How four salon and spa franchises are adapting to a new reality for personal care services
By Georgie Binks
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented tough challenges for service-focused businesses in Canada, but salon and spa franchises have shown their resiliency over the past months. When government regulations caused salon and spa franchisees to close their doors to the public, the following four franchises used this time to learn, grow, and adapt for a different future.
Here, we share insights from four beauty franchises about the changes that are coming out of this tough period, and the reasons why personal care services continue to be a mainstay in Canadian communities and a draw for prospective franchisees.
Fuzz Wax Bar
Women everywhere can thank a $7 sweater at a thrift store for creating a partnership that has led to one of the hottest wax bars in the country (hot as in successful, not ‘ouch’.) Fuzz Wax Bar co-founder Florence Gaven Rossavik recalls meeting co-founder Jessie Frampton in 2012 and sharing a pet peeve. “We quickly became friends and soon discovered we were looking for a wax that was fast, affordable, in a clean, inviting environment – tough to come by at the time.”
Fuzz Wax Bar is a membership-based wax bar franchise. And it’s the membership aspect that is key to the franchise’s success. “Unlike most waxing concepts that are very seasonal, our members visit us on a monthly basis all year round. It means our franchise partners have recurring revenue, high client retention, and brand loyalty within their community,” says Gaven Rossavik.
She says, “From the clients’ perspective, we offer the best waxes at the best prices, with the most streamlined experience possible.” Flexible hours and speed waxing are also available. The franchise also provides clients with products that allow for a complete waxing routine.
Franchisees don’t need a business or spa background. Gaven Rossavik says training and support/operations are built for everyone. “Franchisees possess a people-first, positive outlook on life.”
Franchisees receive ongoing support with everything from site selection, staff hiring and training, to maintaining and growing their local community as well as ongoing support.
As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Gaven Rossavik says the franchise has been closed since the pandemic began. “During that time, we’ve been able to elevate our sanitation protocols, increase our e-commerce systems, and discover new ways to innovate within the wax bar. Although this time has been very difficult, it’s certainly allowed us to narrow our focus and energy on amazing innovations.”
Tan on the Run
When Tan on the Run founder Nicole Hyatt started her company 15 years ago, she had no idea her successful franchise would have her spray tanning the likes of musicians Lady Gaga and the New Kids on the Block, or morphing 400 extras into Egyptians for the X-Men movie, just to name a very few. In no time at all, Hyatt had requests for training and decided to turn the company into a franchise in 2007.
Tan on the Run visits customers everywhere from their homes and offices to motels and more. “We’ve gone into some really strange places – car dealership bathrooms – some random places.”
She says the benefit of the brand’s offering from a client’s perspective is, “Franchisees are extensively trained, the product is exclusive to Tan on the Run franchisees.”
Most franchisees are mobile, although some franchisees have a studio in their home. “We’re mobile based, which, in a time like this is nice because we don’t have the overhead. Although we’re not making revenue, we’re not heavily into debt,” says Hyatt.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down company spray tans, although franchisees are delivering product to customers. They’ve also been able to chat with each other on the company’s own platform, which has been a comfort, says Hyatt. “We’ve got 35 women going through the exact same thing at the same time. Everybody is helping each other.”
Going forward, she says, “I know we’re going to be able to make it work. We’re going to walk in with a mask, we’re going to sanitize, and that would be our norm anyway. We can keep a good distance doing the service.”
The company has locations across Canada and also in Egypt, Namibia, Mexico, and Trinidad.
Challenges for franchisees include staying self-motivated, and, Hyatt says, “It’s mix between hustle and personality. You have to be constantly engaged and on your game.”
THE TEN SPOT Beauty Bars
When eight 10spotters, as THE TEN SPOT Beauty Bars employees are known, had the company’s signature ‘x’ tattooed on their bodies last year in Charlottetown, it was evident the franchise had some pretty devoted employees.
It’s that kind of devotion THE TEN SPOT Beauty Bars founder and CEO Kristen Gale, who started her brand in 2006, inspires. In 2012, Gale started franchising and today, there are more than 70 bars awarded with 33 locations in operation across Canada and now in the United States.
The franchise’s beauty bars offer manicures, pedicures, waxing, and laser services. “We hire those who are not only highly skilled, but can really create a deep and meaningful connection with our guests,” says Gale.
She says the big challenge for franchisees can be hiring and managing their own team. “If you’re not an exceptional people manager, it can be difficult to find the best estheticians and coordinators to help you run your business.”
Gale says the franchise offers a detailed system of guidance and training to get franchisees from onboarding to grand opening. “After they’re operational, we move into a systemized approach to profit maximization coaching and, as needed, ongoing support.”
Gale says the COVID-19 crisis has affected the business negatively but there are some silver linings. All beauty bars had to close, but, she says, “We’re much more bonded having gone through this together.”
Guests can still purchase products and sign up for an online beauty school, where trainers teach them how to do the perfect at-home manicure and purchase customized manicure and pedicure kits on their website.
Franchisees don’t need a background in the salon or spa industry. When it comes to an ‘ideal’ franchise partner, Gale says, “Our brand wants to be the biggest beauty bar company in the entire world – it’s a huge goal, and we’re looking for someone who’s hungry to help us make that happen.”
Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop
Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershops are inspired by the look and feel of the Chicago golden age of the 1930s barbershop scene, but offer modern amenities and styles with a focus on creating the ultimate guest experience. “Our focus is on the investment our guests make in their look by offering premium services including hot-towel shaves and haircuts as well as our strong selection of grooming products,” says Nick Kammermayer, franchise development manager for TG Corporate Holdings Limited.
The Canadian-owned company was founded in 2009 and started franchising the same year. Today, there are over 70 locations across the country. Tommy Gun’s has also since expanded into Australia and the USA. Kammermayer says they are a leader of the industry in Canada, pushing the level of excellence and execution to new heights by always looking at growth opportunities and innovative operations.
“The owners of Tommy Gun’s saw a gap in the marketplace,” says Kammermayer. “In addition to a great haircut experience from a highly trained Tommy Gun’s Barber, the guest is entertained with the in-mirror TV, free beverage, and Tommy Gun’s signature scalp massage during their wash.”
Franchisees, also referred to as business partners, receive ongoing guidance, training, and support, including detailed operational manuals and guides, an online learning portal (Tommy Gun’s University), a National Education Program for barbers, national networking programs promoting the brand, and an exclusive intranet site.
Like every other industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Tommy Gun’s. “Luckily sanitization and cleanliness procedures were already a part of our daily routine in the barbering industry. We’ll continue to monitor, adapt, and enhance our practices of these and any updated safety measures,” says Kammermayer.
Business partners don’t need a background in the salon or spa industry. Kammermayer says, “The ideal Tommy Gun’s business partner is someone who’s passionate about the development of their team, focused on creating a quality customer service experience, attentive to their business, and driven to nurture it.”