The partners at Suites Consulting Group have been involved in the salon suites industry as developers and operators longer than any of the franchises have been around. Years ago, when we noticed these franchises start to pop up, we were mystified as to why ANYONE would buy one. When we saw them continue to grow (there are at least 17 today), we decided to offer our services as a math and data-based approach, with much more comprehensive, thorough, and cost-effective solutions that put the interests of the developer's long-term success first.
In recent years, we have also seen other salon suites "consultants" emerge, but be aware of experience and background. To our knowledge, none have developed more than one or two, and some can provide no evidence that they have actually developed ANY. Almost all have attempted to become clients of SCG, but have been rejected for a number of reasons. We typically carry 20-25 open project development files at any one time, with several multiples of that completed. A beautiful website does not necessarily portray reality, so look deeper. There are some shady claims made, so be aware. Some red flags:
Commercial real estate commission-based compensation - Some "consultants" in this industry are really nothing more than brokers seeking a commission, often without disclosing this to their clients! This can end up costing a developer considerable expense as these "consultants" attempt to place the client into a property that produces the best commission rather than one where market data and analytics are the determinants. Be aware that commissions can run to six figures and up, and will be factored into your lease terms, potentially costing you a lot more money throughout the term of your lease. Suites Consulting Group represents the interests of our clients exclusively, and has never taken a real estate commission, which is an obvious and enormous conflict of interest. Our advanced analytics represent the determinant factors of optimal development location, not some arbitrary location based on the best commission paid to a broker.
Monthly retainers - We have had lots of feedback from previous clients of other consultants that they were being charged a monthly fee for "proprietary" search algorithms. Basically, that means sitting at a laptop and scrolling through Loopnet, doing the exact same thing you could be doing yourself (for free), but you would do it with any eye to sites optimal for this application determined through the science and math of advanced analytics processes, not commissions. So in a sense, you're paying the "consultant" twice! Once for finding the property and once for SEARCHING for the property. Nice work if you can get it.
Experience - Does your "consultant" actually have experience developing and operating a salon suites business? You may be surprised to see that some have no experience with either. We are aware of "consultants" operating in this industry that have developed exactly zero salon suites facilities, their claims notwithstanding. Suites Consulting Group has been involved in this industry as a developer and operator far longer than any franchise, and more than all other consultants combined. Part of our client deliverables are two manuals: Operating (300 pages) and Marketing (200 pages) that draw on years of operating and developmental experience to maximize the profitability of your business.
Website - Take a close look at the "consultant's" website. A careful look and a quick Google Image search will often reveal that many of the images of their "team" are actually stock photos lifted from other websites or available at any number of stock image sites. References posted? Another quick search will show images of, among other things, a Bulgarian oligarch who is probably a bit too busy managing his billions and his 1st Division soccer club than to worry about a little salon suite facility. Additionally, flashy renderings on a website do not necessarily mean that they represent real-world facilities, as pretty as the renderings may be.
Staffing - Is your design kept in-house, or farmed out to an architect in Croatia who is not likely to be licensed in the state where you will develop? Often consulting groups will not have in-house design capabilities, and will sub this important task out to to third parties. There are many subtle but very important parameters that go into the design of the salon suites facility, particularly as they pertain to work flow and patterns in a stylist's suite when combined with a very cost-effective and attractive furnishings and fixtures schedule. Architects are generally able to design a facility based on their informed guesses, but years of experience in this specific application provide for optimal design. When considering the capabilities and experience of your consultant, ask for actual construction plans of past projects. Again, renderings are not the same thing as actual development.
References - If your "consultant" cannot or will not provide references or examples of previous work, that seems to be a significant red flag. It is astonishing that a developer would consider hiring any consultant not willing to provide independent background or references for their work.
Charges for populating your facility - Some consultants claim that they will have your facility 100% full with a waiting list on the day you open, and at least 50% full halfway through construction. Problems with this claim:
1. There is no evidence to back this claim at all, and it is disingenuous (at best) to make it. 2. It is very important in this industry that the operator have an interpersonal relationship with every tenant, which is established at the initial contact and through the leasing/on-boarding process with every tenant. Any legitimate operator with experience in the industry will acknowledge this and confirm that the operator (using the best tools as provided by SCG) is the party to lease up the facility, not some anonymous voice on a phone somewhere. 3. Feedback we have received is of charges of $1000(!) per sublease, so you're looking at potentially $30,000 MORE for something you can (and should) be doing yourself for free!
Bottom line: "Caveat emptor" (buyer beware) when considering such an important decision. Suites Consulting Group has been providing high quality salon suites consulting services to the industry for longer than all other "consultants" combined, We have a long track record of success, and can provide the highest quality and cost-effective solutions for your development as well. Compare and you'll see for yourself.
If you have your heart set on buying a franchise and taking on the huge additional costs they incur, there are at least 21(!) by our count operating today: Sola, Phenix, Salons by JC, Salon Lofts, A Suite Salon, My Salon Suite, Studio Salons, Salon Spa Suites, Salon Plaza, Cirque Salon Studios, Image Studios 360, Salon Boutique, Universal Salons, Blue Lion Salon Studios, Mimosa Salon Suites, Encore Salon Suites, Cosmopolitan Suites and Salon Concepts, Beauty Bungalow and Salon Studios. Shop around, but why bother? You can accomplish the exact same objective at a fraction of the price. See how by clicking here.