I Want to Be a Franchisee: Building Out Your First Storefront

By Beth Caron Nilssen

You’ve identified the franchise business you want to purchase. You’ve gone through the qualifying process. You’ve determined your first location. The next step is actually building your first storefront. Exciting? Yes! A lot of work? Yes! But if you’ve chosen the right franchisor, you won’t be doing this alone.

Perhaps the most important things to remember during the early stages of the franchising process is to trust your franchisor—they’ve been through this before and they know what you’re going through. Granted, this is your business and it’s up to you to make the final decisions, but the process will most likely be easier if you take advantage of everything your franchisor has to offer. After all, this is why you decided to invest in a franchise business instead of going it alone.

Every franchisor is unique and will have its own system. What this article describes is how the build-out process works at Great Clips—specifically how the Facilities & Purchasing team at corporate headquarters supports new franchisees during the time frame from just after they have an approved location to their grand opening.

The team supports franchisees in three ways: site planning, build-outs and ongoing customer service. We asked Libby Murphy, a Facilities & Purchasing Specialist at Great Clips, Inc., to give us the inside-salon scoop on what happens during the build-out process, starting with site planning.

Site Planning

Libby explained that once a franchisee has finalized the paper work for a new site, the F&P team gathers information regarding the space, overall dimensions, plumbing and electrical needs, and other site details. Then they work with the franchisee and architect to develop a floor plan. For a walk-in hair salon business, this step is critical from a financial aspect.

“What we’re looking for is the best layout in the square footage available to maximize profitability for the salon owner,” said Libby. “In this business, you make money having stations—not a big lobby or back room. But there are building codes you have to follow, plus beauty and barber codes that dictate how much clear working space has to be around each workstation.”

In addition to workstations, the architects will help design the best arrangement for the lobby and merchandise areas, keeping in mind the standards that Great Clips sets for brand continuity in salons.

Build-outs

Once the floor plan is finalized, the franchisee gets bids from contractors and, ultimately, selects one who will manage the build-out. The franchisee is the primary contact person for the contractor since they are on site and the eyes and ears during the construction process.

At this point, F&P’s primary role is to help figure out delivery deadlines for equipment, fixtures and materials.

“We work backwards from the scheduled grand opening date,” said Libby. “We want to make sure all materials are shipped in the order of installation. For example, we want to get the flooring down before the equipment arrives. So, flooring is delivered and then one week later, equipment arrives. Once that’s done, it’s time for floors and walls.”

Since many of the materials used in Great Clips salons are proprietary—such as flooring, hair cutting stations, front desk, lobby chairs and merchandiser shelves—the F&P team helps the franchisee develop sales orders for those vendors.

The average time it takes to build and open a Great Clips salon—from starting the design plans to grand opening—is approximately four to six months. But there are always exceptions.

“The fastest we’ve seen,” says Libby, “was a salon built out two weeks from the date they signed the lease to grand opening! I don’t know how we did it, but we did!”

Customer Service

 Supporting franchisees and their salons doesn’t end for the Great Clips Facilities & Purchasing department once the salon is open.

“We’re also customer service for the existing salons,” says Libby. “If they have a problem with equipment or something in their salon, like a hair vac that doesn’t work or a car that just drove through the front window of a salon—yes, that actually happened!—they call our department. We have the resources to help them fix just about everything!”

Thanks, Libby, and everyone on the F&P team who support more than 1,200 Great Clips franchisees. Want to read more about the process of becoming a franchisee? Start here.

Up Next Great Advice

I Want to Be a Franchisee: Finding the best location for a walk-in salon

This week’s guest blogger is Jim Reynolds, Senior Real Estate Manager for Great Clips, Inc., who shares information about how Great Clips helps new franchisees find the best locations for their salons.