As we continue to navigate the dynamic environment of the global pandemic, the team at Sport Clips Haircuts understands it is a very interesting, unique and somewhat difficult time for everyone. Each day brings new opportunities providing challenges and these constant changes have baffled our local, regional and federal governments. With all of that to think about, it is hard to imagine going through this alone. This is why it has been such a pleasure to be a member of the Sport Clips franchise system — a system that is deeply rooted with strong core values of, “Do What’s Right, Do Your Best and Treat Others the Way They Want to be Treated” and guided by the mission “to provide a Championship Haircut Experience to men and boys in an exciting sports environment.” When those two principles are combined, they yield the Sport Clips culture, which was established by chairman and founder, Gordon Logan, and is deeply rooted in the amazing people that make up the Sport Clips franchise system. Together, we strongly follow the guide of franchising, which is to be in business for yourself but not by yourself. As we move into the fourth month of the pandemic, it is powerful to take a look at the support the Sport Clips leadership and team have provided for all of us, at every level of the system.
Imagine sitting at your desk in your home office in mid-March 2020 reviewing the key metrics for your business, watching the conflicting opinions of the major news sources covering the early outbreak of COVID-19. Many business owners in all segments were doing this and starting to feel the anxiety of the rapidly changing information that was presented. Independent business owners started to look at survival, however they did not have the collective resources of a franchise system. Sport Clips franchise owners turned to the system for guidance and support.
By this time, the Sport Clips Leadership team, led by the president and CEO, Edward Logan, already pivoted into full preparation mode to provide support for the network of more than 450 franchisees and some 1,850 stores. The top priority was to support the stores and business owners with key information related to the proper ramp down of their business. While that was the first priority, Sport Clips also dedicated a portion of its daily planning sessions to a comprehensive reopening strategy that would prove to be very beneficial to the entire network.
The Ramp Down
Early on, a comprehensive communication strategy was developed and implemented, which included daily meetings of the leadership team, multiple meetings per week with the franchisee advisory council and area developer advisory council, and a weekly webinar for the entire system. In addition to the new communication cadence, several “Breaking News” email communications were distributed, often daily or multiple times per day, to ensure the entire system had the information needed to make informed business decisions.
Some of the topics addressed include:
- Resources to keep franchisees updated on quickly evolving employment laws
- Real estate support webinars, including best practices on how to work with your landlord
- Consistent updates on the PPP and EIDL loan programs
- Supplier/vendor support in fee reduction during the government mandated shut down
- Employee morale and engagement support through social media and video chat
Navigating this crisis was extremely challenging, even with the full support of a strong franchise system. Imagine how difficult it would be to do it on your own with little to no guidance other than what you can determine for yourself. From the moment stores were shut down, the Sport Clips leadership team was confident store closures would be temporary and immediately began planning for reopening. It was critical for franchisees to be informed and prepared to reopen successfully.
Reopening items addressed before and during the shutdown
- Rehiring information to support franchisee goals to bring team members back
- Revamped opening procedures to simplify the reopening process without missing details
- Detailed safety guidelines for reopening
- Procuring all PPE materials at a national level from multiple suppliers
- Creating Sport Clips Clean Certified Training for all Sport Clips team members in the new cleaning and sanitation standards
- Pivoted to virtual training programs
- Redesigned the online check-in program and the Sport Clips mobile app to support the need to focus on digital check-in with store capacity and waiting room limitation
- Prepared the Point of Sale for a cashless (where applicable) environment, which includes apple and Android mobile pay options
- Franchisee participation in task forces to support reopening efforts and collaboration
As reopening orders were announced by each state, franchisees in the Sport Clips system were able to utilize the planning and support efforts of the franchisor support team in collaboration with franchisees around the nation to open as soon as the orders were given by state and county officials. With some areas opening sooner than others, franchisees who opened early shared their experiences and best practices on weekly webinars to help others with later opening dates prepare to be efficient and effective upon reopening.
This is not what happened with many other brands as well as independent business owners, as there were and continue to be several examples of other haircare providers that remain unopened. The power of the collective Sport Clips system carried many through that period and will continue to be the driving force as we work to identify opportunities to thrive through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I sit here at my physically distant desk in the back corner of my home office space, I am in awe. I am truly inspired by the organization I work with today. I have had the privilege to witness this firsthand over the past four months of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic the adaptability of emotions, focus, work productivity in new environments and leadership with everyone I work with. So many business professionals, at least those who are driven to achieve positive results, strive to be surrounded by great people and often believe they are, but it’s not every day you get to test that belief in real time through a crisis. Internally we have coined this as the best experience we never want to experience again. If we do, I would not want to do it alone!
Submitted by Jim Atkinson, VP of Franchise Development & Sport Clips Team Member since 2013