The Benefits of Thinking Ahead in Business
In just 20 years my father, Gordon Logan, built an empire, from the first Sports Clips salon in 1993 to 1,500 in 2016, spread across every state in America. But opening new locations at such a rate, for the past few years reaching 160 per year, has its dangers. What of the future? It is inevitable that Sports Clips will, at some point, reach saturation. To stay ahead means thinking ahead, not just in years, but in decades.
Over those 20 years, Sports Clips has recruited and nurtured a formidable team of experts who have helped us develop new franchise opportunities – from estate managers to in-house trainers. The infrastructure is solid, but those people must be kept busy and engaged with fresh challenges. In this sense, our success could be our downfall: as finding new franchise operations becomes harder we risk losing our experts, possibly to the competition, or, worse, becoming complacent.
We’ve been future-planning for some years, considering ways to keep on growing, but it’s difficult to stay really focused when the main thrust is sustaining such a demanding rate of growth. Then Walmart asked us to develop an instore concept for them. This really focused everybody’s minds, and we started an in-depth study looking for gaps in the industry. After a long period of research, we realized the concept that made us most excited, most passionate, wouldn’t fit with Walmart’s requirements. So we instead decided to focus on our own ideas and with a friendly handshake walked away from Walmart’s generous opportunity.
As soon as we made the decision to walk away from Walmart, development started in earnest. We had perceived a gap in the burgeoning blow dry market. But instead of creating another luxury offering within a busy urban setting, we decided to look to a wider audience.
We honed down the exact demographic we wanted to target. We required a concept that would, like Sports Clips, talk to the majority to guarantee a large clientele for our franchisees in every geographical area. Identifying our perfect client helped us clarify the type of locations our estate experts need to target.
The first Vent Blotique opened in July 2015 in Cedar Park, TX. We have now expanded to Round Rock, Waco and Las Vegas, NV with new locations planned. Our aim is to create a franchise that will quickly match Sports Clips. It is a simple model: affordable blow dries – starting at $25 – and nothing else; no cuts, no color. We want to create a new proposition where your ‘everywoman’ thinks nothing of coming in regularly to get her hair professionally blow dried. We have a set menu of styles– classic, sleek and smooth, bombshell, beachy and more – that clients request and our stylists deliver. Our experience with Sports Clips has taught us to keep things as simple as possible when the aim is to scale up quickly.
Thinking big didn’t mean we would opt for a cheap and cheerful environment, though. Maintaining the concept of affordability without losing the sense of luxury required careful balance, so the salons are beautiful, with chandeliers and compelling retail stations. Yet there is a sense of community. This is not an intimate, private suite environment where it’s just the stylist and the client. We’ve looked back to the old days when women went to the salon with their friends, so the layout is circular, centered on blow dry stations facing inwards, where there is banter, laughter and excellent hairdressing.
As with all large enterprises the potential scalability of Vent relies on its team – those stylists delivering great service – so, like Sports Clips, it must be a great place to work. Each Vent has high traffic levels; it’s lively, fast and demanding, so we look after our staff to safeguard their comfort. Every element of the workstation has been designed with ergonomics at its heart, from the drop-down dryers to the adjustable chairs. And all in beautiful, luxurious surroundings.
The care we’ve taken of our stylists ensures they are happy to see clients as they pop into get that beautiful blow dry that will last them a week, a service that will keep them coming back. We created an environment the client will enjoy and look forward to visiting. And we’ve created a proposition that is simple yet effective; it’s easy to roll out across the states quickly and easy to monitor to guarantee quality standards are maintained.