Retaining your barbershop customers is the lifeblood for your barber business. As exciting as it is to attract and service a new customer it doesn’t mean a lot to your future success unless you keep them happy and coming back to your chair. There are many ways to achieve a high retention rate. There have been many books have been written on this subject but in this blog I am going to touch on just a few ideas that are so simple and easy you can implement them right away.
Retaining Your Barbershop Customers 101:
Smile: When you greet your customer make sure you are smiling when you say hello. This will put your customer at ease, let them know you are happy to see them, and that you genuinely enjoy what you do.
Keep Your Work Area Clean: Your barber station is the first thing your customer will be looking at when they sit in your chair. A clean work station will also put them at ease and let them know that you are prepared for them and will be taking care of them with clean tools.
Say Thank You: When you are finished with the service and walking the customer to the reception area to cash out say “Thank You”. To take it one step further use their name when you say thank you. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and this is how to do it. A simple “Thank You” is so much more respectful than “Take it easy”, “See you next time”, “Have a good one”, etc. These are how you say goodbye to your friends in social situations. Paying customers deserve more.
Always keep in mind that your barbershop customers are paying a portion of your mortgage/rent, car payment, grocery bill, and other personal expenses so it is imperative to treat them with the respect that they deserve.
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.
When it comes to men’s hair cutting I have found over the years there are 7 essential steps to delivering a great haircut. My personal feeling with men’s hair cutting is the term haircut experience is over used. As a barber shop owner for two decades with 450,000 customers served per year I have come up with 7 basic steps to ensure customer satisfaction. Before I get into step 1 of this blog series there a 3 things that are a must no matter what for customer satisfaction:
2. Affordable Price
3. A Great Haircut
It is that simple. Guys do not need a whole lot of fluff. We want to get in and out with a great haircut, go to a nice place, and be treated well.
7 Steps To A Great Men’s Haircut Experience – Step 1
The Personal Greeting
I include this as part of the haircut because any communication with your customer is just as important as the haircut itself. When it is the next customers turn for their haircut greet them by name. Everyone likes the sound of their name. Do not call people by any other names such as dude, pal, chief, boss, buddy, etc. It is very unprofessional, impersonal, and inappropriate. Even if they are a friend of yours the other people in the waiting room do not know that. You can never go wrong with a professional greeting such as Mr., Sir, Dr., etc.
Always include a handshake with your greeting. Walk over to where your customer is seated or meet them halfway as they are walking to your barber chair. Introduce yourself or say hello if they are a “regular” with a firm handshake, smile, and eye contact. The eye contact lets them know that you care and are interested in them. They are not just another head through the door. Always be genuine. Every time you say something, back it up with positive body language and facial expressions.
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.
The barbershop waiting area is and extremely important part of the customer service experience for your customers. In the following blog series I am going to cover how to make this area comfortable and inviting for your customers.
The Barbershop Waiting Room – Part 2
Keep The Waiting Area Clean At All Times:
I want to give you some tips and tricks for keeping the waiting area clean at all times. As I have said before, give your customers a clean and relaxing environment and they will wait longer. Garbage should be removed periodically throughout the day. All employees should take turns and keep it fair. Walk around the waiting room and pick up any candy wrappers or garbage from the chairs. Replace all magazines, books, and periodicals in their designated place. Take pride in your business or place of employment. Don’t just throw reading material back in its place any which way. Stack all reading material in an orderly fashion so it is easy for the next customer to make a selection.
The floor and carpets should be swept and vacuumed periodically as well. All employees should take turns and keep it fair. If you have a larger carpeted area I would not recommend doing any vacuuming during the day. It can be a distraction. Wait until the end of the day and you are closed and locked up before taking out the vacuum. If you do it while customers are still their they will feel like they are keeping you from closing and that you are rushing through their haircut to finish up.
My barbershops are in the Northeast so winter is an issue. Customers are dragging in wet snow all of the time from outside so it is necessary to also mop periodically. It is very hard to keep the floor dry and safe for the customers walking to and from the barber chairs. Something we do to help dry off the customers shoes is put brown shampoo towels at the bottom of every waiting chair. This way, while the customer is sitting waiting for a haircut the shoes are getting dried off. We also do this on the footrest of the barber chairs. It is a good idea to make sure the bottoms of their shoes are dried off before they get out of the chair and walk around. The last thing you need is for a customer to slip and fall.
Stay tuned for The Barbershop Waiting Room – Part 3 coming soon….