Great Clips' Rhoda Olsen: Company CEO (and Mom-in-Charge)

The last priority really was the growth at the salon level, both in sales and profits for the franchisees. We just finished our 32nd quarter of same-store salon sales growth. As of Dec. 31 , we will be at 33 quarters of straight growth. Sometimes when you're growing year over year over year, that growth is a little harder to continue to get. We have to stay focused on making sure that we are growing solidly.

Where's the competitive advantage in going to a place like Great Clips as opposed to an independent salon. Do you have mainly walk-ins or repeat customers?

Olsen: I think we have fabulous stylists and we have a lot of experienced stylists. We're a stable brand, so I think stylists look at us as a good opportunity for long-term career options and career development, as well as just a great place to work. We provide training as well.

About 80% of our customers visit more than one of our stylists, whereas in the full-service salon segment the customer always goes back to one stylist. I think that's because they have confidence in the brand. I think that people also find that our hours are better.

We have a great online tool called Online Check-In that allows the customer to check in on their mobile app. They can load the Great Clips app and it loads all of the salons in that immediate area with their actual wait time at that moment, and the wait times are updated every 30 seconds. So they can look at that app and say, "Oh, there's a 20-minute wait." They can virtually check in at that salon and run to the dry cleaner or do another errand, and then when they get to the salon, they won't have to wait at all. Our wait times are really an advantage. So the hours, the convenient locations, great stylists and better technology. We've kind of taken that front door off the salon.

What were some of the concerns you had stepping into the CEO role? Was there a fear of not being respected?

Olsen: You know a lot of times the president and CEO roles overlap, and I think that for me really learning how to be strategic, and even when I say that word I'm sure a lot of people don't really understand it .

Being strategic is more difficult for women. We aren't quite as visionary. We get caught up in the day-to-day details and we're really, really good at the day-to-day details. And so trying to get more strategic and visionary, that was a challenge for me even at the president role, but certainly at the CEO level. I had to step out of my normal frame of mind, and that is -- get out of the details, get out of the action plan, get out of the list. I think letting go of details is often hard for women because we also get a lot of credit for being good at details.