Memo Exclusive: An Interview with Steve Hockett, CEO, Great Clips

Great Clips, Inc. was established in Minneapolis by founders David Rubenzer and Steve Lemmon in 1982. At the time, Rubenzer felt customers were looking for a salon service that could fit their busy lifestyles and desire for value. To answer this, the two developed the concept of a walk-in haircare salon with weekend and evening hours, offering customers a select list of services, and providing benefits for stylists.

 All Great Clips salons are independently owned and operated (100-percent franchise owned). System-wide revenue of $1.4 billion dollars represents more than 105 million haircuts provided by 40,000 talented stylists who work for 1,200 Great Clips franchise salon owners in more than 4,300 salons across the United States and Canada.

 Steve Hockett became CEO in January 2018 and MODERN SALON spoke with him about the Great Clips brand, now in its 35th year, and the introduction of its new men’s line, Grit.

 MS: You developed your new line, Grit, with input from your stylists. What were your stylists telling you they needed to best serve their male clients?

 SH: At the average Great Clips in the US and Canada, we do approximately 70 percent males so we are a men and boys-dominated concept.  We’re also a limited menu—we don’t provide color services or other specialized salon services-- and we’re moderately priced.  Great Clips stylists provided feedback that they needed an affordable yet advanced line to recommend to their savvy, young, male customers. When we looked at having a guy-focused product in our salons, we also wanted it to be moderately priced, to be professional quality and to be packaged well.  The Grit line introduces salon professional products to young men who are first learning how to style their hair.

 MS: When you looked at the men’s market, what convinced you that Grit was a good idea?

 SH: The men’s professional haircare market has become saturated with trendy, high-end grooming products. We wanted to create something for the everyday young man that connected with our core customer, and we knew performance would be important. That’s why we focused on the formulas, making sure we had cutting-edge ingredients and technology and products that were easy to use and approachable.  We presented our concepts to focus groups of males ages 13-26 and their positive response solidified our decision.  

 In 20107 we did well over a hundred million haircuts. We knew that with all those cuts, there was also huge opportunity for educating our customers on product usage.  The price point was also really key; if someone is paying fifteen-dollars for a haircut, the price of product needs to be attractive to the customer that comes into Great Clips.  Our prices are below ten dollars for high-quality, professional product and that was a driver for us.  

  MS: What are some other recent or upcoming initiatives from Great Clips?

 SH: Great Clips launched our first-ever style collection, “Disheveled”. Great Clips stylists across North America are being trained on these advanced trends and techniques. We have 80 training centers in the US and Canada and we have Design Teams in the field who are focused on education and training. They come from markets across our system and they offer different, unique perspectives and influences. We’re very committed to furthering stylists’ skill and education and to staying current for our customer. Great Clips Design Team Masters will showcase the latest trends and techniques at the International Beauty Show (IBS) in New York and at America’s Beauty Show (ABS) in Chicago this spring.

 Salon owners and local artistic design teams will deliver the Great Clipper event in cosmetology schools across North America this spring. This program delivers education on the foundations of clipper cutting and students have the opportunity to win professional tools and more. This year’s Great Clipper event features a member of the Great Clips Design Team Masters, Michael Mealey, demonstrating clipper and beard trimming techniques. The event includes video and live demonstrations.

 And Great Clips will award over $100,000 in scholarships to cosmetology students across North America through our ongoing scholarship program. The deadline to apply is March 31.

 MS: You have implemented new technologies to better serve salons, stylists, and customers—can you talk about those a bit?

 SH: Great Clips has remained focused on its core service of great haircuts for 35 years, but that doesn’t mean the brand hasn’t evolved.

 We continue to enhance our Great Clips app featuring Online Check-In and we are implementing a new point-of-sale solution to provide more flexibility for future enhancements to salon technology.

This same focus on technology is also seen in how the corporate team helps salons owners recruit potential stylists, how we market the brand to consumers, and the ongoing training opportunities available to Great Clips stylists.

Our award-winning Great Clips University, an online platform for learning, continues to grow, offering twice a year trends training and ongoing customer service education to Great Clips stylists.

 MS: Any plans to look outside North America?

 SH: We started 35 years ago in the US, and in Canada in 1994, and there is still tremendous opportunity to grow the brand in both those regions.  We are in 180 markets, we operate in 47 states, in 3 Canadian provinces and will be opening up in a couple more Canadian provinces. Our focus is on expanding market presence, on how we serve more customers in each salon and open up more salons. We have 4300 salons and we open 200 plus a year. There aren’t many systems that are as large as we are and everything we do is about helping our franchisees be successful. That’s our focus—delivering great experiences, great haircuts, every time.



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