From adhering to new health and safety regulations to physical distancing guidelines, we spoke with two barbers to find out how they’re adjusting to the new normal.
With many businesses making face masks mandatory for clients, one of the first questions from many is, how will they affect shaving and other grooming services?
Martin Rivard, the owner of the Barber & Co. chain of shops in British Columbia and Ontario, says his Vancouver shops are allowed to continue offering beard and other facial grooming services, as long as barbers wear personal protective equipment (PPE). “For any beard or hot shave services, you require another layer of [facial] protection,” says Rivard. “We’ve been using face shields and goggles.”
On the opposite coast, Mark Peyton, the owner of Sailor Bup’s Barbershop in Dartmouth, N.S., has been forced to temporarily halt all facial grooming services, which includes shaves, facial massages and beard trims, due to provincial regulations. “All of these changes and adjustments were initially difficult, but are totally worth it to be able to reopen my doors and accept clients again.”
Sanitization is not a new concept for barbers, but what’s now changed is the frequency of when spaces and tools need to be cleaned and disinfected.
For Rivard, his team sanitizes their entire shop (including floors, windows, door knobs, light switches, etc.) once a day, while barbers are required to disinfect their entire station and tools between every client.
One setback they are now experiencing is with the amount of time spent cleaning rather than cutting and styling. Rivard says 30-minute quick services are now 45 minutes when including disinfecting and waiting time. While this may not seem significantly longer, these extra minutes add up throughout the day as time (and revenue) lost. With this in mind, he decided to implement a small price increase of five dollars for haircuts and shaves.
Expert Tip: Rivard says it’s ideal for barbers to have double or triple sets of tools so they won’t need to sanitize their clippers and razors between every appointment.
As for Peyton, he says he’s grateful for the extra few minutes between clients because it gives him and his team a chance to take a small break before their next service. “Of course, we’re making a little less money because we’re not taking in as many people every day, but I would rather [spend extra time] to put out a good haircut. At the end of the day, those haircuts are business cards walking out the door,” he says.
A Shift in Culture
Since it’s a financially difficult time for many, owners have been doing their best to avoid cutting their staff’s hours. For some employees, this may mean working shorter hours on more days or longer hours on less days.
For Peyton, he was so focused on not cutting hours that he decided to change the overall layout of his shops to accommodate his team. His Dartmouth shop now has a large divider wall in the middle with two chairs on each side. To allow four barbers to work at the same time, they created a new station near the waiting area and have added another station inside a now-emptied office.
With barbershops known to be very welcoming—the gatherings of staff and clients has long been considered part of the appeal—the experience is now drastically different. New regulations have forced owners to make additional changes, such as no longer accepting walk-ins and maintaining extra distance between clients.
“I’ve formed friendships with my clients, so I’m used to greeting them with a hug or handshake,” says Peyton. “I worry that this distance is taking the connection out of my work. These people are coming in and supporting my career—the last thing I’d want them to feel is like a dollar sign.”