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Beth Nilssen
October 23, 2020 / Great Advice

Building a Company Culture: It’s Not All Fun and Games

Scott Greenberg is a business consultant and keynote presenter who has worked with a lot of franchise organizations—including Great Clips—to help them build loyal brands and foster connections with customers and employees. He has attended several Great Clips conventions as a guest presenter, offering his expertise on how to inspire employees, strengthen a brand culture, and move a business from good to “next level.”

Scott wrote a blog earlier this year in which he challenges what too many business leaders consider a company culture. Executives often brag about all the fun things happening in their workplaces, and just as often, they refer to it as “culture-building.” Scott begs to differ.

“These things are cool. These things are nice. But they have little to do with culture,” writes Scott. “Culture is much more than how a workplace feels. Culture is a group’s identity characterized by three things: beliefs, rituals, and vocabulary…and the more members of a group who share these three things, the stronger their bonds.”

In the blog, Scott names several franchisors who define and promote those three elements of culture. I’m pleased that he pointed out the strong culture of Great Clips, specifically what happens at our conventions and zone meetings: “Great Clips regularly celebrates franchisees with more awards than I’ve ever seen at a franchise convention, and people love it. Acknowledgement isn’t just what they do; it’s who they are.” 

Scott has attended several Great Clips conventions as a guest presenter, offering his expertise on how to inspire employees, strengthen a brand culture, and move a business from good to “next level.” Most recently, he contributed to a series of live, virtual meetings for franchisees who gained key information from Great Clips, Inc. leaders about operating a business in a COVID world.

Here are some excerpts from a Q&A we had with Scott about how what he sees in the strong brand culture of Great Clips:

Scott, your blog mentions your impressions from attending a Great Clips convention. Granted, large events aren’t on the calendar right now, but what did you see that impressed you?

Scott Greenberg: I hope we can eventually return to big events like annual conventions because Great Clips does such a great job providing opportunities for attendees to learn and reinforcing the brand culture. Franchisees and managers are reminded they’re part of something—a community of people who operate walk-in hair salons doing the same work, facing the same challenges, and sharing the same values. There’s an energy created when the Great Clips family gathers in person. Everyone feels it. As an outside consultant, I felt a little envious—I wanted in!

From what you know about Great Clips and its relationship with its franchisees, what does that say about its culture?

Scott: Having spent time with the Great Clips leadership team as well as with many franchisees, I feel that Great Clips has all of the elements of a strong franchise culture. This is by design. The corporate team understands the importance of its relationships with franchisees and has made culture a priority. As with any franchise system, there are some franchisees who embrace it and others who hang back. The latter are missing out. I’ve worked with a lot of franchise systems and have seen the social dynamics that go on. Great Clips is best in class.

You make the point about what a company culture looks like: “Fun is fine. It’s just not enough.” How do you see Great Clips deepening its strong culture while also having fun?

Scott: Many franchise conferences I attend include parties, outings, and fun activities. Then they talk about operations and marketing—almost secondary—and call it a meeting,

Great Clips is deliberate about what it wants franchisees to experience at their meetings. They certainly don’t diminish the importance of sharing best practices around operations, or introducing new initiatives to promote the brand. But it’s done in a way to ensure the organization’s culture is strengthened by acknowledging top performers, networking, and reminding everyone what the brand stands for. This helps create emotional resonance. That’s a critical part of a good culture and the return on investment is real.

Thanks, Scott, for your insights on building a strong culture at work and for recognizing what Great Clips is doing well.

Watch for Part 2 of our conversation with Scott: Can a Company Culture Thrive—or Even Survive—During a Pandemic?

And, if you’re thinking about investing in a franchise with a strong culture throughout the organization, look no further! Please contact me so we can talk about your interest.


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

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on October 23, 2020
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