I was teaching a class about a month ago, and by the look of everyone’s faces I must have asked a very peculiar question. I asked the students if they were going to be a Hair Cutter or a Barber once they had graduated the program. Some students hesitated while others blurted out their responses. Then I asked the class who could explain the difference between the two or if there was any difference at all. Complete silence…! I was very excited at that point because I knew I was about to give the students an important perspective to have as they journeyed into their careers. Even as I point out this difference among the barbers that work in our salons I get really excited. They begin to see how important it is to understand this truth and put their craft into proper perspective. A “Hair Cutter” is one who cuts hair, nothing more or less. A “Hair Cutter” usually works as an employee at a local salon or barber shop and gets paid by the hour from the company he/she works for. A “Hair Cutter” only has to think about the customer that has sat in the chair to receive service. A “Hair Cutter” focuses on improving their skill level and making sure every haircut is precise and on point. There is actually nothing wrong with being a “Hair Cutter” if that is what one chooses to do with his/her craft. However I find that some “Hair Cutters”, even great “Hair Cutters”, have a hard time being a Barber. A Barber is one who practices the BUSINESS OF HAIRCUTTING. The business of hair cutting or barbering extends far beyond just cutting hair. In the business of hair cutting or barbering you have to focus on generating customers, managing customers, tools and supplies, financial responsibility, and creating your brand. We call these the 5 Key Areas to Building a Successful Barber Business. I must admit when I meet a student in Barber College or one who has just graduated it saddens me when they get into their shop and don’t understand how to grow their business. Granted the students learned everything they needed about cutting hair, but in the game of barbering that just won’t cut it these days. With the rise of barbers creating websites, using online appointment scheduling systems, creating mobile apps, and so much more, barbers really need to be creative in their business planning. A barber must focus on business and skill level whereas a hair cutter only needs to think about cutting hair. There is a huge difference guys!
What do you all think? Is there really a difference or am I making this all up?
I have to admit building a business is not as easy as some barbers would like it to be. Especially when it comes to attracting clients into your chair. Thinking of creative ways to deliver your message to potential clients is one thing, but actually taking action and doing the necessary steps is another ball game. I’ve given advice to barbers all across the country about how to get MASSIVE clientele and for the most part the creative ideas flow like the Nile River. However when it comes to actually putting our thoughts into action it becomes more of a challenge and this is where barbers begin to soul search. What I mean is that taking action requires determination, persistence, and being definite about what it is you want to do. Barbers have to be able to consciously take all other options off of the table and make a definite decision that you are going to succeed at becoming a successful barber. Don’t just say it with your lips but actually BELIEVE IT! If you really believe something then it will cause you to move and go into action. However, if you say you believe that you’re going to be a successful barber but you sit in the shop all week expecting a walk-in to come through then you are fooling yourself. Belief in something creates action and if you really want to become a successful barber then you have to DO what successful barbers Do. I recommend that if you are sitting in the shop for one or more hours and have not received a haircut then you should go outside the shop and begin promoting yourself. This could be passing out flyers or business cards or even promoting over the Internet. You should NEVER expect to cut more people this week if you didn’t do any quality advertising last week. So word of advice to those barbers who want to gain MASSIVE clientele, believe-then Do-and see results. Tip: Successful barbers subscribe to SuccessfulBarber.com
This week I will be sending out an email to my customers about our canned-food drive this month. This is an annual event in which we collect food items from our customers and deliver them to a local food pantry. Being able to send out an email blast to our customers really gets the word out. We use email often to update our clients of what’s going on at the shop such as planned vacations, holiday schedules, specials on products, new barbers joining, tips on hair care, and a host of other important information. If you’re a barber and want to stay connected with your clients then connecting to them via email is an effective channel to use. Customers have gone online these days and as barbers we have to be able to meet them there. If you are using email to help manage your customers make sure that you are sending out information weekly. You don’t want your emails to automatically be sent to your customers spam folder because their email account doesn’t recognize you as a relevant sender. Consistently provide useful information to your customers and be sure to monitor to see who’s opening your emails. A great tool that I use to do this is called Aweber. Aweber allows me to sort my customers into different categories, send out mass emails, and track stats to see who’s opening or clicking in my emails. If you haven’t began sending out emails then you should look into it.
Its Wednesday and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It was a pretty good day at the shop today, however managing my customers was definitely at the center of my attention. Over the last two weeks I have been letting my customers know what my holiday schedule would be so that they can re-adjust their time to come in and still get their haircut. I have to admit there was one slight oversight in my calendar that I failed to recognize. Once I thought I had finished my day around 5:00pm I packed up my three children and said to them, “Let’s get up out of here.” Oh yeah, there was no school today so my children spent a day at the shop with dad. After we left the shop we had dinner at a nice dine-in restaurant and went home. I received a phone call around 6:30pm from a regular client explaining how he had an appointment set up with me at that time. Boy was I confused. I totally forgot to make sure his appointment was in my calendar and it would have put shame on my heart had I not gone back to the shop to cut his hair. Yes, I had to pack the kids up again and it was completely my fault. The point of the story is that managing our customers is a vital part to our success and it needs to receive attention and planning to help improve our careers. Since my earlier days in the barber business I’ve gone to online booking for my appointments and my software manages my customers for me. However when I use to pencil my customers in my calendar it took much more time and I had a lot more human errors. The online appointment booking system never fails me and my customers have the power to schedule with me when its convenient for them. If you’re a barber that wants to take his/her business to the next level I would recommend looking into an online appointment booking system that has user-friendly pages for your customers. It’s helped me manage my customers smoothly this year for Thanksgiving and it could help you.
Have you ever wondered why most small businesses don’t succeed? Why is it that some businesses seem to take off and become very successful while most of them crash and burn within the first five years. Most of this is due to lack of education and wrong perception of what a true world class business really is and Michael E. Gerber does a tremendous job on laying out the details. Most entrepreneurs like myself start out by opening the doors for business seeing to it that every aspect of the company is being performed as it should. Only to later find ourselves overwhelmed by the amount of work we have and not enjoying what we use to love so much. Do you really own a business or your own job? Gerber explains how to create your business in such a way that you physically don’t have to be present for your business to work. He calls this the Franchise Turn-Key Business Model. Setting up your business to run on auto-pilot and creating a documented system of how you do it is explained as the key to creating a world class business. Any barber, doctor, or lawyer can benefit from reading this book and learn a thing or two about the Franchise Turn-Key Business Model. So if you want to spend more time getting customers while your business runs itself then checkout The E-myth – Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.
Have you been frustrated while trying to build your barber business? Don’t worry we all have been there before and broke past those walls that once stood in our way. This article may give you that inspiration and insight that you need to see your way to the next level in the barber business. I posted a status on the Facebook Fan Page and asked you guys what frustrated you the most about building your barber business, so I wanted to give you some advice on what I’ve used in the past to deal with some of those same problems. Before I dive into my suggestions let me first say that if you want to change your results then you have to change your thinking. The way you think about your business is by far the foundation of how you operate and in return get business. Here are some tips…
Do you have unfaithful customers?
Unfaithful customers are one of the biggest concerns for new and experienced barbers around the country. If a customer decides not to return to you for service don’t panic. Sit back and observe your service and ask yourself what causes a customer to become unfaithful. Most often customers don’t return because a barber is inconsistent, not available, or not in a good environment. When you service your customer treat them like royalty and spoil them. Seriously! And do it every time they come back exactly how you did it the time before that. The customer will get so use to this service it will be hard for them to leave you for another barber, especially the picky customers. Open your schedule to your customers and let them know what hours and days you will be working. Allow them to set appointments with you in advance and be on time for their appointment. Being available and consistent can really go a long way for even a decent barber. If at all possible try to keep your environment friendly to making money. How you do this will be different for every barber in different shops because we all have unique clientele. However take notice of the type of customers you bring in and if most of them don’t cuss then try to limit cussing in the shop (just an example).
Don’t know how many heads you’re going to cut this week?
Try to train your customers to set an appointment with you. I actually have most of my clientele on standing appointments which means I cut the same people every week at the same time. This is a very predictable means of income as a barber. In the beginning of my career I used an appointment book to pencil in my customer, but now I’ve been able to train everyone to set appointments online using my Genbook service. However you choose to set your appointments, doing this is the only way to get any predictability of your weekly income. Also documenting your income is a good way to know if you are growing, holding steady, or making less than what you use to make.
Does your customer not want to pay your prices?
I recently posted a question on Facebook and asked barbers what they typically charged for a haircut in their area. The prices ranged from $10 – $30 which is a pretty big gap. If you’re looking to up your prices for your customers the best way to do this is to stay firm and express the value that you provide to them that they won’t get from most other barbers. Small things such as a hot towel and razor edge up or even being on time for your appointments so your customers don’t have a long wait has a lot of value. I charge $15 for children and $20 for adults with no complaints from any of my customers. In fact I usually receive a good tip between $3-10 almost every time. Remember that every customer will not want to pay your higher price and they may try to haggle you back down or threaten you by going to another barber. You must stay firm with your decision and if your value is really worth the price then another customer will fill their spot.
Are you working long hours and don’t have any time on the weekend to enjoy yourself?
Welcome to the club… this is a good thing at first. At this point you need to begin to train your customers to set appointments and learn to manage your time to fit your needs. You would be surprised to see that if you cut your nights at the shop shorter, your customers will find time to come to you during the day or other open spots you have. Don’t let your customers control your schedule after you have established a decent amount of repeat clients. Managing your clientele is an important system of your business to learn that will eventually solve your problem with long hours in the shop.
I hope these tips inspire you to look at the way you do business in a different way. Try them out and see how it works for you then come back and let me know what you think.
Time after time I tell new barbers that “Consistency” is key to this business and if you want to be successful then you have to understand why this is so important. If you can’t produce the same results for your clients each time they come to see you then it becomes more of a challenge to get them to come to you out of habit. What I mean is that as you develop clients and continue to service them over the years it becomes a habit for them to come to you. Customers come to expect the same exceptional service that you provide every time and get comfortable coming to you which is highly driven by consistency. They key to success in this business is to be able to connect with the customer on a deeper level to where they come to you based on how good you make them feel and always providing this feeling each time they come. Just last week when I was in the shop a customer said that he had been trying out different barbers and he just couldn’t find anyone that was consistent. He stated how one day he may get a good haircut and the next haircut wouldn’t be such a great experience along with the barbers not being at the shop on a consistent basis. Not only did this make the customer visit our shop for service but the word is beginning to spread about those inconsistent barbers which is definitely not good for business. I explain to barbers often that you don’t have to be the best barber in the world to be successful because you can not cut everybody. However, if you can be consistent by giving a decent haircut and always being at work during your set hours then customers will see the value in you. We have to remember that our customers have busy lives and schedules to stick to, so we have to possess a level of convenience, accountability, and consistency. Therefore, let us practice consistency and give our customers that same service every time they come to us. Have you ever heard customers say they just want a consistent barber?
Resting is probably one of the hardest things to do once you get some money pouring in from your customers. However, it is essential to take breaks because burn out will occur and it wil definitely begin to affect the quality of your haircuts. Taking a vacation is going to be a different experience for all of us but I want to stress the importance of doing so. I typically take three 5 day vacations per year as of now but I am working my way up to take four vacations per year. The amount of energy and enthusiasm that you have once you come back to work is awesome. Your haircuts come out crispy, your arms and shoulders feel rejuevenated, and cutting hair seems fun again. Something important to keep in mind is to plan out your vacation well in advance so that you give your customers more than enough time to prepare and that your financial budget is able to cover your booth rent for the week along with your bills at home. Remember in our profession when we don’t work we don’t get paid so taking a vacation has to be thoroughly thought out. Nevertheless, be sure to vacate the shop every once in a while even if its a “stay-cation” at your own home. You’ll be glad you did it!
This marketing piece above is an example of something I recently did in order to attract new walk-in customers to the shop and I wanted to point out a few things about it to get some ideas flowing about our marketing efforts. When it comes to marketing I’ve always read that its important to know your potential customers and how they think so that we may able to better communicate our businesses to them. One thing that I’ve learned over the years as a barber is that our customers want to be able to see our work before they try out our services and that is why I say that our marketing needs to be “visually appealing.” I don’t care if its on your business cards, on your flyers, on your website, or in your emails you need to have some type of photos with your work displayed in your advertisement or at least a link to your online photos. When you think about what type of haircuts to display in your advertisements think about the current trends or different designs that may be appealing to children and this will definitely draw attention to your sign. Remember to always include your contact information on your marketing pieces as well, so that you’ll avoid making a rookie mistake. A habit that I follow is to ask all my new customer how they heard about the shop so that I can get a good feel as to how effective my marketing pieces are working. Luckily our services are in high demand all across the country and advertising photos of your work is very effective for drawing customers into your shop and I encourage every barber to try this practice. What type of techniques do you use in your marketing to draw attention?