“It’s one of those basic things, but if you do it well and consistently, you can have the kind of growth we have,” Olsen says. Great Clips has experienced continuous growth for 38 consecutive quarters, and the company has plans to open nearly 200 more locations before the end of 2014. That’s due in large part to the company’s dedicated franchisees and talented stylists, but behind the scenes there’s a complex network of information that provides Great Clips corporate staff, franchisees and stylists with all the right information to ensure its customers get the best service possible.
Great Clips has made significant investments in data and business intelligence over the years, and Olsen says this has been a crucial element of the company’s subsequent success. Through improving the connectivity between Great Clips corporate, franchisees and customers, the company has developed a solid foundation for providing the best customer service possible. In the end, everything Great Clips does comes down to the moment customers see their great haircut in the mirror. “Our brand is really built on a great degree of comfort for the guests,” Olsen says.
Knowing the Customer
Although some people have a preferred stylist that they trust with their hair and visit every time they need a haircut, the majority of Great Clips’ customers see multiple stylists at their local salon. Great Clips’ business intelligence infrastructure has been built to ensure that no matter which location they visit or which stylist they see, they will receive the exact haircut they prefer. Olsen says providing customers with peace of mind that they will always have their hair cut exactly the way they want it is one of the main advantages Great Clips has over other salon brands. “We created Clip Notes® to provide a great degree of consistency.”
The global database Great Clips has in place keeps track of hundreds of bits of data about each customer including their Clip Notes. This data ranges from how often customers visit the salon, which location they visit most frequently and the type of haircut they prefer. This provides franchisees and customers with greater flexibility because it means customers can come in and have their hair cut without having to wait for a particular stylist or explaining what they want every time they come in.
On the other end, the information network allows Great Clips to stay in touch with how each of its franchisees is doing and attend to their needs in a timely manner. Unlike other salon chains, 100 percent of Great Clips locations are franchised. “We get meaningful, actionable data that can help us understand how salons are operating, so it gives franchisees good feedback,” Olsen says.
Thanks to the advent of smartphones, the flow of information between Great Clips and its customers is a two-way street. In recent years, the company has introduced a dedicated app developed by Innovative Computer Systems (ICS) that allows customers to check in to their local Great Clips location before they even leave the house, giving them the chance to avoid waiting in the salon. Olsen says the company is working with ICS on the second iteration of the app, which will allow customers to choose their preferred location, among other features.
The growth that Great Clips has experienced over the last decade has been impressive, but it has brought with it a unique set of challenges that have kept the company focused. Olsen says one of the company’s biggest challenges at the moment is finding the real estate to keep up with the company’s current rate of expansion. Demand for new Great Clips locations remains high, she explains, and existing franchisees also look for new locations to take greater advantage of the opportunity. Olsen says the company expects to sign close to 300 leases this year between new locations and those relocating to new storefronts.
Olsen says the company’s extensive growth also has made staffing a unique challenge. “I believe that we will have more challenges in recruiting stylists,” she says.
To help ease this difficulty, Great Clips has ramped up technology for its stylist community, giving them more access to resources designed to help them better serve their customers. Olsen says the company also has worked to strengthen its relationships with cosmetology schools to give franchisees more access to new and upcoming talent.
All in all, however, Olsen says the strengths that Great Clips brings to the marketplace will far outweigh whatever challenges it faces now or in the future. She says the company’s franchise model has created a network of thousands of salons run by franchisees that truly care about the customer and their stylists. As Great Clips continues to focus on the elements that have made it successful, Olsen says there’s no limit to the company’s growth. “We see really great things for the future,” she says.