With 160 hair salons in Canada and more on the way, Great Clips is a lesson in how to build a successful brand by tapping into local know-how and providing the kind of support that helps franchisees thrive. “We have a strong infrastructure in place with our corporate office in Toronto and staff across the country who assist our salon owners with operations, marketing, real estate, training, and recruiting,” says Craig Touchie, the company’s Director of Operations for the Canadian arm. “Having staff who live in the communities where we have salons is essential to supporting our business because they understand the local environment.”

"We’re one of those businesses that serves a need, so we aren’t affected by the whims of the economy, stock market, or online shopping."
– Craig Touchie, Great Clips

Great Clips is a leader among franchise businesses, ranking alongside some of the biggest global brands. According to Touchie, the company is at the top of the class in its category and has more salons than any other brand in North America. Having already established its presence in some of Canada’s largest cities, Great Clips is poised to expand into new markets in Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Kingston.

“We’re one of those businesses that serves a need, so we aren’t affected by the whims of the economy, stock market, or online shopping, which has seen many traditional retail businesses negatively impacted by the rise of e-commerce,” says Touchie. “It’s a very appealing business to be in because where there are people, there’s hair.”

Customers getting haircuts

Technology working for owners and customers

While the haircutting business may seem traditional, Great Clips has leveraged the latest technology to make the customer experience better and provide franchisees with key operational data in real time using a suite of tools including web-based intelligence, advanced point-of-sale systems, and a tablet-based app. “We want our franchisees to succeed, so they have access to technology without losing the personal touch with their customers and staff,” says Touchie. “Another big selling point is the fact that we don’t have the same overhead costs that other businesses have. It’s perfect for someone wanting to start a business but looking for a big brand to support them.”

"You don’t have to be a licensed cosmetologist to own a Great Clips. It’s a simple business and you get to make people feel good."
– Craig Touchie, Great Clips

The Great Clips app has transformed the business, allowing customers to find the nearest salon, check out wait times, and check-in online, making for a seamless experience. But the company’s use of technology begins even before someone gets a cut, as a host of online courses are available to stylists and managers. “We want to remain relevant and while we can’t give someone a haircut over the Internet, we will continue to utilize the technology that we have available today to explore opportunities tomorrow that are unknown to us,” says Steve Hockett, the company’s CEO.

A history of success

The Great Clips brand has had more than 36 years to get it right. The mass of knowledge built up over time has developed into a history of success — the best practices of which are available to all of the company’s franchisees.

“We have a team in place for our franchisees at both the corporate and peer levels. What sets our system apart is that our franchisees work together to help one another,” Touchie says. “You don’t have to be a licensed cosmetologist to own a Great Clips. It’s a simple business and you get to make people feel good when they walk out of the salon.”