Terry Klinker is the owner of Sport Clips stores in Santee and around the San Diego area. Klinker talked with Patch about the challenge of expanding an unknown business in this community, how he’s able to attract top talent and the business community in Santee.
When did you open your business and why did you choose this community?
We opened the Santee Sport Clips Haircuts in January 2009. It was supposed to be our first store, but The Marketplace at Santee was a vacant lot when we signed our lease agreement in late 2007. By the time the shopping center opened, we had two other stores already in operation, in Rancho Bernardo and La Jolla. I grew up in a small town in Iowa and Santee reminds me of the people in the Midwest -- they love their local sports teams, they're very friendly, and they like to support their hometown businesses whenever possible. I believe that's why other businesses like Sonic, Chick-Fil-A, In-N-Out Burger, Phil's BBQ, Lowe's, Kohl's, and others have come to Santee in the last few years. It's a great place to do business.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced? What have you learned from them?
Sport Clips is still a relatively new brand in Southern California, even though it’s been in Texas since 1993. The first store in San Diego opened in Carlsbad about six years ago and there are now 16 Sport Clips in the county and nearly 40 in SoCal. As a new brand, we initially had our biggest challenges at getting new clients to try our services, as well as gaining interest from the area's top hair stylists. They are an integral part of growing our business. The fact that Sport Clips has been voted the top hair salon on the last three SignOnSanDiego.com Voters Polls has been very helpful in gaining top talent and more clients.
What distinguishes your business from others in the same industry?
Sport Clips Haircuts fills a niche in the hair care market, targeting the male client who’s not content with either the barber shop or the traditional hair salons. Since we hire experienced hair stylists, then train them on the best hair cutting techniques for men and boys, as well as all the latest styles, we distinguish ourselves with high marks from our clientele. We also feature the MVP Experience, which includes a precision haircut, followed by a massaging Tea Tree shampoo and a classic hot towel treatment with facial pressure point manipulation, while reclining on a vibrating massage chair. The last part of the MVP includes a neck and shoulder massage. It’s very relaxing, especially at the end of a hard day’s work. Our stores also feature big screen HDTVs playing ESPN or the game, so you can keep up with all the action in sports while getting your haircut.
What’s the best business advice you’ve been given, and what’s your favorite advice to share?
I read Tom Hopkins’ classic business book years ago, and he offered the Creed of a Champion, which states, “I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail … and keep trying.” There is no easy road to success—it winds and curves, but determination, perseverance and a good plan can help anyone achieve great things.
What changes, if any, would you like to see in the local business community?
I see Santee as being a very proactive business community and it's been fun to see other small businesses come to the area since we opened Sport Clips Haircuts. I've been involved with the local Chamber of Commerce and some other business networking groups. I'd like to see even broader use of the business building resources available to all the business owners in Santee. We can all help one another grow, if we foster relationships between our businesses and have a better understanding of our overlapping opportunities.
Bonus: Is there anything else you’d like to share about owning your own business?
I love the independence of owning our own stores, as well as the challenge of growing the business. After 30 years in the corporate world, it would be very difficult for me to step away from being a small-business owner.
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