Cirque Salon Studios Cuts the Competition

Each Cirque Salon Studios is a collection of 25 to 30 suites where health, beauty and wellness professionals independently cater to their clients in a unique and customized environment.

David Manzi is the founder of Cirque Salon Studios and serves as Head of Operations. Beau Schweikert co-founded Cirque’s franchising company, Cirque Real Estate Franchising, and is Head of Real Estate and Finance. We recently sat down with them to find out more about this innovative franchise, including what they look for in potential franchisees, where they see the franchise in five years and what new trends they find exciting.

What’s special about the franchise?

Based on decades of experience in other franchise systems, real estate and finance, we have developed a highly refined business system with a focus on creating value for all stakeholders. We provide support for franchisees within the Cirque system to start their own real estate business with the benefits of our experiences and support.

What is the idea behind the franchise?

We founded the Cirque franchise to provide a growth engine for a proven and replicable business system. The business systems and support from the founders offer experienced and motivated professionals the opportunity to invest in a business with excellent return potential.

How does it compare to its competition?

There are several outstanding companies in the space. All bring one or more unique attributes. We believe that Cirque’s unique strengths lie in the system’s focus on real estate fundamentals — building a highly efficient and value-oriented space in which the salon professionals can independently grow their practice.

By focusing on our role as a B2B provider of turnkey real estate and not acting as an intermediary in other aspects of the aesthetician’s business, we believe we deliver a singularly superior service while simultaneously attracting the most independent and successful professionals.

What do you look for in a potential franchisee?

We are very passionate about Cirque’s business system and the growth potential of the brand. We want to find franchisees who share our passion for leveraging the system and the brand for their independent real estate investment — and for others in the system. The ideal franchisee will be a team player, have a strong work ethic and relevant professional experience.

Where do you see the franchise in five years?

We want to leverage the success we’ve created in Charleston, S.C., and the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. We plan to grow organically through a careful balance of company-owned and franchised locations in the Mid-Atlantic, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. We anticipate having between 100 and 125 locations within five years.

We believe the initial regional focus in our first few years will enable our franchisees to benefit more rapidly from the growing strength of the Cirque brand. We also believe that having a founder in the Southeast [David in Charleston] and Mid-Atlantic [Beau in McLean] will provide our franchisees and the system the necessary support that is so critical in the early stages of growth.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a franchisee?

A typical day in the life of a franchisee involves tasks similar to those of a property manager of a multi-unit apartment or commercial property. In the early stages of development, a franchisee will be busy answering inquiries concerning the property and its amenities and conducting daily tours of the facility. He or she will also be responsible for highlighting and demonstrating the benefits of a studio ownership relationship as opposed to the standard booth renter or commissioned sales.

After the initial leasing period, daily activities become more centered on solving problems related to studio owner maintenance and common area upkeep. Additionally, franchisees keep a full and active waiting list, renew studio owner leases as they expire and recognize potential infrastructure weaknesses prior to problems arising within the studio environment.

Please tell us your secret to success…

David: Ongoing and consistent relationship building with all studios owners.

Beau: If we tell you that, it wouldn’t be a secret. The honest truth is this: I believe my drive for improvement — coupled with a healthy fear of failure — is my key to success. I realize that each and every day, there are several ways I can improve or advance the business. In order for Cirque to be the very best — in order for Cirque to be the preferred investment for franchise investors or for Cirque to be the preferred environment for aesthetic professionals to practice their art, we have to be doing this each and every day. It’s what drives me. Not to sound too graphic: ‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.’

What is the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

David: I was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I remember being overseas on the first days of deployment and reminding myself not to wish away the experience just so that I could return home. This basic philosophy has treated me well because it has taught me to always appreciate the job or situation you are in and learn from the experience — don’t just wish for it to conclude.

Beau: I don’t believe I’ve ever had a job that was wholly bad. To be certain, I’ve had bad days in every role that I’ve had. I’ve dug ditches, worked as a short-order cook and a chef’s apprentice. I’ve had a 13-year career in banking, which exposed me to a variety of complex and often contentious business situations. I’ve worked on 7, 8 and 9-digit transactions with incredibly successful entrepreneurs. I’d like to think that so long as I learned something from that bad day, it was at least a valuable learning experience.

What is one trend that really excites you?

David: The change in traditional salon environments towards independent salon studio settings. This fundamental change is enhancing the experience, as well as the relationships between stylists and their client base.

Beau: I am excited about the growing trend of independence in business. Some call it a ‘sharing economy.’ I prefer ‘independence.’ Take Uber for example: just a few years ago, I would have laughed at the notion that I would regularly be hailing a ride from a stranger, using my iPhone. In a similar way, that Uber driver would likely say he would have never imagined such an independent way to make such an effective use of time and car.

I think Cirque offers that same opportunity for independence. Our franchisees, backed by a proven system, create a unique real estate investment. The salon professionals have a turnkey space they can customize and the independence to run their business when and how they see fit.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Beau: I love the Morpholio Project. It’s a collection of apps founded by Jeff Kenoff, a lifelong friend of mine. It’s a community for photographers, architects, designers and other creative professionals to showcase their work and seek input and critiques. I am also a big fan of CoStar and LoopNet. The professionals at these companies have created a disruptive application of technology, which has empowered every part of the value chain in the real estate space. And, since I mentioned it already, I really like Uber. Sheer genius.

Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?

David: My father was a marine biologist for a majority of his career, but later in life decided to become an entrepreneur by starting the first little neck clam aquaculture farm in the United States. His inspiration started my trajectory of self-employment for the past 15 years.

Beau: I spent a number of years as a banker. I eventually went to work for my largest client — a highly successful real estate executive. Despite being born into very humble circumstances, he persevered through several up-and-down economic cycles and eventually became one of the country’s most successful and wealthy executives in the space. He’s truly a self-made man.

I learned a great deal from him and still reflect regularly on the many things he did or said. Among the few things that stick out:

  • He starts every workday with a to-do list. Item number one on every list: ‘Success is the constant elimination of the non-essential.’ Nothing else went on that list, if it wasn’t essential.
  • He was convinced that supreme customer service and responsiveness was a key driver in any company’s success.
  • Last, but certainly not least, he was quick to remind those on his team: “Don’t ever confuse being busy with being productive.”

Luck and providence put me in position to work with him and learn from him.

Where can people get more information on Cirque Salon Studios franchise opportunities?

Visit the website here.

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