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SportsClips Does it Right

by Ryan Guina

I went to SportsClips for the first time after work yesterday, and I have to admit… I was very impressed with their setup. SportsClips takes a commodity service and turns it into an experience people are willing to pay a little extra for. They know their customer demographic and market to them well.

My SportsClips Experience

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was that the place was set up like a gym locker room. There was a small waiting room with a large plasma screen showing the latest on SportsCenter, and a stack of the latest editions of Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Sporting News, the newspaper, and probably more. But I didn’t have a wait, so I walked through a chain link fence and went right in to the “locker room” to get my hair cut.

When I entered the “locker room,” I noticed there were the lockers at each hair cutting station. These lockers are where the barbers store their grooming equipment and a vacuum to suck up the little crumblies that fall everywhere. The second thing I noticed was how clean everything was. The place was spotless.

Like your standard barber shop, each chair is situated in front of a mirror. But that is where the similarities end. Each station is equipped with a small flatscreen monitor playing the latest in sports. The trash cans had the logos from regional sports teams, and there were pictures of famous athletes on the walls. The barber turned my chair toward the television and got to work.

This was my first visit, and SportsClips knows how to treat their first time visitors right. They give a free complimentary upgrade to the MVP Package, which includes not only the standard men’s haircut, but also a shampoo and head massage (while seated in a massage chair), a hot towel treatment, and a neck and shoulder massage. This is normally a $40 package. Not bad as a complimentary upgrade!

After my head was sheared to my liking, I followed my barber back into the “shower room,” where they give the MVP treatment. (Get your head out of the gutter folks, this is a family show!). My barber showed me how to work the controls on the massage chair, adjusted the seat, and gave me a massaging shampoo treatment with a slightly tingly peppermint shampoo. It was cool and refreshing. Afterward, my barber gave me a hot towel treatment for my face, then a few minutes later gave me a neck and shoulder massage with a little massage wand. Add a little talcum powder for a fresh scent, and I was good to go.

I’m not normally one for pampering myself, but I admit, after a long, frustrating day at work, a haircut and massage was more than welcome. I left feeling energized and refreshed.

The price. A standard men’s haircut is $16 at my local SportsClips, which is more than I normally spend. I used to go to the Air Force base where I could get my hair cut for $7 + tip. Now I typically go wherever I have a coupon. In fact, the only reason I went to SportsClips was because I had a half price coupon and the location was convenient. The best part is, SportsClips honored the coupon and still gave me the complimentary upgrade to the MVP package for my first visit. While the total bill was $8, I spent $16 because I tipped based on the total cost of the MVP Package. It turns out I was so relaxed that I did my math wrong and tipped 20% of the total price instead of 15%. But it was worth it. ;)

Will I go back? Yes, if I have a good coupon. While I certainly enjoyed the MVP package, I can’t justify spending almost $500 per year on haircuts ($40/month). I also enjoyed the store setup and experience, but I don’t think the haircut was any better or worse than the haircuts I get elsewhere. So my decisions will be based on where I can get the best deal. If the price is comparable, I’ll probably go back.

Why I am impressed with SportsClips

SportsClips offers a commodity service, but with a unique twist that people are willing to pay extra for. In fact, a standard cut is only about $2 or $3 more than the place I normally go, so paying a little extra for the experience is very reasonable. SportsClips markets their service the right way, and I think a lot of businesses would do well to take some tips from them. Here is what they do well:

  • Know their market. This place caters solely to guys. (They don’t even list prices for female haircuts). Guys like sports, guys need haircuts. It’s a perfect mix.
  • Make it an experience. Everyone needs a haircut. Most people look forward to it as much as they look forward to grocery shopping. Instead of 3 month old copies of People Magazine and Better Home and Gardens, guys can watch sports and stay current in the news. If only they served beer! ;)
  • Give a complimentary upgrade. Guys like to be pampered too. They just might not know it or be willing to admit it. SportsClips also realizes it costs them next to nothing to provide this additional service, but they are more likely to get people to spend money for this service once they have experienced it. Giving away a free sample is a great sales and marketing tip.
  • Repeat customers are your friend. SportsClips offers free neck trims in between haircuts. Not all barbershops offer this, and it’s a nice additional touch. They also store your basic information in their system to reference your haircut preferences for your next visit. Oh yeah, they gave me a $5 coupon as I walked out the door. People love to save money.

I won’t say SportsClips is perfect. This is only based on one experience, and SportsClips operates franchises, meaning anyone can buy into the brand. So your experience may differ. But I have a feeling it’s a winning combination. If you’re a guy and you like sports, check it out. And if it’s your first visit, ask for the complimentary MVP Package. It’s great! :)

Note: This is based on my personal experience and what I noticed about why their business model is successful. This article is not sponsored by SportsClips by any means whatsoever. But if they want to send me a few coupons for the MVP Package, I won’t turn them down! (but I would give them away to a few lucky readers ;) ).


Published or updated August 14, 2008.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ToughMoneyLove

Important question – who gets to operate the TV remote when you are in the chair? It’s a guy thing.

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2 Ryan

When I went, it was on a centralized channel with the sound coming over the loudspeakers. But I think they had the ability to do it differently.

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3 Ryan

Yes, best deal for a comparable haircut. I don’t have any special needs for my hair and I am not attached to any particular barber or barbershop. I can usually get my hair cut for around $8-10 not including a tip. The normal price at SportsClips is $16. $6-8 is a big enough difference that I would go elsewhere. If the price was within a $2-3, I might go to SportsClips. But the MVP package… That is more than I want to spend on a regular basis.

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4 deepali

So you say your decision would be based on where you get the best deal… I assume you mean the best deal for a comparable cut?

I’m willing to pay a little bit more for the same quality product, if the experience is better. It’s tough to know how much more though.

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5 Dan

My first time at SportsClips the only freebees I got was the head massage. They didn’t offer a neck/shoulder massage or hot towel treatment. I got ripped! :)
That is nice that they actually sweep the previous customers’ hair clippings off the floor unlike another major discount haircut chain that also starts with the letter “S”. Whenever I’m at this “other” place I feel like I’m Indiana Jones tip-toeing across the floor trying to avoid stepping on somebody else’s hair lest an arrow shoot from the wall and hit me in the neck….

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6 Frugal Dad

Wishing I had a SportsClip close to me! I buzz my own hair, and go to one of those Cuts-By-Us places about once every few months to get things “evened up.” I can’t stand the obnoxious music and constant “girl-chatter.” I’m such an old fart (at 31!).

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7 Glblguy

I LOVE SportsClips. It’s a bit pricey, but they always have coupons floating around and honestly the service and quality is worth paying for. I could sit there and have them shampoo my hair for hours :-)

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8 Kristen

I wonder if my new husband would go for something like this. I couldn’t get him into the spa on our honeymoon for anything, not even a sports massage. I think he really missed out.

When it comes to services like hair cuts, pedicures, etc. I am usually willing to pay a bit more if the place is really nice and offers a few extras that you don’t get at other places. I’ll treat myself if I can afford it.

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9 Ryan

Kristen,

Try buying him a gift card. That way the money is spent and he has to go to prevent waste. Whether or not he goes for the full package or not is up to him. But if it’s the first time, they may just give him the free upgrade. ;)

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10 No Debt Plan

The local sports radio station always plays the commercial for the franchise opportunity. I always thought “good idea, but really?”

My wife cuts my hair, and paying $40 for any type of MVP treatment is still … wow. That’s almost as much as a woman’s haircut!

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11 Ryan

I have no plans to open a franchise, I just think they do a good job with their market and their product.

As for opening a franchise, there are many other factors that one should consider – such as location, clientele, start up costs, and more. I think a location closer to the upscale part of town would result in more people going for the $40 option, but who knows?

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12 Joe

In the first place the empoyee’s in these places are NOT barbers they are beauty operators pretending to be barbers. The training that they recieved to aquire their licence is overwhelmingly geered toward womans hair. Totally different from barbers whose training and expertise is in the unique particulars of mens haircuting. Anyone who thinks hair is hair and it doesn’t matter is ,sorry to say is just ignorant. These franchise owners have simply taken beauty operators out of their relm , told them to stick a plastic guard on a clipper (which they really don’t know how to use or they would’nt HAVE to use a guard) and basically told them to impersonate a barber. Also aren’t people ever going to get sick of this cookie cutter chain store mentality? Where did individuality go? What about the unique charactor of individually owned barbershops? They are harder to find but thats because of the mac donaldizing of our culture where landlords in large newer centers won’t even lease to anything but a chain. It’s worth the trouble to seek out a real barber who can give you a real man’s haircut . And finish it off with hot lather and razor work around the edges to make it look and feel really finished. If it does’nt say barbershop on their sign or have a barberpole out front forget it!

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