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It was a story in the Wall Street Journal that convinced Gordon Logan to open his first styling salon when he became a Command Performance franchisee in the late 1970s, a choice that seems incongruous with his background. Logan’s pedigree as a businessman began with an engineering degree from MIT, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; in between the degrees, he was an Air Force pilot for five years.
But something intrigued him about the Command Performance franchise model that he read about in the newspaper, and today the founder and CEO of Sport Clips said it was his experience as a franchisee with Command Performance that taught him lessons about being a good franchisor.
“I learned a lot about how not to run a franchise from that experience,” Logan said.
For example, he learned to be very selective when screening candidates who want to become franchise partners.
“We work very hard to make sure it’s a good match,” he said of Sport Clips’ recruitment process. “We’re looking for partners we’re going to be in business with for a long time.”
The second lesson was the importance of putting the best resources behind the real estate selection process in order to find optimal sites for new stores, he said.
Learning from Past Mistakes
Logan said he learned from mistakes made by Command Performance that eventually led to the company’s meltdown. After the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Logan was named to a board of negotiators, representing the franchisees, and eventually he and a partner acquired the chain.
“It was like putting Humpty Dumpty together again,” he said. “It was a difficult situation, to say the least. The system never really recovered.”
But Logan recovered in a big way. By selling many of the Command Performance salons to the Regis chain, he raised enough seed money to start his own franchise system, catering specifically to men and boys who are attracted by the sports theme found at each salon.
“In the early 1990s, we began looking at the industry and what we felt would be the opportunities long term,” he said. “The old-timey barbershops were disappearing and there were no real places for men to get their hair cut.”
The Sport Clips franchise system, launched in 1995, combines elements of a sports bar into its individual units. Within an average of 1,400 square feet, the stores contain sports memorabilia, a large-screen TV in the reception area, and TVs tuned to sports programming at every cutting station. Lockers hold a fresh set of combs and towels for each client. Plus, sprawling wall murals below open ceilings create a spacious, sports-arena look.
“We created a visual concept,” Logan said. “When you walk through the front door, a man or boy looks around and says, ‘Okay, this is my kind of place. I feel comfortable here.’ ”