A successful barbershop has a good location, provides great service, and keeps its expenses as low as possible. Because of an increase in salons and upscale stylists, barbershop profits have been squeezed. Luckily, the increase in salons actually represents an opportunity for barbershop owners who can capitalize on the nostalgic feelings of guys who just want a simple haircut.
Location, Location, Location
Success or failure of most retail businesses depends largely on location. The same rule applies to barbershops. A barbershop must be in a visible, high-traffic area convenient to its target demographic. Quality locations include leased space beside grocery stores, large sporting goods stores, or any road with a high daily traffic count. A good location is the cheapest form of advertising.
Even though you want to position yourself as a no-frills barbershop that represents the antithesis of an upscale salon, this does not mean you should skimp on service. Provide the absolute best service you can. Part of this service is working hard to memorize people’s names and faces. Keep basic notes as to what is going on with their lives and review them before they sit down in the chair. Build relationships with your customers so they continue to return. One of the worst things for most guys who don’t have a normal barber is having to go through inane conversations about where they’re from, what they do, and all the other stuff that they don’t particularly want to talk about when they’re getting a haircut from someone they don’t know. By memorizing names and faces and taking notes, your customers will be forced to experience that conversation just once.
Labor & Rent
Since most barbershops charge lower prices and position themselves as more of a no-frills service, it is important to keep expenses as low as possible without sacrificing service or location. The two biggest expenses are the building and labor. One way to solve both problems is to bring in like-minded barbers who each take a different shift.
Say your building can handle three barbers at once. Most people will want a haircut sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 or 10 p.m., seven days a week. Most barbers do not want to work 98 hours per week, so those hours can be broken up into two or three shifts with two or three barbers covering each shift. This allows you to utilize the building at a higher capacity, which reduces its per-customer cost. To equitably determine who pays how much rent given that different shifts will include hours with higher or lower average numbers of customers, all barbers must bid on their preferred shift with their bid representing the proportion of rent and overhead they are willing to pay for the opportunity to work a given shift.
Additionally, do not pay the barbers an hourly wage. Allow them to work as independent contractors so they get to keep whatever they earn after satisfying the proportion of rent and overhead they agreed to pay during the bidding process. This takes care of the building expense, the labor expense, and encourages a high level of service and well-developed relationships since the barbers depend on building and maintaining a customer base.
Jonathan Roe enjoyed a liberal arts education at Miami University where he studied philosophy and business. He is currently working on an MBA at the Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio, while working full time as a corporate banker. Relying on his wide-ranging education, he writes for a variety of companies.