Sports-themed franchise wants to do male bonding

Staff Report
Las Vegas Business Press
February 16, 2007

Guys may actually find themselves looking forward to their next haircut, if a chain expanding in Las Vegas has its way. Sports Clips is preparing to roll out as many as 30 new stores in the Silver State, with an emphasis on what men want.

So, what do males want from the hair-cutting experience? Fast service, no hair-chemical smells, massages, hot towels and, last but not least, sports on big-screen televisions, according to territory owner Greg Fisher.

He calls it “our MVP treatment.” The man getting his locks trimmed receives “a precision haircut, hot-towel treatment with pressure put on the face, a neck and scalp massage. (We) style their hair and send them out looking great — all for $21.”

The massages only last a minute or two for each customer. That, too, is to accommodate the masculine clientele, Fisher explained. “Guys don’t have a lot of time and they don’t want to devote that time to getting their hair cut.”

Fisher predicts that Sports Clips will change the way men feel about grooming. “Up until now, men have just endured getting their hair cut,” he said.

Men’s magazines, including Sports Illustrated and various car magazines, are available for perusal in the lobby and guys can watch sports on big-screen TVs as they wait to go under the shears.

Orange, Calif.-based Wellington Franchise Systems acquired development rights to the Sports Clips franchises in Southern Nevada in late January. Plans call for the opening of about 30 Sports Clips stores in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties.

The five-year rollout plan calls for opening at least five stores in the first year and 10 per year thereafter. Five Sports Clips stores are already operating in the Las Vegas Valley.

HAIR WARS

While low-cost cutters, such as Supercuts and Great Clips, are at one end of the competition spectrum, Fisher also sees Sports Clips attracting a higher-end clientele from salons. He isn’t setting his sights on budget-conscious customers, either. “Our customers tend to be more upscale and more upper-income,” the territory owner pointed out, “with a $60,000- to $75,000-a-year household income.”

That’s not to say Sports Clips won’t be trying to lure some clients from traditionally male-dominated Supercuts or its newer rival, Great Clips. Supercuts has 32 locations in the valley. Great Clips counts about 25 in Southern Nevada.

Fisher contends the discount cutters will notice some male customers being drawn to the testosterone-friendly Sport Clips. “Competition for Great Clips and Supercuts,” he asked. “Yes, at the lower end of the spectrum.”

Company officials from Supercuts, owned by Regis Corp., or for Great Clips could not be reached for comment.

Sports Clips has a competitive advantage over other salons because it trains its stylists to cut men’s hair, Fisher maintains. “A lot of people don’t know this, but in the state of Nevada, you don’t have to cut men’s hair to get a cosmetology license,” he said, adding that the cutters haven’t been schooled in using shears.

That’s not correct, according to an official with the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology. “When you go to school for 1,800 hours, you have to learn how to cut men’s and women’s hair, how to do styling and how to do nails and toes,” explained Pam Fitzgerald, a sales and office assistant with the board. “A hairdresser who only does hair (must receive training for) 1,200 hours.”

Longtime Supercuts stylist Suzi Brubaker said the notion that its workers couldn’t cut men’s hair wasn’t true. “We get 90 percent men — cuts, fades, clipper cuts. Men in Las Vegas love the short haircuts.” The 20-year-licensed beautician was a bit surprised to learn Sports Clips had plans for 30 stores in the state. “Wow,” she exclaimed.

FRANCHISES FOR SALE

Sports Clips is on the hunt for franchisees. Fisher declined to give details about the investment required but continued to tout the potential of a men’s hair-cutting chain. “Research is strong that men are not happy with their hair-cutting experience,” he said. “There is that chemical smell. There are no sports on TV. There are no magazines for them to read.”

Brubaker said she has never heard her male clients complaining about the smell, but Supercuts doesn’t offer perms. It does color hair, though. Supercuts stores are all corporate-owned and remain a powerful brand. “We have the Supercuts name and everybody knows Supercuts,” Brubaker said.

The battle of the sexes may be revived, though, if Fisher has anything to say about it. “Back in the day, men had the barber shop and women had the beauty parlor … then something changed,” he recalled. “This is the modern-day barber shop.”

© 2007, Las Vegas Business Press