Great Clips agreed to its largest sports partnership yet, signing a deal to become the "official hair salon" of the NCAA's 90 annual sports championships.
The move is the latest step by the Bloomington-based franchiser of hair salons after executives decided several years ago to spend heavily on sports marketing.
Great Clips last year signed on to be the official hair salon of the National Hockey League and it maintains sponsorship deals with the X Games and Monster Jam.
"This partnership with the NCAA is a continuation of our effort to affiliate with these significant sports partnerships because we think it's good for our business," Steve Hockett, the company's chief executive, said. "Our customers are fans of these leagues and sporting events, and fans are customers of Great Clips."
Great Clips didn't disclose terms of the deal. The company said it will run promotions at championships that begin with the men's and women's basketball tournaments in March.
Great Clips has 1,200 franchisees and over 4,400 salons in the U.S. and Canada. The salons are 100% franchisee-owned.
The men's and women's basketball championships are the centerpieces of the deal, but Great Clips can reach non-basketball fans through the other NCAA championships such as swimming and diving, volleyball, ice hockey and field hockey. Great Clips is excited about the geographic reach of the deal as well as the sports covered.
"It covers all four corners of the U.S., large cities where there are universities, small towns, big states, small states, rural, urban. That's where our salons are," Hockett said.
The company has boosted marketing and technology around the haircut experience and built a record of 15 years of same-store sales increases.
The Great Clips app allows customers to find salons in their area and check in remotely. The app has been downloaded more than 11 million times since it was introduced in 2012 and now almost half its customers use it. With its Clip Notes system, stylists record customer preferences and share that information across their network of salons, meaning customers can visit any Great Clips salon and get the same type of haircut.
"Like any business, we want to continue to grow and expand and we want to have more customers come into our existing salons and we want to continue to open up more salons across the U.S. and Canada," Hockett said. "So we are doing this because that will very much contribute to our growth goals and our franchisees' growth goals."