Trisha Hart

Expansion Case Study: All Star Legacy

Expansion Case Study: All Star Legacy

Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? Many business owners answer the call for expansion and go on to open multiple locations. To learn more about this approach, CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. Learn how All Star Legacy tackles the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand:

Expansion Case Study #3: All Star Legacy
Locations: 4 including one franchise (Virginia and West Virginia)
Combined Number of Athletes: 700+

Trisha Hart, co-owner and coach, speaks about her motivation to open additional locations.

CP: How did you come to own multiple locations for All Star Legacy?

Hart: We never looked to expand. We never had the intention, but opportunities presented themselves. When things feel right, it’s right.

CP: Was this personal for you, or was it about business?

Hart: I am passionate about the sport and the industry; I wanted to provide athletes what I had experienced. Our philosophy when it comes to coaching style is “kids come first.” Now we have four locations and 700 kids that compete, and that all came from one dream. I didn’t want to be bigger and better, but there is a financial reward.

CP: From a business standpoint, what did you look at before opening additional gyms?

Hart: We looked at profit and loss—it’s a very basic business model. You must make sure each location can operate on its own. You need to know your bottom line: facility and operational expenses, such as utilities, payroll, travel, equipment, insurance and taxes, as well as bank fees, merchant provider fees, competition fees/surcharges, uniform deposits and other associated costs that might show up. If you can’t keep the lights on, you can’t play the music.

CP: How do you deal with the geographical distance between locations? How do you split your time?

Hart: While we are one program with four locations, we make sure each can operate independently. We communicate day and night about concerns. We listen to those concerns, have conference calls and find solutions. We work together and I trust our staff. I don’t have a regimented schedule as to visiting each gym but I am always available. If an issue develops at one location, we will drop everything and travel.

CP: Any parting advice for others looking to grow their cheer programs by expanding beyond a single gym?

Hart: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask anybody and everybody! We are in this industry together and there isn’t a guidebook. Though we are competitors, we are all in it for the kids. 

Candid Coach: Trisha Hart of All-Star Legacy

Candid Coach: Trisha Hart of All-Star Legacy

Meet Trisha Hart, now in her 10th year as co-owner of All-Star Legacy (a decorated cheer gym with three locations in Virginia and West Virginia), coach for the program’s Mini Level One and Youth Level Two teams, and cheer consultant/choreographer. We snagged this busy cheer professional for a candid Q&A—read what she had to say below:

CP: What is one thing you wish you’d known when starting out?

Trisha: I would have liked to find more balance from the beginning. In this industry, you work from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to bed, and at first, I sacrificed a lot of my personal friendships and family relationships to bring the gym great success. I also invested a lot of emotion into the clients and kids, which I wouldn’t take back, but in retrospect, I wish someone had told me not to take it so personally when kids would leave and go to a different gym.

CP: You spend a lot of time training coaches from other programs. What’s one thing you think coaches could do differently as a whole?

Trisha: After seeing Worlds on ESPN or certain YouTube videos, coaches often have expectations that their kids will be able to do those things, but teaching them how to get there is something we’re lacking. A good test-taker might be able to get credentialed very high, but at the end of the day, hands-on training and being able to communicate with different athletes is bigger than anything else. Going to a gym or practicing 3-10 hours a week and having them repeat bad habits won’t get progress. Coaches need to be more hands-on, and I blame that on lack of training that we’re offering as an industry.

Q: Name something you wouldn’t do again as a coach.

Trisha: Relying on parent volunteers to be the communication of the business. We’ve worked with a lot of parents to get messages to the masses—each team has one or two parent representatives. I’ve learned that giving them the reins can sometimes bite you in the butt, as your words can be misconstrued. It’s great to have parent volunteers, but not necessarily as a main line of information.

CP: Talk about trends you’re seeing in choreography.

Trisha: Right now, it’s too skill-based. Look at any event producer’s scorecard—in order to get a quantity score, you end up jam-packing two minutes and thirty seconds with so many skills that you lose all the flashy fun. Showmanship and entertainment value are what competitive cheerleading was originally built for, but we’re starting to get away from them. We have to do so much in a routine that we’re counting the number of elements and skills versus appreciating the creativity of what we do. In maximizing the scoresheet, we lose the creative overall effect and appeal. I’d love to see it all be one big package again, but the only way that will happen is by not expecting so much.

CP: How would you sum up your coaching approach?

Trisha: Passionate and energetic about our industry and coaching, with high expectations for all athletes’ growth and development—no matter what age or ability level.

Now Hiring: 5 Questions to Ask a Potential Employee

Now Hiring: 5 Questions to Ask a Potential Employee

When All-Star Legacy owner Trisha Hart was making a key hire, all signs seemed to point to “go.” After all, “John Smith”* received glowing references from former employers and his background check appeared spotless. Hart flew Smith from the Midwest to her Virginia location for a trial run, after which she ended up hiring him. “Fast forward to three months later, when the cops are coming in giving him a subpoena,” says Hart. Smith had impregnated an underage cheerleader at his former gym and was later arrested on multiple counts of sexual misconduct. “I later found out [the other gyms] were giving great reference checks so he’d move across the country,” Hart shares.

Obviously, not all hires result in not-so-happy endings, but it’s clear that references and background checks are just one part of the bigger picture. Listening to your own instincts may be just as vital to making the right hiring decisions—and asking the right questions is the best way to get a feel for who a candidate really is. We asked human resources expert Shirley McAllister, CPP, for some pointers on what to look for in responses from a potential cheer employee:

1. HONESTY

“Honesty, integrity, high morals—however you want to say it, if the employee is working around young people, they need to be of good character,” says McAllister. One way to test an applicant’s honesty is to check up on all references and to verify the accuracy of all resume content.

Sample interview question for honesty: “What would you do if someone asked you to do something unethical or immoral?” or “In what business situations would honesty be inappropriate?”

2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Effective communication skills are crucial for any position—especially when working with kids in a sports setting. “Employees need to know how to communicate with the athlete, the parent, and co-workers,” says McAllister.

Sample interview question for communication: “How would you critique an athlete who may be doing a skill in the wrong way?” or “How would you resolve an issue with a co-worker?”

3. PATIENCE

“Patience is a must when working with young people,” McAllister explains. “You need an even-tempered employee, not someone who will yell and scream, as that will accomplish nothing.” If possible, observe the potential hire in this type of environment beforehand to get a feel for how they’ll work under pressure.

Sample interview question for patience: “Tell me about a situation that really tested your patience and how you solved it.”

4. ATTITUDE

Our industry revolves around good energy, so finding someone with a positive, energetic attitude is a no-brainer. McAllister points out: “If the employee has a bad attitude, it can cause others in the group to have a bad attitude.” Encourage the candidate to describe the best and worst aspects of the job in order to get his or her take on work.

Sample interview question for attitude: “How would your mother describe your attitude toward work?” or “What are your coping techniques for a bad day?”

5. KNOWLEDGE

“Knowledge is essential to getting the job done. The employee can’t teach if they don’t have the knowledge to do so,” McAllister says. An applicant’s credentials and resume—particularly, the section that lists skills and experience—should clue you in on his or her knowledge. During the interview, ask specific, technical questions to get a better picture of their grip on terminology and skills.

Sample interview question for knowledge: “What do you think will be the next big skill or trend in the cheerleading world?” or “What rule changes do you agree and disagree with?”

Of course, busy gym owners may have limited time to get to know applicants, which means that educated guesswork will be necessary to find the right fit for the position. When in doubt, keep McAllister’s mantra for the ideal gym employee in mind: “a cheerful, friendly, outgoing person with good values and a great attitude.” Keep this in mind during the interview process, and you’ll be one step closer to making the right choice.

**Pseudonym used for privacy