georgia

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”