World’s largest hair salon brand expands industry lead
Franchisees Christie and Brian Czopek celebrated the grand opening of their fourth Great Clips® hair salon in the Detroit market with an array of festivities typical for a new business, including balloons, customer giveaways, and ribbon cutting.
Those attending the celebration, however, may have noticed something less typical for an event of this nature, namely, an impressive guest list that included Great Clips executives—President Steve Hockett and Chief Operations Officer Rob Goggins—along with the local mayor, economic development leader, Meijer store representatives and a newspaper reporter.
They were all there to mark the significance of the Aug. 23 opening of the Meijer Flat Rock Great Clips salon: it was the 4,000th salon in the Great Clips franchise network that spans 180 markets across the U.S. and Canada. Each of those 4,000 salons is owned and operated by Great Clips’ 1,200 independent franchisees.
The 4,000th-salon milestone is the latest in a string of accomplishments for Great Clips, including 12 straight years of quarterly growth in same-salon sales and 43 consecutive quarters of customer count growth. In 2016 alone, 40,000 licensed stylists who work for the brand’s 1,200 franchisees will deliver more than 100 million haircuts to Great Clips customers.
What puts the “great” in Great Clips?
The success of the brand is due to its laser focus on delivering what customers want—a great haircut at a great price, delivered by professional stylists with the highest level of convenience. Ray Barton, chairman of the Great Clips Board, said the “simple strategy of always putting the customer first” drives innovations that increase customer satisfaction.
In 2011, Great Clips was the first in the industry to launch Online Check-In, available from a computer or smartphone, which reduces wait times at the salon. The Great Clips app has an impressive 5 million downloads; system-wide, 30 percent of the haircuts at Great Clips begin with a customer checking in online.
In 2013, Great Clips introduced Clip Notes®, digital record-keeping of customers’ haircut preferences. Clip Notes are securely stored in the cloud so that stylists at any Great Clips salon in North America can retrieve the information and deliver the haircut each customer expects, no matter the location.
“From the day we opened our first salon to the opening of our 4,000th, we’ve always put the customer first,” said Barton. “We also treat the franchisees, their stylists and managers, and our corporate employees like family. We want them to be successful and they, in turn, have helped us build the great brand Great Clips is today.”
“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of our 4,000th salon and proud to have built a company that continues to grow with happy franchisees who own multiple salons and loyal customers who keep coming back for quality haircuts,” said Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips CEO. Olsen emphasizes one of the company’s values: “Be kind. Not just because it’s the right thing to do—it’s also good business.”
Business history grounded in teamwork, loyalty
David Rubenzer and Steve Lemmon, founders of what would become Great Clips, opened their first salon in September of 1982. Ray Barton joined them as an owner in 1983. The three owners set about expanding the business through franchising. Barton persuaded—some would say “hounded!”—his friends Roger and Marylu Ledebuhr to join his wife, Mary Lou Barton, in opening the first Great Clips franchise salon in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, in July of 1983. The Ledebuhrs are still franchisees and, in 2011, opened the 3,000th Great Clips salon. Mary Lou continues to own salons, as well.
Olsen, Ray Barton’s sister, was recruited as a part-time Great Clips training consultant in 1984. Three years later, she was hired full-time as vice president of human resources. Barton became president in 1987 and bought out his partners in 1997. He stepped down after 28 years as CEO in 2011, promoting Olsen from president—a position she’d held since 1998—to CEO. Steve Hockett was named the company president in 2014, following the retirement of Charlie Simpson.
“We attribute our success to our dedicated corporate staff, enthusiastic franchisees, their management teams and their talented stylists, who work day in and day out to make us the greatest haircare brand in the world,” says Olsen, noting that most of the brand’s franchisees own multiple salons.
The Czopeks are prime examples. They plan to open their fifth salon later this year.
“Great Clips provides the support and guidance to expand with confidence,” says Christie Czopek. “My husband and I keep investing in this brand because Great Clips invests in us and all of its franchisees, to make sure we grow and prosper so we can take care of our stylists and our customers.”