Busy people hate long waits. That's why Great Clips has introduced a high-tech method to determine how soon one can be served at its salons coupled with the ability to check in prior to arrival.
Jan Gross, who has managed the Fort Dodge Great Clips outlet at 3007 First Ave. S. since it opened in August 2004, said this option is proving very popular with clients.
The goal of this new capability is to enhance customer convenience, according to Nikki Wilson, who is a regional manager for Denise Bradfield, of Polk City, who owns the Fort Dodge Great Clips salon and 14 others, most of which are in Iowa.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jan Gross, manager of the Great Clips Salon, 3007 First Ave. S., demonstrates the online check-in option available to customers on her Smart Phone. The app to make it function can be downloaded free.
"It's to reduce wait times since we don't take appointments," Wilson said. "It lets people know how long the wait time is going to be so they can better utilize their time and what they are going to do for the day. ... It's very handy if you have little kids or somewhere to go."
Gross said the new system can be accessed via a smartphone using a downloadable Great Clips app or from any computer at greatclips.com.
She explained that when a customer logs in the system displays relevant store locations and the wait times at all nearby Great Clips outlets.
"Click 'check me in' and it will check you in," Gross said. "When you get here, there still might be customers who walked in and you are not here yet, but the next one would be you."
That means Great Clips patrons need spend very little time waiting for an available stylist.
The response has been enormous, Wilson said, noting that as of February, 1.5 million people had downloaded the Great Clips app.
The popularity of this new feature was also underlined in a June 24 statement released by Rhoda Olsen, corporate chief executive officer of Great Clips. She said the company's technology-oriented game plan is to be an industry trendsetter.
"We are thrilled to report that our online check-in has been a huge success as we continue to explore new technology to improve the customer experience," Olsen said. "We have remained the industry leader because we seek out technology innovation - not because it's a shiny new toy - but because it helps our customers and keeps them coming back for more. We have always known people want a great haircut at a great price, but we also know that customers crave the convenience and short wait times that online check-in offers."
According to data provided by Great Clips, 10 million customers have already checked in online at the 3,300 Great Clips salons spread across the United States and Canada.
Corporate officials estimate that before this summer ends 1 million customers a month will be using the online check-in system.
Gross said a secondary benefit of the system is that it allows her to keep track of the customer flow when she isn't at the Fort Dodge Great Clips.
"I use it just to see if the salon's busy so the girls can come in earlier if they need to," she said.
She said the system also prevents patrons from driving by and being misled into assuming there is a long wait because a number of people are sitting in the waiting area.
"Sometimes those chairs are full, but it's nobody waiting for a haircut - it's a family waiting," Gross said. "The other day for example, the chairs were full but there were two of us not giving a haircut."
Another part of Great Clips high-tech approach to serving its clients is the customer database the stores maintain to ensure patrons get consistent, top-notch hair care.
"We do have customer records that we keep in the computer where we can keep track of how they like their hair cut, how often they get their hair cut," Wilson explained. "That's called our customer-connection database. It's called their Clip Notes in the computer."
The bottom line for customers, Gross said, is consistently outstanding haircuts.
Wilson seconded that point.
"(Customers) are able to ask for a specific (stylist) if they'd like, but we want everybody to know that everybody can give them a good haircut," she said. "They don't have to wait for somebody. Everybody can do the same thing every time. They can access the Clip Notes and see what was done last time."
Wilson said the company's commitment to that goal is illustrated by its 100 percent guarantee on the services its stylists provide and the products sold through its stores.
The Great Clips approach is proving a winner in the marketplace. According to information released by the Minneapolis-based company in June, it has had 34 consecutive months of sales growth and 29 consecutive months of increased customer counts. Systemwide, Great Clips has a work force approaching 30,000.
About Great Clips in Fort Dodge
Gross said her 10-person team of stylists is highly talented and has experienced relatively modest personnel turnover.
"I've had two who have been here since the beginning, two that are on six years," she said.
Gross said the salon serves clients of both sexes and all ages. In addition to providing "styles, perms, haircuts," it markets an extensive array of hair-care products.