JoBen & Amanda Barkey, Franchise Rock Stars, Soccer Shots

JoBen and Amanda Barkey were nominated for a 2022 Rock Star Award by the Soccer Shots leadership team under the Giving Back category. They were chosen by Franchise Business Review from among 200+ nominations for their outstanding achievements as a Soccer Shots franchise owners in Orange County, CA.

What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?

The advice we have is the same advice we would give to anyone considering going into business with someone else. Some of the most important and often overlooked questions you need to be asking are value-related questions. The ‘What’ and the ‘How’ can be figured out along the way, but if your ‘Why’ isn’t aligned then it is going to be very challenging to find long-term success in a Franchise System. A successful franchise is a system full of franchisees who see themselves as partners with a larger organization, working to mutually benefit each other. If your values are in contrast with the values of the Franchisor, then the partnership will face significant challenges and likely really struggle to find long-term success.

If you could start all over again, which mistake(s) would you avoid? What were your best decisions?

If we could start over again, we would build our company within the framework of an operating system from day one. The best decision we made was to read the book Traction a few years into running the business, and immediately starting the journey toward implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) into our business. It changed everything in our business, and in our personal lives for the better. It gave us accountability and measurables to track that were predictive instead of reactive. It allowed us to expand confidently by duplicating our early success. It also gave us freedom in the form of more ownership of our time, and opportunities to pursue other passions, and we finally began to be fairly compensated. It made such an impact on us, that Amanda is now actually a Professional EOS Implementer, helping other business owners experience the same freedom we now experience.

Is there a book or podcast that has helped you in starting or building your business?

The book Traction, and all of Gino Wickman’s books actually. We give those learnings a lot of credit for why our business is running so well today, and why we are in a good post-Covid position. His recent book, Entrepreneural Leap, has even given us the tools to have effective conversations with our young children regarding second-generation business ownership. The other book I would recommend is 5 Voices, this book gave us the communication tools we needed to become even better at hearing what our staff was meaning rather than just what they were saying. It also helped strengthen our communication as a couple as well. We can’t be more grateful for all the peace and joy we have been able to experience in all our internal communication as a family-run business.

What is your proudest achievement in your franchising career so far?

Our proudest achievements have been the ability to attract really great people to our organization, who stay working for us for many years in an industry that can experience high turnover. We love the culture we have built and the fruits of an intentional and uncompromising pursuit of organizational alignment – from the founders to the newest hires.

Did the pandemic and recession impact your business and, if so, what were the lessons learned from the experience?

Yes, it significantly impacted us. We learned that in the most challenging times kindness and compassion can go a long way toward living out our Core Values and that we could positively impact every single person we connected with even if they initially came to us in a negative way. We learned that people sometimes choose to express fear and anxiety through anger, because it is an emotion they understand. We really leaned into our core values and just kept delivering kindness and compassion over and over again, reinforcing what we already knew which was that our culture would be more valuable than any survival strategy we could come up with.

What do you like most about your franchise organization today?

The community. Without a doubt, one of the greatest gifts to our life was gaining the community of Soccer Shots owners as peers and as friends. Some of them have become my closest and best friends over the years. Just this year one of my closest friends Corey Collins, who also owns a Soccer Shots franchise, ran an Ironman and we flew to Houston solely to cheer him on and support him in that massive accomplishment. Friendships like that that are an unexpected bonus to joining this franchise system. There have been important relationships that have richly contributed to our lives.

Why is giving back important to you? What role does giving back play in your life and your business?

JoBen grew up in a 3rd world country surrounded by opportunities to give back. It was ingrained in his DNA that life can be very different and much more difficult outside of the US and Canada. We intentionally built this organization as a giving organization, committed to donating 50% of our profits to sponsor thousands of children and many projects internationally.

Some of those projects include sponsoring 15 soccer academies in Africa and South America, including building and donating an artificial turf soccer complex in Peru where JoBen grew up. Our organization has paid for cancer treatments for a widow with four children and no health insurance, for funerals of eight children killed in civil war conflicts, and we’ve recently covered the costs of getting a family out of Ukraine and we continue to financially sponsor their immigration to Canada. In Cameroon specifically, we have paid for all the education costs of two refugee teens and fully financed the startup of three family-run and owned small businesses as well as one in Peru. And we aren’t done yet!

Parents who sign their children up for our Soccer Shots soccer classes may not have any idea what our organization does or how those dollars are being used to better the lives of others, but the truly inspiring part for us is, that every single employee who works for us does know, and understands exactly that service to others is why we are in business. We the owners and each of our employees are all aligned and rowing hard in the same direction. Our culture beats our strategy every single time.

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