• Spotlight
    • Fantastic Sams
      Fantastic Sams

      By Diana Saenger

      Fantastic Sams El Cajon Jamacha RdFantastic Sams began in July of 1974, when Sam Ross opened his first salon in Memphis, Tennessee. He began franchising in 1976 and today Fantastic Sams is one of the world’s largest full-service hair care franchises, with more than over 1100 salons located throughout North America.

      The Washington Plaza El Cajon salon is the newest of four locations open in South and East San Diego with another five to follow. The San Diego county Region has a total of 34 locations. The salon opened on June 13 under the general management of Lisa Johnson and aid from FranVest, a startup funding provided by FranVest management of Orlando, Florida. Through its network of foreign investors 24 salons have been funded this year with an additional 30 salon locations planned in 2016. This program has helped generate 500 sustainable jobs in the United States.

      Johnson opened the El Cajon location to better serve the El Cajon community with Fantastic Sams’ expert stylists and affordable service to residents. A previous owner of a Fantastic Sams’ location, Johnson has been with the company for 25 years.

      Fantastic Sams General Manager Lisa Johnson and Salon Manager Carrie Knightwalter“I was an owner of my own salon, but now I’m a general manager,” Johnson said. “I’m not a stylist. My strength is in management so I was brought on to manage multiple locations, four now and soon two more. I was also part of the design process of this salon. As the franchisee’s representative I did site location, worked with the space planners on designs and the contractor from beginning to end, hiring staff, training, and then on the grand opening.”

      Salon manager Carrie Knightwalter has been a stylist for 11 years.  She has spent her career managing chain salons.  She joined Fantastic Sams in January of this year.

      “I’m a people person, I like to talk, I like to be creative and in this industry that’s exactly what you do,” Knightwalter said. “You meet all kinds of different people every day, so there’s no monotony in the job. The hair styles also continue to change so that’s interesting and fun as well.”

      Because hairstyles tend to change, as do customers desires, stylists can face continuous challenges.

      “Our goal is to make every guest happy with our services when they leave,” Knightwalter said. “Occasionally, it’s a situation of no matter what you do it’s not good enough. But you never know what a person in that chair is going through. They could be struggling with severe problems. So when we see customers leave with a smile on their face it’s very rewarding. Children can also be a challenge but we just try to make it fun for them, and over the years I’ve found ways to keep them entertained and feel like a part of the process and comfortable. ”

      Keeping a business thriving is a basic task for those in charge, and Johnson has those tasks well in hand.

      Fantastic Sams stylists - Joanna Montoya, Alissa Quinten and Carrie Knightwalter“We advertise, coupons, mailers, radio, TV and I physically go around to businesses to develop relationships so we can work together, go to schools and overall give back to the community. That’s my job as the general manager; then it’s the stylist’s job to get the customers to come back,” Johnson said. “We offer an email program, rewards program, specials for returning guests, and focus events. Right now that’s “Back to School” Our Fantastic Sams Shampoo and Conditioner Liters are two for $20 and kids haircuts for $5.99 through the end of August.  Adult Haircuts during Grand Opening price is $9.99, regular price eventually will be $15.99. In October we will run a color special and so on through the year.”

      Fantastic Sam’s services include haircuts for adults and children, color services and special occasion styling, conditioning treatments, texture services and facial waxing. In addition Fantastic Sams formulates and sells its own line of styling aids and products including Fantastic Sams brand shampoos, conditioners, pomades, gels, styling foams and sprays.

      “We value our stylists, and because we’re a national brand name we work hard to get customers in. We offer ongoing education to our stylists. We have a full training center in Kearny Mesa with ongoing educational programs every month that furthers them along with their skills.” Said Johnson.

       Over the years, Fantastic Sams’ salons have earned a reputation for providing quality hair care services for the entire family. Their goal is to provide guests with unexpected quality, service, and style, at a fantastic price.

      The El Cajon-Washington Plaza Fantastic Sams is at 755 Jamacha Rd, (619-588-0950) and open Mon. - Thur 9 am. - 7 pm.; Fri. 9 am. - 8 pm.; Sat 9 am. - 6 pm.; Sun. 10 am. - 5 pm.

      Photo Credits: Diana Saenger

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