Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen will give up her title and transition to vice chairwoman of the hair salon company at the end of the year.
The company’s president, Steve Hockett, will become CEO. Chief Operating Officer Rob Goggins, in turn, will become president.
“I really can see myself doing something different and slowing down,” Olsen said in an interview.
Olsen’s brother, Ray Barton, became a Great Clips partner in the business in 1983, Barton will remain chairman.
Olsen, 64, joined Great Clips in 1984 and became an executive and part owner in 1987. She became president in 1998 and took over the CEO role from her brother in 2011.
Under Olsen’s tenure as president and CEO, the Bloomington-based hair salon franchise company has grown from 1,000 to more than 4,000 salons. The company has just recorded its 49th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth.
Not many believe Olsen will slow down much. She’s known as a perpetual source of energy, for example, maintaining a walking desk in her corporate office. She’s also known as a compassionate leader whose own cancer battle inspired the salon network’s Clips of Kindness program, which offers free clipper cuts to customers facing hair loss from cancer battles.
Olsen said she will spend more time as president of the International SalonSpa Business Network, working on “common sense reforms in cosmetology licensing” and other industry matters. She will also devote more time to family and to a micro-enterprise nonprofit organization in South Africa that she became involved in six years ago.
In 2011, Great Clips salons had about $840 million in revenue. In 2014, the salons exceeded Barton’s goal of making it a billion-dollar brand. In 2016, systemwide sales were $1.33 billion. As the franchiser, Great Clips collects a percentage of the franchisees’ gross sales.
There are currently 4,091 salons owned by more than 1,200 Great Clips franchisees. There are no corporate-owned salons.
Much of Great Clips’ success has been its ability to integrate technology into one of the ultimate hands-on businesses. Olsen believed in harnessing data to improve the customer experience. In 2011 she partnered with Eden Prairie-based Innovative Computer Software, which designed Great Clips’ online-check-in technology.
“We’ll continue to build on the legacy of Ray and Rhoda,” said Hockett in an interview. “My focus is to continue to grow the Great Clips brand and help franchisees achieve their dreams.”
Hockett, 55, said the long transition period is to give franchisees time to adjust to the changes. Hockett and Goggins will now be in charge of achieving new milestone figures in salon openings. Olsen has said that Great Clips has the potential to reach as many as 10,000 salons.
Hockett was an early Great Clips franchisee, buying a salon in 1988. A combination of outside factors contributed to that salon failing but Hockett was hooked on the franchise business model.
He worked in the Great Clips marketing department for a number of years, helping to expand into new markets. He left Great Clips for other franchise opportunities before bouncing back to Great Clips one more time in 2008.
By 2014, he was promoted to president of Great Clips. Goggins, 47, another franchising veteran, joined Great Clips in 2007 and in 2014 he was promoted to chief operating officer.
The succession plan has been in place for a while but became official Thursday when staff and franchisees were notified.
“It’s a natural evolution of the skills Steve and Rob have,” Olsen said.
However, the leadership change is not an ownership change.
Hockett becomes the first nonfamily and nonowner CEO of Great Clips.
“I’m as close to family as nonfamily can get,” Hockett joked. Hockett has known Barton and Olsen since his franchisee days, and Barton’s daughters have been baby sitters for Hockett’s children.
“We have to be able to do this if we want to be a legacy business,” Olsen said.