Beth Nilssen
June 29, 2022 / Leadership

A simple way to create a culture of trust

"Franchising is a momentum business. Franchisees feel positive about the future when they have a franchisor driving the bus, willing to listen and understand the challenges." —Steve Hockett

This quote was part of a message from Great Clips CEO Steve Hockett to the almost 750 Great Clips franchisees who, in early 2021, were recovering from the challenges of operating a walk-in hair salon business in the throes of a pandemic. 

Universally, those franchisees gave the Great Clips leadership team high praise for “driving the bus” through COVID-19, especially how actively executives like CEO Steve Hockett and president Rob Goggins reached out to franchisees to understand their challenges and to listen. To really listen. (Read more about how listening was a critical element of the Great Clips COVID-comeback plan here.)

Listening is imbedded throughout the way Great Clips, Inc. communicates and works with its franchisees—and not just during a pandemic. 

It’s celebrated in one of our values: “We listen and earn trust.” 

It’s central to the effectiveness of the many advisory councils and feedback loops built into our franchisee-franchisor relationship. 

It’s key to delivering a great experience in the salon when stylists ask customers how they want their hair cut, and then listen to them and confirm their satisfaction.

And, it’s critical when you’re the owner of a hair salon. The most successful Great Clips salon franchisees listen—to their customers and their employees. I recently heard about one Great Clips franchisee who regularly schedules roundtables with the stylists and managers at each of his salons. He’s not there to talk; he’s there to listen. By doing this, he has created a culture in which staff members feel valued, respected, and heard.

These roundtables are similar to the “listening tours” launched by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who recently returned to the helm of the company. [Read more here: Can listening to employees save Starbucks?] 

Why are these listening sessions important?

• Listening lets employees know their voices and experiences are important. Stakeholders at all levels must be included. Everyone counts.
• Listening reveals problems that may not have been apparent or previously discussed. As a manager, you may not realize that what seems a trivial issue to you is major for your workers.
• When the CEO listens—especially in person—it sets an example for other leaders in the company. 
• Listening and responding appropriately conveys the message that everyone has a responsibility for creating a comfortable work environment.

The act of listening creates goodwill. It motivates people to contribute to a good work environment. Will it solve all your problems? Not necessarily. But you can’t solve problems if you don’t know they exist. Listening to your people and knowing what is important to them goes a long way toward building trust and confidence in your leadership.

Beth Nilssen 
Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]

Contact me if you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Great Clips franchisee. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you—and listen to you!—wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call today!

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on June 29, 2022
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