#8 on the Franchise 500: Great Clips Reinvents the Haircut Experience

The #8 company on our Franchise 500 list has an app that's been downloaded more than 10 million times, tracking customer appointments, history, and preferences.

learn more about Patrick Carone

By Patrick Carone

Courtesy of Great Clips

Started franchising: 1983
Total units: 4,513
Cost to open: $136.9K–$258.3K

Haircuts are nothing new, but just about every other aspect of the Great Clips experience is. "Our core business is haircuts," says Steve Hockett, CEO of the top hair-care company on this year's Franchise 500, "yet a key driver is our ability to innovate."

That innovation began in 2011, when Great Clips debuted an online check-in tool to allow customers to view wait times and add their names. It's now the primary feature of the Great Clips mobile app, which was relaunched in 2016 and hit 10 million downloads in 2018. "The app takes the front door of our 4,513 salons and inserts it into our customers' pockets," says Hockett. Once a customer is in the seat, tech takes over again: The stores tap into a global database dubbed Clip Notes, which contains detailed information about each customer's last haircut.

Related: The 3 Most Consistent Businesses From the Franchise 500 List

Social media is also integral to both the customer experience and brand building. "This is a very visual, very personal industry," Hockett explains, "so we looked at the emerging augmented-reality space and identified a natural way to make that come alive." This year, Great Clips debuted its first Snapchat lens, which adds exaggerated, cartoonish hairstyles -- the Bunshine, the Ultimullet -- to selfies, and racked up hundreds of thousands of users. The company saw a direct connection between Snapchat ads and salon sales.

Related: The Most Powerful Brands in Franchising

Customers aren't the only ones benefiting from this tech focus. Significant elements of Great Clips' training programs now sit on a web-based platform that franchisees access via tablet. "We're all in this together," says Hockett.

To see our complete Franchisee 500 rankings, please click here, or view more stories here.

Patrick Carone

Entrepreneur Staff

Special Projects Director

Patrick Carone covers all aspects of entrepreneurship, specializing in the automotive, entertainment, hospitality, spirits and cannabis industries.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

'Our Kids Aren't Even Safe To Order Food': Mother Outraged After DoorDash Employee Uses App to Flirt With Teen Daughter

One mom is going viral on TikTok after catching a DoorDash employee attempting to flirt with her 15-year-old daughter through the messaging service provided through the platform.

Business News

An NFL Rookie Scores a $514,000 Jackpot in Las Vegas

Los Angeles Rams running back Ronnie Rivers sat down to play 3-card poker and left a half million dollars richer.


The Greasy, Glamorous Rise of Mascara

You won't believe the grimy gunk people used to smear on their eyelashes -- and still do.

Business Ideas

How to Make Thousands of Dollars on the Side As a Virtual Assistant

Apply your skills and experience to create a lucrative virtual assistant side hustle or full-time business.


3 Expert-Backed Strategies for Blowing People Away With Your First Impression

Nothing is more important than a good first impression. The first five seconds are everything.