When Kim Hofer found herself struggling to keep up with regulatory compliance, student count and student salon training area count at her independent beauty school she started looking for alternatives to closing the doors. She knew she wanted to take her school to the next level and offer a better education, but was having difficulty doing it on her own. “I wanted to be able to offer more for my students and team.”, said Kim.

Ten years ago, Kim became part of the SPEC Franchise; opening The Salon Professional Academy in Altoona, PA. Today, TSPA Altoona is at its highest enrollment in the history of the Academy with 70 cosmetology students! Learn about her experience converting to a franchise in the interview below.


Q: What were some of the problems you were experiencing as an independent school owner?

A: It was very hard to make sure we were staying compliant and meeting our yearly composite score in our audits. I couldn’t grow our student count and student salon training area. My biggest fear was we would have a program review and not be compliant!

Q: What were some fears you had about making this big change?

A: I didn’t want to lose the family atmosphere we had and become so different that we were no longer known for our education and training. I was also afraid the change would cause me to lose my staff.

Q: How did your staff react to the change?

A: I was actually able to keep my entire staff! I made sure I was open about everything with them and let them see where I wanted to take our Academy. It brought an excitement to know we were going to grow and have more opportunities.

Q: What were some challenges you had with operations prior to working with SPEC?

A: I did EVERYTHING!!!! From ordering inventory, admissions, financial aid, repairs and maintenance, reporting… the list never ended.  When a problem came up, it was one more thing I had to solve instead of teaching someone else how to solve the problem.  Life was exhausting!

Q: What are some things that SPEC brought to you that have made the biggest impact?

A: How to delegate and put competent, well-trained team members into roles that work best for them. SPEC gave me systems to follow that work. When you follow the systems, you get results!

Q: How has SPEC grown your school?

A: I moved into my new location in June of 2015.  We managed around 35 students for many years. We are now at our highest enrollment in the history of our Academy at 70 cosmetology students! I have also learned how to focus on the student salon training area and make it the best form of education for our students. Being able to work on real people instead of mannequins gives them more confidence in their career path. It has also helped grow our income for the academy. I have more than tripled our yearly income, just from the student salon training area!

Q: What was the transition from an independent school to a franchise like?

A: It was very lonely being independent. There was no life line, so to speak, to reach out to someone and ask what they do in situations. Now, I can reach out to any SPEC trainer or academy owner with any question or concern and get opinions and advice in an instant! It is like being a part of an amazing family with mentors and role models that I never would have had an opportunity to be around.

Q: How has SPEC affected leads coming in to your school?

A: I now work very closely with our marketing vendor to increase our lead count. The look of our Academy, its location and website have been a huge help as well. They’ve also taught me how to utilize social media to increase student count.

Q: How has SPEC helped you train your trainers?

A: The onsite education is amazing! Plus, all lesson plans and materials needed are available at our fingertips. The annual conference provides all the education needed for admissions, financial aid, compliance, daily operations, etc. We go to Las Vegas every year for Symposium and the Redken Artist Connection as well. It’s been awesome!

Q: What has working with SPEC done for you personally?

A: I have truly learned how to be a better person and have made it my mission to grow myself into a better leader. There are some amazing role models and mentors involved in SPEC and I have had the pleasure to learn from them. The personal development and professional development has made the largest impact on me and I love sharing that knowledge with my team. It has been a very humbling experience, and I feel it has made me more open minded to learning new things.

Q: Would you recommend an independent school to be part of the franchise?

A: It’s a no brainer! Why be by yourself in today’s over-regulated industry? Why try to offer small opportunities by yourself, when you can offer huge opportunities together? I have never once regretted making the move to joining the franchise. Life is better when you are a part of something special!