Canadian Franchise

Adapting, Expanding, and Redefining the Canadian Salon Franchise Landscape with Sola Salons

Salon studio franchise, Sola Salons, has a clear-cut vision to boost its presence in the Canadian market. Currently supporting a community of more than 19,000 independent beauty professionals across North America, the company’s business model is designed to set stylists up for success, as they explore the world of being their own boss. What is different about Sola is the fact that we don’t have employees. Rather, we have independent beauty professionals who rent a space within a Sola location, while having their own companies and branding. We provide them with a turnkey system, allowing them to be their own boss, and in turn, they gain flexibility and endless income possibilities.


When I first discovered Sola Salons, I knew that it was the right franchise opportunity for me. As someone with a background in commercial real estate and a passion for business, I was drawn to the Sola Salons model. I was particularly impressed by Sola’s strong track record of success in the United States, where the company had already established more than 650 locations.


In just a few short years, my business partner and I, with a tremendous effort from our manager, have opened and now operate three fully leased Sola Salon franchise locations, introduced the brand to the Canadian market, and proven that people don’t need to be beauty experts to run a successful salon franchise.


However, I also recognized that bringing a U.S. franchise to the Canadian market would present its own unique challenges. To succeed, I would need to introduce the Sola Salon brand to Canadian customers, adapt to local business regulations, and recruit talented and experienced beauty professionals. Despite these challenges, I was undaunted. I opened my first Sola Salon location in North York’s Leaside neighborhood at the end of 2016 and quickly filled all 29 available suites. Building on this success, I opened a second location in the upscale community of Oakville in the spring of 2018, with 23 suites, followed by a third location in Mississauga in July of 2019, with 33 more suites. All three locations are fully leased, with the Leaside and Oakville locations having a waiting list of beauty professionals eager to join the Sola Salon community.


So how can a potential franchisee achieve the results they’re looking for? One key factor is the willingness to adapt to the needs of the Canadian market. For example, I made sure that my salons were fully compliant with Canadian business regulations and that I had a strong understanding of the local beauty industry and the requirements that beauty pros needed to fulfill to go independent. I also worked closely with local beauty professionals to ensure that the salons offered the space and amenities that Canadian customers were looking for.


An important factor to note is that if a potential franchisee can build a strong network of beauty professionals, all else will fall into place. Although I am not a beauty expert myself, I recognized the importance of having talented and experienced professionals within my salons. I worked hard to attract top talent to the salons and to create a positive and supportive culture that would keep them happy and engaged. At Sola, we call it “community.” So, we built a community at Leaside, then Oakville, and now in Port Credit. As a result, the salons have become known not just for their beautiful spaces and top-notch amenities but also for the unique familial vibe each location has developed, and the quality of the services provided by the hairdressers, estheticians, and other beauty pros at Sola.


Looking to the future, I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. I currently have development rights for several more Sola Salon locations in the Greater Toronto Area and am actively reviewing new opportunities, with construction on a seventeenth U.S. location currently underway.


For anyone considering opening a franchise in Canada, I hope sharing my story serves as an example of what can be achieved with hard work, dedication, and a willingness to adapt to local market conditions. By choosing the right franchise and building a strong network, anyone can succeed, regardless of their background or expertise.


By no means is it an easy feat opening three salon studio locations at 100% capacity, introducing a U.S. franchise to the Canadian market, and debunking the notion that beauty expertise is a prerequisite for running a salon franchise. So here are some additional key takeaways from my journey that other franchisees can learn from:


1. Thorough Market Research: Entering the Canadian market was not accidental. Conducting meticulous market research is crucial to understand the local dynamics, beauty industry trends, and customer preferences. This allowed me to tailor my offerings to meet the demands and expectations of the Canadian clientele. Franchisees should invest time and effort in researching their target market and adapting their business strategies accordingly.

2. Compliance and Adaptation: When expanding a franchise to a new country, it is crucial to navigate local regulations and adapt the business model accordingly. Ensure that your franchise locations in Canada comply with all applicable laws and regulations, enabling a smooth and legal operation. Franchisees should prioritize understanding and adhere to local regulations, as well as making necessary adjustments to align with cultural norms and customer expectations.

3. Building Strong Relationships: Attracting and retaining top beauty professionals was a result of my efforts to build strong relationships. I fostered a positive and supportive work environment, emphasizing communication, collaboration, and professional development. Franchisees should prioritize building strong relationships with their employees, or in my case tenants, providing ongoing support, and creating a positive work culture to attract and retain top talent.

4. Leveraging the Franchise Network: As an owner of multiple Sola Salon locations in both the U.S. and Canada, I benefited from the strength and support of the franchise network. I was actively involved in 13 other Sola Salon locations in the U.S., enabling me to share knowledge, resources, and best practices with fellow franchisees. Franchisees should leverage the power of the franchise network, participating in forums, conferences, and training programs to gain insights from experienced peers and maximize their chances of success.

5. Strategic Expansion Planning: I recommend actively reviewing opportunities and carefully evaluating the feasibility of new locations, ensuring they align with franchisee growth plans and market potential. Franchisees should adopt a strategic mindset when expanding, conducting thorough due diligence, and analyzing market demand, competition, and profitability to make informed decisions.


By applying these lessons, aspiring franchisees can increase their chances of running successful franchises in new markets and realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Interview with Kevin Lent franchise owner with Sola Salons
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