Beth Nilssen
September 27, 2021 / Company News

Meet a rookie franchisee who’s not even out of college

This college finance major knew he eventually wanted to run his own business. He quickly realized franchising was the right choice for him, so he took the jump into owning a walk-in hair salon before he’d even graduated.

Twenty-two-year-old Richard DiCarlo is finishing up his senior year at college. Most young men in his position might have trouble answering the inevitable question addressed to many about-to-be graduates: Do you have a job yet? Who are you going to work for?

Richard is able to answer those two questions without hesitation. “Yes, and, myself!” Richard recently signed on to become a Great Clips franchisee, along with his now-business-partner parents who are providing financial support and their business-ownership and managerial expertise. His father is a doctor who runs a neonatology practice. His mother owns and operates a restaurant. That close-to-home backing and a good bit of chutzpah helped Richard decide he was ready to launch his career as a franchisee.

We caught up with Richard to find out more about his journey to owning a walk-in hair salon in the Birmingham, Alabama market.

Richard, how did you decide to invest in a Great Clips franchise?

I’ve always been interested in franchising. It’s such a good business model, especially for first-time business owners, so it just made a lot of sense. I did a lot of research with a focus on businesses that deliver a reliable customer base. I looked into Dunkin’ Donuts, UPS, and Planet Fitness, but Great Clips was always at the top of my list and it immediately clicked a lot of my boxes.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a business model that has better longevity prospects than a hair salon: the service can’t be outsourced, the up-front investment was manageable, the return on investment is good, and it’s a scalable operation.

It’s somewhat unusual for a 22-year-old to be an independent business owner. Why was franchising part of your plan?

I wanted to get into a business, as opposed to being in a job. As a franchisee, you can start small and build up by owning multiple units, if you want to. I was definitely attracted to the ability to grow a foundation of cash-flow assets that can be used to expand your business, and it will keep growing — at least, that’s the goal! My dream is that in 20 years, I own a bunch of salons that are manager-run, so I can be involved in the business while also having the ability to step away and pursue other ventures or hobbies.

You recently attended one of the franchisee-onboarding and development programs called Building Your Legacy, and you’ve been taking franchisee-specific classes through Great Clips University. What have you learned?

A lot! The whole process of becoming a franchisee is eye-opening, and the team at the Great Clips, Inc. corporate office does a great job teaching you everything you need to know about being a franchisee. One of the best parts is getting to talk to other franchisees who are living through the day-to-day. Everyone reinforced the reasons I wanted to be a business owner: the advantage of being your own boss, providing good jobs, interacting with their salon teams, and investing in opportunities to grow.

Are you concerned that you have no real management experience and now you’re going to be The Boss?

No, none! That’s probably because I know I’m backed up by a really strong franchisor that provides its franchisees with tools and resources to help you get your business up and running, along with continued support down the road. That’s the advantage of a franchise — I don’t have to invent everything from scratch.

That’s not to say I’m overly confident. I know I’ll be learning as I go. I’m a good people person, which will help me communicate with the stylists. I plan to be an active owner who lets everyone in the business know what they need to do so we all succeed.

I also have the advantage of insight into the challenges and rewards of managing people through my mom’s restaurant ownership. I’ve observed what makes her effective and can take pieces of that and apply it to my own business. She’s a great role-model and will be an invaluable sounding board and adviser.

What are your short-term goals for your business?

Finding and building out my first salon location and building a great team and culture to create a successful first salon.

What’s your advice for others who are considering investing in a franchise business?

Talk to Beth Nilssen, Great Clips director of franchise development! The process has been seamless since I first talked to her, then the operations department and everyone else at the corporate office who have been so helpful. Really: Talk to Beth!

Thanks for the shout-out, Richard! Historically, I’ve worked with a lot of people who are on the back ends of their careers, exploring their next chapter. But we’re definitely seeing more and more Xennials like Richard who are looking for a career path that gives them independence and flexibility. Welcome aboard, Richard. I can’t wait to see you succeed in the Great Clips organization.

MORE: How This 31-Year-Old’s Dream Came True When He Became a Great Clips Franchisee

MORE: The Best Advice We Got: Lessons Learned By Rookie Franchisees

Beth Nilssen

Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]

As Director of Franchisee Development for Great Clips, my job is to help prospective franchisees figure out if investing in a salon franchise is a good match. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call!

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on September 27, 2021
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