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Why We Opened a Different Take on the Classic Salon Franchise MY SALON does not sell hairstyles -- it sells real estate.

By Kate Taylor

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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email franchiseplayers@entrepreneur.com.

Jay and Kerry Tolisano's assertion that they run a salon franchise without having to manage employees is one that would give many traditional salon franchisees pause. However, MY SALON Suite isn't a traditional salon franchise. Instead of hiring hair stylists, it rents out retail spaces to individual beauty professionals to create a co-working salon space. As a result, the duo doesn't have much involvement in day-to-day business, giving them the freedom and flexibility they craved. Here's what they have learned.

Jay and Kerry Tolisano

Image credit: Jay and Kerry Tolisano

Name: Jay and Kerry Tolisano

Franchise owned: We own MY SALON Suite in Fairfield, Conn. and have just opened a second location in Stamford, Conn.

Related: What Were You Doing at Age 19? This Guy Already Owned His Own Franchise Business

How long have you owned a franchise?

We opened our first MY SALON Suite location in January of 2014.

Why franchising?

In the beginning, we were exploring opportunities to expand our property management business. We own multiple residential and multi-unit properties throughout the region.

To guide us in our search efforts, we contacted a franchise consultant who analyzed our personal and professional background, lifestyle and interests, among a range of additional criteria to determine which franchise business we would be best suited to own and operate. We were especially attracted to the salon suite franchise segment. More specifically, we were drawn towards MY SALON Suite, which offered first-in-class accommodations for members and a turnkey business model for franchise partners.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Prior to opening MY SALON Suite in Fairfield, Conn., Kerry worked in account services for marketing and advertising agencies in the Northeast. Jay is a successful mortgage broker that has been in the industry for more than a decade. He specializes in helping residential customers secure financing to buy a first or secondary home.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

MY SALON Suite is a lifestyle business that allows us to serve as semi-absentee owners with few to no employees to manage, less moving parts and a shorter workweek. We are able to mange the franchise, while raising a family and holding a full-time job in another career.

Moreover, MY SALON Suite is the only franchise in its category offering best-in-class accommodations for its members. Each individual room is equipped with a full-length style station, styling chair, shampoo sink and a color station. Stylists have the opportunity to personalize their suite with wall paint and décor. The security system and bathrooms are a major plus with clients and members. This amenities package is a key differentiator between MY SALON Suite and others in the industry.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

The franchise fees for a single unit investment range from $568,000 to $1,500,000.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

For starters, we connected with franchisees in our community that are involved with other businesses. We also reached out to existing MY SALON Suite owners to measure their level of satisfaction with the franchise opportunity. The franchise partners that we spoke with were very complimentary of the leadership team and the support offered to franchise partners. They also expressed that their businesses were growing quickly and they were looking to expand in the coming years. This was a good sign as we moved forward with the discovery process.

Having come from an entrepreneurial family, Jay's parents had a background in business ownership. They helped guide us in our journey to entrepreneurship. Similarly, having worked for the same marketing agency for more than a decade, Kerry had experience growing a business from the ground-up. She had a firm understanding of what it would take for us to succeed with MY SALON Suite.

Related: Why Knowing What Was 'Under the Hood' at This Franchise Convinced Me to Become a Franchisee

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

One of the challenges we had to overcome was the lack of education and information about the salon suite industry in major markets throughout Connecticut. While the salon suite segment has grown significantly in Texas and South Florida, we opened our location in an untapped market. Initially, it was hard for prospective salon entrepreneurs to understand the business model. Now, as we continue to grow, our business has gained more brand recognition, which has been helpful in recruiting new members.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

I would recommend anyone who is planning to open a business thoroughly research the opportunity before getting involved. It is essential that prospective buyers completely understand what they are getting into, whether it's a restaurant, daycare center or salon. Along those same lines, prospective franchisees should understand which resources are available to them in the research phase of franchise ownership, such as franchise consultants, business coaches and similar advisors.

Individuals exploring business ownership should also prepare to work hard. With MY SALON Suite, it is important to be closely involved in managing the business until it can manage itself. In those early phases of getting off the ground, it is essential to set-up your forecasts and check profitability constantly. If you know your financials, it will guarantee greater long-term success for you and your business.

What's next for you and your business?

We are thrilled to have just opened our second MY SALON Suite location in Stamford, Conn. We are also beginning the site selection process for our third location. Looking ahead, we are planning to open an additional four MY SALON Suite locations throughout the state of Connecticut.

Related: These 'Angels' Are 'Investing' in a Franchise That Assists Seniors at Home

Kate Taylor


Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

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