How This 31-Year-Old’s Dream Came True When He Became a Great Clips Franchisee

By Beth Caron Nilssen

Richard Campbell, Jr. was still in high school when he first dreamt of owning a business, if only because he knew working for someone else might not fit his independent personality. Still, he decided to pursue a traditional career path just to test it out.

After graduating from college with a degree in electrical engineering, he started his career with a utility company. Ten years later, he still enjoys the work and appreciates the stability. Yet over the years, Richard held onto those dreams of quitting his job at 35 and owning a business—ideally a bowling alley or a pizza parlor—by saving his money and investing in real estate and stocks to one day help make his dream a reality.

“I realized I’m not necessarily a good investor, but I’m a really good saver,” says Richard. “By the time I was 30, I had enough money to put together a five-year plan to help answer the question: What kind of business do I want to own, and what will it take me to get there by 35?”

It didn’t take Richard five years to answer his question. Once he looked into Great Clips, he realized he could afford his dream of owning a business sooner than five years.

In January of 2020—yes, 2020—Richard, at the age of 31, became a Great Clips franchisee in the Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania market. He’s hoping to have his first salon open by the end of 2021 and perhaps one or two more open in 2022. Here he shares his story and a few thoughts about investing in a franchise during turbulent times.

Richard, how did you decide to invest in a Great Clips franchise?

I was a Great Clips customer before I even knew it was a franchise. As a customer, I was already impressed with the great hair cut I got, plus all the ways they leverage technology to deliver great service, like Online Check-In and Clip Notes. But what blew me away when I started exploring the company was the culture. The information they gave me was thorough, they followed up without being pushy, and the financials worked—I knew I could scale my business over time.

You became a franchisee in early 2020. As the year progressed, did you have any second thoughts?

I didn’t have any regrets, but in March when the pandemic hit full force, I decided to let things rest for a few months, to wait for the dust settle. By August, I was ready to get going again and started looking into locations. I’ve always believed in the saying, “When’s the best time to invest? Yesterday! When’s the second-best time? Today!” I knew that if I didn’t jump on an opportunity, someone else would, especially on a good location.

Sure, I have some concerns about opening a salon and not having enough customers when there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. But I’m prepared for a slow start and the economy is actually picking up now. I’ll use this time to build a strong foundation for my business.

What’s been the hardest part so far?

Right now it’s intimidating more than hard. Great Clips is good at guiding me, but in the end, it’s my decision. That’s what good about a franchise—there are so many small things to think about and get done, and a franchisor like Great Clips knows what works. They provide so many resources and are very proactive making sure you’re on track. It’s so nice working with people who are great to work with.

I expect the hardest part might be after construction with hiring, training, and motivating staff to do a great job. I’ll let you know!

What has surprised you about the process of becoming a franchisee?

The biggest surprise so far is the number of location opportunities that have popped up. I originally talked to Great Clips about opening up one salon this year, but an additional location is now available so they’re supporting me on both.

Can I handle it? Work wise, yes. More intimidating is balancing my full-time engineering job, the responsibility of being a salon owner, managing my real estate properties, and home life. My wife will let me know if I’m handling it well!

So you’re still working your day job?

Yes, and there are no immediate plans to quit. Great Clips offers investors the ability to work a full-time job and run their Great Clips business in parallel. I’ll keep my full-time job until I have a few salons up and running. That may take some time.

What will be your measure of success?

For a walk-in hair salon like the Great Clips brand, it’s all about having a good culture and being a place where people want to work. I’ll feel like I’m successful if I can manage the salons in a way that my best employees want to stay. Because that’s what brings in the customers and keeps them coming back.

My goal is to grow to six salons in a few years. It’ll all depend on the opportunities out there. My heart is in this. I don’t want to ever stop learning new things. Great Clips has given me a chance to live my dream of owning my own business, even if it’s not a bowling alley!

Thank you, Richard, for sharing what it’s like to be a new franchisee and how you’ve made your dream of owning a business come true.

Beth Nilssen

As Director of Franchisee Development for Great Clips, my job is to help prospective franchisees figure out if investing in a salon franchise is a good match. Even in the middle of a pandemic, that work doesn’t stop. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call!