Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Arif Taj

Red Banner with HOF Episode

In this episode recorded in August of 2018, we interview Arif Taj, reigning Team Leader of the Year, and his daughter and Marketing Director, Shamaila. They discuss their unique approach to marketing, charitable fundraising and how to maintain a strong brand reputation.

Chad, Arif and Shamaila in Sport Clips Car

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
October 25, 2018 Arif Taj Team Leader Successful and creative marketing at the local store level.

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Transcription:

Chad Jordan:                All right, welcome back everybody this is Chad Jordan with The Sport Clips Hall of Fame podcast and we're actually bringing you episode two in our conversation with the Taj team. Without further ado, let me have the first guest introduce himself to us one more time.

Arif Taj:                        Hi Chad, hi again actually. Got it right this time! My name is Arif Taj and I'm the team leader out here in Southern California. Started with six stores ... Have six stores and started in 2007.

Chad Jordan:                All right, glad to have you back. And over here.

Shamaila Taj:                Hello again, I am Shamaila Taj, marketing is my thing and I'm with the Taj stores since 2016.

Chad Jordan:                Excellent, glad to have you guys and we had so much fun in the first episode for this podcast where we basically talked a bunch about the culture that you've built here in Southern California for your Sports Clips locations that we decided we didn't want to pile on top of that one, we wanted that one to be a stand-alone episode and instead have another episode where we could follow up and talk about especially you do some amazing marketing initiatives, some activities around your stores. Especially now that you're at six locations you've learned a thing or two over the years, you've been there, done that, seen it all and especially, golly in 2007, 2008 when you started I don't think Facebook had even been really invented yet.

Arif Taj:                        It was Myspace.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, it was Myspace was out there. But not Facebook yet in terms of a global phenomenon, certainly not an Instagram, Snapchat and the others so I wanted to get into a little bit of that. So, can you guys walk me through and then we'll also go through some community involvement and how that plays in. We were talking off-air about how outsiders might look at Sport Clips and see that it's a chain so it must be corporately owned, things like that but we're not, we're locally owned int most of the markets.

                                    So, what do you and Arif we'll start with you, at a local level to impact your community to demonstrate value but also presence that we're here and we're part of this community and we want to be included in all of the community conversations. What are something that you guys are doing?

Arif Taj:                        I mean, that's really true that back in 2007 when we signed the agreement and then started looking for a location and started opening ... Thinking about opening our first store it was a very different time frame at that time. There were not very many stores in Southern California, the brand was not that well known. Whenever you mention Sport Clips people thought we had like sports memorabilia kind of stuff, right? So, we made a conscious decision before we even opened our first store is to ... I started wearing Sport Clips shirts everywhere. I bought Sport Clips shirts and I would go and people would say, "What's Sport Clips? Is it a sports store?" And I would tell them what it was, "The store's coming."

                                    And then we put banners everywhere, even though the building wasn't even constructed at the time we got permission and we put this banner up there. So, we made ourselves visible as much as possible before we opened the store. At that time it was mostly just one-on-one contact and being out in the community and we became chamber members and started promoting it there and talking to businesses about it.

Chad Jordan:                Are you going to the weekly chamber mixers?

Arif Taj:                        Mixers [crosstalk 00:03:36]-

Chad Jordan:                Handing out cards and-

Arif Taj:                        Actually, I'm involved with the Glendora Chamber ... I've been involved with the chamber since 1994 in Yaskawa and all that where we had our Baskin Robbins stores but got involved here before we even opened our store in 2007 and now I was in 2014 I was the president of the chamber for the Glendora Chamber. I'm in six different chambers right now and we make ourselves available as much as possible and of course now we have an opportunity to even do more because Shamaila's joined the team from the marketing perspective so there's two of us now. So, we can handle a little bit more of our involvement with the community. So, that's where we start and then of course that's a big deal because it gets the word out, the businesses know who you are and of course if you're present and doing things ...

                                    We always try to do something for others. That's our goal. Whenever we join anything or do anything obviously we are a small business, we don't have a lot of money to spend or give away or do advertising with but we always certainly can give time and we certainly get involved in things. We certainly can give gift baskets or gift certificates and things like that. So, there's always a way to do it. You can still be a presence.

                                    That's how we did it in the beginning, a lot of foot work basically.

Chad Jordan:                Right, hit the ground running. Guerrilla marketing.

Arif Taj:                        Guerrilla marketing, getting involved in non-profits is a great way to do it because that way you're giving to people that are really in need and you establish your presence as that. Schools are great because ... Maybe you can't do a lot of cash things but you can certainly do in kind things. We can get pencils for them that says Sport Clips on it, simple things like that that don't cost a lot of money. We can give them gift certificates for reading or this or that. But you can get your presence there. The branding is a big part.

Chad Jordan:                Do you do anything with local sport teams whether it's big [crosstalk 00:05:34]

Arif Taj:                        We are big with that.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, such as? What do you do?

Arif Taj:                        When we first started here in Glendora our closest ... I'm a big hockey fan, I'm a Kings fan. They had the local affiliate which is Ontario Reign which plays at the Citizens Bank Arena. So, we partnered with them, corporate helped us on that and we got the local branding one, we have a present there, we did the instant replay so everybody saw Sport Clips up there. We had the mascot in our ... Sporty was out there all the time whenever things-

Chad Jordan:                Was Sporty on skates?

Arif Taj:                        Yes! Not skates, Sporty was on the ice and this is the funny part, I'm glad that you mentioned that because one time they had all these mascots, they do this teddy bear night where they collect all these teddy bears for the [crosstalk 00:06:19] then they give it out. So they were doing that and Sporty was out there and Sporty got on the ice and didn't realize that he can't move that fast and Sporty took a spill. Everybody still remembers that. That unfortunate incident became one of the things that everybody remembers.

Chad Jordan:                Is Sporty in the room right now?

Arif Taj:                        Yes.

Chad Jordan:                Or do you have somebody ... Oh man, do you still have the bruises ... Well, actually Sporty was pretty ... Oh, you fell on the battery.

Arif Taj:                        The battery and that was not a good feeling but it was fine.

Chad Jordan:                I was going to say it's inflatable so if you fall in the right places you could've been all right.

Arif Taj:                        The new Sporties are much better, the lighter batteries and all that but the old Sporties have the- [crosstalk 00:07:01]

Chad Jordan:                Surprised you didn't crack the rink wide open when you hit the battery?

Arif Taj:                        But anyways, so those are the kind of things we did in those days, right? We made our presence known in the community. We partnered with things. We did a pretty good effort in making sure that the brand was always front and center no matter what it was, little or big. And that got us going and that store, the Glendora store, it's a great story to tell has never stopped growing in 10 years.

                                    Right now, we talk about Jennifer Justice as the ... That was selected or-

Chad Jordan:                Manager of the year

Arif Taj:                        ... as manager of the year out of almost 1700 plus managers so that's a pretty humbling experience for all of us. But the recognition is always welcome.

Chad Jordan:                I definitely want to loop Shamaila in a bunch to this podcast interview because she's so active, Shamaila's your daughter, has been working in this role for how long now?

Shamaila Taj:                Two years now.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, and in that time you've seen the gamut of stores you've had, you've opened stores so you've been through the grand opening process. You have mature stores like CA630 and then you've had stores which you've acquired. What I'm interested in these two years of experience that you've had doing this and then Arif you longer. What are you doing for each of those kinds of stores on a marketing level that maybe other stores throughout the nation if they find themselves in one of those three areas that I just talked about: grand opening, mature, already performing store or someone who's taken over a pre-existing location. Let's start with a grand opening store, you've got a store that's getting ready to open what is your guys' strategy? What are you looking to do that might be unique and help you stand out not from other brands but even from maybe what other Sport Clips are doing right now?

Shamaila Taj:                I do think that opening a brand new store is kind of similar to an acquisition so connecting the dots and where you're out of -

Chad Jordan:                Okay, like under new management ... So these would be kind of one and the same.

Shamaila Taj:                The same, yeah. The first thing I do is just get out in the community and that just means chambers. Chamber of commerce, they're definitely the glue that keeps a lot of cities connected; they have a large outreach and I make sure to get to know people in those chamber offices. And we let them know that we're present. I've learned a lot with the guerrilla marketing aspect of just making your presence known. My biggest thing is that I seek out people who are invested in other small businesses as well. We get to know other local entities and partner with them. My biggest thing is that if you're, like we talked about earlier, creating that sense of local community connection and not just a new business coming in but all our values that stand behind us. Reiterate that back into the community.

Chad Jordan:                You're trying to demonstrate we're not here necessarily to get stuff from you guys, we're here to give.

Shamaila Taj:                Exactly-

Chad Jordan:                And be part of the conversation in this community.

Shamaila Taj:                We present ourselves out there as giving first. Our biggest thing, what I've learned from my dad is that to do that is ... For example, when we do our grand openings we take a weekend of just 100% fundraising. All of our sales will go to whatever non-profit that we've partnered with-

Chad Jordan:                Oh, slow down there, okay. I've got to wrap my head around this. So, 100% is that what you said?

Shamaila Taj:                100%.

Chad Jordan:                For the weekend which is the busiest probably time of the GO process there?

Shamaila Taj:                Yes. And it sounds advantageous but it's "easy to do" because it really just starts with saying hey, we're a new business in town, we're Sport Clips. And either they're like, "What is Sport Clips?" And we give them a little bit of the 411 about that and then we just tell them, "Hey, we want to invite the community here to check out what we are, what we do and we want to give everything back to you." I got really lucky, I was brought on in October and right away-

Chad Jordan:                2007 16?

Shamaila Taj:                2016. And right away my dad was like, "Menifee's about to open and we're partnering with Loma Linda University, Murrieta and go!" And that was it. I definitely learned a lot along the way-

Chad Jordan:                He literally threw the baby in the pool and said, "You just got to swim to shore here."

Shamaila Taj:                Totally. Deep end.

Arif Taj:                        Not quite sure, I was there.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, well I don't know.

Shamaila Taj:                He was there. But, it was-

Arif Taj:                        I was watching.

Chad Jordan:                Like a good father. You weren't going to let her drown but.

Shamaila Taj:                It's a great way to do that and I think sometimes you kind of have to do that. Sometimes you have to jump into the deep end and trust your gut, that was the biggest thing and really honestly the cool part about it is everybody I talk to was 100% responsive and happy. Because we're not selling anything, we're literally giving-

Chad Jordan:                So, is it tips? Are you just saying ... Or are you actually charging on the POS and then turning around and donating the money to a charity.

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah. So, the system's really cool especially the Salon Ultimate, it's amazing. It's such a useful tool to be able to do fundraising. 100%. You can have the kiosk say right away would you like to donate to fill in the blank charity? We installed that into our system and actually I think Salon Ultimate just rolled out [crosstalk 00:12:46]

Chad Jordan:                2016-

Shamaila Taj:                So, we're all learning at the same time.

Arif Taj:                        Just to jump in on there, it's like we don't do any sales that day other than product sales. So, what we ask is $10 or more and you get the MVP service as complimentary. Obviously we encourage ...

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:13:04]

Arif Taj:                        The MVP service, as complimentary. So obviously we encourage for more, and we have a lot of prizes we give away; a big screen TV- Which we buy. So our investment in that with the labor cost, the prizes and everything, is significant.

Chad Jordan:                Is this coming out of your grand opening, marketing fund?

Arif Taj:                        No, this is our budget. It's not coming out of the grand opening funds. And whatever we raise, which we have raised as much as $4,700 in one weekend, 100% of it goes to that. And everything else, we pay for. So it's a pretty intense commitment but the payback is amazing.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, it's a long term relationship that you're building.

Arif Taj:                        And we do it because we love doing it. We want to give- one of the things that I always say is givers always gain. So we want to give first. We want to make sure the community knows we are partners with them. And that way they will support us, because they want to support us, not just because we're businesses.

Shamaila Taj:                And it sets up on a really great level. Right out the gate we're just like, Hey we're giving back.

Chad Jordan:                Say's Mrs. Karma. You know, just believes in this universe repaying and all that, and so ... [crosstalk 00:14:07]

Shamaila Taj:                It truly is. The best, most beautiful part that I always see is the team getting involved. And they're just so excited because they're like- They know they're doing this to give to back to something bigger than themselves and going back to culture, when you're already starting off on that foot, you can't really go anywhere but up from there. So we're already doing that and everything sort of positive just-

Chad Jordan:                Well what a great memory that the team, a collective memory, that they make together. Think about a sport team, especially like again, I coach club kids soccer, and we'll do bowling parties together and things like that outside of the actual being on the field together. And that further cements the bond.

                                    This, I imagine, has a same affect for your store, right out of the gate, where we see unfortunately some stores they'll hire 10 to 12 team members and they might not last for one reason or another and you guys probably see pretty good retention from that original team that you hire.

Arif Taj:                        You touched on that, we didn't talk about that in the last segment but we were honored because we have the least turn over in all of Sport Clips system. We have very [crosstalk 00:15:22]

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, it's not in my notes, so I didn't know that. Okay. I'm starting to put the pieces together though, on why that's the case.

Arif Taj:                        We have team members that are now nine years, ten years, eight years. Most of them, once they join our teams stay with us. One of the fun part of that is that some of them are now on three week vacations. Which is kind of hard to fill because then they go on vacation and we gotta fill all that [crosstalk 00:15:47]

Chad Jordan:                But they've earned it.

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, they've earned it. So it's awesome.

Chad Jordan:                That's what we call a high class problem. When you get to that point.

                                    Okay, you're doing that. Lessons learned from grand opening that now you don't do these sorts of things anymore because they didn't work, especially for you, but maybe others that are out there that are trying things out might not- might want to stay away from some of these things.

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, so obviously everything we do some of it has never been done before, so we try it. We do a pretty good, we put a lot of effort into it. It's not just like right, something that we just thought of. It's something that we have looked at it, we've looked at the pros and cons of it, and the chances of success are more than it not working out.

                                    But somethings just don't pan out the way that you think that they would. So one of the things that we've found is, I'm not a big believer in couponing. And the reason is because it has a lot of effects. First of all, couponing sort of trains your community that when get something in the mail, that's when they should come in to see us. We want to be a value proposition. We want to charge full price, but we want to provide the best.

                                    So we do everything a little bit better than anybody else. That's how we, that's our culture. So that's what we enforce, enforce is the wrong word, but we encourage in our team members. But that is the reason, because when they find value- and then ...

                                    Whenever we do something with our team members, we always tell them why. We just don't go out and do something.

Chad Jordan:                Not because I said so.

Arif Taj:                        Just because I said so. We always get them engaged. We always ask for input. Because ten heads are better than just my one head, right, so they may have better ideas. They're more involved in it. So one of the things that we keep talking about is, hey the reason for value proposition is because it's beneficial to them. Because they're not just getting people who are not tipping them well, or people who are not coming back, or whatever, right. This way we get ...

                                    So we are very big on buddy system, we do buddy cards a lot and that's our main thing and we reward that.

Chad Jordan:                And I don't want to blow by that, because if somebody is outside of Sport Clips, they might not know, or thinking about becoming part of Sport Clips, they might not know what a buddy pass is, or a buddy card is. So can you just-

Arif Taj:                        So real quick. Buddy Card is basically when somebody comes in as a guest and we ask them, how many-

Chad Jordan:                When you say guest, we say client, from the marketing department, but okay, so same thing.

Arif Taj:                        So we say, we will ask them a question, how was your experience? Before they leave our chair, last question we ask, how was your experience today? If they say anything less then great, we want to know why. What can we do to make it great? So if they say, Awesome. This. That. Whatever. It's okay we want to do the same for your friends and family. And we love referrals, would you help us grow.

                                    We ask! There's no harm in asking right? And we ask them, would you help us grow? And here is my card, and they put there name on it and it's a card that says, when your guest that you are going to refer to us comes in, they get a free MVP. And you get a free upgrade.

Chad Jordan:                On your next visit you'd get one. Okay.

Arif Taj:                        And we keep track of it in our notes. So we put that in the notes. And when they do refer, that's how we grow our business, because they are the kind of people we want in ours. And they find value in it. So we don't do a lot ... So we learned about that, we used to do all these couponing things, so we don't do that anymore.

                                    At a grand opening, yes we do. It's an invitation. We don't call it couponing, because an invitation, come see us and we're gonna give it ...

                                    Some people call sometimes and say, hey, what's the catch? Why is it free? It's like, there's no catch, we just want to introduce ourself.

Chad Jordan:                I had the interview a couple weeks ago with Meghan Blanchette, an area coach in New England, and she remembers when she first saw, she wasn't even working for Sport Clips but she had heard a location was coming to town, and they were giving out free haircuts. And in her mind as a stylist, she went well that place must suck if they're giving out free haircuts because ... That's not industry practice or whatever but of course once you're established is what you're saying is, that's when you go away from the couponing, but opening up you want to prove, hey we'll stand by our performance, we think we're so good we can afford to give you a free one and then have you come back.

Arif Taj:                        Exactly. And actually we've learned from that to now in our going forward we'll probably do half off instead of just doing free. Because people find value. Sometimes free, you think oh no I don't want that. So we want to give them something, like we want to invite you but we'll give you half off. So I think people find value in that and then that way you get the kind of guest or client that you want.

                                    So what's the benefit for our team members? The benefit for our team members is they get the kind of guest that they really would want in the store, plus they're not dealing with this rotation. So their retentions are better, they get the service commissions fast ...

                                    So we always claim why we do certain things. So that's one of the things that we don't do.

                                    A couple of other things is we don't spend a lot of money in just handing things out. We've found that the money can be better used if you do collateral when you're doing the marketing. So like the things we've talked about, we give away big screen TVs and all that. So what it does is when somebody comes in and only wants to donate $10 we encourage them and say, and we have cowbells and stuff like that, and we make a big deal out of it-

Chad Jordan:                That must be from Baskin Robbins experience, like tip and ring the bell kind of thing.

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, donate 20, hey we got a $50 bill that we'll ring all over the place, and then we'll give them extra tickets so they can enter into the big screen TV or we've given away season tickets. So all of those kinds of things.

Chad Jordan:                So they donate to a fund raiser and that is their essential entry raffle ticket kind of thing to this prize that you're giving away.

Arif Taj:                        Yep.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Arif Taj:                        That's just examples. Typically all of the things we try, we always find them to be of some value. Because the branding part is really hard to measure, even though it may not have-

Chad Jordan:                You're preaching to the choir brother. Tell me about it, from the marketing department we know!

Arif Taj:                        For us, really, everything we do has some impact in some way, so we always think of it as a positive and somethings work better than others in translating into something trackable. And somethings don't, may work really well, but we can't track them. So we really don't look at things that way.

                                    We don't just go out and do things, we really do research on it. And make sure that this will be of benefit to us.

Chad Jordan:                What is it, measure twice, cut once.

Shamaila Taj:                And every community is a little different. So when you get to know your community and your team, because every team is really different. So I use a lot of the managers input, the teams input, on where are areas, you know, they live in the city, so they know it best. What schools are around? What are they interested in? So it's really connecting, and not just being like here's our ideas and here's what awe want to do. We market with them too.

                                    I always love having a stylist with me because that right there is instant connection. When someone comes up to us at any marketing event or anything we've ever done where we're not inside the four walls, they instantly someone is drawn and gravitate to that person that's out there.

                                    Like we talked about in the first segment, it's all about the people, so that connection is so organic. It's like hey you're super nice already and you're out here and your marketing and this is awesome, of course I'm going to go see you. They don't even know if they can cut hair well or not, it's that connection. And then once they walk in and they get the full experience it just continues on.

Chad Jordan:                I love the fact that you have a team member with you too because that in turn feeds the recruiting machine, right. They see, wow they're not just stuck behind a chair all day, or locked up crunching numbers in a back office. They're actually out in the community getting to do this kind of fun stuff.

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah, we have fun. And going back to hashtagging things, it just works. It's really fun. And you know, it's like we do concerts in the park, we do really small little league games, up to bigger, we were able the MLB but the next one under it, like local baseball teams.

Chad Jordan:                Like AAA and all that.

Shamaila Taj:                Mm-hmm (affirmative) And like right now we're getting involved with the Inland Empire 66ers and they have a huge foot print in the community. It's just fun stuff. You get to eat a hot dog, drink a beer and watch the game.

Chad Jordan:                Or Mt. Dew.

Shamaila Taj:                Or Mt. Dew.

Chad Jordan:                Whatever you want to drink.

Arif Taj:                        Real quick things about how good she is, right. So 66ers wanted a thousand bucks for us, they had golf tournament, a charity golf tournament, they wanted us to be there but they wanted a thousand bucks for a hole and be out there. It was hot summer, this was about four weeks ago or something. So she worked out a deal where we were at the hole but we didn't pay the thousand bucks, but we took our easy up over there with Sport Clips on it and we put ... because at that time July [crosstalk 00:24:38] was going on, so we put the cold towels, we filled up the coolers. She took a team member with us. We were at the eighth hole or ninth hole or something, when people were halfway through, and they were all hot and it was ...

                                    So they did the cold towel treatment. And we didn't pay a single penny for it.

Chad Jordan:                So they sit down in the chair and they get the cold towel on the face.

Arif Taj:                        I'm talking about, is you don't have to spend the money. Because she's very good at negotiating.

Chad Jordan:                Everything's negotiable right.

Arif Taj:                        So we negotiated that, we'll provide you this, they said okay that's a value to us, so okay we won't charge you that. And then of course Sport Clips is at that hole with the easy up and our uniforms and everything and we're providing cold towels, and of course we give out swag and stuff like that.

                                    So we did our marketing without having to spend any really dollars, per say, other than paying our team members and all of that in order to be out there we still had to pay our her.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, that's fine. Doesn't work for ice cream anymore.

Arif Taj:                        Just ideas like that, she's very creative with that. 66ers we're doing this thing, so they want ... Radio stations at our fundraiser coming up, so she did, they wanted thousands of dollars for their radio spots, we got PSA's for free. They're gonna come out and put a booth there.

                                    So you can get negotiate if you ... Here's the thing, you've got to provide the value. If you can make a value proposition, then people will do that. It's not always about just getting the dollars, it's about the value of it. Now because [inaudible 00:25:52] management is involved, our neighbors are involved, Mod Pizza is doing their own thing. So we've got other vendors and other franchises involved with our brand, they're getting their brand-

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:26:04]

Arif Taj:                        And other franchises involved with our brand, they're getting their branding done, and we're getting our branding done.

Chad Jordan:                Everyone's scratching everyone else's back. Yeah.

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, and it just works beautifully that way. You just have to be creative about it and just think about it. So it's not always about, "Hey, I don't have the budget to that." Well, you can figure out a way to do it, especially if you've got Shamaila out there. You could really figure out how to do this.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. Yeah, she's definitely innovative. Can you describe, maybe, some of the social media angles that you guys like to take and some of the things that you do there and how other stores could tap into that resource?

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah. So I like to keep things fun. I think that's the most important part. The engagement is just fun. It's making it so that I wanna work there. I want my friends to work there. I also wanna get my hair cut there. I also want my friends to get their hair cut there. We know we have fun. This brand is a fun brand. I mean, I remember my first huddle. Holy smokes. I think I smiled the moment it started to, even after it was over. I still miss it.

Chad Jordan:                There's a weird phenomenon, that energy in there.

Arif Taj:                        Actually, I've given her time, because I wasn't sure if she's gonna want this for the rest of it. But when she came back from [inaudible 00:27:13], that's when she drank the Kool-Aide she was like, "Yeah, I'm in."

Chad Jordan:                I'm in, the huddle, yeah.

Shamaila Taj:                It's there though, our culture, when you tie everything together. And I love that there's so much connection to recruitment and marketing and team culture. None of those pieces are isolated elements at all. They all hinge on each other, and if you're guests are happy because your team is happy, and your team is happy because your guests are happy, and the team leader has a positive attitude, and every community that you're in they like you, because they're like, "We love sport clubs, we're so glad you're here. Do you want to open another sport club on this?" We have other real estate coming to us now. Where they're like, "Oh, we have this location, would you guys be interested in putting your stores here?"

                                    To me, once you create that element and you just maintain that and keep it going. As we give back we have a good time, so posting is essentially just sharing that visually. We already do so many great things.

Chad Jordan:                You're taking a ton of pictures and video at every event. Right?

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                You never go anywhere without your phone.

Shamaila Taj:                Oh Boomerang me, and I'm learning stuff too. There's so much out there and that's the cool part about bringing team members with you.

Chad Jordan:                They know, yeah, they got it up their sleeve. They know what's going on.

Shamaila Taj:                Exactly. We have a fun time and it's easy to share. When you're having a good time people can see that. You don't have to create it and make it up, you just kind of show it off.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. I can't believe we're already a half an hour in and getting ready to wrap this podcast. How time flies.

Arif Taj:                        And we have barely scratched the surface!

Chad Jordan:                That's just it. So there may be future segments of this down the road.

Shamaila Taj:                Part three.

Chad Jordan:                Arif, can you give me one or two major shifts you've seen in Sport Clips marketing efforts from when you've started to where you are now. And where you think the future of marketing is for you on a local level and for the brand and everything.

Arif Taj:                        I'll segue a little bit into it, because this is a true story. I went to my team leader training camp back in [inaudible 00:29:34].

Chad Jordan:                Back into the very first one.

Arif Taj:                        My camp, when I bought the thing and then I was the team leader. I hadn't opened a store yet.

Chad Jordan:                And see, leader training camp is when new franchisees come in to get a week's worth of training how to operate, everything.

Arif Taj:                        Marketing, operations, finances, all that kind of stuff. So I was there, and the first day I walk in there and then we were talking about payroll and stuff like that. They brought out these paper sheets to calculate payroll on. I come from the digital world, because you know Excel and all that, that's how I lived for years and years and years. And even though we didn't have all the fancy things we have now, but we still had pretty good Excel spreadsheets and I'm looking at it and I go, "Oh maybe they just didn't want to have the computers here, so they just printed it out." But it turns out, that's actually how it was being done.

Chad Jordan:                We're going way back!

Arif Taj:                        Way back! It was a small, 400 some stores.

Chad Jordan:                No one really knew where it was going.

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, there were not all these people in the background doing all these kind of things. So I went back to my hotel room that night and I created a spreadsheet, a simple one, no macro or nothing, just simple spreadsheet calculations of all the payroll thing, and I brought it with me the next day to the team leader training camp. I started using that and they go, "How are you getting all of the answers so quickly?" I said, "Well I just created a small spreadsheet here and I'm just putting the numbers in there." And they go, "Really?"

                                    So I still remember it. And they said, "Well can we share this with everybody? Can we use this?" I said, "Well let me refine it a little bit." So I put some macros in there and all that kind of stuff and I refined it and I shared it. That's the story. That's how it started really.

Chad Jordan:                You've not just seen it, you've been part of implementing some changes.

Arif Taj:                        It was a pretty interesting thing. Like our grand opening, the way we did our grand opening, the first one. Marketing changed in the sense that at that time there was not a lot of things that were done. It was spread out over a period of time. What worked in Texas, they were using those things and needed something different.

                                    A lot has changed. Think about it, just the department itself, marketing now. There was like maybe two or three people at that time. Martha, I got to know her really well, she's a friend. She's an awesome lady.

Chad Jordan:                And future Hall of Fame podcast interviewee, if I can ever get her on here.

Arif Taj:                        There we go! She's amazing.

Chad Jordan:                Martha England.

Arif Taj:                        She's always been a great friend, she's always been a great supporter.

                                    I have seen that evolve, the marketing part of it. It's just amazing what has happened in 10 years. If somebody were to tell me that can happen in 10 years, I really wouldn't believe it. Because now, marketing is completely digital and all different medias. The budget is obviously much larger.

Chad Jordan:                Yep, it's not all print and post cards. Shamaila, you said you have something to add here?

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah, and that's the biggest thing, is just don't be afraid of the digital stuff. And the fact that we're getting in assets coming. We have online checking, that makes us already leaps and bounds beyond our industry. And our industry specifically is we are moving towards the future. When I was at TLTC only just a month ago, Edward spoke about that, where we came from, where we are, where we're going.

                                    And where we're going is really, we're staying very connected to where the future of our entire business itself is going. So don't be afraid to try new things. When we're approached with things that are in that digital realm, we definitely say yes first. We throw things to the wall, see if they stick, and then we go to the next thing. It's totally okay.

Chad Jordan:                I don't want to say fake it until you make it, but I'll say it.

Shamaila Taj:                Try it out.

Chad Jordan:                The thing that you guys have set up that I love is you have somebody responsible, Arif, Shamaila, for all that digital marketing, social media, you've got someone assigned to it. I've seen some team leaders out there, they are intimidated, they're not on the social media, the interweb with themselves or whatever. So because they're not familiar with it, they don't have somebody in their system or their store actively doing that kind of stuff.

                                    And from my standpoint from what I'm seeing from you guys, that is so key. That somebody at the local level is taking care of it and running with it. Whether it's the manager, whether it's a daughter, or whoever.

Arif Taj:                        Really, to wrap it up, it just makes sense. Change is inevitable. If you don't change, it's really fatal. Values never change, values always remain the same. That is what we have instilled in our teams, that's what we instilled in Shamaila. Our values are values. But how things get done constantly changes. And that's where I'm so fortunate to have her onboard with me doing this, because they're connected way more than I ever would be by myself. They see things a little bit differently, so I embrace that. I learn from it.

                                    Every day is a learning experience for me, and I'm learning from them how to do ... Value part stays the same ... but how things get done, they show me how it gets done now. And as long as we embrace that, I think we are good. Some things will work, some won't, that's okay. But you need to embrace it.

Chad Jordan:                That's a great way to end this portion of the podcast with. I still have my five follow-up questions that I need to ask. This is how we'll wrap it up. Actually, I can't ask follow-ups to these questions, so I'll assign, I'll kind of bounce back and forth, then we'll get you guys out of here.

                                    Arif, let's start with you. What sound or noise do you love?

Arif Taj:                        I would have to say the ocean because my wife has taught me how to appreciate that.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, okay. I thought this math guy was gonna say "Calculators, punching the buttons."

Arif Taj:                        No I'm one of those weird people that actually has both sides of the brain working, the analogical side and the other side.

Chad Jordan:                And the emotional side.

Arif Taj:                        That side I've been taught, so I learned to appreciate it.

Chad Jordan:                All right, and then the follow-up, the second question there is, what sound or noise do you hate?

Arif Taj:                        Oh my gosh, you know I really don't hate things. So it's kind of hard for me to come up with something that I hate.

Chad Jordan:                How about questions about sounds or noises that you hate?

Arif Taj:                        Yeah, maybe that.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. I'll turn to Shamaila for the next question. What profession, other than your own, would you have been good at or at least have wanted to try?

Shamaila Taj:                Food critic.

Chad Jordan:                Food critic?

Shamaila Taj:                Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, as we sit here eating some vegan chili from this great place in the L.A. area. Okay. And the next two will go back to Arif. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Arif Taj:                        My family.

Chad Jordan:                Your family. You're not obligated to say that because she's sitting right ...

Arif Taj:                        No.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, all right.

Arif Taj:                        I mean, I am very proud of my three kids, they are just amazing. Big hearts, always giving.

Chad Jordan:                I love it. Last but not least, if Heaven indeed exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Arif Taj:                        "He made a difference."

Chad Jordan:                Hm, yeah. So back to your story that you told in the first episode, it made a difference to this one, of the starfish. I love that answer. Well guys, thank you so much for joining us. This has been another edition of the Sport Clips Hall of Fame podcast, hope everyone else out there has enjoyed it as much as we have. And have a wonderful day.

Arif Taj:                        Thank you, Jo.

Shamaila Taj:                Thank you guys.

Arif Taj:                        Jordan.

                                   

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:37:30]