How two mums juggle family life while running an award-winning beauty franchise
It's smiles all round for Victorian mums Nichola Kempenaar and Amalia Georgoulos; buying a franchise has given them a niche in the beauty sector and the opportunity to achieve business success.
Nichola, a brand manager in the beauty industry for 16 years, and Amalia, a pharmacist by trade, met for the first time when taking their children to school.
This was a catalyst for them both, knowing the stay-at-home life was not for them.
“Other school mums were chatting about muffins, recipes, and what they were doing with their time, and that’s when Amalia and I turned to each other and decided that particular lifestyle wasn’t for us,” Nichola says.
Nichola has a marketing background and a degree in business management, while Amalia has a pharmacy degree, which they felt equipped them well to become business partners in an Australian Skin Clinics franchise.
“We started looking for a business together, but we were looking for a company with a five to 10 year plan, not simply the near future, and only Australian Skin Clinics had this plan in place,” Nichola explains.
“The beauty industry is rapidly changing and Australian Skin Clinics has adapted to cater to the growing needs of consumers, with a strong focus on forward momentum and company progression.
“Australian Skin Clinics was a step in the right direction for us as they carefully consider the treatments they are offering and ensure they are of the highest technical quality whilst still being affordable and accessible.”
Nichola and Amalia joined Australian Skin Clinics in 2013 when they opened their first clinic in Chadstone, with the Highpoint clinic opening not long after.
As the industry and concept of a shopping centre skin clinic was fairly new to Melbourne, funding was initially a challenge.
“Our business banking manager from the National Australia Bank was able to see our potential and provided assistance in the facilitation of some additional business finance. We managed to use a combination of self-funding and business finance to buy our clinics,” explains Nichola.
The two wannabe franchisees insisted that both clinic sites be in preferred shopping centre locations.
“For our Chadstone clinic we used the services of a leasing agent and then used our experience from this for the second clinic site. We had to wait for several months for the right locations to become available,” reveals Nichola.
“Amalia and I spent many hours in the shopping centres looking at traffic flow, how people moved around the area and the types of people shopping within the proposed location. While it was tempting to take any site (they don't come up often in Chadstone), we needed to think seriously about the investment we were about to undertake.”
Recently, the Chadstone clinic was awarded Clinic of the Year at the Australian Skin Clinics National Conference.
“We became Clinic of the Year due to the work our team puts in. Our staff members are so loyal and show so much passion for our industry,” Nichola says.
“Being a part of a fast-paced industry posed a number of challenges early on such as maintaining great communication within our team and upholding a level of organisation, while trying to keep our heads above water.”
Due to the commitment from their staff members as well as the strong and well-organised business model of Australian Skin Clinics, Nichola and Amalia have been able to overcome these challenges.
“By employing committed and service driven staff members, we have been able to bring more clients through the door and expand immensely with the introduction of a third laser machine, and the employment of a receptionist and a business manager,” Nichola says.
“Australian Skin clinics were amazing and helped us through the entire recruitment process. This provided us with the specialised staff we needed and the entire training required to start-up.”
The franchisor provided key trainers to work in the clinic to fine tune clinic performance and staff skill set.
“Being number the one store, in terms of sales, for eight months running is another element that has led to us winning clinic of the year.
“Being mums with aspirations to run clinics in the beauty industry, we have successfully juggled parenting while managing two extremely successful operations with 25 staff between the clinics, which is a massive achievement.”
“While managing a hectic life and two clinics we like to think of our job as 'plate spinning'! We have passionate managers and 2ICs that support us. We always endeavour to up skill every time we employ a new team member.
“We work in our business every day and don't take our eye off our strategic objectives. Things don't always go according to plan, however you always need to remain focused on your values and what is driving you to reach your goals. Amalia and I have very different strengths and we both know our limitations and respect each other’s views. I guess that's why it works.”
The pair hope to open a third location in Chadstone shopping centre in 2016, which is undergoing a major redevelopment.
“It has been a challenge though growing at such a fast rate considering that we started out with six staff and now have just over 25 team members across the two clinics. As we look to set up a third clinic next year we will look to employ a business manager who will be as passionate as us about this brand.”