After nine years in business, The Ten Spot has grown from a single location in Toronto to 17 locations spread through-out Canada. Kristen Wood, the chain’s founder, launched the first salon after she lost her job as a graphic designer.
It was quite a career shift, but Wood was looking to start her own business. The idea to make that business a nail salon came from her desire for a specific kind of nail salon that was missing where she lived. Wood was looking for a nail salon where she and her friends wouldn’t be charged the prices that came with a high-end spa but would provide a better level of service than the discount salons around her. She wanted something in the middle.
So, she took it upon herself. In August 2006, Wood opened the first Ten Spot salon, located on Queen West in Toronto. It adopted a mantra of being the “anti-spa,” ditching massive massage chairs, new age music, and dull color schemes in favor of a lively color palette, open atmosphere, and more reasonable prices.
“Business has grown a lot within the last two years; most of our franchise locations have opened in that time,” says Erin Montgomery, community manager for The Ten Spot. “We have 13 franchises and four corporate salons, 17 altogether.”
However, growth hasn’t come at the cost of service. Wood and her team knew that if they were going to offer franchising opportunities to prospective entrepreneurs, they were going to ensure each location offer the same level of service as the original. It’s why every franchise partner gets multiple owner’s manuals to help them build their salon the Ten Spot way.
Their training and manuals ensure that whether you book an appointment at Ten Spot’s first location on Queen West, its newest location in Vancouver, or any other salon with the Ten Spot name, you’ll receive the exact same level of service.
Queen West is a pretty big hot spot in Toronto. It’s a young, crowded fashion and arts hub that offers its visitors plenty of activities.
“The strip that The Ten Spot is located on is very hip, cool, and has lots of boutique stores,” Montgomery says. “It’s the place everyone wants to be — everyone wants to live on Queen West.”
Apart from The Ten Spot, there aren’t very many other nail salons, save for one. Montgomery says that it serves a different clientele and they don’t see it as competition.
The Ten Spot’s clientele consists primarily of young professionals in their late 20s and early 30s. Many of the salon’s clients visit The Ten Spot after work, before heading to an event they want to look their best for. The Ten Spot has many “quickie” — shorter and cheaper — versions of their popular services that cater to their clients with busy lifestyles.
Although the majority of the Ten Spot’s clientele are women, that doesn’t mean that men shy away from walking through its doors — about 20% of the Ten Spot’s business comes from men.
The Ten Spot offers four categories of services: nails, waxing, skin, and eyebrows. At the Queen West location, the most popular nail service is gel manicures, which cost $45 (Canadian), says Montgomery.
However, many customers come into The Ten Spot for a different reason: their line of signature waxing services. Their trademarked line of waxes includes The Brazilly, The Thongkini, and The Bumkini, which cost $50, $40, and $35 respectively.
At the Queen West location, about 50% of the people come in come for nail services and the other 50% for waxing.
Training is a big part of working at The Ten Spot. All new employees receive the same training when they’re hired, through a program called 10 Spot U. From then on, the salons will receive different training based on where they’re struggling or need a little more help.
All staff members at The Ten Spot are paid an hourly wage but also have the opportunity to earn a commission based on the retail they sell. Employees also receive training on the products their salons receive in order to become more comfortable with the products and have a better chance of selling them.
The inside of a Ten Spot salon features a colorful palette of white, gray, orange, and hot pink. Every service, other than waxing, is done in an open room that allows people to talk easily to each other while receiving their service. The clean, unfussy decor reinforces its “anti-spa” vibe.
The Ten Spot is currently only operating in Canada. However, the staff at its corporate office is aiming to change that. “We’re hoping to expand into the U.S., hopefully within a year,” Montgomery says. “It’s just a matter of deciding where we want to open first and finding the right location.”
Salon Name: The Ten Spot (Queen West)
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Owner: Kristen Wood
Square Footage: 2,000
Opened: August 2006
Number of Nail Techs: 16
Number of Employees: 20
Compensation Structure: Hourly (plus commission from retail)