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How The CEO of North America’s First Blow Dry Bar Plans to Make 2017 the Best Year Yet for Attracting New Franchisees

As this decade’s biggest trend in beauty treatment continues to sweep across the continent, Vanessa Yakobson is determined to keep Blo Blow Dry Bar at the helm.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
Updated 1:13PM 01/16/17

In 2017, you overhear a woman talking about her experience at a blow dry bar and you don’t think twice about it. Before 2007, however, the concept was relatively unknown, which makes perfect sense given that it didn’t yet exist in North America. The idea for a salon to focus solely on creating hairstyles for women (rather than on doing cut and color) was an incredibly in-demand business that no one knew they needed.

Blo Blow Dry Bar CEO and partner Vanessa Melman Yakobson immediately recognized the massive business potential when first learning about the innovative concept of Blo. In 2009, alongside her husband Ari and their business partner Paul Spindler, she initially became a shareholder in the company, which at the time included three corporate locations in Vancouver, B.C. Leveraging the potential for this completely untapped market, the trio decided to franchise the business in order to excel growth.

As of January 2017, there are 80 Blo locations already open or in the works to open soon.

“It made more sense for us to work with passionate entrepreneurs who could focus on expanding the brand in their specific market,” says Yakobson on why they chose to franchise the business rather than open more corporate locations. To help increase demand for the concept, Blo has also added other beauty services, such as nail salons and makeup stations, to make the salon a one-stop location for women who need to look their best.

After serving as a silent shareholder for six years, Yakobson stepped into the CEO role to lend a hand in continuing to cultivate the concept’s identity and presence in Canada, the U.S. and the Philippines. With an MBA from Northwestern’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a marketing background working for powerhouses like Procter & Gamble, Yakobson knows a thing or two about what it takes for a brand to thrive.

“We’re one hundred percent franchisee owned,” says Yakobson, who regards much of the company’s success to franchising. “We know that our guests and staff really value working for invested entrepreneurs. Their passion has led us to be the gold standard in terms of service and quality.”

Yakobson places a strong focus on the support of the concept’s franchisees, considering them to be the company’s number one customer.

“When you look at other beauty franchises, you’ll find that many of them have a higher start-up cost,” says Yakobson. Blo’s franchise fee is $30,000, with start-up costs between $159,600 and $289,500. “Comparatively within the beauty space, we’re relatively lower in terms of initial investment. And on the corporate side, we continue to invest in franchise development. This year, we’re looking to enhance the tools and resources made available to our franchise partners to further ensure their success.”

Up until 2016, Blo’s growth had mostly been organic, with prospective franchisees reaching out to corporate or existing franchisees expanding within their market. When Blo put more energy behind attracting new franchisees and getting the Blo name in front of a wider audience, the brand saw some fairly exceptional growth. Just last year, Blo signed deals for 25 new locations in existing and new markets. Expecting to top 2016’s development in 2017, Yakobson has big plans for driving growth in a more hands-on way from here on out.

“As we continue to develop tools for our franchisees, we’re also coming out with a new marketing program to develop marketing solutions that will facilitate turnkey marketing to execute in individual markets,” says Yakobson. “We’ve also started to invest more energy and resources into a focus on SEO, working with some broker networks and digital marketing.”

Expecting to finish the year with over a hundred locations, you can expect to see new Blo locations in 2017 in plenty of new markets, too, like Chicago, upstate New York and New Jersey.

“From a personal perspective, I’m just really excited about the growth that we’re experiencing,” says Yakobson. “To see strong year over year growth and be part of helping to drive it, especially at the individual location level, is really gratifying.”