7 Steps To A Great Men’s Haircut – Keep Your Haircut Customer Clean: This is the final installment in this blog series but definitely one of the most important and one which will leave a lasting impression.
Before allowing your customer to leave your chair and walk up to the reception desk to pay for their service make sure they are completely cleaned off. While they are still sitting down take a clean towel and wipe off their face one more time. Make sure all shaving cream is off the back of their neck if you include a straight razor neck shave with the haircut. Apply some talc powder to a clean towel and brush off any loose hair clippings from the back of the neck. Last, use a whisk broom to completely brush off the back of the shirt and collar when your customer stands up. One of the most annoying feelings is being itchy the rest of the day after your haircut service from loose hair clippings falling down the back of your customers shirt or sticking to their shirt collar.
All of these little steps featured in this blog series will lead to the ultimate customer service experience and will give you the best chance of gaining and keeping a repeat customer!
What it means to be a barber goes far beyond just giving a good haircut. Yes, to be a successful barber you need to have a clean barbershop, give a quality service, have a convenient location, ample parking, and affordable pricing. What I am talking about is what makes your customers and community look at you in a different light. In my opinion the most important aspect of any barber’s job is your communication skills and your ability to build relationships. You can get away with being an average barber if you posses these skills. If you have outstanding talent but do not posses these skills you will have a difficult time becoming a successful barber with the potential for a long career.
I have been reflecting on my two decades in barbering as a technician, shop owner, and educator a lot recently. All of the sudden it hit me: As I am working on so many college kids many of them have been customers since they were 3 or 4 years old or in some cases since their first haircut. Throughout the years a strong relationship has built to the point where some of these guys are asking me advice on all different kinds of topics and life decisions which I consider a huge honor (and great responsibility)! On the other hand I cut many of their father’s hair who often tell me stories about their son’s, what they are up to, and in some cases ask for my opinion on some of their decisions. Again, a huge honor and great responsibility not to be taken lightly!
The best advice I can give is to make sure to always come to work with a smile on your face (even on the bad days), always have a positive attitude, never use bad language, never talk about controversial topics, work on having superior listening skills, and most importantly HAVE FUN! The last one being the most important because if you are laughing, joking around, and having fun it is contagious. Your customers will leave feeling great and keep coming back for more. Add a first class haircut to the mix and you have a combination that can’t be beat!
Communicating with your customer is an extremely important part of the haircut experience that cannot be neglected. Just as much care and attention needs to go into this part of the haircut as the technical part. You have to build a friendly but professional relationship with your customer. Always remember, people do business with people they like and feel a connection with. You can only go so far on talent alone. When you add an outgoing and caring personality into the mix you will be unstoppable.
7 Steps To A Great Men’s Haircut – Step 5 – Barbershop Customer Communication Skills:
Communicating with your customer falls into two categories: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal is what you say and how you say it. Non-verbal is a little trickier and requires a lot of attention and practice. This includes all of your mannerisms including your posture, eye contact, facial expressions, etc. It is very important that you are aware of all of this not only when you are carrying on a conversation but during the quiet times while you are cutting hair, cleaning your tools, sweeping, etc. You are being judged constantly. Try to keep a smile on your face during all of your tasks to portray a friendly demeanor and also that you enjoy your work.
Communicating with your customer and building a relationship is an art form not an exact science. It is not something that can be forced or rushed. Trust and relationships are built over time. The following guidelines are what has worked for me personally and my barbershops over the last two decades. Find out what your customer is interested in. Make their interests the focal point of all conversations. Ask about their family, sports interests, favorite activities, vacation spots, or the weather. You do not need to go through everything in one haircut or one conversation. I suggest having 2 or 3 standard questions you ask everyone to make it easier. This way it will become a habit and feel natural for you and your customer. What will really make a huge difference is to remember at least one of the answers and mention it during their next service. Your customer will be amazed you remembered and will know that you are paying attention to him and truly care about what you are doing.
Now that we have taken care of every detail from the customer walking in the door, checking in, and relaxing in the waiting area they will be turning their attention to you the barber. As they sit there in the waiting room they are judging every detail and forming an opinion. Keep in mind you have not interacted with them yet and in some case have not even met them if they are a new customer. So what are they judging you on? They are judging you based on your appearance, your technical ability (if they can see you working on another customer), and your communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal).
The Ultimate Barbershop Customer Service Experience – The Professional Barber
I cannot stress enough the point that we are in the personal grooming business. We are selling appearance. Why would someone want to come to us to make them look better if we are not well groomed? Before we dig a little deeper it is important to understand what personal grooming or being well groomed means. A well groomed appearance encompasses your overall appearance from your shoes to your clothes to your haircut. Your haircut is the most important because we are in the business of selling haircuts. How can you sell a haircut if your hair does not look good? I cannot tell you how many requests I used to get in my first walk-in barbershop because I always had a great haircut. It didn’t even matter to people when I told them that I did not cut my own hair. They still wanted to wait for me. But it goes beyond a good haircut. My father who trained me always told me to look the part. Finally I asked him one day what that meant. He told me you are in the barber profession so you need to look like a professional. This was some of the best advice he could have ever given me and I am excited to pass it on to you. Take pride in your dress and overall appearance. Make it a point to always look your best. This is the quickest way to build a level of faith and confidence in your ability in the eyes of your customer. It doesn’t matter how good you are technically if they do not get in your chair. The majority of their perception of you is formed before you pick up the scissors or clippers.
Stay tuned for the next blogs in this series where I explain in more detail what it means to be a well groomed and professional barber….
In this final installment of The Barbershop Waiting Room I want to give you some ideas to add those extra touches that will create an inviting atmosphere. These are the added things that will make your waiting area a more relaxing place. If you can get your customers to look forward to coming and relaxing you have an excellent chance of them waiting longer as well as retaining them as a customer. In my shops we have created such a comfortable environment that a lot of our customers are disappointed if we take them to the chair too quickly. A lot of people are so busy that this is the only chance they get to relax.
I suggest that you have a large selection of magazines and styling books. Make sure they are appropriate for your clientele. I was cleaning out my magazines recently and noticed I had too many National Geographic and Field and Stream. I have a customer that brings in all of his old magazines and I was loaded up with these. I threw most of them away and added more GQ, Sports Illustrated, People and Motor Trend.
T.V.’s with cable access are also an excellent touch. The important thing to note here is the televisions are for the customers, not the employees. I have come in to my shop on numerous occasions to find game shows or soap operas on. This is a barbershop. You should have a sports channel, news channel, or financial channel on. If you have more than one television you can split it up. Make sure the volume is not too loud. It should just be in the background. Again, this is for the customers. The barbers should not be watching the T.V. while they are working. This is one of the most unprofessional and disrespectful things you can do as a barber.
Wireless internet access is a huge plus in today’s connected world. This is probably the number one way to occupy your customers while they are waiting. Just think about how fast time goes by when you are online. Give your customers the ability to surf the web, check their e-mails, or work while they wait. We added a wireless router recently and it has been a huge benefit to us. We put up signs advertising it and our customers love it. This will tell your customers you really care about them and are on the cutting edge of technology.
This next one is real simple and inexpensive. It may only cost you less than a dollar per customer. It is pretty easy to raise your prices a buck. Offer your customers coffee, tea, and water. You can hire a coffee service and they will bring the coffee to you at a specified time. They will also supply you with the cups and lids. This is the cleanest way to go about it. You can make your own coffee and try to do it yourself but it can get messy and be time consuming. A water cooler is a great touch. There are also services that will bring new water coolers and take away the old one. They also have a hot water spout so you can offer tea also. You can buy a box of tea bags real cheap or you can have a nice selection for a few dollars more. The nice thing is you already have the cups and lids from the coffee service.
The last but not least touch that I would recommend adding is good old fashioned Tootsie Pops. These are the best lollipops and everyone loves them. This will really seal the deal and keep your customer coming back. I have been giving these out since I started my first barbershop in 1995. To this day the Tootsie Pops are incredibly popular. I now have a nice serving dish and the receptionists like to color co-ordinate them into a nice display. Just give it try. I promise you will be amazed by the reaction of your customers.