Management Lessons Of A Barber Shop
26th February 2018
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My story begins 10years ago when I first found a barber shop in Shifnal offering a good haircut at a reasonable price.  

I became a regular, typically going on weekends with my son.

The shop is run by Mark Egerton and when I started going I noticed Mark's shop was busy most of the time including weekdays.  

Initially Mark worked with another barber but over time, Mark expanded to include four chairs and three employees. 

Even with the additional capacity, Mark’s shop was generally busy. 

“How is it that this barber shop offering the same commodity service as other barbers was doing such great business?” 

Mark has always invested a lot of time in marketing his business. Not necessarily expensive ineffective newspaper and magazine adverts but certainly ways in which he could create an identity and develop a first class reputation.

What he did do was the following:

Take advantage of customer engagement time

Here is maybe the real secret of Mark’s success:  He transformed his barber shop into a place where men feel absolutely comfortable.  On the walls he placed pictures of his son playing rugby, mohamed Ali and 'stuff' that simply make blokes feel comfortable. He installed a TV so that when we aren't being treated to some classic 50's music from Ella, Nat or Frank we can watch anything from curling in the winter Olympics to Scotland beating England at Murrayfield!.

This was not a place to get a shampoo or blow dry with your haircut.  This was a place where men could be men and get their beards trimmed.  

In effect, Mark provided a different experience - one that appealed emotionally beyond getting a haircut.

So what’s the lesson for other businesses? Map the full engagement opportunity you have with customers, see what you can appeal to beyond the core offering, and then design your total solution accordingly. 

This way you will gain a competitive edge through a differentiated customer experience.

Few businesses build a “solution” that takes advantage of the full engagement opportunity with customers.  Take a busy restaurant, for example.  How often do you find yourself summarily dismissed and told to wait after giving your name for a table? Why do restaurants do this?  They typically don’t consider anything beyond the “primary” product to be important.  Too often I have seen restaurants  that forget about the 30 minutes I spent outside in the cold waiting, but once my turn came then I’d be warmly greeted and shown all the hospitality in the world.   It is as if the “clock” started only when I was shown my table.  What would happen if, instead, a restaurant built their “solution” to start from the time customers walked in the door to include the wait time?  What if they provided entertainment or surroundings that made the wait time go by more quickly and comfortably?  It would build a lot more loyalty than the competition.

Details matter

If you look at what makes Mark’s barber shop so successful, it is the small things.  It is the stories Mark tells, the banter between barbers and it is the pictures, the decor, the music and the TV that helped convert his barber shop into a “man cave.”  These “small” additions don’t cost a lot relative to the core product (e.g. rent and labour).  But these “small things” make a big difference in defining the overall customer experience.

If Mark can turn a “commodity” business like a barber shop into a standout success, then surely any business can win, no matter how difficult the competition.

About the Author

Mark Luckman

Member since: 10th July 2012

I champion the best businesses in Telford and Wrekin, businesses recommended by you. If you run a local business or know a really great local business that you think deserves to be known by more local...

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