clintele building

Do you have a business card? If not, you should, especially if you’re in the beginning stages of serious clientele building. I can’t over stress how useful a tool a simple business card can be, and I consider my personal story a testament to this statement.

I moved to Atlanta,Ga, from Buffalo,NY in the summer of 1997. Apart from a couple of Barbers I’d worked with at home, I didn’t know anyone. I started in an established shop for the first couple of months, but moved to a new shop with no regular clients. As a rule I wouldn’t advise that move, but I’d promised the owner of the new shop that I’d work with him. In addition to being a new shop, the business was located in a plaza that was basically dying, so the walk in traffic was almost non-existent. Like I said kids, don’t try this at home… but Dan Brown was up for the challenge!

Now at the time I had a little apartment, with no family or friends to lean on. I was broke! I also had two kids to take care of back at home, in addition to bills and booth rent.  I had to make some money! I was determined to make Barbering work for me in Georgia, the way it had in NY, where I’d left a sizable clientele.  I was still confident in myself, but others in my life weren’t  so sure. I heard many times: “You Need to get a job!”,  but working for other people has never been my thing. I couldn’t afford a lot… but I bought those business cards.

With so much responsibility, I had to make things happen. For less than $40.00 I ordered 1000 business cards, and went to work. What I did, is what I tell every new barber to do. I made sure I did all my shopping in the vicinity of the shop. Whether it was buying food from the grocery store, beer from the liquor store, or gas for my car. I couldn’t afford to be shy, so I talked to nearly everyone I came in contact with, especially if their haircut wasn’t proper! When you approach people you don’t know, you need to be friendly, clean, and respectful. Have you ever heard the phrase “Persistence overcomes resistance”? I lived by it!  It’s something that has to be practiced on a daily basis, and patience is a must. You can’t get frustrated when the people don’t come pouring in. I had to make the most of my small victories, so I gave the best service possible to every client (which you should do any way!).

I was on my grind, and you have to be on yours. Attracting customers is a 24/7 job , especially when you’re starting from scratch the way I did. When I was out, I’d be networking, passing out cards. Other than that, I was at the shop!  Building a clientele is basically, starting a business. Sometimes I’d run into people who said they’d  already gotten a card from me, to which I’d reply by gesturing to my hair, and asking why I hadn’t seen them yet.  Now I was a little hungry  (HUNGRY AS HELL!), and in reality if they express true content with their current barber, let them be. Still, stay friendly, you never know when someone may need a back up Barber.

When it comes to Business cards I have a saying: The purpose of purchasing them, is to get rid of them! Like I said, you can get 1000 business cards for about $35-$40 or less. That money can be made back in couple of haircuts. If you get just a 5% turnaround on that box, that’s 50 people! I stayed true to my tactics, and in 8 months  I had a solid clientele. As fate would have it the shop remained slow, even as I prospered.  It eventually closed, but I made a deal with the landlord, and took over the business. It was a struggle, but we built a solid reputation for my shop, and in 2003, we moved to a better location and began to thrive.

A note about clientele building; once you get the customer, and give them excellent service, get their info. Be smart, use that smart phone! I  am a firm believer in appointments, although this may not seem realistic for all barbers. I wrote an article on it, if you’d like to read it, click here!

Today Exodus Barber Shop is one of the premier Hair cutting establishments in the Atlanta area, but most people are not aware of the struggles I went through to get it up and running.  This is a fact: I was able to build my initial clientele with business cards, I couldn’t afford much else! There were times when I didn’t have electricity, heat , and I couldn’t even think about cable!  It wasn’t easy, but my persistence led to my own business, a couple of homes, and I was even able to move my children down to Atlanta with me. I’m glad I didn’t get that Job!

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”

Exodus Barber Shop is a full service shop that accepts walk ins, so customers come on in! Now for those of you who don’t like to wait, we encourage you to make an appointment, because we know how important your time is. This article however is not directed at you. I’d like to talk to the Barbers.

I encourage Barbers to schedule appointments as it is a good way to build solid clientele and take control of your own time. Making a career out of this profession starts with clientele building, with the key word being career!  As barbers we often get caught up in the hustle of the business. Now don’t get me wrong, you have to have that hustle to establish yourself and those without it often fall behind. However, having hustle and being a hustler are not the same thing, and a  professional Barber is NOT a hustler. As the owner of a shop I choose to only hire full time, dedicated barbers. There are many aspects that qualify an individual to fit into this category but here I’m focusing on clientele building with a focus on appointments.

Many barbers are apprehensive about appointments because they don’t believe their customers will adhere to them. I had the same reservations. I was a stay in the shop all day all night barber who had no control of my own time, and to be honest when I switched over I lost some folks, but that was short term, and we REAL BARBERS are in it for the long haul. How many of us have been ready to leave on a Saturday evening only to get that last minute dude who, once he gets in the chair, you realize he probably was at the mall or smoking weed all day. Yes he’s inconsiderate…because you let him. At a young age I figured out if you let somebody punk you off you will continue to get punked! Stop being a punk ass barber! We understand that reasoning, don’t we?

I’m not advocating a rude awakening type of transition because we are, after all, businessmen and women. Fortunately most of us possess the key to our Barber Freedom…a mobile phone. Even the simplest of phones have contact lists, and you probably have some sort of smart phone. Always exchange contact info with your customers. If they don’t want to do it they probably didn’t like the cut and that’s another lesson. Your phone should have a calendar…use it. Now I generally book half hour appointments, some do an hour , others 45 minutes. Once you establish your clients needs you can schedule according to those needs.

Now comes discipline. If you have a 2pm appointment, don’t take a 1:52 walk in. Over time you’ll realize who the dependable clients are. Trust me the dependable clients will love you for it and will reward you with their loyalty. Now the most important aspect of this equation is your dependability…be on time, and be there for your appointments. Consistency and dependability are as much a part of your success as good haircuts. In order for this concept to work one must exercise patience and stay the course.

This is not for the hustler, it’s for the career barber. Professional career barbers work for clients, and appointments are an important aspect of turning customers into clients. Well that’s it for now. If you have any questions feel free to contact me, my info is on our website http://www.exodusbarbershop.com on the Staff page. I’ll be teaching a class at the 2012 Fall World Natural Hair, Health, and Beauty Show October 6th and 7th, in Atlanta. Visit www.naturalhairshow.org for more info. Of course you can catch me at Exodus Barber Shop whenever your in the Atlanta area.

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”