Originally posted 7/11/11
After nearly 50 years of practicing my craft, I’ve worked through about four recessions. Some had no impact on the number of customers coming through the door; a couple saw a 5 to 10% loss of income. Then there’s today’s recession–this one is a “dilly”.
According to my barber supply man, virtually all the shops he calls on have had a 25 to 30% loss of business–some even more. Parts of the country have it worse than Minnesota. What’s going on today to make things different?
Today many folks have gone the do-it-yourself route; home haircutting is at an all-time high with decent haircutting kits available (you can’t blame folks for saving a buck any way they can); plenty of heads are being shaved, which never has happened in the past; and getting a haircut less frequently is common. In today’s economy, people do whatever their pocketbook dictates.
One of my video customers emailed me regarding his concerns on this subject, and what suggestions, if any, I had for him. The March 9th blog entry included having a website (see www.bobshaircutshop.com) and making use of “Groupon” type of advertising. These inexpensive business builders gave my daughter a fast way to build up her client base when she came back to take over my shop after barbering in the Portland, OR area for the past nine years.
After emphasizing that there are no easy answers or quick ways to fix a shop experiencing difficulties, I pointed out that the home haircut folks, shaved heads and infrequent customer are the exact ones we need coming back to the barber shop. To that end, here are some suggestions I passed along to my video customer:
1.Stay the course with precision haircutting, being sure to cut according to your customer’s wishes.
2. Do a little classified ad in local papers offering a “Shut-in haircut and/or shave” service.
3. Again, using local classified ads, have a half price offer for unemployed folks–include the old Master Barber slogan “It pays to look well!” in the ad. Set this up for your slowest days. If someone comes in who can’t afford the half price, give it to him/her free.
4.Check with local nursing homes and hospitals about doing some extra cutting in those locations.
5. Be sure to avoid shop conversations on the subject of religion and especially politics in this crazy partisan politics world we live in. Avoid negative conversations of any kind–this is hard one, but people don’t need any more negativity than what’s there already.
6. Our local barber school tells their graduating students to get a part-time job while they are in the process of building their haircut business–probably a good idea in this economy.
7. Hang in fellow barbers–in the wide world of work it’s still one of the best ways of making a living!