Heat of the Moment

Hairy Situation

Nearly every hair-care franchise included in our listing increased its number of units from last year. There's such a thing as over-saturation in a given market, but all in all, the risk is small. "[The industry] is still growing because if there's a business that's fairly recession-proof, it's hair," says Seid. "People need haircuts when they're working and also when they're not working. They're on a tighter budget but want to treat themselves. [A haircut] is less expensive than a massage or facial."

At least as long as the provider is a Supercuts or Great Clips Inc.-style establishment where the affordable haircut reigns supreme. "What we haven't seen," says Seid, "is the emergence of a higher-end chain."

What you will see, according to Wilkerson, is an increasing number of smaller stores strategically located in business environments abundant with people from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The problem is staffing them: Again, state licensing requirements for cosmetologists have left the labor pool shallow. But demand will no doubt send a slew of new hopefuls to cosmetology school. Says Wilkerson, "Everyone needs to get a haircut. We'll never get away from that."

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Heat of the Moment.

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