There’s a big difference between a cheap haircut place (you know the ones, they send coupons in the mail) and a proper barbershop. Sure, there’s some overlap because you can get a good haircut at both and can see a decent stylist at both. The little differences are really what make the barbershop experience so much more preferable. It doesn’t matter that a barbershop typically costs a little more because they provide a great value and great overall experience.
Barbershops have some tricks and traits that businesses of all types can learn a lot from.
Knowledge, Experience, and Passion
The most striking difference between a cheap haircut place and a barbershop is the level of experience you often find in the barbers. They’ve been cutting hair for a long time and depend on their job as to pay the mortgage or send their kids to school. But more than that, they literally live hair. My barber always mentions people’s haircuts saying things like, “Yeah, you know I saw that guy in that movie—heck of a good haircut.” That’s the kind of comment that tells me he is passionate about what he does and that’s the kind of thing that keeps me coming back—he truly cares about the work he does because his work is who he is. My barber is exactly the type of experienced, passionate person someone would look for when hiring someone to do work. Other businesses should take note.
Relationships and Communication
Along with experience, barbers know how to talk to people. Sure, stylists at the cheap haircut places will talk to you, but they’ll never care the same way the person at a barbershop will—there’s a different mindset, plus, when you walk into the cheap place you may not know who will cut your hair. It could be a stranger every time. When you go to a barbershop, you know who it is—it’s your barber, and your barber knows how to talk to you. He or she will ask you questions about your day, about how you’d like your haircut. They’ll talk with you about any changes you need to the haircut once their finished and might even offer you advice on how to make changes in your life. Good communication gets you a great haircut and a friend, but it also breeds something more important.
One great thing about the barbershop is the straight-razor shave on the back of the neck (we’ll discuss this more), but there’s something scary about it. You’ve got someone scraping a sharp piece of steel across your neck. It stands to reason that you want to be able to trust the person wielding that thing. For me, I didn’t let my barber do it the first time—I didn’t know him. After talking to him more and building a better relationship, I let him have at it and it was great. Trust is essential for a long-lasting business relationship, but it’s certainly something you’ve got to earn by being honest, forthcoming, and by having open communication with your clients.
My barbershop offers nose-hair trimming, but if you go by the price listed on their sign, it costs $2,999.99. The implication being that they don’t do it—unless you’ve got the cash. Obviously, their sign is more of a joke than anything, but it also brings about an interesting point. You don’t want to throw out the idea of offering certain services because they seem tough (or gross). There are probably things that are worth it to you for clients who are willing to pay.
Remember that a little extra flourish makes you stand out. Barbershops do this better than just about anywhere. A great haircut is just the basic service, but the extras are why I come back. Let me set the scene.
After the haircutting is done, the barber has you look down at your shoes and unbuttons the cape draped around you. You hear the buzzing of the shaving cream dispenser behind you then he dabs a creamy, warm lather on your neck. It has a light, manly fragrance and you feel the cool steel drag it away clean. He finishes quickly and wipes away the excess shaving cream. You hear a vacuum fire up loudly behind you and a light brush goes across your head, pulling away all the tiny bits of hair the clippers spread all over. The vacuum shuts down and the barber pipes up, “Would you like a shoulder rub?” he asks. “You bet,” you say and he straps a big metallic massager onto his hand and buffs the tension from your shoulders. He sets down the massager, “After shave?” he asks. “Absolutely.” And he dabs a refreshing, sweet liquid on your neck—Bay Rum Aftershave. “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” he asks as you rise from the seat. “Nope, that was perfect,” you say, slipping him a few bits. “Thanks for coming in, we’ll see you next time,” he says with a smile, gripping your hand firmly. “Of course,” you say, and walk out the door, a few bells clinking behind you.
Those little things, the shave, the massage, the fragrant aftershave is what I mean by “something extra.” Of course, plenty of businesses might get in trouble for trying to massage their clients’ shoulders, but there are certainly things you can do to add more value to your services if you take the time to think carefully about them.
Does Your Business Make the Cut?
Are you a cheap place with coupons or are you a cutting-edge (pun intended) business that’s here to offer excellent services, great relationships, and something extra, all at a great value? It’s really up to you where your business stands, but only one of these options will guarantee you’ve got nothing but excellent, loyal clients, and quality referrals as well.
So take the time to sharpen the dull blades of your business and sprinkle on some aftershave when you’re done.
You’ll come out smelling a lot sweeter.