How To Run A Barbershop & Get Booked Solid
You’re a talented barber with a passion for service and big ambitions. You’ve decided to open your own barbershop. Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward creating something unique and truly yours. The rewards you can reap are incredible: creative freedom, economic freedom, and the ability to truly make a difference in people’s lives. Getting started can be complex; we’re here for you. In this guide, we’re going to look at:
- Taking the leap
- Finding a space for your barbershop
- Creating your brand
- Budgets & costs
- The legal stuff
- Hiring staff
- Promoting your barbershop
- Building your client base
- Finding efficiencies
That’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!
Taking the Leap
You’ve already taken the first step – deciding you want to start your own barbershop. The next step is taking the leap.
There’s an old saying – “Look before you leap”. At some point, you’re going to have to dive in, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gather your bearings first. Work hard to get enough cash to start the business (more on that in the Budget section). Make a business plan. Talk to other barbers in your community. Tell current clients about your plans (if you don’t have a clause in your current contract that bars you from doing so).
Most of all – believe in yourself. There’s a reason you want to do this. Follow your dreams and passion. We’re here to support you – we believe in you.
Setting Up Shop
There are so many different places you can set up shop – which one you choose will depend a lot on your budget, your current client base, and your area.
Let’s start with the least expensive option: starting your barbershop business out of your own home! There’s a lot of obvious advantages to this route: much lower overhead, no commute to work, and a comfortable environment for your clients. The cons are obvious too; it’s going to be harder to brand, you’ll have to dedicate a part of your home (or your garage) to your business, and the area you’ll work in is dictated by where you live. That can limit your client growth. Work hard to find and keep clients, though, and you can have a lot of success – check out @redbeardbarber, a barber who’s been using Bookedin for a few years, located on Vancouver Island, Canada. He’s a perfect example of at-home barber success.
The next option is to rent a commercial space and open up shop there. The easiest way of doing this might be to find a barbershop that’s looking to sell, and buy their business. That comes with a lot of advantages – you might get their old clients, as well as all of their equipment. The disadvantage is that it might limit your ability to rebrand – you might prefer starting with a fresh space.
Starting with a fresh space can cost more – you’ll need to buy all of the furniture, remodel the place, etc. Those of you who are handy, on the other hand, might find this a less expensive and more fulfilling option – to be blessed with magic hands for both renovating and cutting hair is a boon you shouldn’t waste.
Want a bold option some barbers are choosing in this decentralized, digital world? Become a mobile barber, moving from client to client. You’ll save a lot on overhead and rent, and you can find clients anywhere in your area. This option isn’t as tried-and-true as the other two, however – you’ll never pick up walk-ins and might find it more difficult to gain brand recognition.
Building a brand starts with introspection. Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your goals and aspirations? Write these things down – they’re your reasons for opening your own barbershop, and they can help you drive your branding.
During this introspection, you’ll probably come to understand who your target market is – the people who will gravitate to your philosophy and style. They’re who you’re trying to attract with your brand.
Next, you’ll choose your name. Alliteration can work really well here (who could forget a name like Bob’s Burgers?). You might also look for simple imagery – something like “Good Fellow’s Barbershop”. You could name your barbershop after yourself, after the street you’re located on (if you don’t plan on moving, that is!), or something hip like “Deer & Gunn”. No matter what you choose, keep it simple and easy to pronounce. Keep your perfect client in mind – what kinds of images, symbolism, or stories appeal to them? Integrate that into your name.
Your choice of decor and color scheme is going to depend heavily on your name and brand identity. You might start by reading up on color psychology, opting to choose calming colors if you’re looking to create a serene experience, or a monochromatic or contrasting color scheme if you want a bolder look. Most importantly, trust your own tastes – you’re a barber. A master of aesthetics. You’ve got this.
Your budget is going to depend on a wide variety of different factors. How much is real estate in the place you want to open up shop? How much does it cost to incorporate and get all of your legal obligations fulfilled? How much will it cost for all of your equipment? These expenses vary from place to place.
There are, however, a few estimates we can give. Truic and Profitable Venture both estimate that you’ll need approximately $150,000 in the USA or Canada, or £100,000 to start a barbershop in the UK. Some of that cost is for barber school – we’re assuming you’ve got that covered.
Keep in mind that a substantial portion of this cost is to pay for rent (usually around a quarter or a third of your total costs). Another important consideration is the cost of equipment and staff.
Staff might not be an important cost to you if you’re just starting out and you want to operate as a solo practitioner to begin with. The cost of rent can be virtually eliminated if you want to open up shop in your own home, or if you decide to take the mobile route. As for equipment, you can try to find used equipment from a barbershop that’s about to close, or look for equipment that’s on sale.
This all to say, while $100,000-$150,000 might seem like a lot, don’t let it be a barrier to your dreams. You can find ways to lower your costs, and with a great business plan, you can find a starter loan to build your dreams.
The Legal Stuff
We can’t elaborate on this too much, because what you’ll need to do varies so much based on location. You’re going to need to look at local by-laws, as well as state (or provincial) and federal laws. Getting a lawyer is an excellent idea to make sure you’ve dotted all of your I’s and crossed all your T’s. Display your license prominently somewhere in the business; you wouldn’t want to get your haircut by anyone but a licensed barber, would you?
Get Those Clients!
You’ve set up shop, you’ve got a beautiful sign to let people know who you are, and you’re ready to start taking on new clients. You’ve probably worked at other barbershops before, and hopefully you have a list of clients who can’t wait for you to cut their hair. It’s time to expand your reach.
First, your website. You can do a website inexpensively and have it look amazing. Trust us. Tools like WordPress make it easy to promote your shop, and tools like Bookedin make it easy for you to book appointments and to accept payment – no matter how your customers want to pay. Keep your website consistent with your branding: your logo and colors should be on display. A “Book Now” page, an About Us page, a Location page, a Home page, and maybe a blog and/or an “Our Services” page – that’s all you need.
Next, let’s talk social media. A huge Instagram following is the holy grail for barbershops – haircuts can look incredible in both video and photo formats, and they tend to do best on Instagram. Of course, it’s worth being on Facebook too, and it’s easy to cross-post between the two. Be sure to post at least once a day, but avoid overposting so you don’t clog up your followers’ feeds. Pictures of your space, your staff, and (of course) the incredible work you’ve done can all help you gain followers. Be sure to engage with your followers, use hashtags on all of your posts – you know the drill.
Finally, there are several things you can do to make sure you’re visible when people search for you. The most important of these is to register your barbershop on Google My Business, Yelp, and other business directories. Basically, when someone looks up “barbershop”, you want them to find you!
One last note – you can get a lot of business through word of mouth. Encourage your clients to tell their friends and leave reviews. While social media is the premier way of finding clients right now, word of mouth is still invaluable. After all, who do you trust more than friends with great looking haircuts?
Keep Those Clients!
Here’s a quick anecdote – for years, in my early 20s, I went without dental appointments. It’s not that I didn’t want or need them – they just kept falling off the list of things to do. My current dentist always tells me when they can book me next, and we schedule my next appointment as I’m leaving my current appointment.
Follow this philosophy. Your clients want their hair to look great, and if they like what you’ve done, they’ll be happy to book another appointment. You can create repeat clientele by rebooking them as they leave. Just fire up your barber scheduling app and schedule their next appointment – you might even ask them if they want to do recurring appointments to keep them looking stylish all the time.
Some people get nervous about doing this – they feel like it’s too salesy. Trust me; it’s not. Your clients will appreciate you doing this. People are busy, and your appointment booking software can send them reminder texts so they’ll never forget their next haircut with you.
Grow As Fast As Your Clients’ Hair
Now that your barbershop is well-established, (we’re glad the guide worked!) it’s time to grow your shop. You can do this by:
- Offering retail products
- Expanding your services (non-haircut grooming services, for example)
- Opening new locations
- Adding new chairs and hiring other barbers
- Extending your hours
- Offering higher-priced services (or increasing your prices)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our booking software – it’s an awesome way to grow your business. Using Bookedin, you can get clients to book appointments directly through your website and your social media, so people who are casually browsing cool haircuts at 3 AM can book with you right away.