Beth Nilssen
November 8, 2021 / Leadership

This franchisee knows what Army soldiers and salon stylists have in common

For the ninth year in a row, Great Clips salons across the United States will show their continued appreciation for veteran and active military service members by offering free haircuts on Veterans Day. The initiative expresses one of the trademark values of Great Clips: to show kindness by giving back to our communities. And, it was just those values that attracted veteran Charles Bovey to become a Great Clips franchisee. Here’s his story about what it’s like to be a franchisee after a military career.

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Charles D. Bovey, III, promised his wife that, when he retired after 30 years in the U.S. Army, the two of them would open a hair salon. His wife, Loan Nguyen-Bovey, was a hair stylist when they met, had subsequently managed and owned multiple salons, and was looking forward to getting back into business with her husband.

A few of Charles’s Army colleagues and franchise advisers were skeptical. One of them warned him that “stylists are not soldiers” and speculated the transition from military service to the franchised hair care service industry might be harder than his friend expected.

LTC (R) Bovey, who recently retired after an Army career that took him to many of the world’s recent war zones, begged to differ.

“Stylists and soldiers both want to be led,” says Charles. “They want leaders who are invested in their futures, are willing to listen and care about their families and lives, and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the success of their team.”

As befitting an officer with a background in organizational leadership, Charles started planning the transition early on. The investigation led him and his wife to Great Clips, and the walk-in hair salon brand immediately stood out because of its values statement: We are kind. We listen and earn trust. We keep it simple. We focus on execution. We exceed expectations. We make it fun.

“The Great Clips commitment to giving back,” says Charles, “and caring about the stylists, the customers, and the community through such programs as Clips of Kindness, Wigs for Kids, Children's Miracle Network fund drive, and other local community activities is uniquely Great Clips.”

Charles and Loan were able to build their first Great Clips salon in 2019 and a second in 2020, with plans to build two to three more in the years following. Their first salon in Hampton, VA, was just a year old when they had to shut down because of COVID precautions. The second salon was under construction and just months away from opening. Charles, a year away from retirement, was locked down at Fort Bragg, leaving Loan to manage the salon business alone. He returned home on weekends to build out their second salon in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Finally, they were able to reopen the first salon, and the Elizabeth City salon opened in September of 2020. Their third, in Moyock, North Carolina, is scheduled to open next year.

“COVID has been a challenge and we have had to be extremely flexible, but we did our utmost to remain consistent, both with our stylists and for our customers,” says Charles. “Loan has built a great team of employees who rely on us for guidance and support.”

As he and Loan launch this new chapter in their life, Charles says he sees much consistency in his two careers.

“There are a lot of leadership traits that can be demonstrated by doing and serving. I sweep the floors, conduct interviews, listen to the stylists' concerns and develop policies that address their concerns, and build the salon schedules while giving stylists the flexibility to conduct their daily lives in this crazy COVID world. 

“Most importantly, Loan and I are there for them—our team of great stylists. It hasn't been an easy path, but it has been a great journey and one we are excited for in the future.”

Thank you, LTC (R) Colonel Charles D. Bovey, III, for your service to our country and telling us about the day-to-day experience of being a salon owner. We are honored to have you and Loan as part of the Great Clips organization and extended Great Clips family.

Beth Nilssen

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

As Director of Franchisee Development for Great Clips, my job is to help prospective franchisees figure out if investing in a salon franchise is a good match. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call!

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on November 8, 2021
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