Business savvy vs. salon savvy
What’s more important for a Fantastic Sams owner’s success?
Going to the salon will always be in style. The economy will take us on a rollercoaster ride, and technology will continuously shape the way our society functions, but the salon business is here to stay. Through the thickening and thinning of our wallets, our manes must be maintained — and a computer will never be able to do it for us. The hair care salon industry is a lucrative one, and all signs point to steady when looking at future growth.
It’s no wonder those with a mind for business want in.
The beauty industry is a $75 billion business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 673,000 barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists in the U.S. in 2016. That number is expected to grow by 13% over the next decade, thanks to population growth leading to greater demand for hair care services. But, what happens when a hairdresser wants to take that next step and open his or her own salon? What happens if an entrepreneur with a background in business, but no hair care salon experience, wants to join the growing industry? Both can do it, and both can be successful.
“We have a great mix of owners and their backgrounds,” explains Denise Gorlick, Fantastic Sams Vice President of Operations East. “We have owner-operators, stylists who worked for another franchisee and opened their own salon, and people who are family members of stylists. We’ll have people who have no industry experience whatsoever, such as a business person who sought out different franchise opportunities and decided to pursue Fantastic Sams. A lot of them continue to operate in the business roles they had prior to becoming a franchise owner but still continue to build their Fantastic Sams business.”
No (salon) experience required
Let’s make one thing clear: You don’t need salon experience to own a Fantastic Sams hair care franchise. A new owner needs a sharp business mind more than a sharp pair of scissors. While stylists are busy styling, an owner needs to be able to focus on the bigger picture.
“You shouldn’t be cutting hair if you’re running a salon. It’s very difficult to do both,” says Barbara Hurst, who owns a Fantastic Sams salon in Doylestown, PA. “There’s a lot of work involved in managing a business and managing it right. A business owner should be watching the numbers and figuring out traffic patterns. When an owner is also a stylist, if another stylist calls out, you’ll be the first one to step in — and that’s not what you should be doing as a business owner.”
Hurst should know. Along with owning a Fantastic Sams salon, she’s also a full-time accountant. That wasn’t the case when she opened her salon 17 years ago. She was taking a break from her successful accounting career to raise her young children. Her inspiration to become a Fantastic Sams owner came after a disappointing experience at a different salon franchise location in Pennsylvania.
“I went to get my hair done, and I thought ‘I can’t believe this place is open for business,’” says Hurst. “It was always busy, but it was dirty, and the stylists were not very customer-service oriented.”
In Hurst’s case, having experience as both an accountant and a typical salon customer was all she needed to understand how to own a Fantastic Sams salon. That, and a strong support system.
Support for success
Regardless of business or salon experience prior to opening a location, no new franchisee is alone. Fantastic Sams provides every new owner with a Franchise Business Consultant to guide them and their staff toward success. Every region has its own regional director, operations specialist and stylist educator, and they are all available to help get a new salon up and running.
There are many levels to managing a salon, and hiring a general manager allows owners the ability to focus on the bigger picture. The general manager handles day-to-day management of the salon and its stylists, while owners keep an eye on the business. Owners and managers work closely with Fantastic Sams’ stylist educators, who train new stylists and make sure everyone is well versed in the latest trends in hair care. Every owner, manager and stylist will be familiar with Fantastic Sams’ techniques and processes before they are presented with customers. That cushion of support remains throughout a salon’s lifetime — from monthly meetings to classes to phone calls.
Be prepared to work
That’s not to say new owners don’t have to put any work into their new business. While they can (and should) rely on the support they will receive from Fantastic Sams and their undoubtedly talented stylists, they should be prepared to do some hard work.
“You’ve got to be willing to dedicate time to it,” says Earl Wise, who owns two salons in Michigan. “Too many businesses out there will tell you that all you have to do is get a staff in there and then you don’t even have to go in there. I don’t believe in that at all.”
Many owners would agree it’s not as simple as signing the papers and handing the responsibilities over to a team of workers. Owners will need to draw from their experience and put their sharp business skills to use.
“If you’re going to own your own business, you better own it,” says Hurst. “You have to be involved in your business. And I think you will find, if you talk to multiple owners, the ones who are more successful are the ones who are more involved.”
Every owner brings his or her own background and personal skills to the table. Regardless of their experience, Fantastic Sams hair care salon offers the tools owners need to succeed, providing everyone with the opportunity to take advantage of the booming salon industry.