By Molly Doyle
On March 1, husband and wife Mark and Robyn Wilson became the first Canadian franchisees for Sport Clips Haircuts, a Sport-themed hair care salon for men and boys. Their franchise is located in Burlington, Ont., where they feel they can build customer relationships and become involved in community events and activities.
In 1999, the Wilsons moved to Dallas, Texas, for work. While there, Mark and his two sons frequented Sport Clips for their haircuts because they liked the Sport-themed environment. It was nothing the family had ever experienced before back in Canada.
In 2005, the Wilsons moved back to Ontario. After hearing radio ads about becoming a Sport Clips franchisee, Mark called the company to see if they could buy a franchise in Burlington. Unfortunately, at the time, Sport Clips was not ready to open a store in Canada, but Mark said if they changed their mind, he and Robyn wanted to be the first Canadian franchisees.
Finally, in August 2012, Peter Kowal, president and chief operating officer (COO) of Sport Clips’ Canadian division, was ready to bring the chain north of the border with his business partner Mark Schiffner, CEO.
They called the Wilsons, who jumped at the opportunity. After attending their discovery day in Austin, Texas, participating in more than 40 hours of training at Sport Clips University and travelling to Alabama for a four-day manager training course, they were able to find a location in Burlington and open their shop.
“We’re not hair stylists, but the franchise is what they classify as a manager-driven model,” Mark explains. “We did team leader training, so we do a lot of follow up with the manager and stylists. We have weekly meetings with our manager and then we are in the store two or three times a week ourselves.”
Since opening, business has taken off. The community has responded well to the shop and the Wilsons have been participating in several neighbourhood events, such as fundraising and sponsoring the Burlington Bandits baseball team.
“Our store is filled with fantastic people and it’s a fantastic franchise,” says Mark. “The trick is to hire the right people and keep them challenged and motivated. Then the concept will take care of itself. One year from now, the business will have increased significantly, because of how strong the concept is. We know who we are.”
Kowal says the environment is great for men and boys, who especially enjoy the signature service known as the most valuable player (MVP) experience. This includes a haircut, hot steam towel, facial massage, shampoo, scalp massage and finally a neck and should massage, all in 23 minutes. Clients walk out feeling they have been pampered.
“We’re thrilled with everything that’s happened so far,” says Robyn. “The success we’ve had and the franchise model, they show it works. I’m excited to see where it’s going in Canada.”