We want to be your Barber.
In the summer of 2009 I started to seriously pursue the idea of opening a new type of barbershop. One that would combine the attributes and services that were traditional yet appeal to a male crowd that had been going to salons for their services. Guys that had only heard stories about barbershops from their fathers and grandfathers. This new place had to have the latest technology and be able to utilize the web to its fullest. With those ideas as a starting point, I launched into writing a full-scale business plan to see if this made sense.
At the time I was working in Boulder, Colorado and had been “in the business” continuously for the past 30 years. It was time to strike out on my own again and with the suggestion of several clients was tipped over the edge to go for it. The bad news was that the economy had started to wane and looked like there could be dark clouds on the horizon, but in my mind that was just a blip on the screen.
An advantage to a down economy is that you can contract space and equipment with more favorable terms than in a good economy. The 5000-year-old profession of barbering had historically been what economists refer to as “recession proof”. People always need a haircut; they might extend out the time between haircuts, but they eventually need one. That explains why the sine wave of peaks and troughs in the barbering business is very shallow. Was there risk in this endeavor? Yes, but with valid information there is always a bigger risk in not trying to live your dream.
There were positive aspects to this venture:I was experienced in all aspects of the industry, had previous experience in opening salons, had great credit, had saved enough money to fund the start-up, and had the unwavering support of my wife and family. There was another thing: early in my life after attending Illinois Wesleyan University, I understood that you create a distinct advantage by having a broad education in a specific field and that this benefit accelerates your success.
In 1979 I enrolled in barber school outside Washington, D.C. The curriculum was comprehensive in all the disciplines of becoming a professional barber: haircutting, shaving, and other tonsorial arts. After that, I recognized that my knowledge of cosmetology or the art of beauty from the female perspective was insufficient. Studying this would further enhance my comprehension of the field. I applied to Vermont College of Cosmetology in Burlington, VT and deepened my understanding of design, chemistry, and styling. That decision alone captured the essence that aptitude is another key to success.
Since then I have opened and operated two salons in different states, worked for the world’s largest hair care company managing a million dollar per year location and been an international platform artist for a product company. All the while actually utilizing my skills in the barbering industry.
I opened the doors of my new company, Rock Barbers, in March 2010. There was just one employee working in a six-chair barbershop, me. Although I had a client list that was substantial it felt over-sized and quiet. However, my plan had begun, and I was not deterred by the solitude.
I had developed a website utilizing a friend who owned a web design firm and incorporated an online calendar/appointment system. I knew my clients well and that having control of making their own appointments online would be a big advantage. They would be able to see the schedule 24/7 even if the barbershop was not open to make the appointment. They could see all the services offered and get email or text reminders for their upcoming appointments. It was a big hit.
The atmosphere at Rock Barbers is geared to be very “male friendly”. We use toolboxes to store our equipment at each station for a manly look. We outfit each station with it’s own sink so clients do not have to flounce around the shop with a long cape to get to a shampoo bowl. We have large screen TVs with sports and business programs strategically positioned for everyone to see. There is a guitar in the waiting area for clients to play and when they play a song they then get to autograph the guitar. We even have a small putting green to practice those devilish 3-footers that cause even the most skillful golfer to go “weak in the knees”. The putting green does double duty where a client can make a putt to “win” 10% off their product purchase. Clients always notice these ideas when they first walk in the door. Their next question is usually, “Is this a franchise?” I answer, “Maybe someday.” It makes me proud that the look and feel is professional and exactly the response I was looking for when it was designed.
My hiring process is simple: hire a person that is motivated, professional, and someone you would like to be around. In other words, do they have the right attitude? All states have a system to test for proficiency and grant a license but that really does not guarantee quality. Some barbers are more skilled than others but this is not a problem. I can train staff to be great barbers but I can’t make someone nice.
When an applicant comes in to interview at Rock Barbers, I want them to know that this will be different than any other place where they have worked. I tell them that this position is about them, not me. I want them to know that at Rock Barbers, we value our staff as partners in success and that I view them as assets and not suspects. I ask if they are interested in a challenge to become better not only as a barber but to be more fulfilled as a person? I am interested in their success and that is why, when they are hired, they are required to always be reading a book. Reading helps people gain knowledge and sets them up for achievement. They are also required to attend events where they experience something novel whether it is an art exhibit, play or new restaurant with interesting food. This expands their mind to new ideas.
Most importantly, they are asked to write their own Personal Life Vision. This is an exercise to start them on a journey to self-understanding. It is a simple document stating what they think about life and how they want to live theirs. It is a mission statement that guides your everyday agenda. Like a business, if you do not know what you stand for then you will limit your success. So with that in mind, I found my first barber in June and added two more in July of 2010. In May of 2011 I added one more, and in January of 2012 I have added two more. There are currently seven on the staff and we are growing.
One of the best parts of my job is to see personal growth in our staff. I track their progress with data that is collected in our software system and meet with them to compare data points from our last meeting. The growth in each person on the team has been positive, and we build new goals at each of these meetings. I make sure that the goals are specific, measurable and positive for optimal accomplishments.
When I look at the success we have had in two years at Rock Barbers I think it points to many areas of preparation. I have built a network of professionals to help me accomplish growth. These are people who are experts in their respective fields and really have your best interests at heart.
I have acquired experienced professionals to help me with real estate, accounting, bookkeeping, law, tradespeople (plumbing, HVAC, carpentry), Internet Technology and website design. These contacts have been invaluable. I rely on them regularly for their help and expertise.
I have also become clearer on the importance of trusting myself in making decisions about the direction of Rock Barbers. Whether it is decisions in marketing or hiring, I know what is right deep inside. If a situation or decision feels strange, it is a good idea to ask for what you need and run it by someone in your network.
One exciting thing I have learned is that advertising and marketing is never given the credibility it deserves. In my opinion, you should devote a substantial amount to this line item each month. I have found that there is a direct correlation to the advertising I do and the revenue gain I achieve.
This year I plan on a complete re-do of my website. Singularly, it has been the best tool for my success. Most new clients say that they found us on the Internet and since my website, www.RockBarbers.com, is their first introduction to us, it had better be interesting, easy to navigate, user-friendly, and effectively tell potential clients why we are the best choice for their hair care needs.
Social Media is another burgeoning area that works. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are just a few in this growing field of marketing. Do not be intimidated by these new ideas. Slowly introduce yourself through their websites and tutorials. They can be a valuable and inexpensive way to acquire new clients and get your company exposure on the web. If you don’t have the time to manage your social media, work with someone and see the results for yourself.
I look forward to the future growth at Rock Barbers. With a positive attitude and expert aptitude, the future is very bright.
Anthony Full www.RockBarbers.com
Rock Barbers – 976 Dillon Rd Louisville, CO 80027 – 303-665-5530