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How These Franchisees Turned to Overlooked Talent to Grow Their Business Giving people a second chance can be good for your operation.

By Nina Zipkin

This story appears in the December 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Juliana Sohn

Waxing the City salons are all about making a woman feel like the best version of herself. But for Jane and Jo Haubrich, the owners of two franchise locations in Minnesota, that mission applies to their customers and employees. The sisters grew up in a farming family of eight, and while they dreamed of taking over the farm, their father told them that the agriculture world was no place for women. Undaunted, they looked for opportunities elsewhere. They ended up building successful careers across varied industries, such as healthcare, hospitality, consulting and magazine publishing. In 2013, they became Waxing the City franchisees, and they vowed to do everything they could to provide career opportunity to all women in their community -- pointedly hiring those who have battled obstacles from illness to legal trouble and poverty. Does that make staffing more difficult? Sometimes. But does it also help them tap a neglected source of great talent? Absolutely.

Related: 5 Affordable Franchises You Can Start for Less Than $10,000

When you decided to become franchisees, what wasappealing about Waxing the City?

Jane Haubrich: The company allows us to offer our employees real career paths, regardless of their backgrounds. We can pretty much throw out the hiring rulebook. Most of the people who are interested in working for us have very different histories than Jo and I, who have completed higher education and worked at some pretty high levels in business. But the women who come to us deserve as much of a chance as anyone else. Even more so in some cases.

You're dedicated to hiring women in need, who might be overlooked by other employers. How has that shaped your hiring process and your team?

Jo Haubrich: Out of the 17 staff we have, more than half have been on some very rocky roads. But as an employer, we want to help them go further and achieve their goals, and we can help them get there.

Related: What It Means To Be A Social Entrepreneur

Jane: We do use background check software for applicants, but we realized very quickly that a nonviolent, nonfelony crime shouldn't disqualify an extremely talented person. It just says that somewhere along the way they made a mistake, and you can see how they've worked to overcome that deficit. They are people who have proven themselves. They're tenacious. They're passionate about taking care of skin and waxing and knowing about the best products to care for your body. And we mentor the heck out of them.

What are their backgrounds like?

Jane: Some are single moms, some are women looking to start over at midlife. One time a candidate didn't show up for an interview I had scheduled at a local restaurant. (I do interviews in public places to make them feel less formal and rigid.) About a week later, I found out that she had actually been in jail. I gave her an opportunity to interview again, and she showed up like a champ. We ended up hiring her, and she was truly one of the best. People have all kinds of difficulties in their lives, and we can't fix them all. Have we been burned? Yep. But we've had a lot of success. We are always looking for extraordinary talent.

Related: 5 Franchises You Can Buy for Less Than $18,000

How have your customers responded to this practice?

Jo: We never share our employees' personal stories with our customers -- we train on professional boundaries, and we respect their privacy. However, if our employees want to share their own journeys, we don't have a problem with it, as long as they feel comfortable. And when they have shared their stories, they've been met with great support from our community.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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