by John Francis

What I Learned From Working at a Manicure Table

Jan 12, 2021 7:00:00 AM Franchise Consulting, Franchising Help

What do you remember most about your first job?

For me, one of my first “real jobs” was running spreadsheets to help my family franchised salon business. And without a desk to call my own, I had to do it all while sitting at a manicure table.

I was a college sophomore when I got pulled into this. My dad, Joe Francis Sr.,  was the founder and majority shareholder of the company “The Barbers” a very successful franchisor of hair salons. My brother, Joey (Joe Jr.), who was 10 years older, was already working in the business and owned seven franchise locations as a franchisee in the Twin Cities area.

My dad was an entrepreneur at his core, it was how he saw the world. So when he had the opportunity to buy a package of 20 salons as franchisee units in a different state (and a different time zone), he jumped at the chance. I remember sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with the family that year and dad coming out with, “By the way, I just bought 20 salons in Pennsylvania and I need you boys to run that.”

My only thoughts were, “What just happened?” and “Are you kidding?”

To say we were unprepared was an understatement.

My specialty at the time was spreadsheets and analytics, so I got drafted to work for my brother in the afternoons after my college classes were finished. I remember sitting there, at that old manicure table (it’s all we could find at the spur of the moment), analyzing the payroll compensation and inventory reports and doing analysis on the business. This was before the days of email and the Internet, so we were sending a lot of faxes and spending a lot of money on long distance calls. We were doing our best with the new 20 salons, in addition to the 7 already in place.

I was eager to participate, and despite the less than ideal working conditions (manicure tables aren’t known for their size), we got the job done. 

And you know what? A few months later, I got a REAL desk and chair.

I had that position as a multi-state, franchisee support person for three years - working full-time with my dad and brother as I finished my college degree. I got to know the salon business and all of the stylists. It was a lot of work, fun and very memorable.

I also learned a few valuable lessons:

  1. Get to work. Perfect is the enemy of done and if you keep waiting until everything is “just right” before you start working, you’ll never get anything accomplished. Working at a manicure table wasn’t ideal, but it got the job done - important work does not wait.
  2. Enthusiasm goes a long way. Sometimes you have to find the opportunity yourself - and you won’t always know exactly what you’re doing. During those years, we tightened up the operations, knew what changes we needed to make and made it work -  we saw the improved results! 

Like many of you, I worked hard early in life. My family’s businesses provided me with some wonderful opportunities. It was lots of hard work - real work - and it was never easy and I never took it for granted. 

Maybe you’re not completely prepared right now, or you and your franchisees are up to your eyeballs and then something unexpected happens. I know how that feels - and can relate to the struggles you might be going through now. 

If you’d like some perspective, or just want to talk, please reach out anytime. I’m always happy to chat!

John Francis

Written by John Francis

About the Franchise Expert


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John Francis is an enthusiastic, engaging business advisor, and an entertaining public speaker for franchise brands because he speaks from experience and he speaks from the heart. Franchising is in his blood, and his parents were true pioneers in the industry, turning their family haircutting business into a 1,000-salon franchise empire. He has been a franchisee and a franchisor, and has a deep understanding of the issues both face. Engage John as an advisor or to speak at your event, and you and your franchisees will learn how to look at your business in new, positive, and profitable ways.

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