When did you buy your franchise?
I bought my first Sola Salons franchise in 2012 while I was still deployed in the U.S. Army, and now have 14 open locations in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. We also recently celebrated the opening of Sola’s 700th location in Coon Rapids, MN, marking a historic milestone in the company’s journey and expansion efforts.

How did you find out about the franchise and why did you choose that franchise?
My family has a background in the beauty and franchise industries. When we heard about Sola Salons, what most impressed us was that many of our most respected colleagues were joining Sola as Franchisees. After doing my due diligence, I actually signed my paperwork overseas and then opened my first location within a year of returning stateside.

The biggest reason Sola made sense to me was the business model. Sola Salons empowers beauty professionals to have more control over their business compared to traditional salon settings. Beauty professionals can set their hours, choose the services they offer, and customize their space to reflect their professional brand and personal style. Operating their independent businesses also allows them to make more money than traditional employee models.

Additionally, Sola Salons has a great community. There is an active franchisee community who are interested in seeing their fellow franchisees succeed. When you attend conferences or other events, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie and a wealth of experience to tap into.

What was your working background?
I formerly served as a Captain in the Minnesota National Guard and my last assignment was as the commander of the 200 soldiers of the 34th Military Police Company based in Stillwater, Minnesota. During my deployment, I signed up to open my first Sola Salons location. I also have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Richmond, Virginia, and a law degree from the University of Minnesota.

What was the turning point that made you realize you wanted to change your career path?
I’ve always been interested in operating my own business. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have chosen Sola Salons as my first business because it’s been operating and successful for over 10 years and going strong. While I enjoyed and sometimes miss my time in the Army, owning a business is creating greater financial security for my family while also providing a better work-life balance.

What was the process like once you signed the franchise agreement? As far as training, site selection, fit out, etc.
When I first signed up with Sola, I attended a training program in Denver where I learned the fundamentals of the business. From there, Stratton (one of the founders) flew to Minneapolis and helped pick our first site for a salon after a long day of visiting potential locations. We then worked with a white-glove style design team that laid out the salon into the space of the site that we had selected. From the design that this team provided, our architect and general contractor were able to build a salon just like the ones we visited in Denver during training. Throughout the process of getting this first salon open, I also learned a lot through numerous phone calls with many people on the Sola staff.

What type of training/support was (still is) provided to you?
Sola Salons provides touch points and conferences throughout the year such as the Sola Weekly newsletter, annual regional meetings, annual Conversation Series, bi-monthly Sola 60 calls, and the annual Sola Summit conference. These efforts are great for sharing information and receiving feedback with the system.

Additionally, Sola has several Franchise Business Consultants who help franchisees with best practices and questions as they occur. Finally, Sola provides a robust monthly reporting package of significant KPIs and financials to help franchisees track their performance.

Has your work/life balance improved since buying the franchise?
As a Sola franchisee, I have much more control over my work/life balance than I used to. It doesn’t necessarily mean I work less, but I have more control over when I work, and I can make the time for important events with my family since the schedule is less rigid than a typical job. I also have very little work travel which helps with having a young family.

If someone was interested in joining your franchise system, what would you say to them?
Do your research carefully. Take advantage of Sola’s Discovery Day and the other resources available to you and ask a lot of questions. Be sure to speak to as many current franchisees as possible to make sure this is a good fit. Once you think you have as much information as you can get, compare what Sola Salons can offer to your business and life goals to make sure there is alignment there. Hopefully, it does and I’ll see you at a future event!