The astonishing rise of the barber shop

What is driving this explosive growth, and what do you need to think about if you want to take the plunge and open a barbershop

It is a well known fact that the male grooming industry is booming, and barbershops are enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity and success. Some barbers are bordering on rockstar status with fame and fortune beckoning for those with the talent and personality to make their mark.

In 2018 alone 813 new barbershops opened their doors for the first time, making it the fastest growing retail category. Halfway through 2019 this years total measured not far off that at 624 new barbershops with analysts saying the growth numbers are on track to beat last year.

Compare this with the rate that other high street stores, fashion and food fail and shut up shop.

Barber shop from wikimedia
Image taken from wikimedia

So why is this?

Was it the comeback of the beard that kickstarted this whole thing? Or do we have to look closer to home – namely in our pockets. Social media plays an ever increasing part in most peoples waking life, with the average user spending 53 minutes every day on Instagram. Remember this is average and the true number for many is likely to be far, far higher.

Users are bombarded with images that algorithms decide are of interest. A large chunk of these will be style and trend images- fashion, health and fitness, and crucially, hair. How many images of the perfectly groomed man could your brain absorb in 53 minutes?

This daily consumption kickstarts a digital keeping up with the Joneses in which many men take more interest in their appearance, and feel increased pressure to be looking on trend.

Great news for the barber, right?

The obsession with social media means image-conscious men visit barbershops as often as once a week to ensure they are Instagram-ready. At an average of £15 – £20 per haircut this can mean there is a lot of cash generated in a busy shop, making business savvy barbershops that get their maths correct quite profitable.

There are also fewer barriers in setting up a barber shop when compared to other sectors – which can be a double-edged sword for customers as whilst it can mean there is plenty of barbers – not all of them will be good, or even qualified.

a barber wearing an apron inside a barbershop

So you want to set up your own barbershop?

Here are some key things to think about:

The volume of barbershops opening means there can be stiff competition which increases the importance of the customers experience, and range of additional services offered. Some offer facials, full wet shave packages, others go further and feature game consoles, free beer and maybe even a pool table to knock some balls around on whilst waiting.

Customers will usually come back if the cut is a good one, but this chance is increased if they enjoy the environment of your barbershop. Is it a cool place? Or a smart one. Do you offer decent coffee, or a bottle of beer? It is essential to consider the location and therefore the clientele which you are looking to attract to determine the look and feel of your space. This can impact pricing. If you opt for an affluent area you can of course charge more, but this brings with it the expectation of more than just a quick short back and sides with the clippers. The client will expect an appropriate level of attention to detail and finishing in accordance with the price paid.

All this should be addressed in your business plan, which will take into account your position in the market, your branding, your marketing, fixed/variable costing and cashflow. You should be able to identify the amount you would need to take in a month to cover all your costs, and calculate how many clients per day this would require to stay on target. This can also aid the process of setting prices. Another factor that helps with this is a competitor analysis. What are similar shops charging? Have they been around a while or are they brand new?

two barbers holding a tool roll and coffee outside a barbershop

How much does it cost to open a barbershop?

The idea to open a barbershop isn’t always a low cost start up – you’ll have to invest in premises rental, staff salaries and equipment. According to analysts, you can expect to pay anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000 – or potentially more – in start-up costs.

When you open a barbershop, your main outlays will be:

  • Paying to rent your shop
  • Having your shop outfitted with the right furniture
  • Decorating and refurbishing your shop (if you choose to do so)
  • Paying any staff that you hire
  • Paying legal fees, including the cost of insurance and licenses
  • Buying the tools and equipment you’ll need to perform your services to a high standard
  • Buying products such as gel, wax, shampoos, shaving creams and beard oils
  • Undertaking any training if necessary

You should now have some awareness of a part of the driving force behind the growth of the barbershop and some key considerations to think about before you open a barbershop.

Stay tuned for a future companion piece offering a more in depth look at the process of opening your own barbershop…

Until then, tight fades

Dark Stag Team

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