Fantastic Sams Legacy Owners: Creating Generations of EntrepreneursSeptember 25, 2018
Investing in a family franchise in a booming industry is a smart way to plan for your future as well as your children’s futures
As a teenager working in a Fantastic Sams salon in Upstate New York, Juliet Baaklini says taking it over someday was never her plan. She would put on her rollerblades and skate to the Glen Falls salon owned by her mother, Angela, not realizing it would someday be hers. Juliet worked there throughout college, and she became the manager after she graduated to help her mother. Just a few years later, she received a call:
“My mom called and said, ‘It’s official. I’m leaving, and the salon is yours,’” remembers Juliet. “It’s been my whole life, and it’s been a good life.”
Nearly 10 years after that call, Juliet has a leadership style that’s all her own. She utilizes the public relations skills she gained while earning her communications degree in college, focusing more on social media than her mother. However, making her own mark on the salon didn’t come without growing pains.
“When my mom left, it gave me the room to grow and do my own thing,” explains Juliet. “It’s hard when you’re the child of an owner because the stylists look at you as the child. I had to build respect.”
Juliet is one of many “legacy owners” in the Fantastic Sams system — owners who inherited salons from their parents. Some grew up with Fantastic Sams, helping their parents with odd jobs or greeting customers from the receptionist desk (Juliet became a receptionist at her mother’s salon when she was 17). Others teamed up with their parents, working alongside them as partners with the understanding they would eventually become the sole owners.
The lasting legacy of family-owned businesses
Family-owned businesses are the lifeblood of America’s economy, and Fantastic Sams provides the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs interested in leading their children toward entrepreneurship.
According to a recent study by SCORE, a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship services to business owners, family-owned businesses employ 60% of the U.S. workforce and create 78% of all new jobs. The study, which defines family businesses as those that are operated by two or more family members, says family-owned businesses generate 64% of the gross domestic product.
“We employ more than 70 people. Being able to provide a happy, positive environment for people at work is something to be excited about,” says Aaron Dalzell, whose parents own 11 salon franchises in southern Nevada.
Aaron’s parents opened a handful of Fantastic Sams salons in Nevada when he was a teenager. The family lived in California and later moved to Arizona; all the while, Aaron’s father would visit the salons on weekends. After Aaron graduated from business school, his father suggested Aaron move to Las Vegas for six months; he could be an on-site manager for the salons while figuring out his next step. That six months lasted indefinitely. Now, Aaron operates as COO of the family’s growing salon business, working in Nevada close to the salons while his father maintains his role as CEO from afar.
“My parents trust my decision-making abilities, but I know where the line is. I know when it’s time to call them,” explains Aaron. “Most of my decisions come from an operational level, and my dad handles the legal work. If it’s any type of decision that has a big impact, we’re all on the same page with it.”
When asked if there will ever be a time when his parents aren’t involved, Aaron says probably — but not anytime soon. “To my dad, working is a hobby. It’s what makes him tick, and he enjoys it.”
Planning for succession success
One reason many entrepreneurs decide to run a family franchise is that they want to create a legacy for their children. However, according to the SCORE survey, 47% of family business owners expecting to retire in five years do not have a successor.
Having a succession plan can make the transition easier for family members when it comes time to pass the torch. And the beauty industry is — and always will be — on fire.
The services Fantastic Sams provides can’t be replaced by technology, and the beauty industry is a sturdy $75 billion business. Handing down a Fantastic Sams salon to future generations is a surefire way to continue the family legacy of entrepreneurship. Passing down a salon also helps successors avoid the stress of starting a new business from scratch.
“I think we had a great blessing in the fact that we had my parents,” says Rebecca Pavlich, who owns a Fantastic Sams franchise in Colorado with her husband, Mike. “It’s a challenge to understand this industry in depth until you jump in and do it. My parents were a life preserver.”
Rebecca’s father was one of the first to open a Fantastic Sams in Denver about 30 years ago. Rebecca worked on and off with her parents for a decade running several locations, until they eventually scaled down to one salon. But when her parents decided to relocate to a warmer climate for her dad’s health, Rebecca stepped up to the plate and took over ownership. After Rebecca’s father passed away, her mother, although still retired, came back to help with the salon.
“My mom was really cutting-edge. She figured out a successful formula that involves lots of hard work and problem-solving,” explains Rebecca. “She’s always been a great counsel to me because she always understood our purpose as Fantastic Sams salon owners. What we do at the end of the day is hair. We make people feel good by helping them look good.”
Leading by example
Many of Fantastic Sams’ legacy owners didn’t grow up knowing they would someday take over their parents’ salons, and they don’t necessarily expect their children to become owners someday. However, they are setting strong, entrepreneurial examples for future generations by running a family franchise.
“I would recommend doing this. This is an industry that is secure, so I would certainly tell owners with children to think about handing the business over to their children,” says Juliet. “If you’re a parent who already has a well-established salon, lead by example. My mom set a wonderful example, so I followed her lead.”
Juliet has a young daughter and son, and she is often asked if her daughter, Gia, will take over the salon. Juliet says it will be up to her daughter, who at 8 years old is already greeting customers.
“If she decides she wants to do this when she’s out of college, I’ll do what my mom did and give her the salon,” says Juliet. “My mom is my best friend. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here, and the salon wouldn’t be here.”