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A cut above: Entrepreneur expands in growing men’s grooming business

🕐 7 min read

The Boardroom Salon for Men

Headquarters-Southlake Town Square

1260 Main St.

Southlake 76092


Bruce Schultz is enjoying a growth spurt in his business, The Boardroom Salon for Men, a cool, classy place for men to get a great haircut, shave, facial or spa service.

A pioneer in the upscale men’s grooming market, The Boardroom continues to lead the pack with its ultimate relaxed grooming experience just for men.

Schultz, a 50-year-old entrepreneurial transplant from corporate America, and his wife, Heather, launched The Boardroom in Southlake in 2004 at a time when male-focused salons were a rare breed. The couple created a market and a trend for a whole new category of business. Today, their multi-million dollar business is growing in an industry that is booming worldwide. The men’s grooming market is expected to generate $21 billion in revenue in 2016, according to Complex Media.

The Boardroom is not your father’s barbershop but the vibe is definitely masculine. With its rich wood paneling, plush leather chairs, pool table, chess board and sports-centric TVs, The Boardroom beckons the feeling of a sophisticated, manly 1920s country club environment where customers can sit back, relax and be confident they’re receiving the highest quality of service. It was a carefully crafted concept that has helped boost The Boardroom into an iconic brand nationwide.

“When we got into the men’s grooming space this concept wasn’t there yet. It wasn’t defined. We helped create it, I believe, and defined what it is. We’ve been the leader,” said Bruce Schultz, who recently was named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Southwest Award. “Our mission is to help men be relaxed and confident. We’re selling confidence versus commodity. We guarantee our service and strive to be the best in our industry. We want to be the Four Seasons of our space. We want to be considered the authority in men’s grooming.”

The award-winning concept and decision to be the industry’s best are paying off. From its original location in Southlake Town Square, The Boardroom Salon for Men now boasts 22 locations, including its first salon out of state in the Nashville area. Eight of the locations are franchises.

In June, The Boardroom Salon opened its seventh Houston location, one of the brand’s strongest markets. Further expansion is planned this year in Oklahoma and Atlanta. The goal, Schultz says, is to open four to five locations per year, with a business strategy now concentrating on corporate growth rather than franchising.

The award-winning concept and decision to be the industry’s best are paying off. From its original location in Southlake Town Square, The Boardroom Salon for Men now boasts 22 locations, eight of which are franchises, across Texas, including its first salon out of state in the Nashville area. In June, the seventh location opened in Houston, one of the brand’s strongest markets, and further expansion is planned this year in Oklahoma and Atlanta. The goal, Schultz says, is to open four to five locations per year, with a business strategy now concentrating on corporate growth rather than franchising.

“You have to either go big franchising or go corporate growth. A lot of what we want to accomplish is company growth,” said Schultz, adding that Texas is the most competitive market for the male-centered salon.

“We’re very fortunate to start in Texas,” he said. “When we started this concept, we wanted that kind of business environment feel. When we thought of names we thought of what would go best with our clients. The Boardroom – that’s a place where usually people are working on a really big project, a big initiative. We also wanted the name to be extendable beyond us. Knowing we wanted multiple units and franchises, we wanted a name that could extend and resonate to being a brand. I think we’ve accomplished that.”

Ultimate relaxed grooming experience

The Schultz’s decision to transition to business ownership was something they had been considering for a time. But entering the marketplace with an unproven concept was unexpected.

The couple met at the University of Delaware. Bruce, who completed an MBA in international business at the University of Texas at Arlington, started his career at Deloitte & Touche, where he worked seven years before joining Sabre Holdings. He spent 10 years building Sabre’s distribution business in Europe and Asia before becoming managing director for airline distribution in North America, Canada and Mexico. The couple and their three children lived around the world before settling in Southlake.

After the events of 9-11, “We decided we wanted to get control of our destiny,” Bruce said. “We were looking for another idea.”

The men’s salon idea came about when Bruce and Heather were flying to the East Coast to visit his family for Christmas in 2003.

“Heather started reading this article about metrosexual men. It mentioned this salon in D.C.,” Schultz said. “We thought about it and decided that was the idea we wanted. Guys want to get their hair cut every two to four weeks. This could be a good business.”

The couple wrote a business plan, liquidated some savings, took out credit card loans, secured the Southlake storefront and opened for business. Heather, an architect and structural engineer, created the shop’s design, which is carried through in all Boardroom locations, and did the finish out. She managed the Southlake location while Bruce continued working at Sabre and remains the company’s president and chief operations officer. He left Sabre in 2006 and they started franchising the business in 2008.

“Our mentality was ‘failure is not an option.’ We focused on hiring quality people. We had a lot of connotations to overcome when we started this concept. That’s why the [country] club atmosphere and making sure we’re classy,” said Schultz. “We are very clear to make this about the client experience and making clients feel relaxed and confident.”

The Boardroom, with its open layout designed to encourage good conversation, delivers a relaxing salon and spa experience, from a haircut or shave to massage choices and skin services, including facials, face and body waxing. The majority of men come in for a haircut while shaves and massages are popular gifts for Father’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

In addition to its service offerings, The Boardroom carries higher-end, harder-to-find products, including Bumble & Bumble, Jack Black and the Art of Shaving, to help clients keep looking sharp between appointments.

Another perk pioneered by The Boardroom is an annual membership that allows clients to enjoy unlimited haircuts and other services at discounted prices. Clients also receive referral bonuses that can be applied to services.

“What we’re selling is relaxation and confidence. We’re all about keeping it easy for our clients. That’s what relaxed is,” Schultz said. “If a client comes every week that’s good for us because he’s happy. If guys feel like they’re getting a good deal they’re going to tell their friends about it. That’s what we want. We grow by word of mouth. We build our brand and our reputation one client at a time.”

What else makes The Boardroom Salon for Men stand out from competitors?

“Our environment, the cool 1920s environment, of course, the best team in the industry and consistency,” Schultz said. “We are very process oriented. The client knows exactly how the experience is going to go every time. We train our team on how we’re going to treat the client, the way we deliver the services. The biggest challenge I see is finding good team members. That’s where we spend a lot of our time – hiring, training, mentoring and empowering them to deliver outstanding customer service and staying with us.”

Many of The Boardroom’s 250 employees have worked for the company for years, Schultz said. The company offers career opportunities to its team members, including management positions in the corporate office. The Boardroom was one of the first in the industry to go to hourly pay versus commission. Teamwork, outstanding customer service and quality are key components to The Boardroom’s success.

“Our belief is in the service industry quality is consistency and consistency is quality,” he said. “You have to know exactly what you’re going to get every time and if that’s consistent that’s quality.”

Schultz often speaks to other entrepreneurs about how to start a business and what it takes to keep it ahead of the competition.

“This has been a fun ride,” he said. “It’s a lot more rewarding but a lot more responsibility to be on your own. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is you have to be able to make decisions.”

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