For Paul and Linda Bibeau, putting people first is their principal business philosophy. With five high performing Sport Clips Haircuts stores, the Bibeaus are leaders in their market. They credit their success as team leaders to the retention of quality team members.
“Stylist retention results in client loyalty. You can get as many people in the door as you want, but if you don’t deliver on the MVP championship experience, they won’t come back,” says Paul.
This lesson is one they learned the hard way with their first store, eight years ago. By applying what they learned the first time around helped shorten the learning curve as they opened their subsequent stores, even when store number two was a little off the beaten path, having less than ideal visibility.
Recalling their first store, Paul says, “Getting people into the store when we first opened was the easy part. The problem was they weren’t returning. We weren’t delivering that championship experience.”
With that, the Bibeaus went back to the basics. This meant following the Sport Clips system. Linda says, “We knew we needed to get our four walls right, so we consulted the Playbook, Sport Clips’ step by step guide for grand openings. We really feel lucky to have such a resource available to us. Everything is entirely laid out for you.” Paul adds, “The information is so well organized and documented. Speaking to franchisees with other brands, we see just how exceptional Sport Clips’ support is.”
After refocusing and hiring the right manager, the Bibeaus saw a significant turn-around in that store’s performance. Paul says, “Having good people in place made all the difference. We now take great care when it comes to picking our managers because they are so important to the store.”
But it is not necessarily managing experience that they look for when filling a position, explains Paul, “We will often choose someone for a manager position that has no managing experience. It is very important to us to hire from within. We look for someone who has a passion and a willingness to learn, we find that more important than experience. They need to have bought into the Sport Clips system and culture. Everything else falls into place if they have that buy in.”
The team leaders’ experience shows that stylists are eager to buy into the brand’s team culture. Paul says, “Many of the stylists who have come to us from other brands tell us just how different Sport Clips is. They will tell us they had never even met the owners of the other stores they worked out. This left them feeling they were just working for a business, there was no relationship there.”
Linda continues, “It comes back to people first. People want to work for a boss that shows they care. It’s the little things that mean a lot, like acknowledging them when they do well, remembering their birthdays. We pop into the stores just to say hi and check in. They are happy to see us.”
The Bibeaus have also found that in a competitive industry that often times lacks a defined career path, stylists are attracted to the career development opportunities working for Sport Clips provides them. Paul says, “When we hire someone new, we are thinking long term. Many of our team members have been with us five, and even ten years. We make it a point to promote our managers from within. With five stores, we are able to move team members between stores when needed. And if we see they might have a great opportunity with another team leader, we are happy for them to reach their goals. They also have other opportunities, such as area managers and coaches. We are invested in their success, wherever that takes them.”
Through their genuine care of their team members, the Bibeaus have achieved a high retention rate in their stores. Paul and Linda will tell you it is because of the investment in relationship they have made. Paul says, “You have to take the time to understand each stylist’s personal and professional goals, and what motivates them”. You really need to know what is going on in their lives. This only comes through relationship.”
Linda adds, “Along with setting goals and celebrating wins, we also want to be available to them when something isn’t working. We will work together to fix the situation. There has to be a relationship there first for them to feel comfortable doing that.”
The team leaders also found out the same principle of relationship applies to their clients as well. Linda says,” Issues with clients are unavoidable and a by-product of dealing with people. We always follow up as soon as possible when an issue arises. We make it a point to personally email the client. A lot of times it is just a misunderstanding, and having that personal contact by an owner who shows they care about their experience is all that is needed.”
With relationship being central to the Sport Clips culture, many team leaders tea, are husband and wife. When asked how the Bibeaus have made their business partnership work so well, Paul says, “We are in agreement of our respective roles. It helps to know each other’s strengths and skills and how they complement the other person’s. Linda is the people-person, she always has coupons to pass out. She is very involved in our community and she has done a great deal to spread brand awareness. I, on the other hand, am more comfortable getting into the inflatable mascot costume, Sporty.”
Having made Sport Clips a family affair, the Bibeaus have used their individual strengths and strong leadership skills to mold various personalities into a successful and cohesive team. By earning the respect of their team through hard work and involvement, the team leaders have created a team culture that retains stylists, develops managers and encourages relationship. This has garnered client loyalty and driven recurring revenue, positioning their stores as top performers in their market.
Paul concludes, “If you follow the system, you will be successful. This means having good people in place who will also follow the system. And once you have those people, hang on to them by helping them reach their goals.”
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