When Tye Featherstone was a teenager, he had a vision of starting a rock ‘n’ roll themed barber shop. He wrote it down as a business plan but at the time he didn’t have the knowledge or finances to put it together. After gaining some business knowledge and barbering experience, he set forth on the vision by opening up The Great American Barbershop in northeast Fresno.
Since opening the first location in 2014, Featherstone has added a second shop in Fresno and a third in Clovis all within a span of three years.
Today, with three corporate stores in place, Featherstone’s business is thriving and franchising. Last month, the company was selected as one of 10 franchises to attend the ICSC RECon Convention in Las Vegas, the world’s largest global gathering of retail real estate professionals, to showcase their business model.
“When we built the concept [of The Great American Barbershop], we designed it for multiple locations,” said Featherstone. “In terms of the design, the efficiency, the brand and the feel, all that was designed to support hundreds of stores. We didn’t think about franchising at that point, it was really just something we were going to do. So we developed the training programs, the academy, and that all just came as a result.
“We later decided to franchise because we realize that we couldn’t build fast enough and it was such a great opportunity for other people. I was already having friends and customers going ‘I want in.’ The only way to really do that was to actually bring in a franchise model, so now they can do it.”
In its first week since going live, the company sold three locations of the franchise. One of the developers plans to open two in the Central Valley while another buyer has his sights set on the the Central Coast. More transactions are in the process but Featherstone “can’t discuss exact locations at this time.”
“We sold three to an area developer but he’ll probably pick up five of them here in Fresno County. This was just a customer that comes in, likes the energy, likes the feel and wants to be a part of it,” said Featherstone. “He saw the opportunity once we said we’re going to be franchising and was like ‘I’m in.’ He had already been coming here for three years so he knew what to expect. He saw how busy it was and the level of execution that our barbers have.
“We tell [potential franchisees], we’re not going to sell you anything based on our financials, which are great. You need to feel the brand and we need to make sure that you’re going to be a good fit for our brand.”
The Great American Barbershop is a walk-in industrial garage themed barbershop with tool boxes and motorcycles. The shop is home to the “proper cut” that includes a precision haircut, eyebrows and ear hair trim, hot lather, back of the neck shave, old school massage, and two shots of aftershave.
Featherstone pays tribute to his early vision by playing rock ‘n’ roll at every shop: “We always like to say the rock ‘n’ roll is included in the haircut.”
Starting this month, The Great American Barbershop will open franchising opportunities to each state with long term plans to go global. Featherstone has meetings and tours scheduled with interested parties from San Diego, Iowa, Illinois and Washington.
“Moving forward, we’re going to be franchising and not opening up anymore corporate stores so we can really put all of our attention and energy into making sure that these franchisees are delivering the exact same product that we’re creating,” said Featherstone.