22 Dec Franchisee Spotlight of the Month: Sandy Allen
Sandy Allen, Amazing Athletes of Charlotte
Each month, Amazing Athletes will spotlight a new franchisee to share his or her distinct experiences as an Amazing Athletes business owner in and out of the classroom. This is the first in a series of monthly blogs to highlight a day in the life of an Amazing Athletes owner.
When Sandy and Jeff Allen first bought their Amazing Athletes franchise in April 2014, they didn’t realize just how many of life’s challenges would descend on them at the same time. Jeff’s mother’s battle and loss to Stage 4 cancer in late spring and their daughter’s wedding in June meant they would have to put their business launch on hold.
Despite a rocky start, the Allens quickly got to work after their daughter’s wedding celebration, hitting the pavement to get Amazing Athletes’ program into preschool classrooms throughout North Charlotte. By Sept. 1, Sandy was teaching classes in five schools and experiencing weekly growth in many of her classrooms.
“We started one school with three kids, then the next week it was 10 kids, and the week after that it was 13 kids,” said Sandy. “I didn’t know if this was normal, but I just went in, was open, and just had fun in the classroom.”
Sandy, a retired middle and high school math teacher, and Jeff, a salesman, decided to purchase their franchise after experiencing income volatility during the economic downturn.
“Instead of being reactive, we decided to be proactive and control our own family’s destiny,” said Sandy.
While Sandy runs the franchise operation, Jeff acts as a strong supporter at home, educating Sandy about the art of sales and acting as a sounding board when Sandy needs it most.
“That’s what makes us work so well,” she said. “It’s great to be a team.”
Despite Sandy’s experience teaching, she was nervous about starting the franchise at first due to the numerous learning curves that often come with being a business owner.
“Being a teacher has its benefits. I’ve never had to go out and sell anything before,” she said. “On the first sale, I went with my husband, but I had to go back for a second time on my own. I left without getting their email or setting up a demo… Now, I do that first.”
Other unexpected challenges included finding and hiring the right coach and learning how to run her accounting software, but in the end, the flexibility of her schedule and the smiles on the kids faces make it all worth it, she says.
“The biggest advantage is that for the first time in my life, I have the flexibility to make a doctor’s appointment, get a haircut, and do things for me,” she said. “I can actually gather my thoughts, do my paperwork, evaluate and reflect on my classes, and take care of everything I need to in a day.”
On top of that, Sandy has had the chance to witness children overcoming enormous obstacles and experience the warmth of the human spirit firsthand.
For example, one mother’s son loves Amazing Athletes’ program so much that her boss decided to sponsor one child’s tuition each month to take the class.
In her Amazing Tots class, she has a 2-year-old who was born with a leg defect and wears a leg brace. Despite the physical obstacle, Amazing Athletes is his favorite class and he is making tremendous strides that far exceed anyone’s expectations in his motor development. In fact, one day the child’s mother called Sandy to tell her that both she and her doctor have seen incredible improvements in the tot’s motor skills, which they attribute entirely to Amazing Athletes’ program.
“Here’s this kid with a major disability who is able to improve his motor skills so much that there is doctor support behind it,” she said. “Now, the state may actually pay for him to continue our program to continue advancing his development.”
Stories like these occur every day in the life of an Amazing Athletes owner.
“The kids just put a smile on my face,” said Sandy. “In the work world, you don’t always get that.”
Sandy and Jeff have recently acquired South Charlotte’s territory, and Sandy’s goal in the new year is to offer her program with a team of coaches to 100 kids in all of Charlotte by the end of January 2015.