When Jim Valenzuela was young, one of his favorite things to do was to head down to Nick’s Barbershop with his dad, where they’d hang out together and get a haircut at the same time. A few decades later and a father himself, Valenzuela yearned to relive those times with his own son, but he couldn’t find anywhere that lived up to his treasured memories of that traditional barbershop. So he decided to take matters into his own hands.
‘Mr V had just left his previous role running a large company and was considering buying into a clothing franchise,’ explains Emily Brown, Director of Franchise Operations at V’s. ‘He went to do due diligence on an outlet in Knoxville, Tennessee and as he stepped out of the taxi he saw exactly what he’d been looking for in a barbershop – a traditional outlet steeped in heritage. The vision of that barbershop stuck with him, and upon returning home, he started digging into opening a barbershop.’
He started with a few barbers and a beautifully fitted-out shop. That was in 1999 and since then V’s Barbershops has become the haunt of many fathers and sons. It now numbers 30 open outlets, each one synonymous with quality, nostalgia and good, old-fashioned barbering. And it promises more as further shops are opened. The plan is to open 8-10 a year, where there will be a limited menu of services in addition to the haircut, with the straight-edged shave top of the list.
‘We are certain that we give more straight-edged shaves than any other barbershop in the country ,’ says Emily, who personally oversees the opening of each new location. ‘In 2014 we did 23,000 straight-edged shaves and this year it will reach over 30000. It is the ultimate service for any man.’
Crucial to the success of V’s growth is the focus on location. Velanzuela personally vets every city and town, narrowing down the location based on demographic and traffic, and is involved in all negotiations over every lease. Middle income, high street is the mantra – the sort of street where you’d see a comfy coffee house. Meticulous attention is paid to every aspect of the barbershop development, right down the antique barber chairs. Each location takes about a year from conception to opening, and includes a thorough training and induction program for every barber to ensure they are initiated into the V’s way of working.
‘We are growing steadily rather than letting it run away with us, because we want to be personally involved. It’s our guarantee to our franchisees that we value every one of them,’ adds Emily. This surely shows, as the franchise has yet to close a location since it’s 1999 inception.
Such close supervision of every location also ensures that each barbershop is steeped in the nostalgia that Velanzuela yearned for when his own son was born and provides the perfect environment for some serious father/son bonding.