You only need to look down your city street to see that aesthetics services that were once hidden away in exclusive salons are popping up everywhere. For those who want to combine their business sense with their passion for beauty, several franchises are poised to capture a share of this market. Here are four such franchises:
Founder and CEO Eveline Charles says the epiphany that launched her journey from hairstylist to business owner and now soon-to-be franchisor happened after she ran the Boston marathon. “As soon as I finished the marathon, it was pouring rain, and I went into one of those Successories stores and there was a poem that talked about ‘Think big, grow big,’” she recalls. Within 10 years, she had expanded to several stores.
Now the eponymous brand, which offers everything from hair styling and nail services to skin care and laser hair removal, has grown even bigger. EvelineCharles boasts seven stores in Calgary and Edmonton, including a flagship store in the West Edmonton Mall. In 2005, the brand opened its own training schools, currently in Calgary and Edmonton. In 2016, Charles launched a lab to make the most of her product lines. Most recently, EvelineCharles has partnered with The Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue, to open salons within their stores. Many of those are planned as franchises.
So, what is Charles looking for in franchisees? While a beauty background is not essential, a business or marketing degree would be an asset. “We’re looking for people who are going to be progressive and want to grow their business, to take our company to the next level,” says Charles. She says high-end services and pricing make her brand stand out to franchisees, along with the preferred pricing that comes with products made in-house.
Training for franchisees and staff takes place in the company school, followed by a lot of coaching, and use of the Key Performance Indicators. “We set goals at the beginning of the month. A lot of our business growth has come because we worked with our employees on a daily basis,” says Charles.
Charles, who has over 43 years of experience in the luxury salon business, says her best tip for prospective franchisees continues to be that effort earns rewards. “I have always said, ‘You really need to think big, but you really need to walk your talk, and you need to work hard,’” she says.
After successfully operating the Kwik Kopy Printing (KKP) franchise system for over 25 years, Gigi Harding and her brother were looking to repeat their success. When they landed on Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, they knew they had found the right concept, not least because they were already customers of massage services. “We fell in love with the concept of massage, because it’s in health and wellness, the demographics were right with the aging population, and people want to take care of their health,” says Harding.
After opening their first store in 2009, they started franchising in 2010. Today, Hand & Stone is established in Ontario and expanding to Western Canada. Offering massage, facial, and waxing services, the franchise is a membership-based concept that offers reduced rates to regular clients. Harding says that the brand also aims at a spa-like environment. “You get a therapeutic massage and facial with a bit more of a pampering experience,” she says.
Harding says many franchisees come from backgrounds like marketing, IT, and accounting, although an interest in wellness and customer service is a must. “It’s very much a people-oriented business,” she says. Franchisees are very involved in running their businesses, at least for the first few years.
After three weeks of training, the franchise helps new owners with their launches for the first 10 days or so. Follow-up visits from various trainers on topics such as customer service, marketing, operations, esthetics, and registered massage therapy ensure that they stay on track. The franchise is also a believer in using analytics to drive decisions. “We’re big on customer surveys and analysis of the data so that we can see areas where we need improvement,” says Harding.
Even after franchising THE TEN SPOT in 2012 and growing it to 24 locations today, Creator and CEO Kristen Wood still does all of the franchise sales herself, and for good reason. “I like to award franchises to those who are as passionate as we are,” says Wood. Already across Canada, the franchise has another 17 agreements signed, and plans to take the concept international.
Identifying a gap in the market between high- and low-end salons when she started the business in 2006, Wood positioned the brand to focus on customer service coupled with rigorous hygiene standards, all in what the 10spot likes to call an anti-spa® atmosphere. Now she’s formalized the operation around some distinctive core values, including her mission to “make everyone feel like a 10.”
In hand-picking franchisees, Wood says she looks for engagement. “You don’t need beauty experience, but you do need to be somebody who wants to be the face of their neighbourhood business, who’s into engaging with staff and guests,” says Wood. She expects 10spot franchisees to be involved in the business, even if they take on multiple locations, as many have. “You’re going to be most successful if you’re really hands-on.”
New franchisees are onboarded with the franchise’s Chief Operational Officer, then go through online training. They then tackle the “10spotter in 10,” 10 days of on-site training for all staff. Ongoing training is available in person and by phone, and weekly emails provide helpful operations reminders.
Founded on spa services like waxing, nails, and skin care, THE TEN SPOT recently entered the laser hair removal market, too, and with great results. Wood says she differentiates the service from those at other spas by allowing customers to buy sessions as they go, rather than as a package.
Wood’s advice for success applies not only to beauty, but to any franchisee. Talking to current franchisees, reviewing disclosure documents, and confirming your passion for the industry are all top tips. “You have to start out at a level 10 excitement, because this is not easy. It’s still your very own business, so there will be challenges, but if you’re really excited, then it’s easier to get through,” says Wood.
Vixen Nails•Salon•Spa Founder and CEO Karen Dixon says one of the reasons she started franchising was because people kept asking her to. “People kept saying, ‘I want a Vixen in my town. When are you going to have a Vixen here?’”
After seven years in business, she decided to take the plunge: Vixen Spa will open its first two franchise locations this summer. Two concepts are on offer: stores with aesthetic/spa services, and stores that additionally offer hair styling services.
Dixon says the brand aims to offer spa services that pair affordability with quality. Low start-up costs, a turnkey operation, and the recession-proof nature of a beauty business are all benefits she pitches to potential franchisees. “Everybody needs to get their nails and hair done, and skin care. Even though there could be tough economic times, they find their way to us somehow,” she says.
In franchisees, she’s looking for business and financial acumen, as well as people skills. “We’re looking for someone to be really involved, working alongside their managers and employees to make sure that it’s operating smoothly,” she says. In turn, the franchise offers lots of support, with a four-week training program, then ongoing technical support and training on both product lines and skills.
She adds that the franchise is also keen on new ideas: two recent innovations include adding laser hair removal and obtaining liquor licences. Dixon says she welcomes franchisees who want to contribute. “We’re always looking to grow and evolve, if they want to be a part of that journey with us,” she says.
By Suzanne Bowness