The Barbers’ Cheat Sheet: How To Build Barber Clientele

Knowing how to build barber clientele is the most crucial part of the business. It’s where the profitability of your haircut business is anchored. Without proper customer relations and some patience toward different client requests and attitude, you’ll be losing a great deal of money from the table. Veteran barbers have learned lots of lessons along the way and you surely learn from their quirky experiences.

When you open your shop, you’ll never know who the next person you’re going to deal with will be aside from your patrons. There’s uncertainty as to what hair type and haircut will be requested from you. It’s important that you’re armed with styling techniques and an eye for aesthetics.

As you know, irate clients are inevitable. It’s either they hate your skills or they hate themselves from choosing the wrong haircut that they decide to put the blame on the barber. Every barbershop would have this kind of story, and although unavoidable, you should know how to handle it when things turn a bit rough.

With that, I came up with this brief cheat sheet that every newbie barber should read first before cutting the hair of their first client.

The service

1. Keep the service “human”

Barbers are quite known for their colorful stories during their service. It makes their business human and interesting for customers. And since some haircuts can sometimes take some time to finish, chatting with your customer will be a plus point. Having nice conversations with your clients is a good way on how to build barber clientele as well as imbibe a sense of kinship among your customers.

Remember, it might be a customer’s first time to have a haircut with a barber. The more at ease they are with you, it’s more likely that they’ll be a patron.

how to build barber clientele

2. Make your service worth remembering

One tool in growing your clientele is to make the service worth remembering. If there’s a constant line of clients, why not pack up with magazines that will be interested to read. Also, you can place a television set where you have access to different sporting shows and channels like ESPN.

Engaging your customer to these kinds of perks will increase the chances of having them as your regular customers.

3. Invest in the small details

Small details like having your barber shop furnished or decorated with the classic stuff would add value to the service. Like what’s mentioned earlier, adding some little details like magazines and a television would be beneficial on how to build barber clientele.

Of course, this detail-oriented attitude should extend to your actual skills and equipment. Get a hot towel heater or a nice hair cream for added value on your service. Also, it would pay a lot if your haircut service embodies a seamless and sophisticated look.

4. Put yourself on the customer’s shoes

Okay, so you’re a tired barber who handled dozens of customers that day. But that doesn’t mean you can boss around. Always put yourself in the shoes of your client so you’ll avoid conflict or miscommunication about the service they want to avail. They could be having a bad day and one thing they think can appease their worried minds is a nice haircut. If your attitude is too stiff, you’ll be boring them to the point that they’ll think about not going back again to the shop.

5. Don’t forget to ask questions

Before you even start snipping chunk of hair out of your client’s head, make sure that you’ve asked questions about the haircut that they want. Ask them about the length or the finish that they expect to see. Always consider their requests and wants to make them happy. Some customers may have trusted you enough to let you do the haircut you think to suit them. However, not everyone will have the same level of confidence so always take time to ask questions even to a patron. That’s a good way on how to build barber clientele.

how to build barber clientele

What to do when things get rough

So in the middle of a haircut service, you made a glaring mistake. What are you going to do? Give a full refund right away? Say sorry until he forgives you? Although this would work at times, you have to know how to handle an irate customer when some things come to worse.

1. Don’t extinguish the fire with fire

You can’t fix the problem by competing with your client’s fit of rage. Let them say what they have in mind but know how to address them if it’s getting out of hand. Always have a calm stance and avoid raising your voice no matter rude the situation can be. You have to accept the fact that some customers won’t be satisfied with their haircuts and it can result in a heated exchange of words.

We’ve seen news about a barber being beaten by a customer who hates his haircut or a customer being thrown to the window. By no means should your situation should end up like this.

2. Read the signs of an unhappy customer

Some clients will articulate their dissatisfaction with their haircuts but others would just let you know subtly through facial expressions and body language. It’s easy to dismiss these signs to avoid confrontation, but to maintain your business’ clientele, go ahead and discuss it with them. Ask your customer if there’s something they want to be changed on their haircut in a polite manner. Some would probably need a separate session for damage control. By asking, you’ll mitigate a potential negative feedback to your barbershop business. Like what I said earlier, always ask questions as a way on how to build barber clientele.

3. Let the fit of rage mellow down

Don’t interrupt a customer when they are articulating their complaints. Let them finish and then answer in a polite manner once they’re done. It pays to perform an internal-check when you’re on the brink of engaging in a fight with a customer. Reflect on what would be the outcome if you’ll exchange heated words instead of trying to clarify the situation.

Explaining the haircut or service in detail would most likely yield a positive result. Your customer may either agree on a damage control session or a free VIP treatment on his next service.

4. Never, ever blame a customer

No matter how wrong you perceive your customers are, don’t blame them for the situation. Do you remember the trite saying, “the customers are always right”? It’s not an absolute fact but it would be easier to put things in a perspective where “the customers are always the first consideration”. Avoid blaming them even if they chose the wrong haircut and expected it to turn out fine.

Always have something to counteract the problem and not worsen it. Blaming your customers is something you’ll regret once the bad feedback and publicity sets in.

how to build barber clientele

5. Ask your fellow barber for assistance

If all else fails, asking for assistance from your fellow barber wouldn’t be a sign of weakness. The other barber in your shop might have a solution in mind and you only need to ask. Maintain a relaxed body language as you do this to avoid sending a panicking vibe to your client. Remember, knowing how to build barber clientele is at stake here.

If you’re a one-man team, you can probably offer a damage-control session or a fix to the haircut. A VIP offer would likely seal the deal and avoid the negative outcome of the failed haircut.

6. Consider another service as a remedy

In case your customer isn’t pacified by your damage-control service, you can offer him another service with a big discount or even for free. Although it will cost you more than what you’ll earn from the haircut, it will save the reputation of your barbershop.

Apologize once more for the unfavorable outcome of the haircut but keep an eye to customers who are just taking advantage of their complaining. Set a limit and learn to tell if it’s a real complaint or just someone trying to rip you off.

7. Refund is the last resort

As much as possible, refunds are your last resort. But in case the customer isn’t amenable for a damage-control session, you can give a refund a go. Somehow, it saves you more money from offering other services. However, it’s a bit defeating to the part of the customer if they’ll walk out of your shop with their money and a haircut they hate. If you can, give out more value like a free service if they come back or a discount for their succeeding service. That’s a good way on how to build barber clientele.

As for the customers…

Although barbers have some set of tips that they can follow, it’s important that customers also do their part. If you’re a customer and reading this, you should remember some important barber etiquettes before sitting on the styling chair.

1. Brings lots of patience

A haircut of your choice may take time to finish so always be patient with your barber. Also, stylists can be so worn out for the day and may fail to follow their schedules. They extend time attending to picky and irate customers and adding up to their long day spells trouble on your haircut.

If you’re next on the queue, give the barber a few minutes of rest before you hop into the styling chair. Or do so if the barber says as such. You can be a conscientious customer even if you’re not a good tipper.

2. Your barber isn’t a magician

So you saw this rockstar look somewhere and you decided to show it to your barber to mimic. But as much as a photo will help in nailing the hairstyle, don’t expect your barber to have it 100%. You might have a different hair type or face shape than the inspiration photo you bought which will result in some adjustments you don’t expect.

Also, don’t think that your barber knows what’s on your mind or every styling terminology out there. Communicate well with them so you’ll let them know what exactly you want for your crowning glory. Knowing how to build barber clientele is a two-way street.

how to build barber clientele

3. Don’t be the one in command

Don’t meddle with your barber’s choice of scissors or blades. They know what they’re doing and bossing around wouldn’t be a friendly thing to do while you’re on the styling chair. Don’t ask for a specific type of scissor just because you think it gives the best finish. It’s a bit insulting to your barber especially if you said it in an arrogant manner.

Trust that your barber knows everything he needs for styling. If you have requests, you can let him know but be polite enough in saying so.

4. Be still

When your barber gestured your head in a specific position, it means you have to stop moving. Nodding to a conversation is an enthusiastic response but it may also ruin the cut if you habitually do it. If you have restless nodding, you better start training yourself to be still for as much as 30 minutes.

5. Show up with a clean hair

One of the biggest sins you can ever do is showing up in a barbershop with a soiled hair. As much as the shop wants to know how to build barber clientele, they might be a bit off. Give it a good wash then let it dry. Avoid using any pre-styling using products like gels and creams because your barber will surely wash it away as well.

6. Don’t be a brat

Take note that you’re paying for just one haircut and not ten. You surely can say your wants and expectations to the barber, but avoid being a brat. Politely say that you want some adjustments, but don’t overdo the requests to the point that you’re consuming the time of the next customer.

Knowing how to build barber clientele is an important step in establishing your haircut business. These tips I listed here are helpful and it will prepare you for a myriad of customers you’ll encounter in the future. Do you have something to add on this list? Let us know below in the comment section!

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The Barbers’ Cheat Sheet: How To Build Barber Clientele

by Pabz time to read: 8 min
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