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How Sport Clips Haircuts Founder and CEO Gordon Logan Made Continual Improvement a Way of Life
The International Franchise Association’s 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year explains why integrity and putting people first has helped to drive the leading salon brand forward.

Like many great breakthroughs, Sport Clips Haircuts emerged from a fairly simple idea.

Armed with degrees from both MIT and The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Gordon Logan, the founder and CEO of Sport Clips, wanted to focus his hard-earned knowledge on a single brand. But coming up with a million-dollar idea isn’t always easy—unless, of course, you ask the right questions.

For Logan, that elusive “aha” moment came when he realized that true barbershop experiences were dwindling, and men weren’t always excited to get a haircut. So he asked himself, “What if we could change that?” Logan put his degrees to work, designing a one-of-a-kind haircut experience that men and boys could actually look forward to and enjoy. This was in 1993, and it was the beginning of Sport Clips.  

“I felt there was a real need for a concept that specialized in targeting men and boys due to the decreasing number of traditional barber shops,” Logan recalls. “We were looking for a sizable niche market that would be viable for many years to come.”

When Logan eventually opened the doors to the first Sport Clips location, he knew from the very beginning that this company would become a franchise. He was right—by 1995, Logan had his first franchisee in Houston, Texas. And as it turned out, offering a place where men could get a relaxed, no-frills haircut experience filled a growing void. From that moment on, the brand embarked on a steady, upward climb.

Twenty-two years later, Sport Clips has certainly come a long way. While its mission to offer an MVP experience to each and every customer remains the same, a lot has changed, too. Today, the brand is consistently ranked as one of the top fastest-growing franchises. Forbes highlighted Sport Clips as a “Top 10 Best Franchise” to invest in. And, most recently, the brand celebrated another milestone—Sport Clips now has more than 1,600 stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Much of the credit for the brand’s continued success can be given to Logan. From the beginning, he has helped to steer the organization, avoiding many of the pitfalls smaller franchisors tend to stumble into. He’s done so by projecting a strong vision and maintaining high standards. This meant focusing on quality, working hard to make sure his franchisees were successful and making continual improvement a way of life. According to Logan, this starts with building a dedicated and passionate team that embodies the values Sport Clips was founded on.

“No matter what business you’re in, it’s all about people. Whether it’s fast food, fitness or hair care, you need the right people in place to make good things happen,” Logan said. “Times change, people change and businesses change. But I’ve always believed that if we always do our best, treat people the way you want to be treated and run your company with integrity, you’ll build a team of like-minded people. And that’s what’s helped Sport Clips grow in such a strong and sustainable way.”

What Logan is referring to is the fact that over the past six years, Sport Clips has only closed six salons—but it has added as many as 800 in that same time frame. It’s an achievement that Logan is incredibly proud of—but it’s not the only thing. Much deeper than the numbers themselves is the impact that Sport Clips has on every community it reaches. Logan has watched as the brand has changed the lives of every team leader, employee and stylist it reaches.

“I’m so proud to see the careers we’ve helped to provide. These people come to us, oftentimes young and insecure. I’ve seen them blossom in an environment where they’re treated with respect and given the resources they need to develop,” Logan said. “We had one stylist come to us as a refugee. She barely spoke English, and eventually, she grew into a managerial role. Today, this woman has four stores of her own. Those kind of stories are very meaningful. For me, it’ all about letting people know that you care—that can really go a long way.”

It’s this dedication to putting people first that has truly helped Sport Clips stand out from the pack. Nowhere was this more evident than in late 2016 after heavy rainfall left much of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area under water. One local team leader, Jeremy Aydell, watched as his Sport Clips salon and the community around him flooded. Nearly half of Aydell’s employees were left with severely damaged homes. Sport Clips extended a helping hand, offering financial assistance through the Sport Clips Wayne McGlone Memorial Relief Fund. This unique program, which provides financial assistance when tragedy strikes, is available exclusively to Sport Clips employees and franchisees, and has provided more than $735,000 in relief payments since it began in 2012.   

But it wasn’t just Sport Clips’ financial assistance that made a difference in that Baton Rouge community. Late one night, after the town continued its long and tedious process of recovery, Aydell got an email from Joe Klimek, an area developer for Sport Clips in Texas. He followed along as the news broadcasted the disaster that was happening just east of him, and he wanted to check in with Aydell to see how his team was doing. After hearing that nearly a dozen of Aydell’s employees were left with severely damaged homes, Klimek launched a GoFundMe campaign, calling on the entire Sport Clips system to personally chip in. Within one week, they raised more than $18,000.

This is just one story out of dozens that showcases how Sport Clips' entire system comes together during a time of need. 

“Being a part of Sport Clips, you realize the power of the network—the family—that you’ve joined. That’s just the culture that we have created here at Sport Clips. It’s about doing your best. And it’s about treating others the way they want to be treated. I believe you can do no wrong if you simply live your life striving to always be the best person you can be,” Logan added.

A veteran himself, Logan has also helped Sport Clips raise nearly $5 million for the VFW Foundation through its Help A Hero campaign, which started as a program providing free phone calls home for troops overseas and in hospitals, and now funds scholarships for service members. Through the VFW Foundation, the Help A Hero program has awarded more than 718 scholarships to veterans transitioning from the military to civilian careers in the past four years.

Logan’s humble and philanthropic approach to running a business hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2016, he was recognized by the International Franchise Association as its Entrepreneur of the Year—an award that’s given annually to a visionary who is willing to take risks and who possesses the skills needed to create a successful franchising business enterprise.  

In the years ahead, even as the brand continues to grow to 2,000 salons and beyond, it’ll become even more important to Logan that Sport Clips and its ever-growing network never lose sight of these important values. And that, Logan says, is ultimately the key to long-term success as a leader driving a business forward.

“Always stay true to your values. Don’t ever give up. There will be bumps along the way. And there will be difficult times when you will inevitably doubt yourself. But you have to dig in and keep fighting,” Logan said. “Everyone who starts a business has a responsibility to give back to those who follow them. Always, no matter what, give your people a reason to believe in you. That’s something I strive for every single day.”

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