In our most recent Town Hall webinar, Next Steps, barber Lee Resnick brought together a panel of his friends and peers to talk about what’s happening right now, in the midst of COVID shut-downs, in the barbering worldand what they think comes next.

From what to expect as you get back to your craft to tried-and-true tips from navigating a pandemic world, we’ve broken down their biggest takeaways for our favorite type of article: The TL:DR. 

Here are seven recommendations for navigating what’s coming, straight from the mouths of the experts. 

Treat Safety as the New Luxury

Because it’s already a risk to be out in public, your clients are going to appreciate your attention to (safety) detail more than ever. Previously, the barbering industry was trending toward doing more, more, more and doing it better — How many haircuts can I get through in a day? Who can do the sickest fade? — but after the last few months, you’ll have to go back to your barbering roots. Specifically, customer service and building your relationships with clients. That requires trust, and right now, trust equals showing that you care about their safety. As Mari d Monte put it, “Safety is the new luxury.”

But what does that look like? And how far do you take it? 

Barber Mike Giraldo sees his PPE (personal protective equipment) purchases as a necessary investment in his company. However, to keep them cost-effective and to meet every client’s safety preferences, he has three options for his clients: 1) Clients can purchase a new cape that they can keep for themselves, 2) they can use a cheap disposable cape that he bought in bulk, or 3) they can use the capes at the shop that his team cleans diligently. 

Practice Cleanliness More Than Ever

There’s a right way to do cleaning in a COVID world, and every barber should be doing it.

BARBICIDE®’s Director of Education Leslie Roste talks about the necessary contact time for proper disinfecting in our recap video here.

Keep in mind that new cleaning requirements may have unexpected consequences for your space and tools. Leslie points to keeping your chairs clean. Don’t ruin them with over chemical cleaning the leather. Instead, if you can use either towels or a cover over the seat that can be changed between clients and laundered throughout the day, your leather chairs will thank you.

Certifications help you navigate all of this and are also a great way to show your clients that you’re serious about keeping your tools and space clean.  Hot tip: BARBICIDE® allows you to get certified (for free!) on sanitation best practices, including a special course in COVID safety.

Look into Government Financial Assistance

I don’t have to tell you times are tough. When you can’t see your clients, you are losing your biggest source of income. Luckily, the government has programs to help, and I’m telling you: No one is judging you for needing extra support right now

CPA David Gronsbell shared two types of government support that you can use to get through the economic crisis: 

  • Paycheck Protection Program: According to SBA, PPP is “an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.” David breaks it down: “[PPP] is meant to keep your employees employed, assuming you have employees… employees who get W2’s and earn wages, not people that are subcontractors who get a 1099 or nothing.”
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan: According to SBA, “this loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.” David explains, “the PPP is for payroll, the EIDL is more of a traditional loan that you can pay back over 30 years — like having a mortgage for your business.”

Get educated. Get the help you need.

Think About Increasing Prices — And the Right Way to Do It for You 

There’s no right or wrong answer to what your business should do about pricing. The barbers we spoke with are doing it in very different ways:

  • Mike Giraldo isn’t increasing prices right away because he says that he doesn’t know the state of the clients coming in, i.e. whether they can even afford an increase due to their own financial situations. 
  • NYC barber, Joe Vargas, feels it’s necessary and reasonable to increase his prices due to the new investments he had to make under the new circumstances.
  • An audience member of the Town Hall even mentioned that she’s adding a temporary “COVID fee” to ask clients to help cover the costs of PPE. She’s being very transparent with them about her reasoning.

Selling Products to Clientele in this New Climate

“Ask every single person that gets in your chair if they’d like product,” says Nic from Suavecito. “You’re already applying product as it is with every haircut. It makes no sense to let anybody walk out the door without asking them [if they want the same results at home].” 

Don’t listen to the voice inside your head that’s concerned that they don’t want to buy. “You have a 50/50 chance of them saying yes or no. It’s better that they buy it from you than buy it at CVS or Walmart.”

But it’s not just hair or beard product sales that Nic suggests. Sell shop t-shirts, hats, etc, which become walking billboards for you. You don’t have to focus on making a profit directly from these sales but rather the marketing that apparel does for you.

Redefine Your Work Day

With proper disinfecting and cleaning between clients, Nic from Suavecito says that barbers are losing an average of 1-2 clients a day to the clean-up time. (By the way, you can customize your clean-up time in your appointment policies in your Schedulicity account — it’ll automatically add clean up time after every appointment so your clients aren’t waiting while you’re cleaning!) 

Nic advises you make up for the lost clients with product sales (see the last point above.) 

You should also enforce new rules as you ease back into opening up. Barber Patti Plymire’s rules include the client coming alone, adding 15 minutes in between appointments to sanitize, and most importantly, adjusting her operations as needed based on changing government policies and customer experience and feedback.

The Future of Barbering Looks Bright — And Unexpected

Lee says that in recent years, barbers were chasing different trends: Year of the Celebrity Barber, Year of Becoming an Educator. He’s calling this year the “Year of the Influencer”

New Jersey barber, Chaz Hazlitt, also believes in building your brand right now. Create a t-shirt line, a mini product line, or making other small improvements to your shop that make you less of a “cut and go” and more of a brand. This work will help you stay viable during and after 2020’s hardships.

Andis’ Global Education Manager Angie Perino predicts that barber education and the industry will only get a stronger online presence. From educational PDFs and apps to online booking and virtual training, technology seems to be the new trend in the barbering world. Back when barbering was simply haircuts, as long as you had enough traffic through the door, your day was prosperous. Now that most barbershops offer multiple services, you have to strategically set up ways to invite people through that door. Not to mention the pandemic limiting people in your barbershop, this has led to the “death of the waiting room”.

Want more? We do, too. So next week’s Town Hall, we’re bringing back Lee Resnick and the panel to continue the conversation. The Future of Barbering, Part Two.  Tune in Thursday, June 18 at 8:00pm CT / 9:00pm ET to join in the conversation.