Before I get into how to provide the ultimate barbershop customer service experience it is extremely important that you have an excellent understanding of what customer service actually means. Customer service is a series of events that happen throughout the purchase process to enhance the level of customer satisfaction.
The Ultimate Barbershop Customer Service Experience:
The Ultimate Barbershop Customer Service Experience is providing your customer with first class customer service from the time they walk in the front door of the barbershop until they walk back out of the same door. Everything that happens in between has to be delivered in a memorable way that gives you the best chance to turn the customer into a repeat customer. To get a better understanding of how best to accomplish this difficult task I would like to break the process down into three simple to remember categories: The pre-haircut, the haircut, and the post haircut.
The first 5-6 blogs in The Ultimate Barbershop Customer Service Series will cover what should happen in the pre-haircut portion of your customers visit. By definition the pre-haircut is everything that happens before the customer sits down in your chair. This includes checking in, waiting for a haircut, and being greeted by the barber. It is at this point where a large portion of the customer’s perception of you and your barbershop or the barbershop you work in is being formed.
Stay tuned for Part 1 in this series which covers the Check-In process in great detail……
One of the first thing that beginning barber’s want to learn is how to make money as a barber. This is an excellent topic and one that an entire book could be written about. For the purposes of the next blog in this series I want to focus one of the most basic skills for not just success in barbering but success in life as well.
Make More Money Barbering – Positive Communication With Your Customers
You are in the customer service business which requires excellent communication skills. You are constantly selling yourself and your services whether you are out in public or working in the shop. You will be required to communicate with potential customers as well as existing customers. Your communication skills will fall into two categories: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal is what you say and how you say it through voice inflections as well as the tone of your voice. Non-verbal is a little trickier and requires a lot of attention and practice. This is all of your mannerisms including your posture, eye contact, facial expressions, etc. It is very important that you are aware of this not only when you are carrying on a conversation but when you are listening. You want to make sure the other person know you are listening and paying attention. You never want to give the impression that you are just waiting for them to stop talking so you can dominate the conversation. When you are trying to attract new customers you want to have a smile on your face and portray a friendly demeanor.
When you are working on existing customers and trying to gain their repeat business there are a few guidelines to follow that have helped me out tremendously throughout my career. The first thing to keep in mind is your goal should be to build a friendly but professional relationship. It takes time to build and develop a certain level of trust to accomplish this. It is necessary to be patient and understanding. In order to accomplish this 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.
Make sure to avoid talking about yourself. This is your customer’s time to relax and people enjoy talking about themselves and their lives. Keep any answers to questions they ask about you brief (without being rude) and turn the conversation back to them. There are two topics you should avoid talking about at all times: religion and politics. These topics are controversial and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You do not want to run the risk of offending your customer or anyone else in the shop. Even if you have a friend or longtime customer with the same views as you in the barber chair there will still be other customers and staff members in the shop that could be offended.
One of the first thing that beginning barber’s want to learn is how to make money as a barber. This is an excellent topic and one that an entire book could be written about. For the purposes of this blog I want to focus one of the easiest and most basic things you can do to make a lot of money as a barber.
How To Make Money As A Barber – Always Be On Time
One of the most important things you can do when you are in the business of providing a personal service is to consistently be on time or even better, early. When you work by appointments, make sure to schedule them far enough apart so that if someone is running 5-10 minutes late you will have enough time to catch up. The only thing to be careful of is scheduling appointments too far apart where you can’t get all of your customers booked. If you have too few appointment slots available in a day it will cost you money and prevent you from building a large clientele.
If you are working on a walk-in basis it is equally important to stay on time. Even though the customers waiting do not have an appointment you still do not want the wait to be too long. In todays’ world everyone is extremely busy and time is precious. Establish a base line for how long your haircuts will take you and stick to it. Customers respect and expect this consistency.
The following are a few quick tips that help me stay on time. Wear a watch to make sure that you stick to your allowed time. I would not wear an expensive one because you might get it wet and you will probably get styling products on it. Try to be discreet about checking it your customer does not get the impression that you are rushing or have something better to do.
Sometimes I get talking with a customer and lose track of time. It is a tough balancing act because part of our job is to build a friendly but professional relationship with our customers. When this happens, my front desk coordinator will come and sweep for me giving me the subtle hint to get moving. Your customers will greatly appreciate your timeliness and it will result in an increased retention rate, commissions, and tips.
Everyone has heard the saying: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In today’s competitive world it is more important than ever to look your best at all times. You never know who you are going to run into and how it may affect what you are trying to accomplish with your business and your life. 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.
How To Build A Profitable Barbershop Clientele – Always Look Your Best
A well groomed appearance encompasses your overall appearance from your shoes to your clothes to your haircut. Your haircut is the most important because you are in the business of selling haircuts. How can you sell a haircut if your hair does not look good? My father told me in my original training to always 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 potential customers. People are judging you and forming an opinion about you all of the time. If you have not cut their hair yet the only thing they have to judge you on is your appearance and communication skills. This goes for both inside of the barbershop as well as outside. Looking your best will help you to both attract new clients and retain those clients.
How To Build A Profitable Barbershop Clientele – Always Carry Business Cards
This is another simple but important thing do to build your business. In order to build a huge clientele you need to constantly sell and brand yourself as well as your business. Always remember that you are your brand. You never know when or where you will run into a potential customer. They are everywhere. Every time you hand out a business card or tell someone what you do you are building your brand. In other words, whenever someone hears your name or the name of your barbershop their first thought should be a high quality men’s haircut.
The grocery store of all places can be a great place to hand out cards. As I walk you through the grocery store think of all of the people you come in contact with. When I shop I start out in the produce section and there are usually a few men stocking the fruits and vegetables. Then I move on to the bakery followed by the deli. Now, it’s off to the seafood section followed by the butcher’s area. After I do all of this I walk up and down the aisles getting my condiments, beverages, frozen items, and diary. Last, on to the check out and bagging area. By now you should be thinking of the countless people you run into stocking shelves, serving you your baked goods, meats, and seafood, cashing you out, and bagging your groceries. This doesn’t even take into account any chance meetings with any friends or neighbors. Now that you can think of all the different people you run into there is a lot of opportunity here. There are a few ways to go about recommending your services depending on what you are comfortable with. The easiest thing to do is just mention in passing when the grocery store employee is done servicing you that you work at the XYZ barbershop around the corner and hand them a card. If you are comfortable selling yourself a little bit more you can ask them if they are happy where they are currently getting their haircut and see where the conversation takes you.
Restaurants are also a great place to hand out cards. Sit down restaurants are even better because you spend more time with the wait staff and establish a little bit of a relationship throughout the time they are serving you. All of the same ideas as above apply here. You have the opportunity to talk to the bartender while you are waiting, other people in the bar or waiting area, and the wait staff while you are eating. Just mention in passing what you do and hand them a card. You could be slightly more aggressive and use the referral program if you like. Write you name on the card or the name of any female staff member that may send in a male friend or family member.
Church and community functions are even better places to hand out cards and build your clientele. These are the places and events you go to where there are quite a few people that you know personally or recognize from the neighborhood. It can be much easier to communicate and ask for help building your business with people you know and are comfortable talking to. These are great places to build up your confidence for talking to strangers. The key is not to think of them as strangers. Most of the people at the places you go to recognize you and are used to seeing you on a regular basis.
These are just a few ideas for handing out business cards. Be creative and have fun. Building your clientele can and should be very rewarding. One of the best things about our industry is that no one is putting a limit on the amount of money you can make.