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Marketing Mastery: Lessons learned from a chop shop for men

May 12/19, 2014; Volume 27/Number 27

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 9.58.23 AM“I’ll take the MVP cut,” I said to the girl behind the counter. It was my first visit to Sport Clips for a haircut. I’d heard good things about their service—that they were different than your typical walk-in hair salon—so the marketer in me was curious to see what they were all about.

There are legions of Supercuts, Great Clips and other low-price chop shops dotting the fruited plain; walk-in hair establishments charging anywhere from $12 to $18 for a no-frills cut. There’s very little to differentiate one from another. Customers wander in, get their cuts, plunk down a few bucks, wander out again, and that’s about it.

Sport Clips takes the walk-in, no frills haircut concept to another level. The MVP cut that I opted for entitled me to their “triple play”: a consultation and “precision cut” from a “guy-smart” stylist, shampoo and “invigorating scalp massage,” and their “legendary hot steamed towel wrap.”

Sport Clips has also designed an environment that caters to men and elevates what would be just another run-of-the-mill cut into a mini-vacation. Additional strategies they employ to create a great experience for their target market include:

• Interior design that evokes the feeling of a sports locker room. The stylists store their products and tools in black lockers.

• Customers are referred to as “members” and, as such, are entitled to benefits, such as free neck and sideburn trims between visits.

• The hot towels offered are infused with tea tree oil, as is the shampoo.

• Members get treated to a back and shoulder rub with a hand-held electric massager at the end.

The MVP costs $22, about 20% to 30% more than Sport Clips’ competitors. (It also provides a $17 basic service.) However, the experience blows away the competition. This translates into more customers, higher tips, repeat business and referrals.

So what can floor dealers learn from this? A lot, if you have your “marketing antennae” up and are willing to look outside the flooring industry for breakthrough ideas. Sport Clips has created an environment that totally sets it apart. You can do the same. Here are some ideas:

• A uniform, well-designed theme for your showroom

• Kids’ play area with entertainment for a range of ages

• A “man cave” for those not making the purchasing decisions

• Monitors playing before-and-after videos of installations and customer testimonials

• Design center for consultations.

• A membership for customers with benefits such as appreciation events, members-only offers, invitations to after-hours events, gift cards, etc.

Too many dealers complain they have to sell on cheap price because flooring is commoditized. Well, so are walk-in haircuts for guys, yet Sport Clips charges 20% to 30% more than its competitors.

Your assignment this month is to keep up your “marketing antennae.” When you visit or otherwise interact with businesses, look for breakthrough ideas that you can borrow for your flooring business. Email me your ideas and I may include them in a future column.