Tye Featherstone, owner of The Great American Barbershop, has a goal to open 100 franchise locations in the fastest time possible. Four are already on tap for the Valley and Southern California. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
If there is one idea that could sum up The Great American Barbershop, it is growth — not only hair growth, but also business growth.
Tye Featherstone, founder and CEO of The Great American Barbershop, has expanded his business to three locations in the Central Valley, with two in Fresno, the first of which opened in 2015, and one in Clovis.
At the end of July, The Great American Barbershop’s first franchised location opened up in Orange County’s Laguna Hills, and four more franchise locations are set to open in Fresno, Clovis, Visalia, and Valencia by the end of this year.
The Great American Barbershop has a modern, sleek garage theme mixed with classic rock and roll style, and focuses on providing classic haircuts and modern and trending styles, as well as beard trims.
Because it specializes in men’s grooming, including beard maintenance, a haircut includes groomed eyebrows and ears, a hot lather back-of-neck shave, a shoulder massage and a double shot of after-shave.
Featherstone said that classic, tapered cuts popular in the 1950s and ‘60s, started making a comeback in the early part of the decade, especially after shows such as Mad Men premiered, and with a resurging interest in the classic Rockabilly scene, more barbershops specializing in classic haircuts started opening up.
“Now, even regular shops are adding barbering services — maybe not a shave, but their adding hot towels to their shampoo systems — so they’re bringing in more of that men’s grooming. When the side-part contour haircut came back in about 2010, that took you right back to what rockabilly was,” Featherstone said.
As more men started growing their beards out, thanks in part to social media movements such as “Movember” and “No Shave November,” there was more interest in beard grooming and maintenance.
Featherstone says that he always has his eye out for new trends and makes sure that the other barbers in the shop are kept up as well, so that they could provide a variety of haircut styles.
Featherstone has been cutting hair since he was in high school, giving haircuts to his friends and schoolmates.
He had worked in the restaurant industry for years, and considered going into the restaurant business, but thought it would require too much startup capital. He thought opening a barbershop would be more feasible through his own hard work, loans or working with a partner.
In the early half of the decade, Featherstone and his wife ran a salon and a makeup business, and he had a huge clientele of female clients, while also gaining more customers by cutting the hair of their husbands.
In 2011, Featherstone found a business model he had come up with nearly 20 years before, which inspired a vision for the barbershop system that he would start to build in 2015.
He took the idea to his wife, who didn’t want to rock the boat of the salon since they were doing so well, but they did eventually start transforming the salon to a barbershop.
The Great American Barbershop trains its barbers under a process that Featherstone dubbed the “BMT,” which is an abbreviation for Basic Men’s Taper. The system includes standards on how to greet and handle customers as well. Featherstone’s customers really liked the BMT process, and as the shop got busier and the chairs were consistently full, he opened a second location that saw the same success. A third location followed.
Featherstone then started looking for other areas to expand. With a mission to, as the company’s mission statement proclaims on its website, “craft the best haircuts with impeccable service standards, providing the ultimate barbering experience,” Featherstone thought it would be faster to franchise the barbershop.
“We are just getting all of our systems down, and making them cleaner. The way we put it: ‘We built the system so you don’t have to.’ That’s the whole reason people buy the franchise,” Featherstone said.
To ensure shorter wait times, customers can check in for the time they’d like to be serviced, see how many customers are ahead and how long the wait time will be, and reschedule or inform the barbers that they will be late for their scheduled time. Customers don’t have to come into the shop until their scheduled appointment.
An app and rewards system for customers is currently under development.
Men’s grooming is booming
Featherstone also developed his own branded hair pomades with the help of his father, who is a compound pharmacist, including “Clay Matte Pomade” and “Pomade Batch 19.” Featherstone said he plans to develop more men’s grooming products.
Featherstone said that men’s grooming products have been gaining popularity in recent years, and thinks that the trend will continue. According to Allied Market Research, the men’s personal care market is projected to reach $166 billion by 2022.
In-between the three shops that Featherstone owns, The Great American Barbershop has about 36 employees, and all of the buildings are 1,200 square feet.
Featherstone said the next step is to open a location in Sacramento, but he is looking for a franchisee that could open a family of stores in the area, rather than a single location.
Featherstone said his goal is a “drive to 100” — to see how fast they could get to 100 franchise locations.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the hair industry is recession and Internet resilient.” Featherstone said. “On top, of that, a guy gets his hair cut every few weeks, so now you’ve got that residual stream of income. Because our shops are manager led, they’re pretty much running the shops, and I’m just looking at numbers. From a franchise perspective, or if was looking to invest in a company, I would definitely be thinking some kind of hair industry — its just projected growth.”
You can visit the company website here .