Top Players in Franchise Development: Jay Hummer
Top Players in Franchise Development: Jay Hummer

As the President and CEO of Kennedy's All-American Barber Club, Jay Hummer is using his franchise development experience to build a strong foundation for the brand.

Jay Hummer, President & CEO of Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club, started his career as a radio personality and stumbled into the franchising industry. Little did he know, it would turn out to be a lifetime career for the next 32 years. Hummer’s franchising career began at Century 21, and then eventually led him to run the northeast business unit at RE/MAX gaining valuable real estate experience that would later help him become a franchise development all-star.

As a customer of Kennedy’s, Hummer saw an opportunity to take on the brand and expand it. Currently at 11 units, this past year has been spent building a foundation for the brand. This has helped development in New Jersey as well as potential additional units for current franchisees in Connecticut.

Hummer is excited to watch the brand grow and his passion for the great experience they provide to their customers absolutely shows when speaking with him.

What led you to Kennedy’s All American Barber Club?

Kennedy’s is a brand that we just absolutely loved. I had the opportunity to be a customer, and I loved the experience myself. After that, I decided it was time to take on the actual brand, which we acquired in 2015.

What are your target markets for expansion?

We currently have a strong focus on the east coast since we have six locations in Connecticut, one in New Jersey, and our headquarters is in the Boston area. Our emphasis for growth is definitely the New England area, but we also have clubs in Florida, which we believe will be a good market. We are in conversations with folks in other parts of the country as well including the south and western states. Overall, we are seeing great interest brewing across the country.

How do you sell potential buyers on your development philosophy?

When you're an emerging brand, a potential franchisee needs to love the concept and we know we have that because everyone who lives and breathes it, loves it. We're passionate about the concept and that's important. For an emerging brand, franchisees have to believe in the leadership of the franchisor. We're looking at developing great relationships that can make a difference and we are confident in the level of execution that we can deliver to the franchisees. The relationship has to be a win win for both parties involved.

What is the Kennedy’s differentiator from other franchise brands?

The brand is unique in its concept of membership and the high level of service. Our development philosophy is multi fold; we want to put locations where we believe they can succeed, and with the right people running our clubs. My real estate background gives us a real advantage in choosing real estate for our locations. Our research and our demographic studies help us choose the right locations in each market. Ultimately, we need to find the right markets for the best franchise partners, and the correct locations within that marketplace.

What makes your brand’s franchise development process tick?

If you have been to a Kennedy’s, then you see the atmosphere in the club from our guests to the members to the pride and passion that our barbers put into their work for every customer. Our brand continues to grow because we deliver an exceptional customer experience. Our franchisees can see that, and therefore they can feel joy in executing that for their own club.

What have been some of your brand’s major milestones?

We are a small brand, but our big milestone was taking over the brand a year ago and building out a great infrastructure that looks like a big brand but it is actually within a small brand. Our new franchisees have great access to leadership from the start. The fact that we have helped support our current base of franchisees is huge. We took some stores that were under a bit of a challenge and have put them into a great spot.

The next big milestone will be opening another 10 locations. We need to get the locations in and get them moving and developing. We are currently at 11 locations with the 12th location being built out.

What are you most proud of?

This brand had been winning previously without any leadership before we joined. Now we are continuing to show how great our model is and how wildly cherished it is by our members, our customers and the barbers that perform magic in our clubs every day. With the new infrastructure that we built, we see a tremendous future for Kennedy’s, and we can't wait to see the franchisees that come in and make it a household brand across America.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses? And what do you do to set them up for success?

We have spent the past year refining our process, which has been very important to us. Part of our onboarding process is understanding the business that we are in. We are in a membership sales business, but also the men's grooming business, so we have to be good at both. We try to emphasize that we are in the hospitality business and Kennedy’s needs to be a special place for members to enjoy and feel good about themselves. Not only should they enjoy the time spent in the club, but they should also enjoy how they look once they leave, whether they are going to a meeting, school, or to see a loved one. We are all about hospitality and being able to provide our guests with a feeling of relaxation and confidence is what we do best.

We do a great job looking at the marketplace for each franchisee. We are so confident in our model that if we have someone who wants to open only one unit, that’s ok. We would love to open multi-unit franchises, but we are also interested in someone who is ready to start a business of their own and once they do that well, then they might build on top of that.

What are your goals for your brand in the next few years and how do you plan to grow the brand?

As an emerging brand, we want to get to 100 units so we certainly have our work cut out for us. We recognize that as we land new marketplaces, we will continue to add additional units there. We will take baby steps by opening new markets. Once a market is open, we can start to think about adding additional units to that marketplace.