In 1982, the idea of a walk-in haircare salon was radical. When the first Great Clips salon opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the business model of offering customers a great haircut at a convenient location for a reasonable price—all without an appointment—disrupted the beauty industry.
Today, 40 years later with 4,400-plus franchised hair salons across North America, Great Clips has set the standard for supporting franchisees as they build their independently owned legacy businesses.
Pat Stevens became a Great Clips franchisee in 1983 and grew his business to 24 salons in the St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets. He retired recently after selling his operation to his son.
In this 40th anniversary year, we asked Pat to reflect on what this milestone means to him.
“I opened my first Great Clips salon in October 1983—the second salon to be opened by a franchisee. As a result, I have seen all the achievements and challenges that Great Clips has gone through during the past 40 years.
A couple of facts about franchise businesses: Of those that start as a business, only 10% reach 200 or more units, and only 1% reach 1,000 units. With more than 4,400 salons open, what Great Clips and all its franchisees have achieved is truly rare in the franchise business.
What is remarkable to me (having lived through all of it) is this was achieved through some very difficult times:
• 1980s—high interest rates of 10–14% when many of us were just beginning our Great Clips business
• 1987—the crash of the stock market that saw the market decline 22% in one day and create financial uncertainty that lasted for months and consequences for years
• Early 1990s—the Gulf War that saw the U.S. send more than 500,000 troops to Iraq and create a period of apprehension that affected us all
• Late 1990s—the dotcom bust in which we again experienced a period of unpredictability in our financial markets
• 9/11—the terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans in NYC, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, throwing the country into months of great distress, and led to many things changing forever, including travel and security
• 2020s—COVID-19 which brought fear, death, disorder, shutdowns, PPP, and we’re still living through it
Through all these challenges, Great Clips and its franchisees have responded, adjusted, refocused, and adapted to the new realities and how they affected our staff and customers. Through it all, we continue to serve our customers, assist our staff in facing difficulties, and grow our businesses to make them more successful. That is the legacy of the past 40 years.
The longevity of the Great Clips brand means we’ve helped thousands of franchisees start and grow their legacy businesses. Contact me if you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Great Clips franchisee. Give me a call today!
Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]
A Great Story: The History of Great Clips
Becoming a Great Clips Franchisee: Our Process, Your Business