Two pros in the business of men’s grooming give us the lowdown on creating that awesome experience for your male clients.
It goes without saying that the list of differences between men and women is substantial—particularly when it comes to hair and grooming appointments. The one uniting factor that should always be in place is excellent customer service, whether your specialty is amazing hair colour or perfect coifs.
Making sure your client feels welcome and listened to is what will make you stand apart from the rest. “A smile can go a very long way to win you fans. It’s the first point of contact you have with your client when you greet them, and the last thing they’ll remember when they leave,” says Max Fortin, founder and CEO of Brave and Bearded. “Genuine face to face contact helps build an enduring relationship. It also shows that you care.”
A good consultation that focuses on the wants and needs of your client should always precede any haircut or grooming service. OK, cool. But what are the important topics to cover during this conversation?
“Listening and being aware are critical. Ultimately, you have to care about the person in the chair,” says Doug Stewart, owner of Garrison’s Barbershop in downtown Toronto with multiple locations, including an in-house shop within one of the retail brick-and-mortar Frank & Oak locations.
“At Garrison’s, the barbers are technically skilled and also very much in tune with who their clients are as men and what their style needs to be to help them be successful. Our barbers engage in a conversation that is maintained over many appointments. It’s like teamwork in a way; the barber and the client talk and share, and organically find something that works.”
When it’s time to get a new look, says Stewart, a barber or stylist should take into account the clients’ grooming habits as well. “If the guy doesn’t want to fix his hair every morning then we won’t pursue a style that demands a lot of product,” he adds. “Our clients are visually aware people, so they are typically quite conscious of what they want.”
If the client has a set schedule, then pre-booking is best as they get to their barber when it’s most convenient for them. “Booking the next appointment as the client pays is great because it ensures you fill your spots and the guy won’t be left guessing when he has to come back or miss out on his beard maintenance,” says Fortin.
Of course, depending on your clientele, their work flexibility impacts that preference. “We have a significant number of clients who are successful business guys who travel or have a ‘dynamic schedule’, making pre-booking not possible. In that case we make our online scheduling easy,” says Stewart.
How far should you push to book that next appointment? Just take it easy.
“We don’t follow up with clients who haven’t rescheduled—it’s just not our approach. We focus on providing a great experience with very skilled barbers, and allow our clients to sort their own schedule.” Problem solved! Just focus on your great service and team, and the rest will come to you.
Sealing the Deal
Take-home products are essential to maintaining and recreating the new look you’ve just created for your client. And, let’s face it, encouraging clients to invest in professional products should also be an important component of your business model. So, what’s the best way to recommend products? How do you make sure they use what you’re recommending?
“Barbers and hairstylists are experts and, as such, need to know all the subtleties of hair and beards. This is where a good education will help you prescribe the right product. Take the time to explain the product. Sometimes guys can be a little shy and don’t ask many questions. So, position yourself as a ‘style doctor’ and prescribe exactly what they need.” – Max Fortin
“There’s an incredible number of good product options, many made in Canada. As a group, we try all the products because when our barbers recommend something, they have to believe in it.” What about commission? “At Garrison’s, we don’t compensate for product sales. We see the product as a tool that helps our clients look and feel great between their visits. In that sense, product is not critical to our business. It’s not a source of much profit, but rather something that helps our clients feel good.” – Doug Stewart