Beth Nilssen
February 20, 2021 / Milestones

One Franchisor’s Surviving-to-Thriving Story

Great Clips was recently invited by Entrepreneur to tell the story of how the company and its franchisees navigated the challenges of operating more than 4,000 walk-in hair salons across the U.S. and Canada when the pandemic hit. The short story? It wasn’t easy, but it does have a positive outcome.

Here’s an excerpt from the Entrepreneur Partner Studio. You can find the entire article here.

In March of 2020, Great Clips had 4,501 salons open. One month later that number was 17, a staggering decline, due to mandated closures across the United States and Canada in response to a worldwide pandemic. 

Today, as the economy emerges from the struggles of 2020, the vast majority of Great Clips salons—nearly 4,400—are open and again welcoming customers.

How did this franchise organization pivot during a global pandemic to not only survive but thrive? It leveraged and focused on the key elements that drive its business: dedicated corporate leaders committed to protecting the brand, a quick-to-respond community of franchisees, and loyal customers eager to get a convenient haircut at an affordable price.

Focus on the brand

Since the first salon opened in 1982, Great Clips has always focused on the near term, while planning for the long term. That approach served the brand well during the pandemic when it enhanced its already powerful reputation for creating a customer salon experience that is safe, comfortable, and accessible.

“We believe our decades-long platform of strong operational practices—including sanitation and cleaning processes—and our unmatched business record was at the foundation of how we survived 2020,” said Beth Nilssen, director of franchise development for Great Clips. “That focus only became more intense during the pandemic to reassure salon owners, their employees, and their customers that we would still be here, stronger than ever, in 2021 and beyond.”

Focus on the franchisee

Great Clips salons are 100% franchisee owned. “That means our corporate focus—all day, every day—is working with our 1,100 franchisees, helping them be as successful as possible,” said Nilssen. “They are at the center of this brand’s success, so everything we do is with that in mind.”

That focus only intensified in 2020 as the corporate office worked closely with franchisees to help ensure the viability of their businesses, as well as the overall brand. Great Clips, Inc. temporarily reduced or removed some fees normally charged to franchisees; the company invested in targeted marketing efforts to reassure customers about the sanitation measures being taken in the salons; and, it ramped up its regular communications with franchisees with weekly—even daily—messages about critical next steps for reopening their salons.

Focus on the customer

While its core business is delivering great haircuts, Great Clips has a history of continual innovation in technology to enhance the customer experience. In August of 2020, Great Clips established its GreatCare Promise™, a commitment to customers to keep everyone as safe and comfortable as possible in the salon through the wearing of masks, the use of Online Check-In, increased sanitation, and other measures.

“The professionals at Great Clips salons already had extensive training and experience in providing sanitary, safe environments,” Nilssen said. “They know how to do this because they’ve done it every day, in every salon, for years! During the pandemic, their commitment to sanitation and customer safety was simply amped up with the addition of social distancing and masks. We made a promise to every customer, and the salon teams delivered.”

READ MORE: From a Staggering Decline to a Remarkable Recovery: One Franchisor’s Surviving-to-Thriving Story

Get more information about what it takes to be a Great Clips franchisee below: 

Is Great Clips Right For You?

Day in the Life of a Great Clips Franchisee

What are the Financial Requirements to Be a Great Clips Franchisee?

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on February 20, 2021
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