We talk to Joe Evans, who has recently started running his franchise full time, and he tells us why he’s been able to …and why he’s looking forward to summer.
What was it that attracted you to a Leisure Leagues Franchise?
I am a qualified referee and used to referee in another area and I spotted the potential and saw how good the model was and wanted to keep the money at the end of the night rather than banking it for someone else
You seemed to get off the ground really quickly, what was the key to that success do you think?
Our philosophy is simple – ‘people just want to play football’. They often don’t want the hassle of sorting everything that goes with it. We’ve got it to the point where teams jut have to turn up and pay – they don’t really have to ‘do’ anything – I sort it all out for them. Also – getting the initial batch of teams is hardest – once a league starts, word of mouth spreads – especially in small towns and it attracts more teams. We went from 12-20 in 2 weeks in Uttoxeter!
You started another night in Uttoxeter, but you weren’t satisfied with just that? Where does the drive come from?
We had just the one night in the one area for 12 months and we both worked full time so didn’t have that much time to expand then we realised we were sitting on an opportunity we weren’t utilising – no matter how small and area might be – people just want to play football! We also had the opportunity to buy the two areas next to ours which was something I really wanted to do to maximise potential
I believe you have now made a move to make Leisure Leagues a full time career, was that a difficult decision to take?
Very. Obviously I have mortgage and bills to pay and it’s hugely scary but what we realised that we had a choice – stay working full time and only be able to run a few nights simply due to time constraints, or go full time and be able to expand quickly (the aim being my dad, Steve, who is equal partners, being able to retire also within 12 months). We quickly realised that having someone run it full time was a huge asset to expansion so, though it’s early days I feel it was the right decision.
Further to that, you are starting lot more leagues and have branched out into other areas, what advice would you give to those who are thinking of doing the same?
Do it. We sat for 12 months, even with one area, on 3, possibly 4 other centres we didn’t use, but are now utilising. Go for it, just be aware that there is only so much you can do after a full days work – and obviously doing this full time might not be for everyone. I don’t believe in luck – the harder you work the luckier you get but if you’re willing to put the work in the rewards are there – it’s a great business model.
And how are the new leagues going?
Great! We have 10 centres and leagues over 5 weeknights. Obviously some run on their own with the help of great staff and I regularly visit them and some I help run myself. Some, like Cheadle, Uttoxeter and Mickleover are at relative capacity, and some of the smaller areas are only 6 team leagues. We plan for 8 teams in each area minimum but always start as soon as there is six, because once the league has been running word does spread and other teams soon sign up. Something else we do is any team on the waiting list we will try and organise a friendly – space permitting – with one of our current teams, and charge a slightly lesser match fee. That way they get to play and we’re never short of friendly offers – people just want to play football!
Over the winter months, we seem to have a lot of rainy, windy nights. How has that been to deal with?
It’s grim sometimes, especially in the more rural areas – Matlock is so high up above sea level it has it’s own weather system! The first winter we were worried teams wouldn’t turn up but we’ve never had that issue, rain, snow, wind or shine teams turn up and play. It’s been the same with staff – I always worry they will cry off in bad weather but they never seem to. I guess the best thing to do is grin and bear it – and enjoy the summer!
Finally, I must ask, the image on your Uttoxeter page is pretty striking. Was that just luck or were you looking for a great shot?
A very good friend of mine – Justin Wright owns Boxman Media, a photography/videography company and we have a good deal in place with him he comes down to take action shots and also team photos and presentations – we always make a fuss of winners/runners up – and he caught that picture brilliantly so I can’t take credit for that!Back to Blog