With a simple to run model that relies on repeat customers, a Salt Lake City franchise is creating success by taking the fear out of an experience many children find difficult.
Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids is a niche hair salon focused on children under the age of 12 that provides an interactive experience that is stress free for parents and fun for kids.
“We really try to take the fear out of the haircut experience for children and make it a lot of fun,” Cookie Cutters CEO Neal Courtney said during a recent interview. “Kids get to sit in a thematic chair. They get their hair cut by a stylist that really understands the dynamics of children and what it takes to entertain them and also provide a great haircut.”
Those thematic chairs can be in the shape of a car, a plane or even a child’s favorite super hero. Cookie Cutters also has televisions for kids to watch or play video games on, plus an indoor playground for them.
In business for over 24 years, Cookie Cutters started in Indianapolis, IN before being purchased by Courtney and his wife Alexis in 2014. The company is now headquartered in Utah.
It started franchising in 1995 and has expanded steadily throughout the mid-west. This year is set to be a great one for the company, as Cookie Cutters has signed on 17 new franchisees, who will account for another 50 s salons opening over the next three years.
Currently, the company has 30 franchise locations in operation and will open another 15 locations by year’s end in 14 new states.
“We’re a model that really caters to the multi-unit operator,” Courtney stated. “Just with the low cost of investment and the ongoing profitability, it makes a lot of business sense to own more than one.”
With the simplicity of the model and how easy it is to operate a Cookie Cutters, franchisees really only have to worry about managing people, the CEO noted. With minimal inventory to keep track of. Franchise owners mainly concentrate on getting people through the door and making sure their employees are doing a good job.
The franchise has several salons in the mid-west and Utah and has recently signed agreements in Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
There is significant opportunity across the country to continue to expand the brand, Courtney noted.
Seeking Relationship Builders
Courtney said he is looking for people who like children and who have good business savvy. Potential franchisees should be passionate about the brand, have strong personalities and enjoy getting out into the community and making connections.
“We want franchisees who have the ability to get out from behind their four walls and build relationships with schools, pediatricians, , and other children focused businesses as well as joining the local chamber of commerce to build relationships within their small business community,” Courtney explained.
Always a Need
One of the best things about the Cookie Cutters model, the CEO said, is there will always be a need for the service it provides and it’s not something that can be automated or made irrelevant by the internet. With the growing number of disabilities our children face we continually find Cookie Cutters is the only option for both parents and children with special needs.
There are millions of kids in the United States, Courtney pointed out, and they all need haircuts and Cookie Cutters gives them a place where they can get a haircut in an environment built specifically for them.
“The great thing about Cookie Cutters is we know how to create an environment that is stress free for parents and a lot of fun for children. Each child is unique and we work hard to provide an experience that fits their needs” he said.
Most of Cookie Cutter’s training is done – in the top producing location in Salt Lake City, Utah. Courtney said it has been his observation that new franchisees learn best by being on site and dealing with customers directly.
The company has a robust training system that focuses on the technical aspects of running a Cookie Cutters franchise, plus training that covers hiring, customer retention and operations.
They also train their franchisees to train their own employees, utilizing YouTube and other online tools for the task. All Cookie Cutters stylists are certified hairdressers, so the training they receive from the company is mainly on how to give a haircut the Cookie Cutters way and how to deal with customers, Courtney said, as well as keeping them up to date on the latest hairstyles for children.
If necessary, the company can send a trainer to any franchisee’s salon to provide extra training on an as-needed basis.
In addition to making sure franchisees and their employees are trained well, the company also takes an active role in helping franchisees select a site and get started.
For savvy business people who like working with children and who like being a multi-unit owner, Cookie Cutters offers a superb opportunity catered specifically for them.