Making the Cut

Going from health care to hair care, an entrepreneur finds a new style.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the April 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In his years of working at different companies, Eric Griffin never felt his successes were a direct result of his efforts. Although he longed to be the one in charge, Griffin didn't want to be on his own. The concept of owning and running a business with willing help on hand is what attracted him to the Supercuts franchise and its First Salon Opening program. The franchise's program assigns an advisor to franchisees for their first year in business.

So Griffin opened his first Supercuts in Peachtree City, Georgia, in October 2005. Of course, assistance from Supercuts alone would not guarantee success. Griffin had previously worked as a marketing representative for a health insurance carrier, and though hairstyling and health insurance are miles apart, the knowledge from his former career was transferable. "My past experiences in marketing taught me that you have to ask for the sale," says Griffin, 42. "Because almost everyone needs a haircut, every person I meet is a potential customer."

This helped Griffin overcome one of his first challenges. When his store opened, nearby road construction made it difficult for customers to get in and out of the parking lot. Griffin turned the problem into a positive situation by walking up and down the road offering coupons to the drivers held up by traffic.

Asking for the sale through direct mail, newspaper ads and coupons earned Griffin 2006 sales of more than $200,000. He has since opened another salon in Peachtree City as well as one in Stockbridge, Georgia; he plans to open two more locations before the year is half over. An area development agreement with Supercuts permits Griffin to open the first 10 locations in Coweta, Fayette and Henry counties. "It gets easier with every store," he says. "It's never easy, but at least I know what to expect."

Happy Hour
Creating a relaxing atmosphere for customers means hustle and bustle for this pub owner.

The idea of a pub evokes images of a laid-back neighborhood hangout, a place "where everybody knows your name." Vu Truong, 34, certainly wants his patrons to feel that way at The Firkin & Phoenix, his bar and restaurant adorned with a pool table and velvet benches. But accomplishing that means a lot of hard work.

Truong's work actually started three years before he opened his pub, when he first learned about The Firkin Group of Pubs franchise. He was attracted to the British pub concept because "in good times and bad times, people need a place to go and hang out," he says. But he knew that simply liking the business was not enough. As an IT consultant, Truong knew nothing about owning a pub, so he took the time to research and find investors. Finally, last December, he opened his pub in Houston.

Even though The Firkin & Phoenix has been up and running for several months, Truong still has plenty to keep him busy. He works as the morning manager and bookkeeper, meets with the staff, greets guests and handles any unexpected problems.

After a long day of work, Truong heads home to his wife, often returning to the pub later with her in tow. "The pub is my life right now," he says. And though The Firkin & Phoenix isn't the relaxing hangout for him that it is for his customers, he's OK with that. With first-month sales of $60,000, Truong hopes to open four more pubs in the next seven years.

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