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Young Barber Alf: Shares a Big Opportunity, that requires little Hassle

During my expedition to Hong Kong, I had a chance to talk with Alf, a barber that had left London to come and work at The Fox And The Barber Shop in the industrious city. Starting out with ambitions from the greats and seeing the growing posts around sites such as Instagram, Alf started out as a hair dresser and then enrolled in an intensive, nine week course at London School Of Barbering, so he could move forward on barbering.

That one eventful decision would lead him to a fantastic discovery. As a means of job placement, the head barber at the London School Of Barbering Stil recommended him to a job listing site where he found postings from all over the world. After seeing one posted by Sarah, the owner of The Fox and the Barber, and with a few Skype interviews later, Alf would set out to Hong Kong.

Now, work visas and immigration is typically no easy thing. Anyone who has travelled as much I have will know that. However, the Chinese embassy has been exceptionally welcome towards foreigners between the ages of eighteen to thirty who are looking for work. With a one year visa under his belt, Alf headed off to Hong Kong to show his skills as well as what he could bring to the market.

Quite frankly, the answer for anyone who is looking to go to Hong Kong as a barber or as an educator in similar fields is everything! Alf comments, “There’s not a huge barbering community here, if one at all, and no real means of formal education. You can find apprenticeships in shops, sure, but anyone who was looking to be a barber or an educator over here could have a line all the way down the street – the market is just ready to explode here!” He comments on the men in Hong Kong, relating that many of them have the money to spend and are constantly looking to integrate the Western fashion and style; Hong Kong is, after all, a very fashion conscious area. “We have our own plans from the company, and goals for the future. The fact remains that the market has vastly opened up to people who are looking to share their skills for compensation.”

The pricing is also similar in terms of what they charge and the general cost of living in Hong Kong when compared to London. Alf considers this fortunate, as they are able to keep the prices mid-range in the shop and be more accommodating to clients on a broader scale. Of course, Alf’s goal was to bring a traditional barbering style to Hong Kong back, which also means he focuses on spending more time with the clients. “The big difference is that a lot of clients come in, sit down in the chair and tell me that they don’t know what they want, really. So, I sort of have to think on my feet when I consult them, in terms of what they want and what they can actually have for their work. There’s a sort of fun and satisfaction in that, though.” Even in the sense of traditional barbering, the demand for wet shaves hasn’t been large according to Alf, but he expects that will change.

Alf explains that his greatest satisfaction comes from just having clients come in and see his work and getting their feedback. “I see my and Sarah’s stuff being shared by others and it’s a bit weird, but the feedback is great and Sarah gets it as well from her Instagram.”

Is there a drawback to his journey and discovery of the potentials that awaited in Hong Kong? “The tools bit is hard, we’re struggling with that a bit.” He admits, “Ordering from the UK costs a fortune, and they take so long to arrive. There really needs to be a shop here to get stuff more easily.” Take note of that, potential entrepreneurs! In the meantime, Alf says he makes do with his T-Liner, a pair of Wahl clippers (one that is too old to remember) and his convertor.

The lesson here is simple, really. Anyone looking to educate or pass on their skills should seriously consider jumping into the market in Hong Kong before it becomes oversaturated. The opportunities there, as Alf have found, seem to be endless at present. The immigration divisions are practically holding the door open for people who want to work – so, go and show Hong Kong what you can do!

My instagram http://www.instagram.com/larrythebarberman and http://www.facebook.com/larrythebarberman pages for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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Successful Barber, Explains The Benefits Of Appointment Only Barbershops

Continuing on with the theme of making the transition to being an appointment based barbershop, I revisit Pete Cranfield, better known as Cut Throat Pete. Pete made the choice to make his shop appointment only some four or five years ago, and makes it clear as we speak that he considers it one of the best decisions that he ever made.

Up until he made the change, he had been a walk-in shop. The problem that he faced every day was the stress in balancing his want to give an outstanding cut and chat with clients with worrying about the clients that were waiting for him. “They never got pissed at me for waiting or anything,” he tells me. “It was something that was in my head and I was just stressed constantly – I got to the point where I wasn’t even enjoying barbering anymore and was considering doing something else.” The stress it would take to push someone like Pete away from barbering is hard to imagine!

Of course, the most common thing that barbers worry about when thinking on an appointment based shop is their bottom-line; they still have to make money, of course. When asked on how the change affected Pete’s earnings, he smiled and told me: “To be honest, I’ve worked with barbers that are money oriented many times. Me, I’m not as worried about it. If I can do X amount of haircuts and walk out at the end of the day and get to do something else I love besides barbering, I’m happy.” He explains that it actually balances out nicely as he is able to charge a little bit more than he used to in exchange for being able to give the better, and more focused, service to clients.

What about the transition itself? Even with the proverbial books balancing out nicely, many barbers worry that they’ll drive away a lot of their business or make customers angry enough to take their business elsewhere. Like myself, Pete started by asking Ian Holder advice on the best way to go about it: “Gradually, in short. I was working with my brother at the time and we’d go about letting clients know that this one day per month was appointment only and just went on with telling them until it became common knowledge.” To his surprise, Pete got positive feedback from his customers and almost non-existent negative feedback once he had made the change.

If someone knocked on the door now, Pete explained his method of handling them: “I get a lot of people walking-in, and I’ve only got one chair and myself to offer. My current client base is actually enough to fill the chair each month, so if I get someone new in, I’ll recommend them to other barbers who are friends. I mean, we have to face that there are plenty of barbershops in town, right? If I can fill every spot in a week, then I’m good.”

Of course, one of the major drawbacks to the appointment system is from clients who are late or, worse, no-show; how does Pete handle them? “For late clients, I’ll give them 15-20 minutes or so past their appointment time. I don’t want to be a jerk to them, but I do try to show them how far they went over their appointment. I won’t compromise their service either or boot them out, but in order to be fair to the clients who show up on-time and not run over on time, I have to do their service much faster now. As for no-shows, I can really only remember a few days where I have had one no-show at most. I don’t call them immediately, and I won’t take any money from them, since most of them call and explain things, or rebook anyways.” In short, Pete still sticks with being good to his clients even when they put him in a difficult position.

Ian commented in our talk about how many barbers still prefer that old-school vibe of customers being able to hang out and chat while in the chairs and waiting. Pete admits that the choice to make his shop appointment based has taken away from that, but after asking the opinions of his clients the majority of them preferred the new system. “The biggest factor is educating on clients on making appointments,” Pete tells me. “Most think it’s difficult, but it’s actually very simple.”

As you can see, Pete has taken a system that many are skeptical or even afraid of and made it work out to his benefit beautifully. An appointment based system might not be for every barber on the planet, but as I continue my series on this practice, it is clear it will become the new trend. The big names in the industry are moving on from the old-school and embracing a more modern barbering industry by being open-minded towards what the modern client wants, and what will set their shops and brand apart from all the rest.

After having a brief telephone interview with market leaders in the field of online appointment software, Booksy, they are convinced that every barber will love their quick and easy software – which will ultimately increase every barber’s bottom line, as well as take the guess work out of knowing the amount of time they have for both work and play. Which, I believe, will help barbers clear their minds, lower their stress and give them the opportunity to fall in love with barbering again.

With such conviction, Booksy has exclusively provided Larry The Barber Man with some discount codes for a limited period to sweeten the pot, and to give barbers the chance to enjoy the benefits of their appointment system and see all its perks for itself:
https://biz-gb.booksy.net/signup
50% off for 3 months: booksygb50
– 25% off for 6 months: booksygb25
Take advantage while it lasts!

Larry’s instagram @larrythebarberman and http://www.facebook.com/larrythebarberman pages for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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Larry The Barber Man By Appointment of Barber: Ian Harold

Ian Harold, American Crew educator all-star, is bringing an all new culture to the classic barbershop in an unexpected way – he is teaching the importance of booking software. What exactly does a culture that educates on booking appointments via technology mean when it comes to the barbering industry?

For starters, Ian began his journey not even wanting to be a barber. He admits that his first job came as a result of his mother demanding that he get a job when he was sixteen before he finally relented and got an apprenticeship at a local barbershop. His brutal honesty and dedication landed him a job, but his stubbornness still shone through; he would open his first barbershop at twenty-one.

Ian was never content to remain in one niche at once. After opening a classic barbershop with three chairs, his competitive side began to shine through and he sought to compete in the National Men’s Federation team as a competitive hair stylist focusing on the classics. The main drawback is that his clients back home would often complain about him not being there to deliver the service they had come to expect. His solution? Open a new shop right down the street from his other shop that implemented an appointment booking system.

Though other barbers called him crazy, Ian paid them no mind. “While I was out traveling, clients could book appointments and not feel as much like they were missing me. Plenty of people called me crazy, building a brand that was so close and literally competing with my other shop, but I’m still here after twenty some odd years,” he smiles a bit at this, blunt as ever, “I’d be curious to see how many other barbershops are here after another ten years – I certainly hope to still be here in another ten years.”

In his travels, Ian has also become an all-star educator for American Crew. Though he doesn’t focus on any physical products of his own kind, he feels that the value in his brand is what he brings when it comes to educating others. “I like a challenge, I like difficult people – it’s always fun to try and think up ways outside of the box to teach them.” Hits a bit close to home for him, I think! When asked about where his satisfaction and inspiration come from, Ian paused before answering: “Satisfaction-wise, I’ve trained thirty-six barbers in my career and not one of them don’t have jobs now; that’s fantastic. Ultimately, I really like just being behind the chairs in my shops, interacting with clients and building my brand that way. I like being challenged by world-renowned peers and upcoming, new talent – they inspire me to continue to educate and better myself”.

With his many years in the industry, Ian is still seen as being counter-cultural with his appointment promotion within his shops. “A lot of shops are sort of dipping their hats at us, thinking we aren’t cool, which is fine. Our online booking software is fantastic, and in a shop, any shop, with three or more chairs, I cannot recommend having an appointment schedule in place in some manner. My advice: make one barber appointment only per day and rotate it out – you’ll save so much time that way”. It is true that many classic shops prefer to go the route of taking walk-ins and squeezing people in when they can, but Ian’s method of appointment promotion has been built to appeal to the busier man of modern times.

“Men are busier nowadays, that’s just a fact. If they can get in a thirty minute appointment and be out, that’s time saved for him and for us as well. That’s why I started educating my barbers and clients both on an appointment system and handing out cards. They make an appointment, get in and out, and I get to focus on delivering a good cut without being rushed or overwhelmed.” What happens to the clients who try and squeeze in still? Ian laughs at this and claims he is ‘stone cold’ in response. “I don’t squeeze anyone in anymore, simple as that. We’re not rude about it, of course, but we try and take opportunities to educate them on why it is beneficial. Same goes for people who book appointments and are late – we have a quick clean-up service we give them so they can go out looking respectable, but we ask them to rebook for a full cut. It’s not fair that the rest of my day overlaps just because they were late, my days are long enough already.”

Ian’s no-nonsense attitude is something to be admired, and his booking system has proven to be exceptionally successful, even if the majority of the barbering community hasn’t caught on to the trend yet. Even with the phone ringing still representing 85% of his business, Ian continues to use his wit and willingness to break the mold to keep his shops running not only successfully but ahead of the curve when it comes to the barbering and hair styling industry.

After having a brief telephone interview with market leaders in the field of online appointment software, Booksy, they are convinced that every barber will love their quick and easy software – which will ultimately increase every barber’s bottom line, as well as take the guess work out of knowing the amount of time they have for both work and play. Which, I believe, will help barbers clear their minds, lower their stress and give them the opportunity to fall in love with barbering again.

With such conviction, Booksy has exclusively provided Larry The Barber Man with some discount codes for a limited period to sweeten the pot, and to give barbers the chance to enjoy the benefits of their appointment system and see all its perks for itself:
https://biz-gb.booksy.net/signup
50% off for 3 months: booksygb50
– 25% off for 6 months: booksygb25
Take advantage while it lasts!

Larry’s instagram @larrythebarberman and http://www.facebook.com/larrythebarberman pages for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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http://www.larrythebarberman.com

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