "I'm just going to tell you this now. I just bought the sixth license and I'm building that, too." Then we bought some stores and just expanded from there.

Chad Jordan: So the real question then, I mean this is the whole probably point of today's podcast, what changed? How do you get from, "Over my dead body," to, "How can I get more licenses and keep going with this?"

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, because then I bought five licenses more in Florida-

Chad Jordan: Right, yeah.

Debra Sawyer: [crosstalk 00:10:05]. Yeah, I've acquired more [crosstalk 00:10:08].

Chad Jordan: I mean you're at 22, 23, 24 stores at some point. How do you get there? What changed?

Debra Sawyer: One, you really have to believe in the model. A lot of it has gone back to we bought into a system. We are CPAs. We are definitely financial people by the books. Even over the years, I have improved as a team leader, really have upped the game in the last several years with the [crosstalk 00:10:35].

Chad Jordan: Okay, let's pause there. How? What did you do early that was not leading to success and what did you change?

Debra Sawyer: In the early thing, you're like, "Okay, we open the store, we close the store. We're good." It was like if my team doesn't want to educate clients about product-

Chad Jordan: That's on them.

Debra Sawyer: ... it's on them. I don't care. If they're not going to bonus, great. I don't have to pay them a bonus, it's great, and we move forward. Then it was like, "You know what? We signed on to this. We're going to follow everything that Sport Clips says. We're going to do the five-point play and really step up the game.
I mean I started with Sport Clips way back before we didn't even have 30-in-1. Those who've been around 30-in-1, they're like now even 30-in-1 is way dated. It's just more like we really have improved our game. We are not just a haircut place with TVs. We're about that MVP experience. That's where I've become very successful.

Chad Jordan: Not just with the clients, right, that MVP experience with team members as well, which is-

Debra Sawyer: The team members.

Chad Jordan: Me interjecting here and then get back to you, like I visited 10, but nine of your stores yesterday with you, and you had a personal relationship with every single team member, that we walked in there ... It happened to be your birthday, so that was pretty cool, because they were ... I don't think I could have any more Mountain Dew or donuts today. I am going to North Carolina, so it's going to be some more probably coming.
But they had cards for you, they had flowers, they had gifts. They knew you. Was that missing in the early years, that connection with the team members? Is that where-

Debra Sawyer: I mean early years, I used to load my two kids up in the van on the weekend and I would deliver toilet paper, paper towels, Dum Dums, and do the circuit, driving to the stores, and some of the stores were an hour or two hours away. It became less of doing that and like, "Hey, Sam's Club, they deliver," like order online, take care of yourself-

Chad Jordan: Got you.

Debra Sawyer: ... into let's really focus on the business and let's invest in that. Even in this last couple of weeks, I have invested in extra training classes. Luckily, I was able to work this out with DBE and our reps brought in educators in three of our different product lines. We've had education classes in two of our product lines. We have a third one coming in September in both states. I've done an extra classes, three classes a day for three days in Virginia, and then repeated in Florida.

Chad Jordan: You've literally doubled down-

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, literally.

Chad Jordan: ... especially on education.

Debra Sawyer: Like educating. I'm seeing the results. I am anxiously awaiting the results of last week because I really expect I've got the number one store in take-home from last week. If they don't have it, I'm going to be bummed, because they missed it two weeks ago by a penny. They upped the ante.

Chad Jordan: I have a feeling, I have a hunch-

Debra Sawyer: Threw down [inaudible 00:13:33].

Chad Jordan: ... knowing what that number is. That'd be the number one.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, it's about $5.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. That's amazing.

Debra Sawyer: I cannot wait.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. What else changed in you to get you to a point where you were able to make this successful from those early years where you were struggling and not sure this was the right fit?

Debra Sawyer: One of the things, and even Sport Clips had us talk about this when we had multi-unit huddles and things like that, they'd always talk about how you are structured. For years, we'd always talk about we're structured how we should have been for the size of the company two years ago, and really having that support team and having the support team ... I call them my senior leadership team, so it is me and three other people working full time on my stores. But we all focus on what we enjoy, what we are good at in doing for our stores.
Gina is my director of operations. She loves marketing. She's on your calls every Wednesday. I know that she's there from Wednesday, 12:00 to 1:00. She does what she's passionate about in helping the stores. Having that support team with Gina, Meghan, who's my director of team development. She's the interface with all of our applicants. She loves scheduling, bless her heart, because she's having to do all of that for all the stores.
Then Amy is my director of finance. Obviously, she handles payroll, helps in with the finances. We're actually closing out our books after this. It's only the seventh of the month. But we are on top of our game. We close out by the tenth of every month so that we know exactly how we did. What do we need to go back and fix? What went wrong last month? What went right?

Chad Jordan: Wow! You're quickly calibrating and pivoting to stay with trends or whatever is changing.

Debra Sawyer: Right. I mean when you have a portfolio of stores, you'll have stores that are going up, stores that are going down. I have two stores that are under major renovations right now in the shopping center. It's been challenges there. That was one of the situations we were dealing with yesterday, that we had gotten word that porta-potties were being brought in. Luckily, it wasn't needed. They got the power supply back to the sewer system.
Then you've got other stores where the community is the housing market, everything is just building out. You're like, okay, we keep adding team members, we keep adding more floor hours, and it's like that's still not enough. They need more, they need more.

Chad Jordan: Forgive me, this is not the right word. Your support team, it's like a luxury, it's not, but that you're able to have at this level.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: You probably started building that support team at what? When you hit 10, 11 stores?

Debra Sawyer: We started earlier. Normally, you start talking about that support team once you're above five stores, that five to nine stores. That's when the conversation is leaving your day job. Then it's what sort of support team person are you getting. Are you getting an office admin or are you getting an area manager? It really depends on your personal skill set-

Chad Jordan: Got you.

Debra Sawyer: ... what you are good at doing.

Chad Jordan: Was Amy your last hire? I mean were you doing all that kind of stuff yourself, the financial-

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, director of finance is definitely the last hire.

Chad Jordan: Okay, okay, for you.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, for me. A lot of people will outsource. They'll use bookkeepers. Being a CPA, for better or for worse, I do my taxes. But that's what I did for a living, so I can do it. I'm dealing with IRS audits even right now. That's just the standard part of business. I've got two audits going on, which is normal. You go through audits every couple of years. I'm able to just handle that myself.

Chad Jordan: This is funny too because you're a CPA by trade, by background, so an audit for you is like, "Oh, that's no ... "

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, whatever.

Chad Jordan: Most people, when they hear the word ... Like I had my own business at one point. I was audited. That literally caused me to have a panic attack. I nearly checked into a mental institute thinking about an audit. You're like, "Oh, it's no big deal."

Debra Sawyer: No. No, no big deal.

Chad Jordan: All right.

Debra Sawyer: I mean I know that there's like [crosstalk 00:17:27].

Chad Jordan: If you keep good numbers and you're really honest by the book, you've got nothing to worry about.

Debra Sawyer: No.

Chad Jordan: All right. You have, again, that word "luxury". You're now at a point, you survived those early years, you've got your support team.

Debra Sawyer: "Survived" is a good word, yeah.

Chad Jordan: Yes. How did you do it without a support team? If you had to travel 14 years back in the past, go back in the past, and tell Debra, "Hey, make sure you do this one thing in these first five stores or you're going to go insane," what, looking back, could you tell yourself?

Debra Sawyer: You need to empower your team, empower your manager, but you also need to be involved and be present. You need to support them in their decisions of hiring and, unfortunately, sometimes terminations. But you've got to be there to support them. We have that luxury of doing a lot of things that some managers might have to do themselves if you're with a smaller team leader and a smaller group. We want the managers focusing on managing the store.
I cannot cut hair. If you've been in my store when I've been there, even the guy at the hotel heard my spiel. He's like, "Hey, I just [crosstalk 00:18:41] in your store."

Chad Jordan: You know what? I've never heard a team leader do that, and I loved it. A lot of the times I'll hang out with the team leader, it would be a husband and wife or whatever, but rarely is it just the female. I thought your approach was great because you see a woman dressed in Sport Clips gear standing in front of the store and you think, "Oh, that's the stylist coming into work." Why don't you describe what you do so that maybe other team leaders out there can adopt the model?

Debra Sawyer: Okay. When I'm in the store, I will always address the clients waiting in the lobby. I'll be like, "Hey, I just want to let you know I'm Debra. I'm the owner. I am not a licensed stylist. You do not want me to cut your hair. You want to wait for these lovely ladies or guys," depending on who I have on the floor behind me, "to do your hair."
We have that interaction and conversation with them. I will even joke with them, like, "Hey, I can do your taxes," if I'm working on the kiosk, because obviously I'm heavily involved with Salon Ultimate, like, "I can work on your computers, I can do your taxes. I cannot cut your hair." They all understand that.
I think some of that also comes back to when I was a receptionist for four years. Just having a lobby full of people looking at me, like, "Come on."

Chad Jordan: Yeah, exactly.

Debra Sawyer: "You told me it was a 15-minute wait." We didn't have technology back then. We had paper tickets lined up. They need to know. You need to communicate with them that, hey, I'm not blowing them off. I literally can't cut hair. You don't want me to cut your hair.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. You survived those early years. At what point did you start to breathe ... Are you breathing easier now?

Debra Sawyer: It depends on the day.

Chad Jordan: Okay, yeah. But at what point did you exhale and go, "All right. This is my future"?

Debra Sawyer: When I quit my day job, that was the big thing.

Chad Jordan: Oka, no turning back.

Debra Sawyer: No turning back. Keith Kostek, he's my area developer for Virginia, we both had been talking about quitting our day jobs. It was one of those things, like, "Yeah, we have to quit." Ironically, we both gave notice the exact same day.

Chad Jordan: What day? What year is this? What are we talking? Maybe not the day, but the year.

Debra Sawyer: I want to say seven or eight years ago.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. We both gave notice in January. We gave two months' notice. Our last day was in March of that year. I remember I gave notice, I called him, I'm like, "Keith, I finally did it." He's like, "No way. So did I." We both finally had done it.

Chad Jordan: Wow! Now when you give that notice, is it a mixture of fear and excitement, or was it all one or the other?

Debra Sawyer: It was definitely a mixture, I felt like, as a mom, I wasn't doing a good job. I had two kids that I wasn't doing a good job as a mom. I was spread too thin. As an employee of my former company, I didn't feel like I was doing a good job with that either because-

Chad Jordan: You weren't giving 100%.

Debra Sawyer: ... I wasn't giving 100%. As a team leader and owner of Sport Clips, I also wasn't giving that. I felt like I was halfway doing three jobs: a mom, an employee, and a business owner. Something had to give. When I left my day job, I had started coaching my oldest daughter's cheerleading team. It let me continue to coach for that, so I did that for five years. It let me get more involved with my children, be more present for them versus, okay, now I've done my nine to five, if not longer, job. I fed you, now let me do my Sport Clips job.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. That's the dream of a parent, as a franchisee, is to be able to spend more time with your kids. Just the early years, it was a little tough because you still had that full-time job as well. But you did eventually get to that point. We talked about some of dum, dum, dum music, some of the dangers. What have been some of the highlights over the years of, "All right. I'm glad I did this. Here's some of the payoffs. Here's some of the things I'm really proud of"?

Debra Sawyer: I think definitely seeing how much my team members have grown, I mean you've met some team members who've been with me 10-plus years.

Chad Jordan: 10 years, yeah.

Debra Sawyer: My second employee ever still works for me. I literally remember she answered the ad in the paper, which we don't do anymore. I mean no one puts an ad-

Chad Jordan: What's a paper?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, in the paper.

Chad Jordan: Right, yeah.

Debra Sawyer: That used to be how you got your team. I was literally in the grocery store right around the corner from here, in the produce aisle, when the phone rang. I was like, "I have an employee. Oh my gosh. Wait, she's going to interview." Still with me.

Chad Jordan: Who is it?

Debra Sawyer: Cindy.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: She's still with me.

Chad Jordan: Cool.

Debra Sawyer: She managed for years. She's stepped down. She's a grandma and things like that.

Chad Jordan: Oh, wow!

Debra Sawyer: She's the assistant manager for me at Short Pump. She has been with me from the get-go.

Chad Jordan: Awesome.

Debra Sawyer: It's a long haul. I do reward my team members who've been with me for that long time.

Chad Jordan: How? How do you do it? I mean we got team leaders listening to this. Because you've refined and you-

Debra Sawyer: Oh, we are changing multiple times.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. That's not what it looked like 14 years ago.

Debra Sawyer: No.

Chad Jordan: What do you do that is so next level?

Debra Sawyer: A couple of years ago, I had a team member who had been with me for probably about five, six years. She was part-time due to health reasons. She had never had a paid vacation. I was like, "Julie, you've been with me forever. How is that not possible?" She's like, "Well, I can only work about 15 to 20 hours a week given my health situation," which I was aware of. I was like, "That's right. Paid vacation is only for full-time employees."
I made the announcement at the start of the next year that we were adding paid vacation for both part-time and full-time. If you only work 15 to 20 hours a week, because that's all you can do for health reasons, your children, whatever the situation might be, you were going to get a paid vacation for your average number of hours. Full time, obviously, has had it. Then we also expanded it.
When I started with Sport Clips, I followed the recommendation. They get one week paid vacation after a year. Then the second week after 18 months. Two weeks a year from there. I added in if you've been with me for five years, you get three weeks paid vacation. If you've been with me for 10 years or longer, you get four weeks paid vacation.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: Yes, I have-

Chad Jordan: At some point-

Debra Sawyer: ... most people with four weeks paid vacation.

Chad Jordan: I like how you said 10 years or longer. You cut that off because at some point some of them are going to be with you for 20 years, and it would just keep going up and up. But that's a high class problem.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, if I do acquire a store, I give them credit for the time that they were with the prior team leader.

Chad Jordan: What's the breakdown? How many stores have you, out of your Florida, Virginia ... What do you call it, the dream team?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, Florida-Virginia dream team. I've got the shirt on, [crosstalk 00:25:36] logo.

Chad Jordan: Your FLVA dream team stores. How many of those were GOs, grand openings, that you've physically opened versus how many did you acquire?

Debra Sawyer: Out of the ones I have, so obviously I started with my ex-husband. I built originally nine stores in Virginia. I only have one of those stores. It's just the way we divided the market. Then in Florida, so we came into Florida. Actually Sport Clips brought us down in there. Then we ended up buying four stores from three different team leaders, bought five licenses. I am building my fifth store. That's what I'll get the keys to on Friday, down there.

Chad Jordan: You're very familiar with Florida permitting laws and construction and all of that kind of stuff.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. They're not fun.

Chad Jordan: You sound thrilled.

Debra Sawyer: No, they're not. My architect, I love him, his name is Steve.

Chad Jordan: Shout out to Steve.

Debra Sawyer: Shout out to Steve and all the problems.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, he's saving your bacon a number of times, I'm sure.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: How do you do that? How do you split time? You're a single mom. You've got two daughters. You have stores in Virginia and Florida. You live in Virginia. I imagine you've got to get down to Florida, as involved as you are as a team leader. You have to get down to Florida every so often. How does your travel work?

Debra Sawyer: I have joint custody of my children and my dogs. I have my kids and my dogs every other week. My kids stayed with me this week. This is their week to be with their dad. But they stay with me through my birthday, but they're going back to their dad today, so I'm flying to Florida tomorrow.
It started off with hotels. There was one hotel in particular in Orlando that I stayed at a lot to the point where even I knew the guy was new at the front desk, but he'd already recognized me. He's like, "Hey, welcome back." I'm like, "Okay. That's really sad that you who are relatively new already know me."

Chad Jordan: Right, right, [inaudible 00:27:26].

Debra Sawyer: I did take a place in Florida last November, and that has really made my life easier. Now I just grab my computer bag, off I go.

Chad Jordan: Oh, great.

Debra Sawyer: I've got my Sport Clips attire down there, workout attire, everything. It lets me just go back and forth.

Chad Jordan: One of the things that I'm interested in is I see you're very active on social media. I, too, am active on social media, news flash. I love to see when team ... Because I'll see the teams themselves post stuff. Rarely do I see a team leader post things. It seems like whenever you're traveling or when you're in your Florida or your Virginia stores, you're talking about a new store coming or you're doing some hype for your team. Can you describe a little bit about your approach to social media and how that's working for you?

Debra Sawyer: It's one of those things. Back when I had my day job, I had to tweet. I hated it.

Chad Jordan: Really?

Debra Sawyer: Oh my gosh, yes.

Chad Jordan: For what?

Debra Sawyer: My director or marketing there would literally ... I'd be in a board meeting and she's like, "When was the last time you tweeted?" I was like, "No. Please no." Obviously, I didn't embrace that at first, but social media has definitely just taken a whole new level.
I already mentioned way back when we used to get all of our team members by placing an ad in the paper. Our top marketing effort way back when I started was the full-page Sunday insert. That was the home run. You're like, "It's Sunday."

Chad Jordan: Everyone's going to read that.

Debra Sawyer: I've got an ad in the paper for more team members.

Chad Jordan: You're just waiting by the phone.

Debra Sawyer: I got a full-page glossy ad in the Sunday paper, like Sunday's going to rock. That's not how we get our team members anymore. It's not how we get our clients anymore. It is that social media. I do like to hype [crosstalk 00:29:14].

Chad Jordan: Preach.

Debra Sawyer: I can tell you, come Friday morning, you're going to see a video because I've got the keys to my store. It's one that they've gutted the shopping center. We're anxious to see what this space looks like now, because even where the storefront was isn't where the storefront is anymore.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, they literally took the storefront off and moved the doors and put a whole new storefront on. We're anxious to see the space now that the landlord has finished their work. You will see that.
But we'll also do social media, like I posted [inaudible 00:29:45] at the gives event, how we had our teams together in both places. It just brings the community together, not only our stylists, our team members, but even ... When I lived all across the country, family members see what I'm up to, sorority sisters.

Chad Jordan: Well, and that's great for Sport Clips. It's spreading the brand. But really, especially when you tag your team members in the videos, guess what? All of their friends and family see it as well. There's positive interaction and feelings about Sport Clips.
I bet some of your team members have friends that are stylists that work elsewhere, who they're going, "Man, we don't have exciting days like this," or, "No one publishes and posts and does all these stuff for us." There's a little bit of jealousy. I think that it's a great recruiting tool what you're doing. Whether you're intending it to be that or not, I don't know. Maybe a little tongue-in-cheek. That's part of the method to the madness. But kudos for the social media endeavors that you're taking, because I see them, I love them. I know that your team loves them as well.
All right, we're already 30 minutes into this thing, if you can believe it or not. I want to get your thoughts on a couple other things before I have my fun questions that I want to ask you about.
We're talking about now, we're in the highlights section of your Sport Clips career. You've actually led ... We call it TLAC, team leader advisor council. Am I getting that right?

Debra Sawyer: Right, yeah.

Chad Jordan: Acronyms and me, we don't get along really well. But what is it and what was ... Because I want to know what your role in it was and what it impacted at Sport Clips?

Debra Sawyer: Okay. I ran for TLAC. That was also post leaving my job, "All right, I'm fully committed to Sport Clips. Let's take this to the next level." I ran for TLAC, which was a two-year term, and thoroughly enjoyed it. You start to get more involved with the executive team. You're a sounding board, a test market for different things. If you're going to do it, we always say, "I drink the Sport Clips Kool-Aid. No one can deny that I don't drink it."
TLAC was really a good, I think, starting point to taking my team leader, how I'm operating to that next level. I was fully invested, like, "Okay. I'm willing to donate my time to do this." I enjoyed it so much that I ran for a second term and became TLAC president at that time. I was an officer for three years, president the last year. For those of you who have Salon Ultimate and like it, been involved in that ...

Chad Jordan: If you don't, just keep your-

Debra Sawyer: If you don't ... Yeah, no.

Chad Jordan: If you don't, then you don't know shortcuts. You weren't around for that if you don't like Salon Ultimate.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. That whole thing, like online check-in and things like that.

Chad Jordan: That was initiatives that you guys led, rolled out, tested.

Debra Sawyer: Yes. We were trying to get online check-in and we couldn't do it with the old platform. We couldn't keep it stable longer than 10 minutes. Gordon would check-in online. By the time they got down to the store, it'd already crashed. It was phenomenal. They're like, "You never want Gordon showing up," and you're like, "Yeah, it's already down." He's like, "Dude, I didn't come that far."

Chad Jordan: 10 minutes later, yeah.

Debra Sawyer: I remember getting the phone call, because I had weekly calls with Mark Kartarik, who was the president at the time. I mean we had been fighting and just ... Not as fighting, but we've been fighting to get online check-in and to get it stable, and it just wasn't.
I remember it was a day before I opened my Claremont store. We had a standing call every Tuesday. I was like, "Hey, I'm just touching base. I'm about to take my team out to dinner to celebrate our store opening tomorrow." He's like, "Well, yeah, we're pulling the plug." He's like, "We are going to fire our point of sales system." I'm like, "Who are we going to?" I'm like, "Amen. I'm down with you. Let's do it." I'm like, "But where are we going?" He's like, "I don't know."
Literally, within a couple of weeks, we had Salon Ultimate in one of the company stores. A couple of weeks after that, I had it in one of my stores. I was the fifth store to get it.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: It was just like, "Okay. I want it in my other stores. How fast can I get this in my other stores?" I have obviously been heavily involved.
That was one of the reasons why I chose not to run for a third term for TLAC was staying involved with Salon Ultimate, I'm still on the technology committee, in the calls. We're now down to every other week. It used to be twice a week. It was Tuesdays and Thursdays. We had these calls-

Chad Jordan: It was probably budgeted for an hour. Then we're in, over, yeah.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. I did pick up my daughter from school, take her home to change for soccer practice. She went to soccer practice and still picked her up when we were still on the call troubleshooting all the issues that we were dealing with.
But I told Sport Clips, I was like, "Hey, I am not going to run for a third term. I am going to stay focused on Salon Ultimate, and stay involved with that and let the new TLAC president be able to talk to Sport Clips about something other than Salon Ultimate on the check-in-

Chad Jordan: Yeah, that's good.

Debra Sawyer: ... the app, all those things that we were working towards. I know that Wayne, who took over for me, he's closing in. I think four years should be the term limit.

Chad Jordan: What they can handle, right.

Debra Sawyer: It's not the term limit, but I think we've all self-imposed, because the president before me had done a four-year stint. The president before him as well. But I think the four years is a good time-

Chad Jordan: A good, sweet spot.

Debra Sawyer: ... and time to move on.

Chad Jordan: We've already discussed that you are heavily involved with team members. I know a cause that you're passionate about is the Wayne McGlone Memorial Fund.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: I know this because we went to one of your stores yesterday and we're interviewing one of your team members. You were holding the camera, the phone, while we're recording the video. She's telling a story and I look and you're crying off-camera. You're crying about the story that she's telling.
For those that don't know, can you explain what the Wayne McGlone Memorial Fund is, what it's intended to do, maybe numbers around ... Since you're the CPA in the room? How many people have been helped by it and the amount raised. Just give me the lowdown on it, please.

Debra Sawyer: Okay. For those who haven't been at the huddle, I've been, I think, on stage now five or six years talking about the relief fund. That was one of the things that I got involved with with TLAC. It was very new at the time. In one weekend, we lost an area developer, Wayne McGlone. He was the area developer for Maryland. We also lost two team members in two separate car crashes across the country.
That's when the Logan family was like, "We need to do something. We have reached the mass numbers that our team members are going to have situations that they're going to need help." And so the relief fund was started. That's when the store started donating $5 a week, we're now to $10 a week, to help. Then people donate more. We do a lot of fundraising. We really have helped a lot of people. At this point, we've helped over 400 team members across the country.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: We have given out almost $2.4 million-

Chad Jordan: Holy moly.

Debra Sawyer: ... in relief payments. The payments vary. I mean some are small, because we will cover copayments, deductibles on medical bills, ranging from some people who've broken their foot, their arm. We can also help cover the lost wages, especially in the hair industry. If they have broken their hand, they can't cut hair. While they're recovering from that, making up lost wages-

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: ... medical bills, all the way to death. We have lost team members. I myself have lost team members. It's there if they need it. Not everyone needs it. It can help with the medical bills, the funeral, to bury the loved one who passed away. We've been able to do that.
Also with the natural disasters. Unfortunately, we've gone through way more than we ever thought. We've even lost a store last year that was open. It was destroyed-

Chad Jordan: In Florida.

Debra Sawyer: ... in Florida. It has been there to help in all different levels. Sometimes when we get the relief fund applications, you literally go home and you hug your kid, because we've had team members who've lost children. We've had obviously team members who have passed away. It's amazing the different struggles that people have gone through and then we get the letters back, like, "Thank you."

Chad Jordan: The thing that struck me yesterday when we were with Jenna, the story about her husband, then receiving the funds is like she knew about the fund, but there was this level like, "I don't want to ask for help."

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: "I'm going to try to do it on my own." Sometimes people, team leaders, will need to step in and say, "Hey, this is what it's intended for." Yeah, I believe hers ... Didn't you guys just force it ... You just delivered it to her? How did that work?

Debra Sawyer: We just stepped in.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: The member is involved. She didn't want the help. You even referenced it to her. Her husband didn't think he was sick and they had to force him to go, and he was really, really sick. But he's like, "No, I'm okay. I'll get through it." Jenna took that same approach, "No, we'll get through it. We don't need the help."
Just when the medical bills ... I mean I remember her husband was in the ICU. She got her shifts covered by her team, but then made up the shifts by covering other people's shifts. She didn't really miss hours because her team covered it and then she paid it back. It didn't seem like she'd lost the wages, but it was the medical bills that she had. When you have a serious illness like that, it's up to $10,000, where we can really help.

Chad Jordan: Oh, that's the limit?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: The limit is $10,000.

Chad Jordan: I thought it was $5,000.

Debra Sawyer: $5,000 is for your car, so if something happens to your vehicle. Now if it's something that was going to be covered by insurance. We're not to make up for your insurance policy. You've got to have adequate insurance. You've got to be responsible. But sometimes accidents just happen. If that's the situation, it can be $5,000 for the vehicle.
We've had to help people with their homes that have been destroyed with water damage, things that weren't covered. That's where it really can make a difference. If it is ultimately a death situation, that is up to $15,000.

Chad Jordan: Wow! What has been your most memorable Wayne McGlone Memorial Fund recipient in your market?

Debra Sawyer: My market, definitely Jenna.

Chad Jordan: Okay.

Debra Sawyer: But I mean I've got one right now. She hasn't received the relief fund yet. I am removed from that. As we've gotten bigger, we actually have ... There are two of us who are reviewing applications. We use the two managers of the year that we have this year and then two team leaders and then two foundation members.
We have two separate committees. I review the west coast, central to west. Then the other committee reviews this side. That way-

Chad Jordan: Okay. You don't review your own territory.

Debra Sawyer: I don't review my own. In the past, I'd have to remove myself. But I have a team member right now in Florida who was literally making dinner and had an avocado. Freak accident. Cutting the avocado, the knife went through her hand.

Chad Jordan: Oh.

Debra Sawyer: She severed a nerve-

Chad Jordan: Oh, man.

Debra Sawyer: ... has lost feeling to her hands.

Chad Jordan: Oh, man.

Debra Sawyer: She is still technically out. We are optimistic that she's coming back. I think it happened May 31st.

Chad Jordan: Sheesh.

Debra Sawyer: I mean things like that happen. It wasn't something that she did intentionally. Obviously, we won't cover anything that was intentional. If you did something intentionally, DUI, things like that, sorry, you're on your own. But that was a complete random accident.

Chad Jordan: The dangers of guacamole.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: I mean Sheesh Louise.

Debra Sawyer: She obviously won't be doing that again. She'll buy it pre-made, not the raw avocado.

Chad Jordan: I mean I've got to wind this down soon. But I have a couple other questions because I said I wanted to do highs and lows. When I started this podcast, I mentioned you were a rock star, and literally a rock star because I think it was Franchise Business Review names you one of franchising's biggest rock stars. You embody what it means to be an entrepreneur, an independent strong woman. Was there a ceremony? Did they let you come on stage and play air guitar? What came with that?

Debra Sawyer: Not with that one just because of the fact a lot of it is done socially. It was on the website. I remember getting contacted by Sport Clips, like, "Hey, we've nominated you for this and you won. You got it."

Chad Jordan: Oh, by the way.

Debra Sawyer: By the way. It's very much an honor to be recognized. I mean I have done so much. I mean obviously we are more a female-oriented business as far as employees, except for, as you saw, it's changing. I have male stylists who are quite successful.

Chad Jordan: Yours might be the first store I've seen two male stylists at the same store.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: That's pretty incredible.

Debra Sawyer: It really has changed in the last year or so. I have some very successful stylists actually at the store that I'm anxiously awaiting them taking first place. The second highest take-home is with a male stylist named Miles. He's going to pull it off.

Chad Jordan: Well, and your look finalist was from Florida, Christian, obviously a male stylist. You had a successful career prior to Sport Clips. Now you've had this successful career with Sport Clips. This is going to sound just ... What am I doing? I've got two questions here. What's been your best day at Sport Clips and what's been your worst day? Let's start with what was your worst day at Sport Clips?

Debra Sawyer: There's been a lot of those. I think I have to think back to ...

Chad Jordan: Early years?

Debra Sawyer: Well, I mean the early years was just crazy insane. I think probably one of the lowest days was the day I got a call that my manager had a stroke.

Chad Jordan: Which store?

Debra Sawyer: She was in Florida 205. She had been with me, she'd actually been on my senior leadership team for a while. She was involved in a car crash. That itself had some issues. She had just recently rejoined the team and then had a stroke.

Chad Jordan: Was it at work or was it at home?

Debra Sawyer: She was at home. She wasn't with us at the time. We were so excited to have her come back. She definitely drank the Sport Clips Kool-Aid, had been with the system for a while, and then just watching her struggle. We kept that manager position for quite a while. We held it for her. We were like, "Can she make it back?" and just watching her struggle.

Chad Jordan: What's her name?

Debra Sawyer: [Christie 00:45:39].

Chad Jordan: Christie. I think it's telling that I ask you what your worst day was and it wasn't, "Oh, the stock market crashed and nobody was getting haircuts." It wasn't financial, it wasn't anything to do with the situation that we were talking about yesterday with the bathrooms and the porta-potties. I was going to say something else, the code name that we had for it.
It wasn't anything. It was related to a human being, somebody that you're close with and the impact on their health. That was your low day, which just goes to speak to how relational you are and why you're a great team leader, because you love and care for your team members and they care for you. What's been your best day?

Debra Sawyer: I'm going to say something more from recent. I have a store, ironically still Florida 205, the same store that Christie was at ...

Chad Jordan: Wow! Yeah.

Debra Sawyer: ... When she couldn't come back as the manager. We had made some adjustments there and we transferred Dee there as the manager probably about six, seven months ago. Dee was pregnant at the time. She was just doing okay.
Dee returned from maternity leave roughly July 1st. She had gone to some classes while she was still a little bit out on her maternity leave. But she came back and she was like, "I'm going to drink the Sport Clips Kool-Aid," five-point play. Every client every day, all five points.
Watching her store, this is the one that should be in first place from last week's numbers, they have dramatically improved their numbers, just because she's holding them accountable, like literally all five points of the five-point play, watching their take-home, watching their back bar go skyrocketing.
One of the things I've even talked to my teams about this when we had our meetings in the last couple weeks, their shopping center is not a strong shopping center. It is one that's about to get a $10 million facelift by the landlord. The landlord even personally called me. He's like, "Hey, will you do a new LED sign as part of this renovation?" I'm like, "Absolutely." But they haven't started it yet. He even said, he's like, "This shop looks like it was from the '60s." I was like, "Okay, [inaudible 00:48:01] side of it. I'm going to agree with you. It does. It needs an overhaul."
I mean this is one of the original stores inside Sport Clips that had the blue ... That was a store that had the blue tile. I mean that's how old this store is, before the black and red. Just watching how this team in not a great shopping center ... It'd be fantastic once the facelift is done ... can throw down these numbers.
The team's been there for a long time. They went from okay numbers to they were number two in take-home, number 26 in paid back bar, and they were annoyed. They're like they lost number one in take-home by a penny. That was it, like $4.75.

Chad Jordan: I don't think they have anything to worry about this next time-

Debra Sawyer: If they don't have it this time, I'm going to be upset.

Chad Jordan: ... because the $5 take-home or whatever it was-

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, $5.29.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, okay. To be specific, Miss CPA.

Debra Sawyer: It's amazing watching how it's never too late. You can take a team, if they embrace it. That is something that I think has really happened over the last couple of years. I had heard some other team leaders and ... Brad, I'm going to throw you out there. I had to stare at your numbers on my whiteboard in my office.

Chad Jordan: Brad Whitt?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, Brad Whitt. My office is back there. My whiteboard is on there. I stared at his numbers that he had thrown down. He's like, "I'm doing 50% paid. I'm doing 250 take-home." I'm like, "How in the world are we going to get there?" Jenna was the first manager who said $3 take-home, 55% paid as her goal for the quarter.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: Blew it out of the park. It's just-

Chad Jordan: Big hair, audacious goals, the BHAG. Is that what it's called?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. It has been truly the five-point play. We all do the five-point play, but it's every client all five points. That's even Kristen, who's my manager at 601 in Florida. She was one that really started turning Florida around.
My assistant manager, Leanne, who was there, I'm like, "Leanne, you started as a receptionist." She was in beauty school, finished as a receptionist, came on with us. She never had great numbers. Then when she started being under Kristen, when Kristen [McCann 00:50:09], the manager, when she moved here from Wisconsin a couple of years ago, Leanne's numbers started improving. I was like, "What happened?" She's like, "I was doing the five-point play-

Chad Jordan: Yeah, it's funny how that works out.

Debra Sawyer: ... but I was self-selecting," which points to the five-point play based on the client.

Chad Jordan: Wow!

Debra Sawyer: "Kristen held me accountable, made me do it for everyone." She said, "Ironically, the clients who I wouldn't even talk about product knowledge with them because I was like, 'Oh, they're not going to get anything.'" She's like, "Those are the clients now that I would've chosen proactively not to do anything. Those are the ones that are all excited about the product knowledge and education and getting the products to take home to keep their hair looking that way at home."

Chad Jordan: God forbid, people follow the five-point play.

Debra Sawyer: Yes.

Chad Jordan: I mean what their stores would look like. That was a trick question, by the way, when I said, "What is your best day at Sport Clips?" You were supposed to say August 6th, 2019, when you toured nine stores on your birthday with the director of marketing.

Debra Sawyer: Well, I want to know what we're doing next year.

Chad Jordan: Yeah. Well, Florida, right?

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: We'll do the Florida market next year. So heads up, Florida. Hopefully it'll be maybe 13 stores by then out there.

Debra Sawyer: It'll be 13 or 14.

Chad Jordan: I've got 10 questions. Can I ask you these 10?

Debra Sawyer: Sure.

Chad Jordan: Then you can get back to staring at your whiteboard and hitting your numbers. Number one, which super ... You're Wonder Woman here. Which superpower would you most like to have?

Debra Sawyer: We actually did this the other day in leadership. Two things that were offered were to be invisible or to fly. It was an interesting one. I have severe motion sickness, so to fly, no good. I would say I would go with the invisible with that one. It will let me see if my team members are really doing the five-point play, every client every time, all five steps.

Chad Jordan: Yeah, that would be handy. I would think flying, though, getting back and forth to Florida more quickly. But you might like just traveling in style and on a plane and not have to [inaudible 00:52:16].

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, JetBlue does a good job. They fly direct.

Chad Jordan: What is your personal motto?

Debra Sawyer: My personal motto? I would have to say when I look within Sport Clips, is that I want to treat everyone the same, everyone fairly. I do not cave on schedule preferences. We hold everyone to the same standard of you've got to treat everyone the same. You've got to treat everyone fairly.

Chad Jordan: That sounds treat others the way they ... That sounds familiar, want to be treated.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, that sounds familiar.

Chad Jordan: Number three, other than where you live now, and you've lived at a lot of places, where else in the world would you most like to live?

Debra Sawyer: Well, I am moving to Florida. That is happening. I already have a place, but my oldest wants to go to college in Florida. That would be that the transition next. I don't really know. I mean I've traveled a lot, so I've been lucky enough to do that. I think right now my next place is I'm going become an official Floridian.

Chad Jordan: Okay. I mean there are worse places in the world to live than Florida, especially the winter. What sound or noise do you love?

Debra Sawyer: Sound or noise. Those of you who've been in Sport Clips, the central vacuum when you're in the back, it's a love and a hate. It's annoying if you're trying to have a meeting with a team member. But it also means that a client is finished, the haircut.

Chad Jordan: Right, exactly. Ka-ching! That's what we should change the sound to somehow. We should have that on. What sound or noise do you hate?

Debra Sawyer: I would say I do not like ... And this definitely goes to [inaudible 00:53:55] was with Sport Clips is when my phone goes off in the middle of the night for an alarm for something stupid. Just recently we did have our store broken into. But they broke into our store to break in the GameStop next door.

Chad Jordan: Oh, okay.

Debra Sawyer: Let's just say we've added additional glass break and more motion detectors. But the cops did catch them exiting the store.

Chad Jordan: When your phone rings in the middle of the night, it's never good news-

Debra Sawyer: No.

Chad Jordan: ... like, "Hey, just wanted to let you know you won a million dollars."

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, no.

Chad Jordan: All right, question number six, when they make a movie that's based on the story of your life, who do you want to play the main character?

Debra Sawyer: Wow! That's a great question [crosstalk 00:54:50].

Chad Jordan: Thanks.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: It's a new one. These are new ones that I slip in every now and again. If you listen to the podcast, you don't already have them pre-answered.

Debra Sawyer: Thank you. The only thing that just comes to mind only because I've got this as a kid is that people always said I look like Marie Osmond, as a kid.

Chad Jordan: Okay. Oh, yeah. Okay. I can see that.

Debra Sawyer: Then when she started making the comeback, I started getting it again.

Chad Jordan: You can dance, she can dance.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: Okay. I don't know how you can sing.

Debra Sawyer: A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.

Chad Jordan: Oh, there you go.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. That's just what comes to mind, but other than that ...

Chad Jordan: All right. No, I could see that. I mean she's obviously quite a bit older than you, but still.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: She could play the older version. This movie, what should it be called? What should the title of the movie based on your life be called?

Debra Sawyer: Controlling your own destiny.

Chad Jordan: Oh, okay.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah. I mean it's like I was doing extremely well in public accounting, walked away from that to follow my passion of teaching and being able to spend more time with my kids. That's when I was pregnant with my first one, Samantha. Then I left that to do Sport Clips and controlled my own destiny.

Chad Jordan: And here you are.

Debra Sawyer: Here I am. Who knew what your first summer job at the age of 16 ...

Chad Jordan: Sweeping up hair for $0.25, or reception.

Debra Sawyer: Back then, I was $4 an hour when I started.

Chad Jordan: Okay, okay. That's not minimum wage in California anymore, just so you know.

Debra Sawyer: No, it's not.

Chad Jordan: All right. If there's a band that does the soundtrack for your movie, who does the band have to be?

Debra Sawyer: Oh my goodness, you are awful with your questions. My daughter Jessica, she's my 13-year-old, my little spitfire, so she plays music in the car and we do some little sing-alongs. There's a couple ones. But we have some running jokes just based on like her age and me coaching cheer, so like Justin Bieber. We have done some songs to that. She is hitting me up to take her to Shawn Mendes' concert in a couple of weeks.
I would say just some of those songs, but I will have to say we've done some sing-alongs to the Teen Beach Movie. I mean these were some throwbacks. Also some of-

Chad Jordan: High School Musical.

Debra Sawyer: High School Musical.

Chad Jordan: Oh, yeah. For sure.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: (singing). Okay, yeah. I like that.

Debra Sawyer: Those are just some of those songs. It's funny. I drop her off. Her school's right across the street, her middle school. I drop her off on the way to my office in the morning. It's just easier than her taking the school bus. It's really across the street. She just plays music and we sing along and-

Chad Jordan: She has to pick who the band's going to be for the soundtrack, okay.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, give it to Jessica.

Chad Jordan: Two more questions. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Debra Sawyer: My greatest achievement are my two kids. Watching my 16-year-old, I took her on a college tour her freshman year, and people were like, "She's a freshman. What are you thinking?" But she said, "Mom, I want to go to school in Florida," and I was like, "Okay. Your grades are good, but they're not as good as they could be."
I took her on that tour and I showed her the top four schools in Florida. We did a road trip. Then I showed her two community colleges that would feed into the top two schools that I knew she liked. I was like, "If you don't get into the school, this is your path then."
Watching her improve her grades last year, I mean she also took a class over the summer to get another elective. She wants to do marketing.

Chad Jordan: Nice.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: My kind of girl.

Debra Sawyer: She took another elective over the summer. Also, it was a course in, I know, honors AP class, to get above a 4.0 in that class, threw down the A. Also, she got a job. She wanted to work outside Sport Clips, just so she'd have an idea of having a job, which I fully appreciated. She worked at Sky Zone bouncy house. She just got a job at Drive Shack, so she's going in there, and just watching her do that, while also being on a competitive all-star cheerleading team. She is an athlete, a student, and working.

Chad Jordan: You're not a proud mom. I'm just going to let you know. You could afford to be-

Debra Sawyer: I mean watching her mature-

Chad Jordan: ... prouder of your kids.

Debra Sawyer: Yeah, watching her mature, even just like watching now Jessica. I mean Jessica started ... I mean she grew up around Sport Clips. I mean she's had more Dums Dums than probably most kids. Even just watching her grow up and watching her mature and just become more responsible, like even just the little things, like if we're heading out the door, she, you know, "Oh, mom. Don't worry. I'll put the dogs up. Just put them in their crates," which is their happy place. Watching them become who they are.

Chad Jordan: It's not required that parents say their greatest achievement is their kid, but more times than not they do. I don't think any have elaborated the way that you just did. I think you get the gold star for being the proudest. The last question: if heaven indeed exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Debra Sawyer: Well done.

Chad Jordan: Well done. Well, you're doing it, that's for sure. You don't lack ambition or energy or effort. I know, speaking on behalf of all the Sport Clips, how proud we are of you. You are a shining example of what is right with our system and what it takes to do well and to be able to be told you've done well. But thank you for your 14 years. I don't know if you have 14. You probably have 14.

Debra Sawyer: We're in our fourteenth.

Chad Jordan: You're in your fourteenth, but I'm thinking, do you have 14 more in you? That's really what I'm really wondering here. Let's see. Let me add the numbers together. I think you do. Who knows how many stores. If you're 21, 22 stores into your fourteenth year, who knows what the future holds.
But we appreciate you, appreciate your time today. Your stores, your markets are amazing. You are literally one of the crown jewels of Sport Clips. Thank you for joining us on the Hall of Fame podcast.

Debra Sawyer: Thank you.

Chad Jordan: We'll talk to somebody else next week. Hope you guys can join us then. Thanks so much.

Debra Sawyer: Bye, everyone.