SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

Finding the Right Business Venture for a Retired Football Pro

Buying a franchise “is akin to having a playbook,” says adviser Allan Boomer

Unlike some former professional athletes, a 31-year-old who recently retired from football was in very good shape financially. He had $10 million in the bank, no debt, trusts in place for his children and a diversified portfolio, says his longtime financial adviser Allan Boomer.

“All the boxes to financial wellness were checked,” says Mr. Boomer, whose firm, Momentum Advisors in New York, manages $70 million for 50 families.

But the man was restless about what to do next with his money and time, and Mr. Boomer was concerned about some of the private-equity options that others had pitched to his client.

Most of the deals called for the man to front all of a project’s capital in exchange for just a minority stake in the company, Mr. Boomer says. Others were passive investments that offered him no direct involvement.

“Rather than help him find investments to simply grow his money, we wanted to help him find good business opportunities that he could be a part of and really throw himself into,” the adviser says.

For years, Mr. Boomer had been attending a franchising conference that catered to professional athletes. And this year, he asked the client to join him.

The man had expressed an interest in owning his own company, and the adviser felt that franchises offered a number of advantages. In addition to franchises having a greater success rate than most startups and small businesses, he liked that franchises provide owners with clear operational guidelines.

“It’s akin to having a playbook,” says the adviser. “For an athlete who’s spent his life executing game plans—and doing that very well—it seemed like a model to which he would be well-suited.”

The client was inspired by the conference and the experience of meeting people who had made the transition from athlete into business owner. Although he initially expressed interest in investing in restaurants, the adviser encouraged the man to explore opportunities in other industries that he was both passionate about and in which had some expertise. In particular, Mr. Boomer suggested he consider something related to fitness.

The client was fervent about his own wellness and the wellness of others. He would regularly invite family and friends over to work out with him in his home gym and had even started a foundation promoting physical activity in children. “Owning a gym or fitness center would allow him to spend time around something that he really loved and contribute to the business in a meaningful way,” says Mr. Boomer. “It just felt like a good fit.”

The adviser introduced the man to another client who owned a series of gyms and could provide some insight into the industry. Those conversations confirmed the man’s interest in franchising opportunities and gave him the confidence to move forward.

Together, he and Mr. Boomer interviewed the owners of a number of fitness franchises and toured their facilities. The man opted to go with a franchiser whose candor, passion and family-oriented approach he admired. The adviser helped negotiate the franchise purchase and got a verbal assurance from the franchiser that he would partner closely with his client to help coach him through the process of getting the business off the ground.

Just 18 months after opening, the client’s gym is has begun to turn a profit.

“It’s been really rewarding to help him find a renewed sense of purpose,” says Mr. Boomer of his client. “There have been some trying times and growing pains over the past year, but above all, he’s happy.”