Fantastic Sams

Fantastic Sams

Fantastic Sams is rebranding its concept with a new look and focus on service.

By Alan Dorich

After 40 years, Fantastic Sams sets itself apart in the industry with its “value-centric,” full-service salons, Vice President of Operations Denise Gorlick says. Although its locations offer affordable services, they are anything but “cut rate,” she asserts. “You’re going to get quality service for your money.”

Sam Ross founded the Beverly, Mass.-based Fantastic Sams in 1974 with the goal of opening a barbershop-style salon that catered to the entire family. A barber by trade, Ross got the idea for the name when a pleased client told him, “That’s fantastic, Sam!”Fantastic fact box

In 1976, he began franchising the concept, which has since grown to nearly 1,000 locations. “We are franchising in all states and Canada,” Business Development Manager Erica Tarnowski says, adding the salons offer a full range of services.

In addition to cuts, the locations’ services range from hair coloring and highlights to straightening and texturizing to facial waxing. “From a salon point of view, it makes us stand out in that industry,” she says.

Rising Up

Fantastic Sams currently ranks as one of the top four salon brands, but the company is not resting on its laurels, Tarnowski says. Instead, it has embarked on a rebranding campaign for its locations.

In 2015, the company opened its first “New Image Salon,” which featured a design that was “chic and modernized,” she says. “It feels a little bit more upscale than the other concepts and more upscale than our former image.”

It also incorporated new gray, black and red colors in the design. “Even the signage reflects the fact that we are a multiple service salon franchise,” Tarnowski says. “It’s captured the image of a brand refresh and a resurgence.” 

Fantastic Sams is hopeful that current owners will take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their locations as soon as possible. “Our goal is to get the image of the brand and raise it back up,” she says. “From a franchisee point of view, you’re coming in at a time that is very exciting.”

The company also is focused on the value and quality of its offerings. Currently, “We’re expanding our color services,” Gorlick says, noting that Fantastic Sams is doing this through a partnership it has developed with TIGI. 

“We have aligned with TIGI as our preferred vendor,” she says, noting that TIGI offers exceptional products not only in its color lines, but also its treatment and product lines. “Color is hot in the beauty industry and our franchisees can surely build upon that. Their support of the Fantastic Sams brand is exceptional.”  

A Great Tool

Fantastic Sams recently honored its stylists at its annual Artistic Styling Awards, which were held at the company’s convention at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas. In the past year, Gorlick explains, stylists submitted photos of their work, which can range from unique cuts to colors.

The recipients were announced at the black-tie gala, but their recognition did not end there. “The winners also are published in trade magazines and announced through our own franchising systems,” Gorlick says. “That’s a great recruiting and retention tool for our franchisees.”

The program helps the stylists feel critical to the operation of Fantastic Sams. “They are not working for franchisee A or B,” she says. “They make significant contributions to the success of the salons.” 

Strong Support

Tarnowski notes that a Fantastic Sams franchise can be a profitable investment for multiple reasons. In addition to offering multiple services, “We have our own proprietary lines of products,” she says. “The sales of those products are higher than the other national brands we have.”

The company also provides a multi-tiered support system that includes its operational and marketing teams. “We also have a development schedule that we closely follow in order to open their salon in a timely manner,” Gorlick says, noting that Fantastic Sams provides training and assists with site and furnishings selection.

Training also does not end after the location opens. “We have educators who provide different classes on different series,” she says. “Whether it’s cutting or new color techniques, it’s continuing education that the stylist community thrives on.”  “We also offer continued business consulting and training for franchisees and their managers.”

Exciting Times

Tarnowski is proud of Fantastic Sams’ team. “We put all our efforts toward making the system the best it can be and having a system that is replete with successful franchisees every single day,” she says. “It’s clear how dedicated everyone is to building a culture focused on that success.”

Fantastic Sams sees many growth avenues ahead. “We now have a lot of franchisees who have been with us 20, 30 and even 40 years,” Gorlick says.

Because many of those franchisees plan to retire, “We’re getting new franchisees coming into existing salons where they do a complete remodel to our New Image,” she says, noting that this will help draw in new customers.

“That New Image is very attractive for everybody; very modern and sleek,” she says. “We’re seeing growth as well when those new franchisees come in, and that’s exciting.”


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