Many small business leaders think about franchising their offerings.
Many are daunted by the many hurdles to success.
One small business leader created a franchising success story and shares her approach here.
Noemi Grupenmager, CEO and founder of Uni K Wax identified a need and created a concept that she turned into a successful franchise.
Grupenmager came to her business model based on her own experiences.
“As a consumer, I was always dissatisfied with the expensive, slow and limited hair removal services available at nail and hair salons. Before I opened Uni K Wax Centers, these salons were the only places offering hair removal. The duty was often tacked on to employees who were already too busy with hair, nails and other services,” she says.
With this notion, she imagined something new: A center solely dedicated to waxing, with a welcoming atmosphere that offered clean, quick and professional services at affordable prices.
Her vision was to have a specialized hair removal center that offered waxing for both men and women, which would raise industry and marketplace standards.
One of the reasons was that she herself had sensitive skin and recognized the need for a wax that was all natural and pain-free, and would not aggravate the skin with harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
With all of this in mind, she founded the first Uni K Wax Center in 1993 in Miami Beach, Florida, and became what she believes is the first person ever to open a center devoted exclusively to waxing.
What’s more, she developed her own proprietary elastic Uni K wax, made of natural beeswax, essential oils and a special pine tree resin, which took three years of in-depth laboratory research to create. Her unique selling proposition was that unlike hard wax, Uni K Wax is applied at body temperature and can be removed painlessly without irritation and without the use of paper strips.
This created Uni K Wax Center’s emphasis on the unique concept of pain-free elastic wax differentiated which differentiated her business from any other, and today, these same two characteristics she believes continues to separate the brand from other hair removal services on the market.
“As my initial shop flourished, many franchise developers approached me with offers to expand. But before venturing into franchising, I wanted to expand on my own, proving to myself that Uni K Wax Centers could be successful in other markets,” she says.
“Opening two new locations on my own in 2000 enabled me to delegate daily managerial roles to other team members, so that I could focus on further growth and direction of the centers, paving the way for a well thought-out, successful franchise.,” she adds.
One marketing concept she says was her original ideas was driven by the growing popularity of Brazilian-cut bikinis.
“I coined the famous “Brazilian Wax,” and began offering women a waxing service that would leave them bare-skinned and smooth in all the right places while wearing their skimpy suits. This filled another niche in the small business marketplace,” she says.
Once she had perfected her business model, she opted to franchise the concept.
“By 2005, Uni K Wax Centers were an established concept with a recognized name and appeal, and a growing customer base. At this point, I realized franchising would be the right option for continued growth as I would be able to give other passionate entrepreneurs a well-defined framework and method for success, following the path that I had laid through my independent expansion. And so, I created UKW Franchising Company, LLC to take my brand to the next level,” she addss.
She sees franchising as an effective way of duplicating and expanding a business model.
But there are challenges.
“The most significant obstacle in franchising is finding the right franchisee that loves and understands our concept, and that is committed to following our standards, she says.
One other “minus” to franchising she believes is the risk we take of a franchisee not following our company standards – But that is a risk that all franchisors take.
For Grupenmager the rewards certainly outweigh the obstacles.
“My biggest reward in franchising is experiencing the growth of Uni K Wax, and seeing the centers multiply at a very rapid pace. It enables us to expand more quickly than I could on my own, and gives us the great benefit of being able to provide our services to more customers nationwide,” she adds.
To maintain uniformity and quality control, Grpenmager has established a corporate UKW Franchising team. Each franchisee owner is guided by the UKW Franchising team’s expertise and years of experience. This team offers assistance for each aspect of a franchisee’s business, from decor and design to training and start-up assistance. We also maintain a thorough up-to-date operations manual, which thoroughly describes all aspects of the Uni K Wax business system and concept.
Under her direction, UKW Franchising Company LLC also works diligently to market the Uni K Wax brand on a national level, raising general consumer awareness to help build customers and traffic in each Uni K Wax Center.
“There is no disconnect between our corporate and franchised operations – We work in tandem to grow the company as a whole, “ she says.
Grpenmager looks for franchisees that are established and enthusiastic businesspeople that love the business concept and are committed to following Uni K Wax standards, which are very high in the industry.
During training, Grupenmager and her team also work with the franchisee to ensure they lean a basic understanding of hair removal technique.
Offering a high-quality wax is only one piece of the puzzle. There is a basic understanding of the body that a waxer needs to have for optimal, pain-free hair removal.
She likens this to a maître de who should understand his server’s obligations; the company works to ensure franchisees understand these techniques and can motivate their team to excel in them as well.
“I also look for franchisees somewhat like myself. Like me, my franchisees understand that by investing time and attention to detail into their business, the end product is fast, efficient and successful,” Grupenmager says.
She urges would be franchisers to “push yourself to think beyond existing boundaries, stereotypes and tired schools of thought. For example, in my field it is often assumed that only women are interested in services like bikini and facial waxes, while men stick to chest and back waxes. Uni K Wax Centers were the first centers to offer all of the services it offers for women to men.”
When asked what is her proudest accomplishment, she replies, “it is that I successfully turned my idea of an affordable yet luxurious waxing center into a reality. I am also proud of my company’s successful franchised expansion.”
Not content with her success so far, Grupenmager insures that Uni K Wax Centers are continuing to grow with some of the locations unveiling a completely new look and feel.
“As always, we are approaching this transformation with sensibility and attention to detail, making changes in response to consumer need. Because of this organized approach, I know we will continue to be successful,” she says.