Franchise no more

Published 9:10 am Monday, January 11, 2010

While stylists Julie Goodmanson and Dana Smerud worked alongside each other for the past seven years, they were never shy about their ambition to own a salon together.

That dream came to fruition last Tuesday as they opened The Image Hair Salon in Northbridge Mall.

Working together at what was previously Great Clips, Goodmanson and Smerud let the owner know that if he thought about selling they’d think about buying.

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“And when the opportunity came, we jumped in with two feet burning,” Goodmanson said.

Goodmanson and her husband, Phil, met with then-owner and Great Clips founder David Rubenzer to discuss options that included buying the salon and remaining a Great Clips or closing and re-opening separately.

It was decided that re-opening separately would be advantageous because it would relieve the new owners of franchise fees. The transaction benefited all parties involved.

“David owned Great Clips salons in the Twin Cities, and it was inconvenient for him to send his general managers down to Albert Lea; we’re a completely different market,” Goodmanson said. “He looked out for our best interest.”

Once Great Clips closed, the transition to re-opening as “The Image” went extremely smooth.

“A lot smoother than we thought,” Goodmanson said. “We are using the same equipment, added a layer of paint and redecorated. We got a lot of help from friends.”

Opening a small business in this economy would seem like a gamble, but Goodmanson assured that hair care is a recession-resitant profession.

“Our Great Clips store saw a considerable growth last year,” she said. “We saw a customer increase of 37 percent.”

With that in mind, the owners are using the same marketing philosophy they learned at Great Clips while adding the luxuries of a hair salon.

“We’re a full-service salon with chain prices,” Goodmanson said. “We liked Great Clips’ concept of affordable prices and walk-ins but wanted to offer additional services. Unlike many full-service salons, we’ll be open seven days a week.”

“The Image” is not a spa, though, and the owners have no plans of venturing into that type of treatment.

“We want to stick to what we know,” Goodmanson said.

And while it may be too early for customers to tell what exactly sets “The Image” apart from its local competitors, the fact it’s locally owned is a fresh change from the space’s previous tenant.

“The salon is owned by two community members who are involved in the community,” Phil Goodmanson said.

Despite being first time owners, Julie Goodmanson and Smerud are confident in their ability to succeed as business partners.

“We’re a good team. We’ve been in this industry a long time,” Goodmanson said. “We’ve gotten tremendous training through Great Clips that we will be able to use going forth in this endeavor.”