Great Clips Training Center Serves a Number of Purposes for Fast-Growing Franchise

Of the many offices in Hacienda, it's unlikely that there are many that see the variety of uses that occur every month at the Great Clips for Hair Advanced Training Center.

On any given day, the facility might be used by the owners of area Great Clips franchises, representatives from the company's Minneapolis corporate headquarters, the company's training staff, stylists who work at local Great Clips locations, or any combination thereof.

It's not surprising. Great Clips, a franchise of family hair salons, has over 1,600 locations in 87 markets in the U.S. and Canada a number that has doubled since 1996. The company, which was founded in 1982, was recently listed at number 23 on Entrepreneur magazine's list of the 103 "Fastest Growing Franchises for 2002." With such explosive growth, it's easy to see that the company and its franchisees would have plenty of opportunities to train and communicate.

"We just had a new opening in Alaska, our first there, and there may be one in Hawaii soon which all the trainers are volunteering to cover," says Teresa Chatwood, the training and service representative who oversees their Hacienda facility as well as training centers in Santa Rosa and Monterey. "We're really just starting to grow in San Francisco." The Bay Area currently has nearly 40 Great Clips locations.

The facility may play host to a variety of meetings between the corporation and its franchise holders, but clearly the most colorful activity to take place there is "Advanced Customer Service and Technical Skills Training," a three-day program for Great Clips' stylists that covers topics ranging from greeting customers to hair cutting techniques.

Chatwood says that customer service is a key for the company.

"We aren't accustomed to the same level of customer service in this generation we drive to the gas station and we don't get our gas tank filled anymore, we do it ourselves," she notes. "We're sometimes not used to a lot of interaction with people."

The goal of that portion of the training is simple.

"We ask our stylists to greet you with a smile, saying 'Hi, welcome to Great Clips. Do you need a haircut today?' We hope that you'll be greeted when you walk into a Great Clips in Washington, D.C., the same way that you'd be greeted here."

Styling techniques are taught using mannequins with real human hair. On the first day of training, longer hairstyles are taught. By the end, there's not much left.

"We go from long hair to clipper cutting, right to a flat top," says Chatwood. "They have no hair left when they're done!"

In all, they teach seven different haircuts using one mannequin, each style shorter than the last.

"We go through a system of cutting hair so that we can be more efficient behind the chair," she says.

Part of the training relates to productivity.

"We talk a lot about productivity and how important it is to do a great hair cut in a very reasonable amount of time 15 to 17 minutes is ideal. It's important when we have so many people in our waiting rooms."

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