In September, the American Red Cross distributed hundreds of thousands of free haircut coupons to blood and platelet donors via email. The coupons, which were valid through November 11, were redeemed by Sport Clips Haircuts customers at participating locations across the country.
The free-haircut-for-donors program began ten years ago, when Matt Lewis, a Sport Clips area developer in North Carolina initiated the promotion in Sport Clips locations across the state.
Lewis, a long-time blood donor, got the idea for the program while reading a Red Cross pamphlet after donating blood.
“I had just given blood, and I was in that room where they send you to drink juice and eat cookies afterward,” said Lewis. “I was reading a pamphlet that said ‘thanks for giving blood,’ and I started to think about what else could be done to thank blood donors, and I realized Sport Clips had something to offer.”
Lewis got in touch with the Red Cross in Charlotte, and they were immediately enthusiastic about the idea of partnering with Sport Clips.
“We quickly settled on the idea to give out free haircuts to donors, and once Sport Clips’ marketing team in Texas signed off, we were ready to go,” Lewis said.
The program was an instant success. Thousands of free haircut coupons were distributed to blood donors in the program’s first year, and the majority of those redeemed were new customers.
“Getting a new client into the store is priority number one, always,” Lewis said. “So the program had this really beneficial side effect of driving a ton of new business.”
Lewis also believes the program has an impact on year-over-year donations, which have increased since the program began ten years ago.
“Of course, there are a million factors that influence people to donate blood, but given the buzz around our program every year, I think it’s fair to assume that some portion of the increase in donations can be attributed to our program.”
Sport Clips has long maintained an active commitment to philanthropy, and the franchise took note of Lewis’s program’s quick success. Before long, Sport Clips was working with Lewis to scale the promotion across the entire system.
“We were able to expand the program very easily,” Lewis said. “The only thing we’ve really changed in the program over the years was moving from paper coupons to digital. There’s really not much else to it.”
In 2016, Sport Clips distributed 388,135 free haircut coupons to blood and platelet donors. 13,177 of those coupons were redeemed across the franchise system, and 51 percent of those redemptions were by new clients.
Lewis said that for many franchisees, the program is of significant personal importance.
“We talk to the owners and stylists, and so many of them have received blood or have family members who have, or they have been personally affected by the recent hurricanes or other disasters that require an increase in blood donations, and they are excited that we’ve established a way to contribute as an organization.”
The partnership with Red Cross is just one component of Sport Clips’ Haircuts with Heart program, which represents the company’s mission to give back to the communities in which Sport Clips team members live and work. In addition to the annual free-haircut-for-donors program in September, Sport Clips encourages store Team Leaders to open their stores to host local blood drives, and many Team Leaders partner with the Red Cross for other charitable efforts throughout the year.