Beth Nilssen
May 30, 2019 / Great Advice

I Want to Be a Franchisee: Finding the best location for a walk-in salon

This week’s guest blogger is Jim Reynolds, Senior Real Estate Manager for Great Clips, Inc., who shares information about how Great Clips helps new franchisees find the best locations for their salons.

Without a doubt, real estate is one of the first things new franchisees ask about. They’ve just been through a thorough approval process, and they are ready to move. And we don’t disappoint them! Once a Great Clips franchisee is officially approved, someone from the Great Clips corporate office will reach out within 24 hours to set up their orientation call. (This 24-hour response time isn’t just for new franchisees. It’s a commitment we make to every franchisee in our system—that they can call us anytime and someone will get back to them within one business day.)

The next step is to set up the real estate orientation call. During this call—generally about 60 minutes—we’ll show them how to find information about the company and our real estate processes online, including orientation courses, training guides, company policies and other documents.

And, of course, we talk about what they need to do to find their first salon location. We make it clear to the franchisee that, when it comes to finding the best location, they’re not on their own—we want them to leverage our resources—but it is their business and they are responsible for finding and evaluating potential locations. Because of the franchisee-franchisor business relationship, it’s important to be clear that while Great Clips must formally consent to their location decision, they are the ones who will make the final lease arrangements.

At the same time, we provide as much support and information as we can because, after all, we want new franchisees to be successful and the location of their first salon is a key factor. So, in our first few meetings, we help them understand what they should be looking for.

What is a “quality site”?
For the typical Great Clips customer, visiting a salon isn’t part of their daily routine. Instead, they head to the salon every four weeks or so, and often like to combine getting a haircut with other errands. That’s why the best locations for Great Clips salons are understandably in or near shopping centers that attract consumers with a variety of stores. When it’s time for a haircut, these shoppers instinctively know where to go—the familiar hair salon that’s conveniently located for their needs.

MORE: What Makes a Great Site?

Real estate is just part of the successful salon equation, but it’s a very important part, especially for a first site. In the business of a walk-in haircare salon, a quality site is one that is in a good daily-needs trade area—a natural errand path for the residents in the neighborhood. That’s why many Great Clips salons are located in centers with the top grocer brands in the trade area, the dominant drug store chain, and national shop retailers most people recognize, such as Starbucks and Subway. A successful location can also be in high-visibility strip centers that are located in the hub of that neighborhood’s retail activity.

Leveraging relationships to find the best sites
These types of locations can be hard to find. Great Clips franchisees have access to our Exclusive Agents (EAs)—local real estate market experts who are available to help identify locations. Plus, the Great Clips real estate team has a lot of experience with landlords and developers.

The team leverages those relationships to become aware of opportunities in centers that may not be in the public eye yet. We also help identify sites and refer franchisees to check them out, and can help review site plans, location demographics, and Letters of Intent (LOI).

Once the franchisee has decided on a location and we’ve all agreed that this is a quality site, the franchisee negotiates a Letter of Intent with the landlord. When that is finalized, the franchisee presents the real estate team with the agreed-to LOI and requests formal consent from Great Clips. Once the lease is signed, we hand them off to a facilities specialist who helps with the actual build-out of the salon—from the design on paper to equipment orders to signage to contractors. Our Operations and Marketing teams also engage at this point to help franchisees plan their grand opening.

MORE: Location Isn’t Everything

The bottom line is that we want our franchisees to be in the best location possible in terms of customer traffic, neighboring stores, demographics, staffing availability, and competitor locations. Our role is not to tell the franchisee what to do; rather, it’s to be a partner and consultant to help them reduce their business risk and build a successful operation.

The smartest thing a new franchisee can do is take advantage of the experience of their franchisor. After all, we’ve been through this thousands of times before!

Meet the Great Clips Real Estate Team
That’s a snapshot of how Great Clips helps its franchisees find locations for their walk-in salons. Want to read more about the process of becoming a franchisee? Start here.

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on May 30, 2019
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