Former restaurant manager leaves foodservice behind for more lucrative salon industry
Former restaurant manager Jay Palmer saw the earliest vision of Floyd’s 99 Barbershop’s plan to franchise, and he knew right away he wanted to be part of it. While the company was founded in 1999, Floyd’s didn’t start franchising until a few years later. When Palmer opened his first Floyd’s in Boulder, Colo., in 2008, he was only the company’s second franchise owner. Today, he has nine locations, all in Colorado — five in the Boulder area, three in Fort Collins, and one in the Johnstown/Loveland area. He talks about his journey in this Floyd’s franchise review.
How did it start out for you in the early days, being one of the first franchisees?
Great. We were having a slightly difficult time in 2008, 2009, with the financial crash. Still, we saw growth basically year after year in every single one of our stores. It didn’t really hurt us too badly. It was kind of a struggle to find money, but we were able to make it work. We had to find our way through it.
Now, we’re in a great spot. We’ve got nine locations. All of them are bank-financed. We don’t even have to look for any private money and it’s gotten to a point where now it’s a lot of fun, and we’ve reached our development agreement so there’s not much pressure, even though we will probably build some more stores. It’s nice.
What were you doing before joining Floyd’s?
I worked with Noodles & Company. My background is in hotel restaurant management. With Noodles & Company, I managed multiple locations. I was part of their franchise development team and I also ran one of their training kitchens. It really helped me hone my operational skills and customer service skills. … It’s always been in my blood. My family is in hotel restaurant operations.
What was it that drew you to Floyd’s? How did you find out about them, and why did you switch from food service to hair?
One day I think in late 2006, I was training for an Iron Man and I came across a gentleman on a really long bike ride. We started just talking with each other and he and a couple of his partners were talking about franchising Floyd’s. I hadn’t even heard of it. He invited me in because he thought I might be a good operating partner to have because I had the experience of operating not only actual service-industry businesses, but I also had a salon so I had a lot of know-how.
I really liked what I saw as far as the FDD and all of the franchise documents. I think at the time, Floyd’s had six or seven stores. They were very, very young. And then, we went to go meet Floyd’s corporate and the brothers (company founders Paul, Bill, and Rob O’Brien). It was just a great meeting for me, even though I think the guys that were looking at me as an operating partner didn’t maybe enjoy it as much. They didn’t really have the right questions. They didn’t know what they were asking. By the end of the meeting, I knew I just wanted to do this by myself. Once I got back to the office, I called and said, “Hey, can I do this alone without the guys that just brought me in?” They said yes and the brothers approved. The rest is history.
Tell me about the people part of it.
One of my strengths is being social and communicating. I think my staff really likes me. We have some fun. I’m in a position where I get to go in and I hand out paychecks. I do payroll myself, so I can actually see everyone’s numbers so when I go in I can say, “Hey Julie, great job last week. The retail was through the roof.” I think being hands-on like that also gives me a little bit of an advantage. I like to personally do that.
One of the other things that I do is every morning, I send a morning email. I collect data from the day before and write the sort of an inspirational piece about making sure we stay positive. Obviously, with all the COVID-19 things lately, I keep talking about the importance of keeping the shop clean and following guidelines, and the better that we do all of these things, the sooner we might be able to get through this and get back to some kind of normal.
What’s your management structure like as a multi-unit operator with Floyd’s?
As of now with nine locations, I have basically two area managers, one up north in the Fort Collins area. I have one that’s down here for the Boulder Valley area. The Boulder Valley area manager is also a VP of operations, but it has really helped give me a chance to sit back, look at different things. She takes care of all of the day-to-day stuff, the same thing up north. The washer-dryer goes out, they’re the ones right on the ground trying to get the towels clean. It takes all that pressure off of me. I can leave them with some of the day-to-day and do a lot of the analytical stuff myself, which is kind of fun, too.
Why Floyd’s as opposed to another brand?
Floyd's stands out from all the rest. You walk into a Floyd’s and you see that poster wall, you have the music, you’ve got just a different atmosphere. We focus on customer service. We’ve got the front desk staff, and you’re always greeted when you walk in. We’ve got great music playing and it’s just a fun atmosphere. We aren’t the cookie cutters, the ones just focusing on fast haircuts. We don’t hire people right out of school; they have to have years of experience. We’re not a high-end salon, we’re not a low-end, but we’re really nicely positioned right in the middle. We stand out from just about everything else.
Client service is huge for Floyd’s. How do you instill that value in your people?
Part of it is just discussing with them. I have a quote that I really like to use by Maya Angelou, which I actually use a lot in my morning emails: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Putting in the energy, greeting them when they walk in with good eye contact — and right now, with masks on, it’s even more important. We’re not doing the handshakes right now, but we want to make sure we’re engaging. Especially now because we are doing reservations-only (during the pandemic).
It’s not just about the haircut. My Boulder location has won Best of Boulder for the last 13 years, since the day we opened. It’s because people walk in, they feel the energy, people are excited.
We can talk about all these different things. We have a 10/5 rule. If they’re 10 feet away, let’s say they walk in the door, if you have a chance to say good morning or hello even though you’re with a client and they get greeted by maybe three or four people the minute they walk in the door, and then when they get to the front desk that’s the five rule and that’s where they get greeted again by the front desk. We talk about our core beliefs — excel at your job, be loyal to your team, trust and be trusted, seek fairness, strive for perfection, return favors, take responsibility, and do the job right the first time. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, but we talk about all of this on a regular basis.
Why do you enjoy this business?
Floyd’s has been amazing. The brothers, the whole team, the corporate office. I think it’s amazing. The multi-unit franchising is perfect because you’re not going to be massive unless you choose to, but you’re just big enough where you can get out there. You can go to your stores, you can have those relationships and you can do well. I love it.
Franchisees with hospitality industry experience tend to be a good fit for our brand. Find out more about Floyd’s 99 Barbershop franchise opportunities. You can download our free eBook by filling out the form below.