As Salons by JC opens more of its highly successful salons suites, franchisees are experiencing a record number of lease closings well before their doors are even open. For Jim McGuiness, who opened his Columbia, MD, suite with a whopping 34 of 38 suites spoken for, it all came down to a great location, an accelerated sales cycle and strategic help from the Salons by JC network.
Success starts with a great location, and McGuiness says a pre-market analysis, supplied by Salons by JC, was invaluable. Since he and his brothers already owned a Salons by JC franchise in Connecticut, they knew what to do next.
“I developed lists of cosmetologists within a one, three and five mile radius, using the Maryland Board of Cosmetologists and the Board of Barbers,” says McGuiness. “Because pricing is crucial, I also called over 90 chair rental salons to get a feel for pricing in the market. Even though a Salons by JC suite offers so much more, you have to realize that you are competing against chair rental.”
With a full understanding of the local demographics and salon market, McGuiness applied lessons he had learned during his first franchise opening. Critical, he says, are developing marketing and social media strategies four to five months before opening and starting your sales cycle three months out. How can you get renters to see the possibilities when you barely have a wall up? Turn to technology!
Seeing is Believing
“When I opened my Connecticut location, I’d learned about 3-D virtual tours from another franchisee at the Salons by JC franchisees’ portal on Facebook,” explains McGuiness.
“A virtual 3-D tour allows potential renters to look at a computer screen and see exactly how the suites will look when completed. They can view the entire operation in 360-degrees and walk through the suites just by moving the cursor. It’s extremely effective and can cost as little as $300, depending on the vendor you use.”
Armed with something to show, McGuiness then worked with a marketing group to get his social media strategy underway. In addition to Facebook and Instagram ads and posts, he created a Facebook event for private tours. He also used one of Salons by JC’s vendor partners to send out high-quality, larger-sized postcards that detailed all the unique benefits of a Salons by JC suite, as well as the promotional offer for eight weeks of free rent. Potential tenants started rolling in.
“The private-tour tactic was a huge success because unlike an open house, a private tour protects professionals’ privacy, says McGuiness. “That’s a must because they don’t want anyone to know they may be leaving a salon. Also, I allowed an hour for every tour, so that I could answer all questions and leave time to draw up a lease.”
With the build-out barely underway, McGuiness began all tours with a viewing of the 3-D video. The early show-and-tell had a secondary advantage: It allowed him to meet tenant’s needs with extreme customization. For instance, accomplished pro Lindsay Bodner and American Board Certified Haircolorist Lauren Logan came in knowing that they wanted to work together.
“We came in so early that they were able to put two singles together to give us a double suite right where we wanted it,” says Bodner. “We even knew where we wanted a door to connect the two rooms and how we wanted the space to flow. Jim worked with us to get us what we wanted.”
“There weren’t even any walls up but when we saw the video, we knew it was exactly what we wanted,” added Logan. “What sealed the deal was the location, how clean and modern it looked, and the easy parking.”
McGuiness gave his first tour on November 4th, 2016, and by mid-December, he had signed leases for 50% of his suites. When he officially opened on February 9th, 2017, tenants were at various stages of moving in to 90% of his suites.
Other Useful Pointers:
In the beginning, be present to meet potential tenants. “You have to own it,” says McGuiness. “You’re the owner. Give them your card and reply to any follow-up questions within 10 minutes. Later on, the Salons by JC concierge will become a critical sales component.”
Give each person a packet of information on Salons by JC. McGuiness also created a Q and A checklist that covered all the things he discussed during the tour. Include everything potential tenants need to know, such as what licenses are required.
Mention the Salons by JC tenants’ app. “Many tenants don’t know how to market themselves,” says McGuiness. “The app is free to them and it includes everything other stylist’s apps do, including credit card processing at a very fair rate. It adds value to Salons by JC suites and helps manage their anxiety.” (The app also allows tenants to pay rent electronically.)
Be flexible to tenants’ needs. Not only did McGuiness adjust suites based on requests, he made his deposit 100% refundable—pre-opening. “A few will change their minds but they will still tell others,” he says. “Offer confirmed tenants a reward for referrals.”
Now that McGuiness’ second location is nearly full, he’s planning for the future by building a waiting list. Salons by JC gave him everything he needed from construction guidance to marketing ideas, he says. “Much of what I added was common business sense.”