3 Lessons for Salons and Salon Suites from a Successful Salon Franchise

A while back the Great Clips salon franchise celebrated a decade-long winning streak – 40 straight quarters of growth. Find out how to grow like Great Clips and turn your salon or salon suite into a chain – or even a salon franchise.

Strategies for Growing a Salon or Salon Suite into a Chain or Salon Franchise

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that “Great Clips executives and franchisees on Tuesday celebrated a decade-long winning streak that they reached by the closest of shaves.” You may not be able to replicate the success of Great Clips, an organization of 3,600 salon franchise locations with a continuous string of 40 straight quarters of growth over 10 years. But if you want to see your salon or salon suite evolving into chain or franchise business opportunity over the next 10 years, these three strategies can help.

Take-Aways from Great Clips Fast-Paced Growth Clip

Growing a salon or salon suite – whether you want to make it more profitable or expand new salon locations – or even going from booth renter to salon owner, takes time, money, talent and strategy. In 7 Take-Aways From Great Clips’ 40 Quarters of Growth we find a list of several strategies that helped propel Great Clips to hit this growth milestone, including:

  • A strong core of corporate marketing, branding and advertising at the heart of the franchise
  • Focus – relentless pursuit of a clearly-defined target market
  • Locations well-suited for their business model
  • A client-centric approach based on their “ideal client types”
  • Strong buy-in from salon franchise owners and managers
  • Big picture connection, education and support for all managers and salon store owners via corporate conventions, which are held every two years; and
  • Tracking of important benchmarks, goals, analytics and results

Even if your salon’s business model is far removed from that of Great Clips’, the same principles apply when it comes to marketing, branding, finding and engaging your target markets, getting staff buy in and setting measurable goals (and actually measuring progress against them). We found three key areas, in particular, where salon owners simply cannot cut corners if they want to grow and expand their salon to new locations or develop their own salon franchise business model.

3 Keys for Growing a Salon or Salon Suite into a Chain or Salon Franchise

Don’t Skimp on Salon Branding

Developing a strong salon brand is about more than choosing a font and a logo. Your brand isn’t constrained to its visual identity!

At its core, your brand is the set of perceptions that exist in a client’s mind relative to your salon. Each time a client visits your salon, calls for an appointment, visits your salon website or interacts with you or any member of your staff, their perception about your brand is affected positively or negatively.

Some of the aspects of the client experience that impact whether your clients perceive your salon’s brand in the way you most want them to include:

  • salon web site look, feel and apps (online booking, click to call, map and directions, ability to choose the right products and order products online, photos or app for choosing a new look, etc.)
  • the way you present your salon and your services on social networks
  • on-hold, after hours and live phone greetings
  • flexibility and availability if clients need to reschedule
  • quality of services
  • type and quality of retail products
  • waiting area, service area, back bar and shampoo area, restrooms, etc.
  • location of your salon and exterior / approach areas
  • email and text updates and reminders – and more
  • payment or credit card processing – end of client visit experience
  • rewards and loyalty marketing done after the sale

When you consider that each and every client touch point has the ability to impact how they feel about the brand of your salon and how they feel about doing business with you or recommending your services to their friends, loved ones and colleagues, it becomes pretty clear that you must think through how each of these touch points can be engineered to create a positive experience.

Don’t Skimp on Strategic Planning

Many small businesses – including many salons – don’t have a strategic plan. As a result, much effort is spent experimenting with various programs, marketing ideas, events and advertisements; often, with little or nothing to show for it.

Your strategic plan should look like a road map to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be next year, in three years, five years or even ten years down the road. The picture of where your salon or salon suite is now includes the opportunities that you feel offer the best chance to grow, especially if you want to open a new salon or salon suite location, grow into a chain or turn your concept into a salon franchise.

If you don’t have a strategic plan, start small. Working with your leadership team or trusted peers, answer these five questions:

  • Where are we now? (number of locations, number of stylists, revenue, number of clients, retail sales to service ratio, new clients per month, client turnover, employee turnover)
  • Why do we exist? (mission statement, identification of typical and/or “ideal” client types and target audience to be served)
  • Where do we want to grow in 12 months – 36 months – 60 months? (vision statement + how much should the “Where are we now?” numbers grow?)
  • How will we get where we want to grow? (marketing channels to be added, salon financing needed, and/or business and marketing tactics to be used to get the desired growth outlined in the previous question)
  • How will we know when we get there? (how will progress be measured, how often will results be assessed, and who is accountable?

Don’t Skimp on People

Most business owners will tell you their employees set their organization apart – and this is true, but it’s important to remember that having the wrong people in place or having people in place that are not engaged or bought in to your salon’s plan for growth will have a negative impact. As you work toward adding new salon or salon suite locations, or developing your concept for growth as a business franchise, be just as strategic when it comes to the organization culture you want to create in the process.


If working capital is all that stands between you and your dream of expanding your salon to a second location or a salon chain, or turning your salon’s concept into a salon franchise business model, we can help!

We offer salon business loans, advances and equipment financing that can be used for growing a salon whether that means adding new services, financing salon equipment, building out a salon or opening a new location. While banks usually say no when it comes to salon financing if you or your business has a low credit score or credit problems, bad credit won’t automatically disqualify you from getting salon financing using a business (ACH) or merchant cash advance salon financing program.

In addition, we offer some of the lowest salon card processing rates in the US, and we can help demystify credit card processing fees for you. Even if you just want to compare your current payment processing solution to see if you could be saving money by changing merchant services providers, we would be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote.

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