2020 was a challenging year for barber shops and hair salons. The COVID-19 pandemic and state health mandates disrupted the flow of business for most of 2020 and part of 2021.
Now that barber shops and salons are opening up in California, it is important to think about marketing during the remainder of the pandemic, and how to prepare for any future unforeseen disruptions.
California Guidelines in Early 2021
As of March 2021, barber shops and hair salons in California are required to maintain social distancing in all areas of the salon including break rooms and reception areas. The state is encouraging shops to operate by appointment only. Certain counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco are still operating at 25% max capacity per local social distancing guidelines.
Learning from 2020
The biggest lesson from the Coronavirus pandemic is that things are never guaranteed to stay the same. The way things work when things are “normal” can be interrupted quickly. Add to that, most barbers and cosmetologists are independent contractors, and may have a chair at the local barber shop or salon, but what happens when the normal foot traffic and customer flow is interrupted? Even if you’re a shop owner, or work for a national chain, you need to future-proof your income stream from future events that are beyond our control.
One of the biggest things we depend on as barbers is camaraderie with the customer.
When they sit down in the barber chair, our customers relax, talk about their day and what’s going on in their life. People keep coming back to get their haircut at barber shops that make them feel relaxed and at ease. The pandemic made it difficult to build that one-on-one time they normally get for fifteen minutes once a month. But what if another big event like COVID happens again in five years? How will you ensure that your customers return, and not go to a shop down the street?
Keeping existing customers is easier than attracting new ones
This principle is true for any business, but especially true for barbers and hairstylists, where return business builds the foundation of monthly revenue. It is far easier to get repeat business from your current customers than to attract new customers.
The Pareto principle states that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort. It is imperative that you stay connected with current customers and stay top of mind. In the past, you could do direct mail marketing or use coupons to remind customers to come back to your barbershop. You can still market that way, and those methods still work. Luckily, we are in an era where connecting with people digitally is easier than ever.
Email and social media marketing
Many barbers that are doing well now that shops are open in California again made a concentrated effort to stay visible to customers via social media posts and/or email newsletters. Instagram and YouTube are platforms where you can post videos. Twitter and Facebook Pages allow barber shops to post and show customers hairstyles and fades that they are perfecting.
Email marketing is another way to reach customers and stay top of mind. Services like Mailchimp allow you to send daily email newsletters to a subscription list (for free, up to 2000 contacts). Not every email needs to be about selling your services, either. Just communicating your knowledge and hairstyling acumen, or sharing what is going on with your barber shop reminds people you are still there, and lets you share your expertise and personality.
People do business with, and buy services from those they know, like, and trust. Staying in front of past customers via social media and digital outreach lets people feel like they are still connected to you, even during unanticipated downtime.
Allow people to book appointments ahead of time via apps
Some of the larger hair styling chains have their own dedicated apps that let customers book a haircut ahead of time. But there are also services and apps that allow your clientele to reserve a spot in line so they can get a haircut or shave. Almost all of these are reasonably priced, and will let people get an appointment early, so they don’t have to wait in line very long. This is especially convenient when health mandates like social distancing are in place, and capacity is not at 100 percent.
Customers should feel safe during extraordinary events like COVID
One of the biggest things that your customers want is to feel safe during uncommon events like the COVID pandemic. Be sure you are following any and all local health regulations, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing equipment and surfaces thoroughly.
Treating health department regulations seriously shows that you respect your clients, their safety, and their health.
Becoming a Barber is a Rewarding Career
Barbering as a career is having a resurgence. The Paul Mitchell the School Barbering Program at MTI College teaches you the skills to cut and style hair, do men’s grooming, and also the business skills necessary to succeed. If becoming a professional barber sounds like something you would love to do, contact our team for more information on learning the barbering trade and becoming professionally certified.