For nearly 10 years, Jack Leaf called Chicago home. As a real estate agent for Wintrust Financial Corporation, Leaf spent most of his days navigating through the corporate world. But after realizing that a lifetime filled with cubicles and meetings wasn’t in his long-term career plan, Leaf understood that this was his moment to finally fulfill a longtime dream—running his own business.
Franchising was the obvious answer for Leaf, but he still didn’t know what type of industry he wanted to join. Leaf remembers turning to his father for advice.
“Great Clips was the first business he recommended to me. This is a brand that had been around for more than 30 years. It’s in just about every community you drive through. And whether or not you’ve actually visited one for a haircut, the brand’s name is immediately recognizable. Almost everyone knows someone who gets their hair done here,” Leaf said. “After my father suggested Great Clips, it occurred to me—I had a few friends who were already franchising with the brand. From there, the rest sort of just fell into place.”
By 2011, Leaf was ready to sign on to his first location. But there was a catch—he was ready for a change in scenery, too, and to get his Great Clips business off the ground, he decided to pack up the life he had known for 10 years and leave the Windy City behind. Leaf’s business venture would ultimately bring him to a state not as notorious for its brutally cold winters—Florida.
If you’re going to take a leap, you might as well put everything into it, right? That was Leaf’s motto, at least. His initial goal was to open a store a year for the next four to five years. But not everything goes as planned. As the current owner of 11 Great Clips locations, Leaf quickly realized the massive potential of the brand in Florida, and he ended up opening anywhere from two to three units a year over that same timespan.
When it comes to pinpointing the exact reason for his success, Leaf gives much of his credit to the franchisor.
“The team behind Great Clips is amazing. They’re working just as hard as us, if not harder. When they make decisions, they ask themselves if it’s good for the franchisee and if it’s good for the customer. If both of those answers are ‘yes,’ they move in and implement it at the store level,” Leaf said. “Because Great Clips' salons are 100 percent franchisee owned, a more collaborative relationship is formed. Their key to success is the success of the franchisees—they’re the ones who are on the ground in their communities and driving the brand.”
Leaf believes that Great Clips’ business model helped to drive his growth, too. Great Clips takes a simple, back-to-the-basics approach to their salon, rather than feeling like they need to buy into the hype of new hair trends and techniques. This has allowed them to perfect the things that really matter to a customer—quality, affordability and convenience.
“We keep our business simple and smart. We know that time is important to our customers. We don’t allow scheduled appointments, but we staff our salons to a degree so that nobody has to wait for their haircut when they walk-in off the street,” Leaf said. “People can get in and get out, run to the grocery store, grab their kid from soccer practice and make dinner. We’re giving them the chance to get their hair cut in a reasonable time without spending the high price of other salons.”