Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Traci Carter

Red Banner with HOF Episode

In this episode recorded in November of 2018, we interview Traci Carter. Traci is an Area Coach AND Team Leader of NC104. She has spent over 25 years in the haircare industry, starting as a stylist and eventually training stylists all over the country. Being a mother of three, she realized she needed to make a change in order to see her family more. Not only did the career change lead her to more family time, it eventually paved the way for her to own a Sport Clips.

Traci Carter and Chad Jordan holding a microphone

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
December 14, 2018 Traci Carter Team Leader and Area Coach The journey from stylist to coach to Team Leader

Each episode of the Podcast is also available on iTunes and the Google Play store. 

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Chad Jordan:                Welcome back once again, everybody. This is Chad Jordan, Director of Marketing for Digital Services at Sport Clips, and this is the Sport Clips Hall of Fame podcast. The episode that we're going to do today is going to be in a series of episodes that we'll be releasing throughout the coming months. I'm calling these the Secret of My Success series. It's really talking about people that have found great success at Sport Clips, how they started, how they got here, and our guest today certainly fits that bill. So why don't I have her introduce herself and tell us a little bit about everything going on in your neck of the woods?

Traci Carter:                 I'm Traci Carter. I am from North Carolina. I've been with Sport Clips for about 11 years; maybe 12 at this time, time flies. I am the Area Coach; I'm also the Director of Training and Operations. What that means is I'm going to support any Team Leader, any Manager on anything they need.

Chad Jordan:                And you said you're from North Carolina, but I'm not picking up that North Carolina drawl. What's going on? Have you gone to finishing school or what's happening? Where did you lose the accent?

Traci Carter:                 That is so funny. I have been in North Carolina since 1981, but when I was in first grade, my grandmother taught me English. But my grandmother was German, so I had to go through speech therapy class for three years.

Chad Jordan:                To pronounce the Vs and the Ws?

Traci Carter:                 The Vs and the Ws, absolutely. I don't sound like I'm from anywhere. It's so funny, people say you sound like you're from Boston. Nope, nope, not that.

Chad Jordan:                I was telling you this off-air, great radio voice. You could have a second career here moonlighting and doing stuff on the radio. You gave me a little glimpse at what's going on, so tell me how you came into Sport Clips, what your background was prior to that. You said 11 or 12 years now, but ...

Traci Carter:                 I worked at another company, and I looked around and I'm thinking do I really fit in this company anymore. And it was a great place. I was with that company for about 13 years. I had just gotten done with a hair show. I was the Director of Training for that company, and I wanted just to stay home. I was on an airplane every week, every week. And then I realized who's raising my kids?

Chad Jordan:                How many kids you got?

Traci Carter:                 I have three kids and two grandkids now.

Chad Jordan:                Wow.

Traci Carter:                 Yeah. I had asked for a sign, I'm ready for a change, and it was incredible because a man named Matt Lewis called me. It was funny because I had just gotten done with a hair show in Chicago. I'm sitting out in the back, on a bench, feeling sorry for myself going, "I don't want to be here. I want to be home." And when he called me, he's like, "Hey, have you ever heard of Sport Clips?"

Chad Jordan:                Now, how does Matt call you? Does he just ... was he just dialing numbers and it happened to hit your phone?

Traci Carter:                 The story is, is that the company I worked at just sold a big market to another company, so one of the people on my team of educators was looking for a job. She, her name is Karen, Karen was interviewing with Sport Clips. She ended up getting a job with Redken, going to Texas. I was mentioning to Karen, I said, "Karen, I'm ready for a change. Just keep me in mind and ..."

Chad Jordan:                I just want to interject quickly, what were you doing in this role that you were traveling so much for, again?

Traci Carter:                 I was the Director of Training for the entire company, so there was a thousand hair salons.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, so it wasn't like you were in one location managing a store or anything like that?

Traci Carter:                 No. I had 27, 30 full-time trainers and 100 part-time trainers; a big company. I'm traveling ... you know it's a very glamorous job; everyone's like, "Oh, wow, that sounds amazing," and it was, but I just needed to be home.

Chad Jordan:                How old are your kids at that time?

Traci Carter:                 I had one still in diapers, and one at two, and then I had a teenager.

Chad Jordan:                Geez. You had the span going there. Okay.

Traci Carter:                 Yeah, it was nice. But I'm like it's time, it's time for me to change. It's funny because when you're ready for a change, change will happen. It really will. She texted me and said, "Hey, some guy named Matt's going to call you." Within 20 minutes, Matt called me and he said, "Karen mentioned you during the interview, when we were interviewing her." He asked her who's your mentor, and Karen told Matt about me, which is really sweet. I loved that. When Matt apparently offered the job to Karen, and she's like, "I'm going to Redken, I'm taking off. But I know a girl who would be perfect."

Chad Jordan:                She already plugged you, not knowing that ...

Traci Carter:                 Yeah, yeah, she did.

Chad Jordan:                ... it was going to be a perfect fit.

Traci Carter:                 I met Matt and [Karti 00:04:58] in a little town, Pinehurst, at a hotel lobby. And I looked at these two guys and said, "You know what? The values that this company has is in alignment of what I wanted." And I took a big leap of faith, because at that time I had a big position. I had a big role and everything, and then at this point they only had 23 stores in North Carolina, I believe.

Chad Jordan:                This is 2008, 2007?

Traci Carter:                 2007. Yeah, 2007. And so ...

Chad Jordan:                Kind of emerging market [inaudible 00:05:34]

Traci Carter:                 So I jumped in with both feet, and I'm like I'm ready for this; I'm ready for a change. And staying in just North Carolina, traveling through the state, and it's a beautiful place, I said, "Yeah, I'm two feet in." And never looked back.

Chad Jordan:                And the role was as a Technical Coach, or ...

Traci Carter:                 Area Coach.

Chad Jordan:                Area Coach.

Traci Carter:                 Or the Director of Training and Operation, because I came with so much background already on the technical side and how to run a business. I helped Matt work with business and work with the Team Leaders, and work with the Managers, and build this state to where it is today.

Chad Jordan:                What are some of the things that you've seen over the last 11, 12 years; the big changes, the shifts that you've seen?

Traci Carter:                 We've tripled in size, for one.

Chad Jordan:                Great market and great resources here.

Traci Carter:                 The culture I think is the biggest thing, is how do we want to treat our people. My vision is be the preferred employer. Be where people want to be. Be the company that people want to work in, and treat your people well. That's the big thing.

Chad Jordan:                And what have been ... because you had a career before Sport Clips, and now you're here. What are some of the major challenges that you've had to experience and ways that you guys, as a team, have overcome them?

Traci Carter:                 Challenges. There's a bunch of challenges, but then once we overcome it, we keep moving forward. One of the biggest things I think, it was the mindset of what's going to be successful. It's not the numbers, it's the people. And working with Team Leaders that only looked at the numbers and then looked at the people, that was a problem. We're not there anymore. We definitely take a look at who are our Leaders, how do they inspire growth, how do they inspire their other stylists. When you have happy stylist, you have happy clients.

Chad Jordan:                Mm-hmm (affirmative). Funny how that works.

Traci Carter:                 And when you have happy clients, you have happy Team Leaders. So it's changing the mindset of what does success look like.

Chad Jordan:                How do you go about changing that culture where the Team Leaders don't look at just the numbers, but the people? Is it case studies? Do you have to demonstrate it first? Or do you just say 'trust us' and they follow along? What did that look like for you guys?

Traci Carter:                 First of all, it's baby steps. You can't turn a cruiser ... I think of a cruise ship. You can't turn it 180 degrees overnight; it takes awhile. You cannot lead where you don't go. You have to model the way. And when you model the way of what it could be, you can inspire others. Always being mindful of where we want to be. Don't lose vision of what you want. And in every conversation and every opportunity that you have to be in front of people, you send that message out. You are the message.

Chad Jordan:                That fits perfectly into the segue where I'm heading here is ... We kind of buried the lead. What's going on at NC-104? Is it NC-104? Am I getting the number right?

Traci Carter:                 NC-104, Matthews.

Chad Jordan:                That store has an interesting Team Leader story. Can you give me a little bit of that?

Traci Carter:                 Absolutely. Several years back, I went to Matt and Karti and said, "Hey, I want my own store." And they said, "Hey, you can't have one." I'm like, "What? What are you talking about?" They said, "Here's the thing, you're an Area Coach, and coaches aren't allowed to have a store." And I'm like that makes no sense to me. If I want to buy a store, if I want to invest in this company, why not? So they went back to Gordon and said, "Hey, why not?" And Gordon's like, "Hey, I think that's a great idea. She's modeled the way. She's been here. Let's let her ..."

Chad Jordan:                It just had never been done before.

Traci Carter:                 It's never been done before.

Chad Jordan:                So there wasn't really a rule against it; just it hadn't happened yet.

Traci Carter:                 You're telling me a Coach wants to buy a store and pay all the fees, and do everything a Team Leader does? Absolutely.

Chad Jordan:                Did you have to go through Team Leader training camp and all of that stuff?

Traci Carter:                 I did, I did.

Chad Jordan:                At one point, did they turn to you and say, "Hey, do you want to teach this stuff?"

Traci Carter:                 Actually, it was so funny because during the Discovery Day, they kept on referring back to me and I felt like, "I would love to help you guys, but I'm really in the audience. I really need to sit here."

Chad Jordan:                And what year did all this take place that you transitioned to also being a Team Leader?

Traci Carter:                 I got approval, and one of the things that I liked is that Matt and Karti went to my Team Leaders because I am their Coach. And even though we have other Coaches in this market, I'm leading the Coaches. And I wanted to make sure that they were absolutely okay and supportive.

Chad Jordan:                When you say ... Okay, let me back up. When you say they went to your Team Leaders, you meant for you being a Coach ...

Traci Carter:                 Right.

Chad Jordan:                ... they went to your group of Team Leaders to say here's how this might look and might work out.

Traci Carter:                 Matt and Karti went and had a conversation with them and said, "Hey, you guys give it two thumbs up?" And they said absolutely yes, why not. So it's not a conflict, and I am Team Leader, and I am their Coach, and we all work together.

Chad Jordan:                You literally have almost every hat that I can think of. You're putting it on and being able ... Can you explain to me how that unique approach helps or hinders in all of those areas?

Traci Carter:                 I always think of it this way. When I first came onboard with Sport Clips, a lot of the times what I heard Team Leaders say is the stylists don't understand me. My Manager doesn't understand me. And then I hear the Managers saying my Team Leader just doesn't get me. In my brain, I get both sides. I am the operational person; I know what it's like to run a business. I am a stylist, and I know what it's like to work behind the chair. It is about using a language we can both understand and respect. I think that's what makes it successful, because I get it.

Chad Jordan:                Anybody beating down your door to write a book on how to cross both channels there, and explain to Managers what's going through a Team Leader's mind? And then Team Leaders, what's going through a Manager's or stylist's mind? Do you really feel like you're able to straddle that and get in the minds of both?

Traci Carter:                 Well, I've done it, so I think I could. I'm hoping I could. One of the things we do in MTC and LTC is we talk about communication.

Chad Jordan:                And those stand for?

Traci Carter:                 Manager Training Camp and Leadership Training Camp.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, thank you.

Traci Carter:                 When I work with the Team Leaders, I do scenarios that help them have conversations with their Leaders, their Managers. I call them Leaders. Same thing goes with the Managers. When they say I really have a hard time making my point with a Team Leader, we role play it, we talk about it. And what's important to the Team Leader? Ask that question. What's important to your Manager, your Leader? Ask those questions.

Chad Jordan:                I love this angle, and I'm not throwing anything out there yet because I literally am just thinking through this myself right now, but just the wealth of knowledge that someone in your position has, like you said being able to think through like both because you're experiencing both, what a resource that is. We might have to figure out a way to tap into that even better and leverage that across 1800-plus stores in 50 states.

Traci Carter:                 I'm going to pencil you in from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. That's my free time.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, gotcha. All right.

Traci Carter:                 All kidding aside, I'll be happy to help, and it is an honor, and I love what I do. I love what I do.

Chad Jordan:                It's certainly one of the reasons I wanted you on a Secret of My Success episode, because I think your story is captivating. And for you to be where you're at now, the sky's the limit. The sky's always been the limit; you're just experiencing a new stratosphere. Anything else? Anything else you want to add before I get to ... I've got 10 surprise questions over here that I want to ask, but anything that I didn't unearth in a question that you want to make sure that you get out in your story?

Traci Carter:                 One of the things is that, like said before, you cannot lead where you don't go. And as a Coach, we teach the process and the systems, and we model the way. When I bought the store, and this is an existing store; it was a cute little store, a tiny little thing. It was sitting around doing five, six thousand dollars, maybe $6,000 every week, so it was small. No one could do anything with it. "Oh, it's going to be the best it could be right now." The Team Leader prior, I think he was just satisfied with what it was doing.

                                    When my husband and I bought this together in January, and now we're looking at November, we're up 15, 18 percent. The staff's on fire in a good way. They love it. They love it and we have active mutual support. We're following the culture that we want everyone to see. So, it's possible. If you can believe it, it is possible.

Chad Jordan:                How often are you in your store?

Traci Carter:                 Maybe once a week.

Chad Jordan:                So it's not taking up all of your time being in the one location? You're still ...

Traci Carter:                 No, no. It's the 10 hours a week on average I'm working on my business, not in my business.

Chad Jordan:                I love that. And what a great year, 2018.

Traci Carter:                 Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                Congratulations on all that.

Traci Carter:                 Thank you.

Chad Jordan:                I've got to get to these 10 questions.

Traci Carter:                 Let's do it.

Chad Jordan:                If you don't mind.

Traci Carter:                 Let's do it.

Chad Jordan:                You're so fun. I know you're going to have some cool answers here. These are 10 questions; I don't ask followups to them.

Traci Carter:                 Okay.

Chad Jordan:                I might comment on them, but I won't ask another question.

Traci Carter:                 Okay.

Chad Jordan:                Number one, which super power would you most like to have?

Traci Carter:                 Oh, wow. This is funny because my kids always ask me this question, and it changes. If I had a super power, I would like to be ... this is tough. I would think that I could read people's minds, but I don't know if I want to do that.

Chad Jordan:                You might not like what you find out.

Traci Carter:                 I don't know if I want to do that. I think the super power is maybe to live forever.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, okay.

Traci Carter:                 Yeah, I'd like to live forever.

Chad Jordan:                Are there any heroes that ... Superman? I don't know.

Traci Carter:                 Maybe a vampire. If a vampire was a super hero; a good vampire, not a bad one.

Chad Jordan:                Okay, the good kind. There's lots of good vampires.

Traci Carter:                 I just love life, and I don't want to give it up.

Chad Jordan:                Number two, what is your personal motto?

Traci Carter:                 Always grow. Be green, be willing to grow.

Chad Jordan:                Number three, other than where you live now, where else in the world would you most like to live?

Traci Carter:                 I've visited Seattle. I'd go to Seattle.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, okay. I love Seattle.

Traci Carter:                 I know it rains, but hey, it's green.

Chad Jordan:                I mean, shoot, from April to September there's probably not a better place to be. You're right. Who is the celebrity you would most like to meet one day?

Traci Carter:                 Oprah Winfrey.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, cool. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Traci Carter:                 Words or phrases I overuse. Probably my often quote, "The one who does the work, does the learning." I know they're tired of hearing it.

Chad Jordan:                Who does the work, does the learning. What sound or noise do you love?

Traci Carter:                 What sound or noise do I love? Listening to my kids running down the steps when I come home.

Chad Jordan:                Cool. That's sweet. What sound or noise do you hate?

Traci Carter:                 Hmm. I don't really hate ... What do I dislike. You know what I don't like? I don't like the sound of the ice maker when you put the cup in the ice maker.

Chad Jordan:                [inaudible 00:17:40]

Traci Carter:                 Yeah. That's very agitating. I don't like that. I don't like that sound.

Chad Jordan:                They need to make a quieter version of that. I agree. What profession other than your own would you have been good at, or at least have wanted to try?

Traci Carter:                 I have been told that if I wasn't a hairdresser that I would have been a very good attorney, a prosecuting attorney.

Chad Jordan:                I'm laughing because ... talking about mind reader. I was thinking about that answer and how many hairdressers say that; that they'd been good at being an attorney, or ... Anyways, it's so funny how you guys are wired. It's amazing. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Traci Carter:                 My children.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, sweet. Even after we're talking about Secret of Your Success being ...

Traci Carter:                 Yes, my children.

Chad Jordan:                ... becoming a Team Leader and all that. I love it. Lastly, if heaven indeed exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Traci Carter:                 "Well done."

Chad Jordan:                Ah, yes. I love that answer. Traci, you've been tremendous. Thank you so much for joining us, and for this great career.

Traci Carter:                 Thank you.

Chad Jordan:                And obviously, the great year you've had at 2018. So I say to infinity and beyond.

Traci Carter:                 There you go. Thank you so much.

Chad Jordan:                Thanks, everybody.