Beth Nilssen
April 25, 2019 / Great Advice

I Want to be a Franchisee: How the Best Franchisors Onboard New Franchisees

If you’re a new or prospective franchisee, when you hear the word training, you probably think it refers to training your staff. And you would be partially right, but there’s another kind of training that is key to the success of your new business—your own.

I still remember something I heard many years ago about what’s at the core of a good franchisor: “The best franchise organizations make franchisees feel like they are not alone. If they wanted to be alone, they wouldn’t have become a franchisee in the first place.” This sentiment can’t be overstated when a franchisee is just getting started. Those early connections between franchisee and franchisor are foundational to building a successful business relationship—and a successful business—long into the future.

Great Clips has found that the best way to launch a new franchisee on a path to success is to shorten the time span between when the franchisee signs their franchise agreement and when they open their first salon. The Great Clips onboarding program—called Quick Connect—is designed to help franchisees quickly become familiar with the business of owning a walk-in hair salon. New franchisees bring a lot of enthusiasm to their new business venture, so we leverage that excitement by providing training early and often.

 Here are the steps a new Great Clips franchisee follows during Quick Connect:

Starting Off Great

 Training for newly approved Great Clips franchisees begins with the Starting Off Great phone call, initiated by a member of the Great Clips training team. We believe every time we talk to a new franchisee, it’s an opportunity to share information that will help them learn about the company, and start them off right.

Insights from inSite

 During the call, the training associate connects the franchisee to inSite, the Great Clips internal website, so they can walk through the information that will be most valuable in the coming months. This includes the Quick Connect page that features a step-by-step checklist for everything the franchisee will need to complete during this early stage of being a salon owner.

Quick Connect also includes best practices for new-salon openings, our Franchisee Code of Ethics, and resources for choosing salon locations, building a salon, and recruiting staff.

Great Clips University (GCU)

 Franchisees continue their training at our online university—appropriately named Great Clips University (GCU). Every new franchisee is assigned a suite of courses they must take before they can attend any additional training or orientation sessions. These classes focus on the basics, such as real estate, marketing, and salon operations.

Great Clips Academy

 From there, franchisees move to our Academy, which is a three-day training (primarily for stylists) where they learn about the company and how to cut hair using the Great Clips Cutting System. No, franchisees don’t have to learn how to cut hair! But they do have to attend the first day of Academy, during which they learn all about our brand—what our brand messages are, how we measure success, how stylists convey the brand to customers, and how we expect customers to be treated in the salon.


Franchisees are also required to attend LEADS (Leading Excellence and Developing Staff), which teaches salon managers how to run a salon. This includes using the scheduling tool, communicating with and managing the staff, and delivering excellent customer service.

Building Your Legacy (BYL)

Attending this workshop is an important milestone in a new franchisee’s career, not just because of what they learn about opening their first salon, but perhaps more important, what they discover about building a “legacy business.” That word—legacy—is an important one at Great Clips. It’s the centerpiece of the Great Clips franchisee promise: “Great Clips inspires you to achieve your legacy.” In order for franchisees to do that, they need to know about the company, the expectations of being a franchisee and how to build a great foundation for their business.

MORE: What Makes a Great Franchisee

Once franchisees have completed Academy, LEADS, and BYL, training doesn’t end—it just focuses on different aspects of running the business. Our goal is to always be available to our franchisees to help them learn whatever they need to as they grow their business.

Plus, Great Clips sponsors events throughout the year that a franchisee can attend for professional development, such as GM to Leader workshops that bring franchisees and their general managers together to help them work on leadership skills; Spring Institute, which offers guest speakers and workshops; and, Convention and Zone Meetings where franchisees, general managers, managers, vendors and corporate staff come together to celebrate their successes and prepare for the future.

As you research a potential franchise business, ask the franchisor about their new-franchisee onboarding program. Reputable franchise organizations know franchisees invested in their company because they didn’t want to do it alone. Great onboarding programs should reflect that.

That’s a snapshot of how Great Clips onboards its franchisees. Want to read more about the process of becoming a franchisee? Start here.

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on April 25, 2019
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