Ken is a physician of 25 years and an entrepreneur. He has specialized in organizational transformation and leadership development. He’s been an owner/operator of two prior startups and is excited to build a winning franchise system across Canada.
BeTheBoss: Tell us about the MY SALON Suite franchise concept.
Ken Suddaby: My wife, Linda, and I are the first to bring the salon suite concept into Canada. We feel that this is an exciting and unique opportunity for Canadian investors—to bring a high-growth model from the US into a virgin Canadian market.
A MY SALON Suite franchisee leases or buys commercial space, fits it up into beautiful fully equipped turnkey suites which are then leased to health and beauty professionals. The franchisee is essentially a commercial landlord collecting rent and supporting their tenants. The franchisee’s goal is simple: achieve a good occupancy with stable tenants. For just this reason, we chose health and beauty professionals as our tenants. The salon industry is traditionally recession resistant. Salon professionals are often unhappy with their working arrangements in the traditional salon model. There are frustrations in working for someone else who sets the hours, fees, décor and sometimes even dress code. Salon professionals often complain of the drama associated with several salon professionals working in close proximity. Moreover, most are giving away 50-60% of everything they earn to their employer. Salon professionals are creative people who often dream of going into business for themselves, but often lack the capital and entrepreneurial know-how needed to do so.
This creates the perfect market conditions for a franchisee to attract eager tenants. We offer the salon professional a private suite that they can decorate the way they want, 24/7 access, an easy way to go into business for themselves with no capital needed, a drama free work environment, and 100% of their billings and product sale profits. In a MY SALON Suite, salon professionals typically realize a substantial pay increase overnight.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with MY SALON Suite?
KS: As a physician, I never thought that I would end up in the salon industry! Nor did my wife, a former Executive in the federal government. However, being master franchisors for Canada, and opening up our own corporate locations, it now seems like a perfect fit. I previously owned and ran two businesses. I was a partner in a management-consulting firm where we consulted to c-suite executives on organizational transformation. My work focused on leadership coaching for the senior executives. I next founded and ran a private health care company that delivered health care solutions to insurers and employers. Although successful, both of these businesses lacked the growth potential that I desired, and also were too dependent on my own personal front line service delivery. There were only limited opportunities to leverage my time and still earn money even when not working directly in or on the business.
Linda and I decided to pursue master franchising and looked for the best business opportunity to bring into Canada. MY SALON Suite is a perfect fit. We get to focus on building a vibrant Canadian franchise community of like-minded successful accomplished men and women. This uses all of my transferable leadership and management skills from medicine, consulting and owning/operating businesses. Linda brings complementary skills to MY SALON Suite, having spent the last 10 years in senior leadership positions in the federal public service and managing large multidisciplinary teams. After experiencing the typical growing pains of two start-ups, I’m excited about helping folk in similar situations make a smooth transition into business ownership.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a MY SALON Suite franchisee business owner?
KS: Unlike with many franchises, a MY SALON Suite franchisee doesn’t have to take the risk of leaving their current work situation in order to open and run a location. It is a true semi-absentee business model. Once up at occupancy, it takes about one day per week to operate—generating a new income stream.There are no employees and there are very few moving parts. This is a business-to-business model. The franchisee has only 20 – 30 customers (salon professionals) and as such doesn’t have the challenge of constantly trying to drive the public/customers into their business. A franchisee can open second and third locations and still not have to work full time. The franchisee becomes part of a system of like-minded, accomplished individuals—all supporting each other in their success. A MY SALON Suite franchise doesn’t have to be “life consuming” like many other franchise models are. This allows franchisees to diversify their time and income-generating activities.
BTB: What type of training and support does MY SALON Suite offer?
KS: MY SALON Suite provides comprehensive training and support from finding a location, building it out, to filling it with tenants. A franchisee attends a 2.5 day training session to receive training in all aspects of building and then operating a location. During each phase, we have specialists that walk the franchisee through every step from searching for real estate, to finding contractors, to project managing the build out, to comprehensive marketing, to recruiting tenants, and to running and maintaining the open location. We have done all the hard work in terms of learning what processes do and don’t work so that you only have to implement what is proven to be successful. We know which real estate locations are most likely to be profitable, which materials and features work best in construction, which marketing techniques work and which kinds of beauty professional tenants are likely to lease your suites. In short, you are supported A-Z through every detail of creating your business.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee business owner?
KS:Because of the semi-absentee nature of the business, and because of our extensive franchisee support system, a wide range of individuals can potentially become excellent MY SALON Suite franchisees. However, we are building a best-of-breed franchise system, so we only take the best candidates. We are looking for people of solid character, a prior history of career/business success and the right set of transferable skills. It is important to point out that a franchisee does NOT need to have any experience in real estate or in the health and beauty industry. We provide the franchisee with all of the content expertise that they need. The successful franchisee needs to be a self-starter, enthusiastic, have good organizational skills, able to invest the right amount of capital, and have strong management/people skills.
Many individuals fit this bill:
- Wanting go into business for the first time and escape the headaches and risks of a startup, without having to leave their current job
- Anticipating retirement and creating an additional income stream first
- Couples wanting to build and operate a business together
- Creating a business focus and income stream for one member of a couple
- Downsized from corporate Canada
- Investors wishing for a good ROI, with comparatively little personal time spent
- Wanting to own multiple locations
- Wanting to create a business with excellent resale potential
BTB: Tell us a little about the salon suite industry.
KS:The salon suite industry started in the US approximately 10 years ago. Since then, it is transforming the US salon industry with 800 salon suites open in the US and a total of 2500 expected over the next 5 years. In California, 80% of stylists are no longer in traditional stylist/owner arrangements.
The explosive growth is based on the current dissatisfaction of beauty professionals who are financially gouged by the salon owners—typically giving away 50-60% of everything they earn. In MY SALON suite, beauty professionals only pay weekly rent, get to go into business for themselves and escape from salon drama. This produces the loyal and stable tenants that you want, as a landlord. Beauty professionals make excellent tenants because of the relative recession-proof nature of the salon industry.
My SALON Suite is expecting to open over 400 locations in the US over the next 5 years. In Canada, our goal is to open between 50-70 locations across the country over the next 5 years.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise opportunity?
KS:As a past management consultant, and leadership coach, I learned that the core driver of profitability in any business is trust and health in the working relationships. A franchisee needs to first assess their confidence in the relationship that they will have with the franchisor and other franchisees. Profit never makes up for the frustration of dealing with unreliable or unhealthy business relationships. Being part of a healthy, supportive franchise system lays the foundation for sustainable business success. Without this confidence, a franchisee should move onto another franchisor, no matter how good the numbers look. The next major step is finding a franchise that meets your financial needs, but also as importantly, your lifestyle needs.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that MY SALON Suite would be a great opportunity for someone?
KS: As a physician, and past small business founder, before MY SALON Suite, I would never have occurred to me to consider the world of franchising. However, MY SALON Suite offers such a unique business model that the world of franchising is now much more easily opened up to successful individuals looking to diversify their business interests and income without having to give up their day jobs. MY SALON Suite offers a wonderful new opportunity to enter into business ownership, without the headache, complexity and challenges of a traditional owner/operator franchise model.