August 16 Getting the most from your trip to the barbershop
How to have a great barbershop experience and leave looking better than you ever have before.
The keys to building a great relationship with a barber and/or barbershop so that you get the best treatment and haircut every time.
I’m sure you have all been there, you walk into a barbershop on a Saturday it’s packed but someone jumps up with “I can take you here.” Unsure but not wanting to cause a scene you walk back and sit in their chair. They quickly wrap you up in a cape asking what you want as they turn you away from the mirror. You were hoping to try something different but feel rushed you blurt out what you think the last barber said he did.
“I’ll just take a three on the sides and trim on top. Oh, and can you taper the back?” You’re feeling proud of yourself for remembering that detail.
Ten minutes later the barber is brushing you off and handing you a mirror asking, almost telling, you if it’s ok. Looking in the mirror you’re feeling a little underwhelmed. It’s not that it’s bad, it just isn’t anything but a basic a little shorter than what you walked in with. You figure the decent cut is good enough so you get up, pay and leave. You feel pretty indifferent and go on about your weekend. Not thinking much about it until you see your buddy later that night and he looks like he just stepped out of GQ. Great haircut, smiling feeling very confident about himself. How did he end up looking so good and you look like every other average joe in the place?
Well, he might have gotten lucky, but more than likely he knows the not so secret, secrets to getting exactly what you want out of your barber.
First and foremost, do some research. Start with finding barbershops near you. You will undoubtedly see their stars from Yelp or google without even opening the page up. After you have picked out a couple with some great reviews seek out their social media. Barbershops that are keeping up with the latest trends, technology, and education are typically heavily involved with social media ie; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others. All of these sites give you tremendous insight to the types and quality of cuts they are offering at the shop. Not to mention their demographic and atmosphere.
Don’t discount the latter. If you know that you are a bit conservative, maybe a shop who’s barbers a covered in tattoos and blasting music with curse words that I one seems to notice, you will probably be uncomfortable. When you are uncomfortable that makes the barber uncomfortable. It makes the entire atmosphere of the shop uncomfortable. All anyone including you will be hoping you get out of there as soon as possible.
After you have made your choice find out if they take appointments or walk-ins. If they take appointments you are good to go ahead and set that up. If they are a walk-in only shop find out their busiest times and avoid them if at all possible. I suggest new clients try going in a weekday around lunch if you can. If you can avoid the busy times learn to have patients. There is a reason they are as busy.
Come prepared with an idea of what you might like to try. Men often have a hard time describing what they want so don’t hesitate to bring pictures. A good barber will appreciate that you are invested enough in your look to take the time to find looks you think you would like. The caveat to bringing in a picture and the reason I suggest you bring in a few, not all hair is created equal. Some is a thinker, thinner, balding, has cowlicks and many other variables. No need to be too concerned a good barber will be able to understand the look you are trying to achieve and be able to help you do that. If the look is unattainable (very rare) the barber will be ready to offer better alternatives for your hair and face structure. Do not go into the barbershop thinking that you know more about your hair than the barber will after looking at it for a few minutes. Remember you are at the barbershop because of their knowledge and expertise. Also, try not to use barber terms or lengths that are interpreted differently in different areas, you yourself might think your asking for something that is totally different than what it actually means.
More than a few times I’ve had a new client tell me they want a fade with skin on the sides. When I say, “would you like the sides shaved when we are done?” They look at me wide eyed and say, “Oh I didn’t mean that short!”
Fourtunatly with experiance comes wisdom and I always double check that we are on the same page. I also live by the motto, I can always take more off but I can put it back. Unfortunately, I can’t promise that all barbers will do this. Too often they just take you at your literal word. And even though I do live by that motto please understand that once a haircut if halfway through or even finished its going to be an entire haircut when you ask ” Can you just take it a bit shorter?” Barbers hate this. But if it is their own fault by not checking in with you to make sure it’s looking good then there isn’t much you can do except go ahead and ask for it shorter. But if the barber has asked repeatedly throughout and you wait until the end to ask, expect that you might not be welcomed back with open arms next time.
If you have taken the steps above at this point you should be feeling and looking pretty good. As the barber finishes up ask about any product he might have used. Typically barbers aren’t big on pushing the product down your throat, but they are more than happy to let you know what they used. Ask them to show you how they achieved your new look. How did they comb it or whatever they did t get it just right.
If you are happy, tip. I can’t put it any more simple than that. A barber is in the service industry, therefore, a portion of their income is based on the tips they receive. If you can’t afford the tip you should look for a price point closer to a range you’re comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, if you are unhappy or got bad service, don’t reward that with a tip.
My secret inside tip is this… If you’ve been to the same shop for a few times and every time you go in it seems to get a little quiet and your barber doesn’t really talk to you… You have done something rude or you’re one of those ‘no matter how good it is’ you’re never satisfied, and everyone can’t wait for you to leave… If it’s a true barbershop they will probably talk about you when your gone. So be cool, trust the experts and be prepared. Good barbers understand the trepidation that comes with going to a new shop so don’t be afraid to express this. Barbers want you to be pleasantly surprised when you’re nervous.