In 2001, when the OBrien brothers, Paul, Ron, and Bill, opened Floyds 99 Barbershop in Denver, their


In 2001, when the O’Brien brothers, Paul, Ron, and Bill, opened Floyd’s 99 Barbershop in Denver, their only experience in the hair care business was as customers. Lacking tonsorial training, their particular skills, it seems, laid not in grooming hair but grooming loyal, creative, and hardworking employees.

Floyd’s, named after the iconic barber from television’s classic Andy Griffith Show, was conceived to be a friendly neighborhood place like the one owned by its namesake.

But that’s where the similarity ends. In the O’Briens’ vision, Floyd’s was not your father’s traditional barbershop, nor was it a plush, unisex salon that smelled like hair chemicals.

Instead, Floyd’s was designed to be a hip and lively place for contemporary men. In many locations—there are now 27 Floyd’s 99 Barbershops in six states—popular music is heard (played by live DJs on Saturdays), posters of rock stars adorn the walls, and sporting events are shown on plasma TV screens. The place is so hip that the Floyd’s shop in Hollywood, California, was a location for an episode of the HBO series Entourage. It’s no wonder that Bill O’Brien refers to Floyd’s as “Hard Rock meets the barbershop.”

Stylists at Floyd’s know all the latest, contemporary cuts but also include old-fashioned services such as neck shaves with each haircut, and at reasonable prices (“less than twice the price of lunch” according to Rob O’Brien). Because it’s impractical for today’s highly mobile young men to commit to making appointments for haircuts, Floyd’s doesn’t take them. Yet, acknowledging the importance of timely service, customers can phone-in their place in line an hour or so ahead of arriving. But for anyone who does have to wait for his favorite barber (whose working hours be can checked online), it’s not so bad because pool tables and computers with Internet access are available to help pass the time.

Not only are the O’Brien brothers attuned to what their customers want, they also are keenly sensitive to their employees. Illustrating this, consider how the O’Briens responded in March 2003 when a blizzard struck Denver.

When the nightclub next door collapsed onto their shop, managers pleaded with firemen to rummage through the mounds of debris to retrieve their employees’ tools and personal belongings. Unfortunately, the building housing Floyd’s had to be demolished due to structural damage, leading to concerns about the business’s future. Although the building was broken, the O’Briens’ spirit was not broken—and employees came to appreciate this. Until a new shop could be built, complete with chrome and leather chairs and a barber pole out front, current employees were absorbed into other Floyd’s locations and nobody lost a job.

In fact, a billboard and the company’s Web site made light of the events, adding to the belief that all would be well.

Although the O’Briens don’t know how to cut hair, they surely know how to trim through layers of uncertainty to assuage their employees’ fears. Employees and industry pundits would be hard pressed to challenge Bill’s wife, Karen, who said that at Floyd’s, “The founders’ passion, personalities, and their constant desire to make a positive impact on people, along with the support of a qualified and professional management team, have poised the company for national and international expansion.”

Questions for Discussion

1. Would you say that the O’Briens have adopted a Theory X or Theory Y approach to the management of their employees? On what do you base your answer?

2. Do the O’Briens appear to be doing anything to increase the feelings of engagement among their employees? If so, what are they? If not, what might they do?

3. How might Floyd’s Barbershop:

(a) use technology to enhance its business, and

(b) respond to the need for flexibility among its employees?

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Behavior In Organizations

ISBN: 9781408264300

10th Global Edition

Authors: Jerald Greenberg

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