Driving Growth and Innovation: The Great Clips Approach to Franchising and Customer Service

Platform for Success

Providing quality, no-appointment hair care services for adults and children, Great Clips is founded on a belief that customer growth drives sales growth. The company has remained privately owned and franchise-based since its beginnings, which Great Clips feels have provided it with a great deal of flexibility.

As part of its approach to franchising, Great Clips has tried to simplify its brand message as well as the KPIs that it measures. By creating a simple, consistent message that resonates with consumers across the country – as well as collecting and analyzing data on its customers – Great Clips has been able to create a transparent operating model that allows each franchisee to see how they are performing and to measure themselves against other franchisees in the system.

“That creates competition and visibility into the most important pieces of data,” Olsen says. “The feedback we can get from that data helps us to drive growth.”

Great Clips spends a lot of time supporting new franchisees to help establish strong performance as soon as possible. Operations and business services staff members from the home office spend a lot of time in new salons early on, and they will return if needed.

“We have shifted our new franchisee focus to be more hands-on and work side by side with them to improve the results of our new franchisees,” Olsen says.

Operations staff also visits regularly with existing franchisees in person and via technology. Great Clips has been working to build greater attendance whenever it holds franchise meetings and conventions, and it has invested in digital communication tools to facilitate interaction outside of physical get-togethers.

Ways to Improve

Great Clips has worked hard to understand the differences in – and preferences of – its customer base from market to market. Generally, its core customer is a 20- to 40-year-old male, although it has built ties to senior, children and female customers as well. In order to meet the needs of its customer groups, it has focused on making sure it is able to communicate with the customer according to the customer’s preferences.

“The younger customer wants everything electronically, and the senior wants everything in person,” Olsen says. “The hair care service isn’t that different, as the differences come into play more in communication, messaging and offers.”

Business intelligence systems allow the company to determine things such as which customers should receive direct mail, which customers would rather receive push notifications through the Great Clips app, or which customers would prefer communication via Facebook or email.

“Customers have different communication preferences, and they all react to messaging differently,” Olsen says. “You need to be able to have different messages for different customers, and technology and data have really helped us there.”

Indeed, most of the company’s enhancements are focused on the operational side of its business. However, while it isn’t overly reliant on product sales in its salons, there are some new men’s product lines that Great Clips has launched.

“We are working with manufacturers on the men’s product side and tying in with their promotions and veterans initiatives to respond to the male customer and find products that match the core audience,” Olsen says.

Where the company is primarily focused is on finding that sweet spot between face-to-face communication and leveraging technology with customers. Access to data and analytics is important, but so is personal interaction. Additionally, technology is helping with Great Clips training programs. The company is using a blended format so franchisees can enhance training for their stylists.

“We want to limit classroom time and give the franchisees the training resources they need when they need it,” Olsen says.

Beyond technology, Great Clips is looking at making enhancements to salon décor packages and updating the company’s in-store aesthetic and functional elements.

“Right now, we are looking to transition into new design and functional aspects of the salons over time,” Olsen says. “We are looking at things like having iPads in the salons, determining the future of the front desk, and finding ways to freshen up our look.”

As Great Clips moves forward, it knows that collaborative relationships with franchisees will continue to be critical to company success. The franchisees operate the individual locations, and Great Clips needs compliance and support as it seeks to have changes implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“It is important that we are smart about where we make our investments and make sure we are putting them in the right spots,” says. “Our customers and providing franchisees the support they need to find and hire great stylists are top priorities. We want it to be easier for stylists to serve customers. As we determine where we make our investment decisions, we must help our franchisees to value their stylists and build great organizations that can achieve growth.”