Merle Norman Franchisee Profile: Renee Rollins
Grapevine, Texas, cosmetics studio owner discusses skincare studio business success
Merle Norman Cosmetics franchisee Renee Rollins can’t remember a time when Merle Norman wasn’t a part of her life. For Renee, memories of childhood and Merle Norman go hand-in-hand.
“My sisters and I were raised around Merle Norman, and my mother used it,” she says. “All of us are self-professed skincare and makeup junkies anyway, so my dad looked into opening a studio. He decided it would be something good because of the quality and the reputation of the company. So in the mid-’80s, he bought our first studio in a strip center.”
Rollins and her mother ran that first store for several years until the family bought their second store in the early ’90s. They bought the Grapevine, Texas, store about a year after that, and at one point they were operating six studios! Today, Rollins runs the Grapevine studio, and the family owns two others in the area.
Merle Norman franchise success means serving others well
Being successful in her Merle Norman Cosmetics studio boils down to one truism for Rollins: “Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Give that stellar customer service and product knowledge.” Serving her customers through Merle Norman is far more than offering skincare or makeup tips. Rollins sees her work as making a difference in customers’ lives and helping them feel better about themselves.
“One time I had a customer come in, and she’d just come from court where her divorce was finalized,” Rollins says. “She’d been married for 42 years. I mean, she was a hot mess. She’d been crying, didn’t have a stitch of makeup on and she just said, ‘I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to a bar or if I wanted to come and see you.’
“And she said, ‘I decided to come see you because you would make me feel better.’ I’ll never forget it. I told her, ‘That was the highest compliment.’ And she said, ‘Well, I meant it. At that time, I was as low as low could be. I knew if I came and saw you, that you would transform me, make me feel good and minister to me, and that I would leave feeling full.’ And we did.”
The rewards of Merle Norman Cosmetics franchise studio ownership are numerous, and many are intangible, according to Rollins. She speaks about the satisfaction of caring for others through her business: “Our customers are not just a sale to Mom and me. I like having the autonomy of owning my own business and being able to execute customer service the way I want to, not the way somebody else feels that it ought to be done. We have the autonomy to do with our customers the way that we feel like they should be treated.”
Rollins’ Merle Norman Cosmetics studio stands in sharp contrast to department-store makeup counters, where personal relationships are few and far between. “When I go to those counters, I know when I’m just being pushed the product,” Rollins says. “They don’t care whether it’s good for me or not. They just want to make a sale. That is the polar opposite of my goals. My goal is to build a relationship with that customer, to educate that customer and really find something that is going to help with their issue — not just try to sell another high-dollar serum or product.
“Literally, weekly, I hear from my customers, ‘I won’t go to the mall anymore. I used to use XYZ with this or that name brand, but I want to come over here and see what you’ve got because I trust that you’re going to give me the right information and tell me what I truly need.”
Rollins reaches customers through community involvement
Education is a critical pillar in Rollins’ marketing efforts for her studio. She’s active in her community, generously offering instructional talks. “I do things with the schools, you know, like with the drill team,” she says. “I’m very involved in the Chamber of Commerce and different women’s clubs, and I’ll do a segment on skincare, or sometimes I do it on color.”
She also is generous with her time, resources and giveaways, handing out samples and extra gifts with purchased products. “I deliver. I have a lot of ladies who live in a very high-end kind of senior living retirement center, and they can’t drive anymore. They’ve been avid, longtime Merle Norman users, so I will deliver to them, probably two or three times a month. I also send samples, and if we’ve got a ‘gift with purchase’ going, I’ll bring one or two extra gifts, and I’ll give them to ladies,” Rollins says.
Rollins’ annual six-hour VIP open house in November is her most successful community outreach and business-building event. “I invite my top 200 customers, and they love it. We give a discount, serve flavored coffees and pastries. My 1,200-square-foot store is packed wall to wall. Last year, we did $17,000 in sales.”
Renee Rollins says she’s “excited about the long-term future” with Merle Norman. She and her husband would even be open to buying another franchise, depending on the situation. She’s had a gratifying career thus far and looks ahead with optimism.
“Our Merle Norman studio has made us proud to be involved with a longstanding, reputable and excellent company.”
Now is the time to join Merle Norman Cosmetics franchise
We are actively recruiting entrepreneurs to join the Merle Norman family as franchise owners. Although we are targeting regions such as Ohio, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Southern California, Washington and Texas, we have numerous other territories available from coast to coast.