Jean Booth was first introduced to Sport Clips Haircuts in 1995 as a franchise consultant with a major consulting firm. Because of her background in site construction, she was asked to monitor the build out of the brand’s second store.
“When the truck was unloaded, and the store started to come together, I fell in love with the concept. I knew it was a homerun,” explains Booth. “It’s unique and focused on an underserved market. Every detail was so well thought out and put together. And then I met Gordon. I knew I had to give this a try, even though it was a startup franchise.”
Booth continues, “Gordon and I had both been involved in franchises that lacked consistency and didn’t provide the proper support to their franchisees. We both understood how this adversely affects a franchisee’s ability to be successful. From the beginning, Gordon wanted to do it right, spending the money upfront, even during lean times. The integrity in the leadership is one of the biggest reasons I joined Sport Clips.”
Having seen franchises grow too fast and being unable to support their franchisees, Booth says Sport Clips is different. “All the things we did then, we do today…only better. Proven systems are in place to enhance a franchisees ability to be successful. The brand’s high standards were established to maintain the integrity of the brand, which benefits the entire network. Everything is there, franchisees just have to follow the system.
This all starts with Sport Clips’ rigorous selection process. Booth explains, “A candidate has to be financially qualified, but it goes beyond just that. They need to be in an area that matches our development plan. The culture has to be a good fit for the candidate. They have to understand the time commitment and their role as a team leader. They need to have the necessary skillset to develop their managers. There needs to be alignment.”
Booth adds, “If they are looking for a job replacement, this is not a fit. They can’t go into this thinking they are going to run it as an owner/operator, then they won’t be able to grow beyond their first store. This is part of the reason we award licenses as a three pack, so they begin with a growth mindset and develop their managers. They should work on the business, not in it.”
In addition to selecting franchisees that are a good fit for the opportunity, helping them in turn find optimal real estate for their stores has always been a high priority. Early on, working side by side, Gordon and Booth went into the individual markets and personally interviewed real estate brokers, having them put together market optimization plans.
“The right real estate is very important to the success of a store, and we wanted to make sure franchisees had the best resources available to them when it came to site selection,” explains Booth.
“Growth was slow and purposeful. Even when we were a young company, anxious to grow, we would wait sometimes over two years for the right site. It was about growing in a sustainable way and not taking any shortcuts,” recalls Booth.
While growth in the beginning might have been slow, it definitely did not go unnoticed. “When we started out, almost every time we opened our first store in a new city we were on the nightly news and morning shows. I remember when we opened our first store in Houston and CNBC picked us up. That was an exciting day,” says Booth.
Not taking shortcuts is evident in the brand’s support as well. The establishment of the Grand Opening Team and manuals, with detailed timelines and checklists, help shorten the learning curve for the team leader. There are abundant resources to help team leaders assemble their own all-star team and marketing support to get the word out in your community. On-going manager training is also provided.
“A lot of franchises will just train their franchisees, who in turn are responsible for training their employees. Sport Clips trains managers on a continuous basis. When you invest in your people, they want to work for you and that is part of the reason we are an employer of choice in the stylist community,” she explains.
Doing what’s right and living out the values has characterized Sport Clips’ growth over the years. Booth recalls, “When a store manager was gravely injured in a car accident, Gordon sent out an email trying to gather some financial support to help the manager. When the response was less than he desired he said, ‘We are a family and we have to take care of our family.’” The following year the Sport Clips Wayne McGlone Memorial Relief Fund was added to the Franchise Disclosure Document. Each store contributes to the fund, which and has awarded $1.69 million in relief payments since it began in 2012.
Looking back on her more than two decades with Sport Clips, Booth says, “I have never felt like an employee here, I have always felt like a valued partner. The team culture and people-first mentality has stayed true even as the company has grown; that is rare.”