Franchisees are the lifeblood of the thriving Great Clips, Inc. brand
By Jessica Burgess
When Beth Nilssen, Great Clips, Inc.’s director of franchise development and product, speaks about the Great Clips franchise system, it’s easy to see how this walk-in salon operation has been thriving since opening its first location on the University of Minnesota campus in 1982.
“The founders realized that salons in that day were often closed on weekends and required appointments. They recognized there was a need for hair salons that focused on the needs of the customer and what was convenient for them,” Nilssen says. “We service the entire family and focus on what we do best: haircuts. That means we don’t do colour services or waxing — we provide customers with a great haircut for a great price in a convenient setting.”
All Great Clips, Inc. salons are owned and operated by local franchisees, so franchising truly is the foundation of the company. “Local owners are the lifeblood of the Great Clips brand and system,” Nilssen says. “We want our franchisees to be involved and engaged in their business by being involved and engaged in their communities. Local franchisees are invested in the success of the people and the community.”
The company tries to stay at the forefront of technological industry advances while never losing the personal touch that has made Great Clips so successful and enduring. The Great Clips app allows clients to check in online (which can also be done on the website) and to “save” a place in line before they walk in the door.
“Once they are in the salon, our Clip Notes service gives stylists notes from the customers’ previous cuts so they can create the same great cut each time,” explains Nilssen. “This technology enhances the experience, but it doesn’t replace the actual experience of a stylist showing how much they care about the customer by giving them a great haircut.”
What does the ideal Great Clips, Inc. franchisee look like? “The most successful Great Clips franchisees are great people managers,” Nilssen shares. “This is a people-driven business, and franchisees need to drive the culture of their organizations from the top. They are also driven to succeed, willing to stick with it through challenges, and focused on the long-term success of their business by developing their teams.”
Every new franchisee is supported with a comprehensive onboarding program, which is a blend between the online Great Clips University and multiple in-person training events. “Beyond that,” says Nilssen, “franchisees can send their staff to ongoing education offered throughout the year. They also have multiple opportunities every year to get together and learn from their peers.” Franchisees are encouraged to explore professional development and growth, whether at conventions, conferences, or through local support opportunities.
“Over 1,200 Great Clips franchisees have been working hard to hone our systems and processes for the last 40 years,” Nilssen shares. “Know that when you invest in a franchise business, you don’t need to recreate the wheel. Stick with the plan, listen to the experts, develop relationships with other franchisees in the systems, and stick with it. By franchising with Great Clips, you can be an entrepreneur and a business owner with the power of a national brand behind you.”
“That being said,” Nilssen adds, “being a business owner is a challenge, no matter what industry you are in. The support and resources of our corporate staff are dedicated to assisting our franchisees and helping them achieve greater success.”