Brent Koughan is always looking for new ways to succeed. With a marketing, sales and business background, he has strong skills in everything from project management to reading a P&L. But one day, the entrepreneur discovered that a trucking company, which he had bought, sold and then bought back, just wasn’t fun anymore. The thrill was gone.
“I wasn’t enjoying it, so I sold my shares and left with no plan,” he says. “Then, I made a list of what I wanted my life to look like. “
What dovetailed with that image was a Salons by JC franchise, in part because he could own it but also because once suites were rented, his selling time would end. It wouldn’t be like selling sandwiches. What he hadn’t foreseen but probably should have was that his interaction with other entrepreneurs—his suite owners—would become the most enjoyable part of his day.
“They ask for sales and marketing ideas, which is something I’m good at and enjoy,” says Brent. “I genuinely love working with them.” As a member of the Salons by JC Marketing Council, he also gets to double his pleasure by brainstorming best practices with other franchisees.
Before you can interact with potential tenants, you have to attract them, which is often the biggest challenge for franchisees. In opening his first Salons by JC location in Coon Rapids, MN, Brent had the location scouting, lease negotiation and construction part down pat—it was already part of his wheelhouse. What he needed to work on most was creating awareness of the business model, which wasn’t well known in the area. To that end, he started marketing 90 days out with a strong mix that involved using a State Board list, Facebook and Craigslist ads. He also bought postcards, banners, posters and Google ad words for Google ads. (Keep those simple: suite rental, salon suites, chair rental.)
Once your marketing efforts generate interest, that first contact is key, he says. “How you handle that initial email or phone call matters most. Make a great first impression that leaves people feeling that a suite makes sense for them. Don’t sell; let them buy. Never pressure. If they ask the price in an email, add the sizzle first by explaining what you provide and that it’s not for everyone but answer the question at the end. The first contact should always leave them thinking you are a good, trustworthy person.”
As leases get signed, referrals are the best way to attract even more tenants because if you treat your existing tenants well, they will tell others. (Brent rewards tenants who refer new ones with two rent-free weeks. ) Naturally, when Brent opened his second location, Salons by JC in Maple Grove, MN, he used everything he had learned to an even greater extent. He put money behind every tactic that had worked—until it didn’t—and made sure he got those referrals.
“In my first location, we opened with 6 of 37 suites leased,” says Brent. “It took 16 months to fill every one.” In his second location, he opened with 25 suites leased and just 7 still available. So what besides awareness made the difference?
Brent let every tenant and new contact at the first location know that he would be opening a second one in Maple Grove. Word spread fast. He continued his strong marketing mix, spending about $3,500 ninety days before opening, another $1,500 in November and an additional $1,500 in December.
Because he was on-site during the second build-out, he was able to meet with potential tenants himself very early on, often at a local Starbucks. He shared photos of how the suites would look, but he had also stressed beauty pros’ personal needs during the conversation.
“Every professional has a different reason for a leaving a salon, and your goal is to discover it,” notes Brent. “Then, whether their goal is to have more family time, make more money or leave a bad situation, you can show them how a Salons by JC suite can meet their needs or solve a problem.”
“What sets Salons by JC apart is our concierges, who greet clients, keep the facilities clean, instantly handle repair requests and more,” says Brent. “They help replicate the true salon experience and take us to a whole new level with a sense of community. Salons by JC has a truly different vibe.”
About Salons by JC: In 1997, Jack Griffey and Cecil Miller began their journey to transform the beauty industry one salon suite at a time. Like most young entrepreneurs, they started out with a big idea but had to learn how to start and run a business from scratch. After much perseverance and hard work, one year later, they opened Salons by JC in Dallas, TX in 1998, welcoming beauty and wellness specialists who were ready to break free from the traditional salon model. The company has since moved its headquarters from Dallas to San Antonio, where it continues to grow through franchising. Today, Salons by JC has over 87 locations in 24 states and Canada. For more information, visit salonsbyjc.com or salonsbyjc.com/franchise