Last week, we profiled Roger Carroll of Cowtown Graphics & Signs who, back in 2013, decided he had enough of the corporate world and forged out on his own by buying a sign company. While there were a few bumps in the road, especially in the beginning, he has never looked back. To profile our second entrepreneur, I thought, “what business could be as far away from a sign company as possible?” So I decided to interview David Klein, owner of 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon in Keller. And while I thought that grooming men to look their best was a universe away from making signs, it turns out that while the stories of these two men are completely unique, the reasons why they went into business for themselves are pretty similar.
My first question for Klein was about the meaning behind 18|8. “The heritage of 18|8 began in Shefield England in 1913. A gentleman discovered that adding 18 percent Chromium and 8 percent Nickel to raw steel eliminated the tendency to oxidize and rust. The formula, known as 18|8, transformed steel into a better looking and better performing “Stainless Steel.” Just as 18|8 makes steel look and perform better, our vision and mission are to help our clientele transform themselves to look and perform at their best,” Klein said. It was that commitment to transformation into something better that kept resonating with Klein when he was looking to begin a new chapter in his work life. “After a strong career in the corporate world, my company completed a reorganization and I found myself at a crossroads of deciding, ‘do I want to reenter the corporate arena with another company, or follow a long time dream of owning my own business?’ As I was exploring my options, which included some analysis on opening my own business, and two job offers which would have required having to move out of Texas, I felt it was my destiny to give entrepreneurship a shot. Mark Twain once said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do.” I decided that I wanted an opportunity that would match my unique talents and skills, and allow me to take full charge of our future,” said Klein.
A friend in a franchise
For Klein, becoming a franchisee was a perfect fit for his situation. “For me, it was a belief that franchise ownership helps mitigate some of the risk of starting a business from scratch,” said Klein. “I found research that showed statistically that franchise owners were more successful than start-ups. By buying into a franchise, along with the obvious risk reduction strategy, there is an accelerated learning curve. Generally, there is a proven system in place, marketing support, ongoing research and development and the initial training platforms that help ramp up the business. The bottom line is with a franchise, you have the ability to leverage a proven infrastructure so you can scale more quickly.”
As far as his selecting a men’s salon franchise, Klein had some help with that decision. “Franchise brokers are highly skilled at helping you explore the opportunity. They offer a no-fee consultative process that will help walk you through the various types of franchises that are available in a given area and they will create a list of intelligent choices based on your individual goals and preferences. I was connected with a franchise broker who spent time asking the right questions to find the perfect fit. After narrowing down the choices to four, I began the vetting process. The 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon concept kept making its way to the top of the list. The concept kept resonating with the constant barrage of “male grooming” information, and the “reawakening” of men’s desire for better grooming options,” said Klein.
Learning is something that Klein kept coming back to during our discussion. His advice…be ready and willing to learn every day. “Socrates once said, ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.’ Being a first time business entrepreneur, I asked questions of other franchisees in the area that had already opened their salons, I built an advisory team of two great business people in the area, I spoke with lots of other independent business owners in the local Chamber of Commerce, and took every opportunity I could to talk with men about what they were interested in for unmet grooming needs. Training was provided by a team from the corporate headquarters for this franchise (based in Irvine, CA. They also assisted with seven days of on-site training of the new staff of stylists and DOFI’s (Directors of First Impression). From equipment purchases, supplies and, most importantly, staffing with the best possible staff, it all translated into a record opening day for the company in terms of revenue,” said Klein.
Money and platinum
While Klein has been fortunate by having lots of support from his franchisor, he brings up one caveat that many new business owners face: undercapitalization. “The biggest challenge I encountered was underestimating the expense and capital needs for getting the business up and running. Leasehold improvement costs exceeded what I had originally budgeted by about 20 percent. Additionally, there are a large number of small, but important process requirements that pop up throughout the pre-opening project. It is important to ensure that you don’t enter into the process of starting a business being undercapitalized. There is a significant amount of cash requirements that keep surfacing prior to opening the doors of your business,” said Klein.
Finally, when I asked him to what he most credits the success of his business, Klein got a bit philosophical. “I believe that my number one responsibility is to help my awesome team of stylists become successful. My team knows that their number one priority is to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors gets the time, attention and courtesy they deserve. We are uber-focused on living by the Platinum Rule – treating people the way THEY want to be treated,” said Klein.