Veteran Fantastic Sams Franchise Owner Shares Secrets to His 30-Year Success

Following the Fantastic Sams franchise system paid off for Glen Adams of Louisville, Kentucky

Fantastic Sams was founded in 1974 by Sam Ross, a Memphis barber who had a vision of a no-appointment, walk-in hair salon that catered to customers who needed high-quality hair services. Glen and Rosemary Adams of Louisville, Kentucky, bought their first two Fantastic Sams salons during the early days of the company, and they bought them from Sam Ross himself.

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“Sam was a consummate entrepreneur. He was a promoter,” Glen recalls. “He said to me, ‘Son, you buy a franchise from me, I will make you a millionaire. I guarantee that.’”

The Adamses dreamed of a life with more freedom, flexibility — and ultimately more profits — than what corporate America offered them. Fast-forward 30 years and you’ll find that Fantastic Sams franchise ownership delivered on that dream for the couple. They own 17 thriving Fantastic Sams salons in the Louisville region, and as Regional Franchisor, Glen has helped franchise more than 90 Fantastic Sams in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Montana, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

While Glen and Rosemary honor Fantastic Sams’ 40-year legacy, they also are excited about the brand’s future. Glen says he believes in Dessange International of France, which bought Fantastic Sams in 2012, and in the company’s top-to-bottom “Brand Evolution” that was launched in October.

“We are off to a good start,” he says.

Sam’s vision gave them a start

Glen and Rosemary bought their first two Fantastic Sams as a “two-for-the-price-of-one” deal. At first they ran their salons as a side business, with Glen managing the stores and Rosemary keeping the books and doing office work. After two years, Glen was able to leave his corporate job and work full-time for himself.

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“I was attracted to Fantastic Sams by the company’s franchise system and low initial investment,” Glen says. “We were serious about the business, and finally it got so big I had to quit my job.

“I remember going into that first little salon with six employees and almost no customers and saying, ‘Man, we are going to be big,’ ” he adds.

Follow the system

Glen and Rosemary credit their success with Fantastic Sams to several factors. At the top of the list is the fact that they followed the Fantastic Sams system from the get-go. Other success factors include having the willingness to learn tried-and-true business principles and learning how to interact with and manage stylists.

“The Fantastic Sams franchise system shows how to provide good value for the money,” Glen says. “You have to know how to manage labor costs, and you have to trust the employees will always give good customer service.”

“Whether you are just starting out believing that employees are out to get you and they cannot be trusted, or you start out believing that employees generally want to do the right thing — either way you manage, you will prove yourself right,” Glen adds. “The return on investment can be very good. I think it can be the right fit for the right person. I have some franchisees that do very well.”

When it comes right down to it, running a Fantastic Sams franchise is what Glen calls “making money the old-fashioned way.”

“Half the battle is showing up,” he says. “Sometimes people pay a lot of money for a franchise system, and they won’t pay attention to what you tell them. You need two things to succeed — follow the system and show up every day.”

Treat people right

Glen believes new franchisees succeed best when they hire good employees and trust them to do their jobs. And, he says, they need to understand that there’s often some some turnover with young, transient hairstylists.

“We do a good job of keeping key management people,” Glen says, adding that creating a pleasant work environment is a key factor in keeping employees long-term.

“If they are having fun, they will stay,” he says. “If not, they will leave. A small difference in pay between one salon or the other does not make much difference for employees — they are concerned about quality of life.”

Glen says he owes a lot to his loyal employees and that he will one day turn his Fantastic Sams salons over to his employees.

“You don’t build a business with 200 employees all by yourself,” he adds.

The advantages of a ‘low-tech’ franchise

Unlike many businesses, a Fantastic Sams salon is not heavily dependent on technology. Glen sees this as a big plus for current and would-be Fantastic Sams franchises.

“It turns out that haircuts are pretty low-tech, so you don’t get put out on the street every time new technology comes out,” Glen says. “Until there’s technology that allows customers to stick their head in a device, push a button and receive a haircut, color or perm, hair salons will always be needed.”

He says even if the push-button haircut is invented, salons offer something perhaps even more important to customers.

“We are the bottom rung of counselors and psychologists,” Glen says with a laugh. “That’s what we do. It’s cheaper than going to the psychologist.”

Learn more about Fantastic Sams salon franchise

You don’t need any salon experience to open a Fantastic Sams salon franchise; you just have to be passionate about people and have good business sense. If you are thinking of making the leap to business owner independence, start the journey by signing up for our free franchise report. You may also want to read Fantastic Sams franchise review on our company blog. We look forward to hearing from you!

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