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Cookie Cutters Haircuts hits 100, plus more from our bloggers


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Neal Courtney, CEO of Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids, says simple operations have got them to 100 units.

Neal Courtney’s young daughter “was an absolute nightmare when it was time to get her hair cut,” he says. That changed when he and his wife, Alexis, brought their daughter to a local Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids shop and she “picked out a hot pink car and turned on ‘Dora the Explorer.’” The Courtneys later bought an existing location and opened five more before founders Larry and Cookie Shelton approached them about buying the brand in 2014. “I did a full bore competitive analysis and saw a lot of blue sky,” says Courtney, and so they jumped in, acquiring Cookie Cutters when it had 26 salons. The brand’s 100th location opened in June with more on the way, growth Courtney attributes to a simplification of operations and an intense focus on quality lead generation. He says they tried some portals but “that’s the black hole of franchising.” They also “tried the whole party thing,” hosting birthday parties where kids could get their hair styled, “but the cost-benefit ratio wasn’t there,” says Courtney.

“And our staff hated it.” Now, “we do exactly what the sign says: We focus on haircuts for kids,” he says. “We stripped it down and kept it very simple.”


Fitness in Saudi Arabia

A master franchise agreement with Xponential Fitness will bring Club Pilates, Pure Barre, CycleBar, YogaSix and AKT studios to Saudi Arabia, where women-only gyms have been gaining popularity since the government began licensing them in 2017 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan.

John Kersh, chief international development officer, said with the recent reforms Saudi Arabia emerged as a growth market for the company’s boutique fitness concepts.

Sultan and Mohammed Alhokair, who previously brought U.K.-based Fitness First to the Middle East, will open more than 50 studios over the next three years. “Sultan and Mohammed are the younger generation that’s leading Saudi Arabian business into new areas,” said Kersh. “They’re progressive.” And while Kersh acknowledged political tensions between the U.S. and the Saudi Arabian government persist, “we try not to get too mired in that political world,” he said.


No McD ‘Zees Lawsuit

The National Owners Association, the McDonald’s franchisees who formed last fall the first independent group to address what they see as corporate missteps, explained why it has “elected to not pursue legal action” against the brand, according to a missive from its board to members sent June 23. “We could have filed a class action lawsuit the likes of which our industry has never seen. The headlines would have been huge. And perhaps sweet vindication would salve our bitter wounds. But what of the collateral damage?” the newsletter said. “How do we square a brand representing happiness with a brand that lives in a courtroom surrounded by fierce attorneys? No offense to attorneys, but generating happiness is not what they do.

“If you have been injured by the company, you should pursue all means of recourse and we will support you. But as an Association, we elected to not pursue legal action.”


Rupert Barkoff Dies at 71

Rupert Barkoff, chairman of the franchise team at Atlanta-based law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, died June 5 at age 71. Barkoff joined what was then Kilpatrick & Cody in 1973 and spent his entire career with the firm, establishing its franchise practice and later working to co-found the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising.

“Rupert was a true pioneer in the franchise legal community,” said Marc Lieberstein, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend. Barkoff taught the franchise law course at the University of Georgia and enjoyed being a resource for students, said Chris Bussert, senior counsel at Kilpatrick Townsend and a longtime friend. “Rupert was the consummate people person,” he said, and his interest in getting to know people extended to everyone. Barkoff also co-authored the “Fundamentals of Franchising” for the ABA.

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