Great Clips executives and franchisees on Tuesday celebrated a decadelong winning streak that they reached by the closest of shaves.
Going into the start of the year, the Edina-based company needed just three more quarters of same-store sales growth to reach 40 consecutive quarters, or 10 years.
But the polar vortex in January and February this year disrupted businesses in much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. The company's hair salons were no different as many customers bunkered down and canceled routine haircuts.
"We thought we might lose it in that first quarter," Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips CEO, said in an interview before her speech to franchisees and managers. "We had 1,800 salon closure days in the first quarter, so when we got through February, we were pretty nervous."
It bounced back in March, a month in which Great Clips typically offers a lot of promotion. Thanks to the execution of its franchisees, Olsen said the streak kept going. "We were watching every week in March," she said.
When the books close on its third quarter this Friday, she told franchisees, Great Clips will have hit the 10-year mark. The last time Great Clips experienced a drop in performance was in the summer of 2004.
Same-salon sales growth is a key metric in retailing and the salon business. That growth has the company on track to exceed $1 billion in systemwide sales for the second year.
Every two years. Great Clips hosts a convention for franchisees and salon managers in Minneapolis to celebrate their accomplishments, recognize success, highlight vendors and to preview upcoming changes and additions.
All of its 3,600 salons across North America are owned by franchisees. The event gets bigger every time. This year, the company hosted nearly 2,200 salon managers, general managers, franchisees, corporate staff and vendors over three days of entertainment and educational events at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"These people are pretty excited about hitting 10 years, it means something to all of them," Olsen said. "They feel like they all contributed."
Great Clips has been ahead of competitors in embracing technology. Olsen said its online check-in app is used by nearly 20 percent of the company's customers. In her keynote address, she hinted that the company will soon roll out other new technology tools to franchisees.