Pigtails & Crewcuts celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. How time flies!
Since opening in 2004, the franchise has grown to more than 35 salons across the country and has been named has been named to the “Franchise 500” list as a top franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine for five consecutive years. In that time, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry, while some classic qualities remain as relevant today as ever.
In honor of Pigtails & Crewcuts’ 10th anniversary—and my 30 years, total, in the franchise industry since starting with Heavenly Ham in 1984—I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned. To help business owners and franchise owners, I’ve put together the following tips.
1. Keep the focus local. Today, customers want to know that their business is benefitting the local economy. Business owners should be involved in their local community, and their business should reflect that culture. People like doing business with people they know, and franchises offer the flexibility to be locally grown, while having a larger network of business service support.
2. Offer quality products and great service. Some values are timeless, like quality and service. The role of a franchisor is to give franchisees business management skills, suggestions and techniques to help them succeed. That way, each franchise is offering the same high quality products and consistent service.
3. Find a team member to help you keep on top of changing technology. Gone are the days when a business put all of its marketing eggs in print, TV, radio ads and billboards. Today, there are so many different ways to reach customers, with digital and social marketing, that if a business doesn’t put itself out in front of its customers on the latest platforms, it risks being left behind. Business owners should surround themselves with the best and the brightest, who are out there in front of the changes in technology. Keep an ongoing conversation with tech-savvy team members. They’re the ones that bring new ideas, fresh techniques and innovation to the enterprise.
4. Learn to scale operations. One franchise business can earn a solid living, but the goal for many business owners is to open up multiple units. With technology—from accounting software and point of sale systems to instant messaging—it’s easier now, than ever, to run a business without being the face of it. Whether a business owner plans on opening a single unit or five, the steps are the same: bring in the right staff, train them well and create a culture that makes both employees and customers come back.
5. Make time for face time. It’s so easy to text, email and phone in all communications around a business. But business owners have to be careful of what they say, because it’s all too easy to misunderstand non-verbal communication. If there’s a touchy subject, pick up the phone or make an appointment to talk about it. And don’t just issue directives, have a conversation to explain and gauge reactions.
6. Take a deep breath. In this world of instant gratification and electronic communication, people want and expect things immediately. Don’t give in to that. Business owners need to remember to slow things down. Ponder a question overnight and then talk about it face to face or over the phone after full consideration.
7. Include family in a franchise decision. Starting a business can and will impact the entire family. In the beginning, it takes a lot of time to get the business running before an owner can step back. View any business as a start-up and expect to be exhausted and, at times, frustrated, before it gets easier to run. The ultimate goal of most business owners is to have a flexible schedule and work from home when they wish. With many businesses, that’s certainly attainable, but it takes hard work to get there.
8. Be flexible. As a franchise owner, it’s important to keep the cost of entry affordable while maintaining quality facilities and equipment. Business owners must anticipate their revenue stream and work backwards from there to figure out what they can afford in the realm of expenses, including construction and build out. Be willing to change and modify the package throughout the process.
9. Culture takes time to develop. It’s natural to expect that staff will show up and do everything the way that the business owner wants them to. It’s also a fantasy. Shaping a business doesn’t happen naturally or accidentally, it happens intentionally, and it takes time, patience, communication, discussion and lots of meetings.
10. Team building starts at the top. As a franchisor, Pigtails & Crewcuts’ direct clients are the franchisees. So while they’re working on building culture with staff, the corporate office is working on building culture with the each and every franchise owner. Every 18 months, the businesses come together for a company-wide conference, and throughout the year, they have access to an intranet, where they can share problems and solutions. An advisory board made up of franchise owners is in constant communication with the corporate office to share their needs and expectations, while the leaders at the company work hard to make the franchise owners feel supported and informed. Transparency is also key. All of parties involved in a business should know the strategic plan and how they fit into it.