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Franchise News

When it Comes to Opening a New Salons by JC Location, Mindy Ratcliff Found That it’s Easier the Second Time Around

Mindy Ratcliff went from 18 years as a stay-at-home mom to overseeing construction on Salons by JC franchises, and she’s having the time of her life.  “I love touring with prospects and meeting young people who always dreamed of opening their own salons,” she says. “I don’t even feel like I’m at work.”

Owning a business had always been her husband John’s dream, she says, and after looking at several types of franchises, the duo focused on the salon-suite model because of the people involved and the hours it would require. After talking to competitors, they chose Salons by JC because it had on-site concierge and the owners “were warm, welcoming and supportive.” Now the Ratcliffs are opening their second location, and Mindy is the day-to-day front person while John is the business force behind the scenes.

“I never thought I’d be overseeing construction,” laughs Mindy. “Our first location opened in Round Rock, TX, three years ago, and the main difference is that I’m confident now. I know it’s important to go to the site once or twice a week because it keeps everyone accountable.”

While the build-out for the Austin, TX, location began just two weeks ago, Mindy is confident her June 26th opening date will be met because there’s so much she’s learned along the way that has helped her work smarter.

Best Lessons Learned

When the couple began looking for second-location sites, the shopping center they initially considered did not have a lot of stores that drew women. Partially based on input from Salons’ by JC’s President, Steve Griffey, they decided to keep looking until they found a site near lots of female traffic. That’s important to both potential tenants and to their clientele.

Some other key factors that are easing the way:

  • Careful Site Selection. The Ratcliffs knew to consider salon saturation and number of nearby competitive suites. (There’s one franchise and one non-franchise in their market). Realizing she had to be available to both locations, Mindy also wanted one that put her home right in the middle. That way, she could reach either one easily in an emergency.
  • Better Build-Out Planning. While the Austin location is a little over half the size of the Ratcliff’s Round Rock location (26 suites vs. 43), this time they knew to add more double suites (6 vs. 4) because there are always tenants who want to save money and enjoy a friend’s company. What was truly different, which dual-location franchisees run into often, was what the local Austin area required.

“Austin is very pro-environment, so many things are not allowed,” stresses Mindy. “Because of regulations that keep the area ‘green,’ we used a firm that builds in Austin often and we hired a construction overseer. We also hired an expeditor for about $7,000 because we knew getting permits would take longer. Our opening date is June 26th and we’ll try for the last permit, the certification of occupancy, on the 19th.  I learned that there are always a few little changes after the inspection.”

  • Earlier Tenant Prospecting. Having learned that “you can’t market soon enough,” Mindy began doing so as soon as she signed the second lease. With a micro site from the corporate-recommended Bluewater franchise marketing agency, this time she paid for Google ad words , which got her phone calls from day one. Now the marketing company is developing and placing Facebook ads for her: “Something I didn’t even know I could have done last time.”

While everything is moving ahead as planned, Mindy says she still keeps a close eye on her competitors in both markets.

“Whenever we put out a four- or eight-week rental special, I noticed that they do the same to stay close to us,” she says. “Apparently, we’re the marketing leader. But you have to stay on top of it, and I check area pricing every three or four months.  While we want to stay competitive, it’s not just about price. At our first location, the concierge and manager we hired put us above and beyond our competitors. Clients are walked back to the suite, walk-ins are given an overview of the tenants and their specialties, and the client feedback on being greeted by their names when they enter the facility has been excellent.”

The only thing left is to add a little leeway for those hot-to-move-in tenants at the Austin location. While still anticipating a June 26th opening, Mindy is giving tenants a July 1st move-in date,  just in case there are quick occupancy-permit adjustments to make.

“I never want my tenants to be disappointed,” she says.

 

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Specialist Spotlight

Salons by JC Superstar – Lily Tirado Reyes

All she needed was scissors and a chair and a great location

Creating the perfect enjoyable environment for her clientele to come in for a haircut and walk out looking and feeling their very best, was Lily Tirado Reyes’ key motivator in joining the Salons by JC – Dominion Ridge family a year ago.  “Giving people the kind of quality haircut and service they expect is incredible, especially when your name is on the salon,” stated an enthusiastic Reyes, who specializes in men’s and boy’s haircuts at her salon, “Rock The Cut”.

“I am able to express my personality in my suite decor, work at my own pace, and keep my own profit.  This venture has made me work smarter and not harder”, says Lily.  When in her suite she is in her happy place, “I enjoy coming to work because it doesn’t feel like work”.  Her “Man Cave”, as she calls it, is her home away from home.  “It’s a very laid back environment, which is what I love most about my salon suite”, said Reyes.

Lily’s bright personality and dedication to her clients keep a constant smile on her face.  “You have to put in the work in the beginning, but it is so worth it once you settle in.”  With suite ownership comes lots of responsibilities and the Salons by JC family is there to help every step of the way.  A bonus to her being her own boss is that her clients become like family to her.  “I boost confidence and change attitudes with each haircut, each visit we become more acquainted and we become a community”, stated Reyes.

WHY SALONS BY JC?

After working for over eleven years at different salons, the thought of salon suite ownership had crossed her mind many times.  Her friend and fellow colleague, Krystal, talked to her about salon suites at Salons by JC.  Being timed on clients, not having any privacy, and constant interruptions made her take the first steps toward researching salon suite ownership.  “After talking to Krystal, I stopped by the Dominion Ridge location and toured the facility. Our concierge could see how nervous I was and took her time to provide me with all the information I needed to begin the process of becoming my own boss.”

A key selling point for Lily was the location.  Having the majority of her clients from the Dominion area was a huge factor in her decision. Her solid clientele base has enabled her to enjoy flexibility of schedule and given her room to flourish in her professional career.  

WHEN YOU’RE THE BOSS, YOU MAKE THE RULES

“For many years I missed out on so many family events because I was working, that doesn’t happen anymore.”  A luxury of being your own boss is having the flexibility of creating your own schedule, making your own hours, and having the ability to enjoy peace of mind. Most of her free time is spent outdoors, enjoying things that “break the daily routine”.  “I love to hike, bike, travel, and doing obstacle courses with my husband. I enjoy trying new things, as long as they don’t involve heights. YIKES!”, Reyes said with an expressive face.

  

FUTURE GOALS

“The best part about salon suite ownership is, its preparing me to move on to bigger things.  My goal is to one day own a Barbershop.” Lily is attaining all the tools she needs as a small business owner. Learning about retail sales, working with vendors, daily operations, marketing, and customer service are just a few of the things that Lily has obtained in her one year at Salons by JC.  “Gaining the skills and knowledge are the steps I am taking to reach my goal, and I’m halfway there, thanks to Salons by JC”,

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Franchise News

Salons By JC Multi-Unit Franchises Allow Would-Be Disruptors To Pioneer Markets

You’d think by now that everyone knows salon suites are the way of the future. Not so. In the Northeast, the concept is still fairly new to salon professionals. That’s why Lauren Vermette decided that when a proven model works, three locations are better than one, as long as you understand the opportunities and the challenges.
Says Vermette, whose brother is a silent partner in her Boston-area Salons by JC franchises, “I went to graduate school for entrepreneurship and realized the Salons by JC concept makes women’s entrepreneurship a reality in an industry where it wouldn’t otherwise be attainable. We’re really selling a lifestyle that empowers others.”

To realize her dream of helping women become entrepreneurs, Vermette says she chose Salons by JC because the franchise was accessible and reasonable. “When I saw how the model really worked, I thought why stop at one location when I can have three—especially since there’s a reduced fee for three and I’d get to pioneer a market,” she says.
According to franchise consulting firm FRANdata, Vermette isn’t alone in her thinking: Multi-unit ownership is becoming the norm in the franchise world, with multi-unit franchisees owning 53% of the 450,000-plus franchise units nationwide. Advantages include getting the best locations in a larger protected territory, enjoying reduced opening fees and being able to leverage experience and economies of scale. Challenges in the salon-suite franchise world, says Vermette, are creating awareness of a newer concept (which means planning on it taking longer to break even) and simultaneously juggling multiple openings.

Tips for Trailblazers

Vermette had planned her openings about one year apart but one landlord moved up the build-out date and another rolled it back. As a result, she ended up opening two of her three locations within about two months of one another. One was in Stoneham, MA, and the other in Burlington/Lexington, MA, which made getting different permits and mastering details a challenge.
“I paid a construction management company because they know all the details about differing local permits and do the contractor bidding with you,” she says. “Lexington is very conservative, and it took longer to get signage up there because the municipality needed to know every detail about the color and size of our signage, and they dragged their feet on issuing the permit. I ended up opening without an external sign, which I needed to create awareness and tenants needed for clients to find them easily.”
In addition to advising you get all permits as early as possible, Vermette suggests that multi-unit pioneers like herself avoid super-close dual-openings if possible. Then, she says, you’ll be able to apply what you learned from the first opening to the second one. Also consider adding a few extra larger suites to “hot” locations.  “There are always two or three tenants who want to go in together because they’re used to a salon atmosphere and want to split costs,” says Vermette. “If I shared just one piece of advice, it would be to know your area and differences within it!” (A few of her tenants actually location-swapped once they knew there was a second option.)  Creating awareness in a new market may be the biggest challenge, she says, and to do that she joined the local Board of Education for trade schools, became a member of three different Chambers of Commerce, began speaking to women’s groups (whose members could all tell their hairstylists) and increased her social media presence.
“When a concept is new, you have to help potential tenants overcome fear, “ notes Vermette. “The more you can support them, the better.”

Kate Indigaro, a esthetician and make-up artist whose Glametics studio is in Vermette’s Stoneham location, was one of the pros who was happy for that hand holding. She says that suite rental was unheard of in the state and she couldn’t even picture it.
“The minute I walked into the building I had butterflies,” she recalls. “I talked with both Lauren and (concierge) Alisha, and they made me feel very comfortable. Going out on your own is definitely a risk. They gave me many options for leasing that helped make my decision easier.”
Whether the concept is new to the area or not, salon pros generally have the same questions like, “Do I need a business license?” and “How do I take credit cards?” Provide them with a list of everything they need to know, as well as a packet on business-building tactics, advises Vermette. Help them do a “Build Your Business Plan” in which their rent gradually increases as they grow. And show them that if they charge, for instance, $180 for a cut and color and get tips, just two clients in one day will cover their weekly rent.
Such personalized support makes a huge difference, notes Ariel Kotzias of Salon Ariel in Vermette’s Burlington/Lexington location.
“I loved that Lauren took the time to chat and get to know me,” she says. “At each step, I always felt like I was dealing with people, not a business entity. I love having my own space and that I could change everything in it, including the sink and the colors, to make it more appealing for doing hair color. This is where the industry is going in the future.”

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Franchise News

Guy Tang calls Salons by JC Chicago his home for ABS event

All the glitz and glam of Hollywood arrived at the Salons by JC Chicago location when “Hair Activist” Guy Tang came to town for the America’s Beauty Show produced by Cosmetologists Chicago.  The 3-day event is the ultimate destination for serious beauty professionals, with more than 70,000 in attendance every year.

 

The Hollywood – Chicago Connection

Salons by JC Chicago owners, Bob and Jeana Lang, received an inquiry 3 to 4 months prior to the event from the Guy Tang team.  “They were looking at salon suite day rentals to prepare the hair models for the ABS show”, said Bob Lang.  In this case, it worked out for them having two double suites available for them to use. “Guy Tang said that the salon was beautiful.”  Guy Tang’s team came in on Wednesday to prepare the rooms that were going to be used and worked relentlessly Thursday and Friday until late evening to make sure their hair models would be ready for the show.

Guy Tang – “Hair Activist”

The Guy Tang salon is based in West Hollywood, CA – WeHo.  He is best known for his haircolor designs and for being a popular Social Media Influencer with close to 2 million followers on his Instagram account guy_tang.  He created the #myidentity hair color line to add customized colors that were not available from today’s haircolor.  He also created the #hairbestie community that empowers one another to change the industry and promote each individual identity.

Guy Tang left some treats behind for the Salons by JC Chicago location tenants, samples of his hair color line #myidentity.  He was also very happy to take photos with the tenants and answered any questions they had for him. “We are so glad that we got to see him in action, he is a chemist”, stated Bob Lang.  “We would love to host them again, if we have the available space.”

Written By Marlene Romo Flores
Salons by JC – Marketing Coordinator