Regis Corp.


Regis Corp. makes sure that its franchisees get the support they need

to start their business.

By Alan Dorich, Knighthouse Media

With nearly 100 years of experience, Regis Corp. stands as a leader in beauty salons and cosmetology education. The Minneapolis, Minn.-based company has done this by paying attention to the ever-changing marketplace and continuing to evolve. 

“We’ve embraced change,” Franchise President Eric Bakken says, adding that these steps have included moving Regis Corp. to a greater than 50 percent franchise model. “Who better to compete on our behalf than our outstanding franchisees?”

Founders Paul and Florence Kunin started the company in 1922 as Kunin Beauty Salon, which grew over time to have a chain of value-priced salons in department stores. In 1958, their son, Myron Kunin, bought the company and implemented the Regis Corp. name.

When he saw the trend of mall shopping, Kunin began to move its locations out of department stores and into freestanding operations in malls. After the company acquired Supercuts in 1996, the company began opening in strip centers and street locations and started franchising in a meaningful way. 

Over the years, Bakken notes, Regis Corp. grew through the acquisitions that allowed it to expand in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Today, it has 8,000 locations that also include its SmartStyle, Cost Cutters, First Choice Haircutters, Roosters, MasterCuts, Regis and Sassoon  salons. 

Regis Corp. also has a 55 percent ownership share in Empire Education Group,a beauty school operator with about 90 locations in North America. “We’ve been able to use our size and scale to our advantage in many ways,” Bakken says. 

A Broad Mix 

Regis Corp. continues to compete in the value space to this day. However, its brands are differentiated in terms of the services they offer and the customers they cater to, Bakken says.

For example, its Supercuts brand leans more towards a male client base who are focused on getting quality haircuts at a convenient location. “We try to provide a welcoming, clean environment, and we want to make sure that folks are getting the cut they like in a consistent manner,” he says.

Its SmartStyle locations, Bakken notes, leans more towards a female base and is located in Walmart locations. “Today, we’re in a little over 2,000 locations with SmartStyle,” he says, noting that the concept caters to modern, busy families who want convenience and value.

“They want to save money but they don’t want to sacrifice quality,” he continues, noting that this fits well with Walmart’s philosophy. “It’s a good fit. They look at it as a way to increase their traffic and provide a needed service for their customers.”

On the other hand, Cost Cutters serves a base evenly split between male and female clients and caters to price-conscious families. “They want a full-service salon that offers good value for their money,” Bakken says.

He also highlights First Choice Haircutters, which serves a market similar to Supercuts. “It’s a successful concept and our largest business in Canada,” he adds.

Easy to Scale

Regis Corp. provides many services and benefits to franchisees.. In addition to strong brands, “The infrastructure that we have and the support we provide to our franchisees is top notch,” Bakken says.

This has helped nurture franchisees who have stayed loyal to the company. “We think we’re pretty good at collaborating and we value it tremendously,” he says, noting that the company also responds well to franchisee feedback.

There also is a built-in demand for what Regis Corp. and its brands offer, since people still need to visit salons to get their hair trimmed. 

The environment also gives franchisees a great opportunity to sell customers professional haircare products. “It’s a relatively simple yet rewarding business,” he says. 

This simplicity also makes it easy for franchisees to grow from one to two locations to becoming multi-unit operators who focus on additional growth. “We think our business is one that is easy to scale and get to multiple units,” he says.

Regis Corp. also provides its franchisees with strong support from the beginning, which includes real estate and construction services, intensive franchisee orientation, guidance from new store/onboarding consultants and ongoing technical and operational training. “We also have a new franchisee marketing consultant that works closely with them,” Bakken says. “We want them to get off to a really good start.” 

Business Evolution

Regis Corp. plans to continue to leverage its strengths and grow it franchise business, Bakken says. A year ago, 70 percent of its locations were company owned and the remainder were franchises. “Now we’re greater than 50-50 franchise ,” he says.  

The company also will look at ways to continue recruiting the best out of cosmetology schools and enhance its marketing efforts, which recently included a partnership between Major League Baseball and Supercuts. “We’re the official hair stylists of Major League Baseball,” he reports.

“It brought new relevance to the Supercuts brand,” he reports, noting that the company has access to teams, stadiums, games and fans. “The MLB team has been a pleasure to work with.”


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