Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: CEO Q&A with Wade Brannon of Pigtails & Crewcuts
Name: Wade Brannon
Title: CEO, President
Brand: Pigtails & Crewcuts
Segment: Retail, child-related services
Units: 66 salons (46 franchisees)
Locations: 23 states
How has Covid-19 affected your brand?
Tremendously. We were caught off guard and didn’t realize the true severity of what it was going to do to small-business owners. We are a children’s hair salon. We interact with people daily. Because of this pandemic, our salons are closed to protect our customers and employees. Right now our salons have pivoted from robust sales growth to survival mode. The franchise headquarters deferred royalties for March sales because no revenue was being generated in our salons in April. We need to make sure the financial burdens of our franchisees can be met during the shutdown. Without revenue, many owners are seeing cash reserves being tapped rather quickly. We are assisting our franchisees daily for the brand to survive.
What are you doing to help your franchisees through this?
Our job is to keep our franchise owners educated on what’s going on so they come out of this crisis in a good position within their respective markets. Many have questions regarding legislation and relief bills being passed; how to communicate with their account holders, landlords, etc.; and how to manage staff communication to return to full efficiency once this passes. We feel it’s important they know their options. We are assisting them to manage the short-term crisis and plan for the future. Though the methods of communication haven’t changed, the frequency has increased greatly. We are in contact with our owners daily, as the climate is changing daily. We are advising them to stay in touch with their employees and customers. We’re giving them ideas and tools for marketing. We believe that when we can reopen our salons, we will be extremely busy. We all need a game plan for when this is all over. We’ve also conveyed to the franchisees that it’s important to stay strong for their staff. They should communicate with their employees regularly. Our franchisee support team has daily conference calls. On these calls we talk through what the franchisees need from us, and we work to keep each other in the proper mindset. We problem-solve together and support each other as needed.
How are you supporting your corporate employees?
We are leading by example. When we talk with our franchisees, we are honest and positive. We have prioritized our projects with a strong emphasis on franchisee support. Communication and assisting our franchisees is imperative. We’re doing the same with our corporate employees –encouraging them and educating them through the issues. They need to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We all attend webinars from other resources, such as the IFA. Our corporate team has regular webinars, conference calls, and group texting to stay in touch. In our group texts we share funny memes and old school pictures of each employee. We need to have a positive outlook on this, and who doesn’t need a little humor at a time like this?
Planning our future assures them stability. This allows them to assist the franchisees with their future.
How are your franchisees supporting their employees?
On a case-by-case scenario. At one of our Atlanta locations, they have been transparent and communicated with their employees about what’s going on. We recognize their concern regarding job security, payroll questions, and financial assistance. At this location, the staff remain positive because the owner cares about them and their needs. The employees continue to be valuable assets, and we recognize that this will end eventually. This group of employees is so close that they have regular conference calls with each other. Before the salon closed, they used to work out together before and after hours. They continue to do this through a Zoom meeting. It’s a safe and healthy way to stay connected for their morning exercise routine. We love it!
What are your franchisees doing for their customers?
Our franchisees are continuing to communicate through social media and regular newsletters.
The customers are extended family members. We recognize that they are struggling with the new normal. We want to create fun activities for them. A franchisee in North Carolina shared a science project on how to make rock candy at home. They also offered a scavenger hunt to their customers through their Facebook page. Another franchisee offered a braiding video for parents. It’s important to continue to engage with the customers. They are part of our extended family and we need to support each other during this time.
How do you see the future of your brand, operations, market, etc. post–Covid-19?
We are looking forward to when this pandemic ends. Our team and owners can’t wait for every single Pigtails & Crewcuts salon to reopen. It’s going to be awesome! The stylists miss their clients. Our clients miss us! We know we’re going to be busy because all of our customers are going to have little kids with lots of hair that will need to be cut. We’re preparing for this amazing day. Despite this down period, we know that our brand is going to be stronger than ever.
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