In this new series, “What I’ve Learned as a Franchisee,” you’ll hear directly from franchisees about what it’s like not only to be a Great Clips salon owner, but also about the opportunities and challenges of the franchising industry.
In this post, Great Clips franchisee Bryan Bitticks shares some of the challenges and rewards he’s experienced as the owner of a walk-in haircare salon business. He and his wife Tamara have been with Great Clips since 2009 and currently own seven salons in the Los Angeles market.
What’s the most challenging situation you’ve ever had to deal with at one of your salons and how did you resolve it?
It’s not unusual in our industry to have a competitor open new salons in your market and try to hire away your staff. That’s what happened to us. We had half of our team quit—all together—at our biggest and most popular location to go work for a competitor. We adapted by borrowing staff from other locations, moving team members around, hiring new stylists, and we were able to fill in the holes in the schedule without our customers ever noticing. That location has continued to grow, and if anything is much better for it—the new team is better than the team that left.
What did you learn from that experience?
It is really helpful to have multiple units that are geographically proximate. It was an early goal of ours to build our salons close to each other, thinking that it would be easier to share a staff member between salons, to help cover for time off or when someone got sick. That proved to be a great advantage in this situation.
We were able to weather this situation because of our management team's strong commitment to the brand at our locations. Our stylists are the face of the brand, and it is their delivery of a great, personalized experience that brings customers back to our salons. But no one stylist should be so critical to a customer that the customer is only willing to trust that one stylist with his or her hair. When that happens, there's a lasting impact when they leave. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to us when some of our stylists left. [Editor’s Note: One premise of a no-appointment salon is that every customer can get a the haircut her or she wants from every stylist, even if it’s not the same stylist who cut his or her hair the time before. Clip Notes is one tool that makes this possible in every Great Clips salon.]
Don't panic! This too shall pass. We just focused on solving the problem, which we did.
Who’s your star performer and why?
We have several star employees in our organization—we are blessed to have a lot of great, hardworking team members. Overall, our single biggest star is our general manager, Gina Cisneros. Gina started with us as a stylist, quickly became an assistant manager, opened and managed our fourth salon location, and became our general manager with the opening of our sixth location.
Gina is extremely hardworking and dedicated, but more than anything, she lives and breathes Great Clips. She does a fantastic job tying everything we do in our organization to the Brand Measures (metrics for business operations that contribute to profitable salons) and mission statement, and she spends all of her time thinking about and preaching the unique system we use to deliver a great customer experience. She is incredibly customer focused. She is a great partner to my wife Tamara and me—we each have a different skill set and we work really well together as a team, with Gina taking care of most of the operational details, as well as day-to-day management of our salon managers. She has three daughters and I would be shocked if they don't all wear Great Clips-branded pajamas!
What’s the best leadership lesson you've ever learned?
Be the role model that you want your team to follow, in all ways you can. For example, I like wearing shorts and t-shirts. I hate wearing pants and collared shirts, but I do. I have found that by dressing well, as our dress code requires of our team members, I serve as a role model for what "dressing for success" looks like.
Extending that thought: In general, to be a successful leader you have to be willing to do the hard stuff, the uncomfortable stuff, and the things you don't like doing. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.