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A lifetime of franchising with MVP’s Paul Clissold

crop1By Paul Clissold
In my family, owning your own business wasn’t a dream or a gamble—it was a way of life. With parents who were true entrepreneurial role models, it was no surprise when I followed in their footsteps. While I spent a large portion of my career as a food-service franchisee, I’ve now found an even better fit as owner of my own MVP Men’s Salon in Kelowna, B.C.

The family business
I grew up in St. Albert, Alta., which is about a half hour northwest of Edmonton. My parents owned a wide variety of successful businesses over the years, from a motor home manufacturing company to a dry cleaning business to a garden centre, so the concept of entrepreneurship was definitely not foreign to me. In fact, it was about to become a huge part of my life as well.

I always knew that I wanted to own my own business; there was never really any doubt that I would follow my parents’ example. They were always successful at whatever they tried. I really admired that and wanted to prove I could do it, too. I could see owning a business wasn’t always easy, but the positives outnumbered the negatives.

When I was 16, our family headed west, relocating to British Columbia’s Okanagan region. After finishing high school, I took my first leap into entrepreneurship with my parents, when we joined together to buy a Joey’s Restaurant, a full-service seafood restaurant.

The biggest thing I learned from working with my parents was that the customer always comes first. I remember Dad saying to the staff, “If you can’t come in and smile at your boss every day, then don’t come in.” Only he didn’t consider himself the boss. “I just sign the cheques,” he said. “The real boss is the customer who walks through the door.” I think that sums up my business philosophy perfectly.

When we bought our first Joey’s location in Vernon, B.C., I was only 20 years old. With my parents as co-franchisees, we managed to turn around a location that hadn’t been doing well and make it into a viable business again. Eventually, we sold that location and went on to another struggling Joey’s franchise in Penticton, B.C. Again, we managed to turn things around quite nicely and after three years, I ended up buying out my parents’ share in the business and took it on myself. It was quite the journey. We started out with some pretty lean months in those first few years, but went on to achieving the number one sales in the chain.100_9360

Looking for a change
I owned the Penticton franchise for about eight years, and even though I loved the work, it was a tough grind. It always is in the food-service industry. There were weeks where I worked 100 hours at the restaurant. I was living in the Okanagan, but I simply didn’t have enough spare time to really appreciate the beautiful surroundings I found myself in.

I had a beautiful boat and a golf membership, but I was working so much that I never had the chance to enjoy them. After a while, I started looking for something new; something that would allow me to make a good living but would also give me more time for myself. That’s where MVP Men’s Salon came into the picture.

Even though I enjoyed food service, I was looking for something completely different than the restaurant business, in which I could fill a more managerial role. In the restaurant, I was always able to step in and help behind the counter, prepping the food—but I don’t know how to cut someone’s hair. In this type of business, I knew I’d be able to hire the skilled people I needed and take a more hands-off approach. I’d still be involved, of course, but in a very different way.

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