This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, accounting, or tax advice. The information contained herein is subject to change and may vary from time to time in your region. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Whether it was the realization of how challenging an at-home haircut could be during the pandemic or the camaraderie of the barbershop experience, people are heading out to their closest barber to spruce up their looks. If you’re opening your first barbershop or thinking about opening a second or third location, this guide walks you through the steps to open a barbershop.
Step 1: Perform market research to learn how to stand out from the competition.
You could be a barber fresh out of school and starting from scratch or leaving your clients behind with your previous barbershop to open a new shop yourself. Whatever the case, it’s critical to do market research to determine your target audience, whether it’s men, women, kids, families, or simply anyone with hair. What’s trending in the beauty space right now? Depending on your location, an understanding of your audience can help you find clients faster.
Next, you’ll want to research other local barbers and businesses. Find out what other barbers charge in your area, which services they offer, and where their shops are located. What makes your barbershop different? Do you bring something new and fresh to your community, like Cait and Sam at Good Fortune Barbershop in Winnipeg? You want to stand out from your competition and avoid opening a location too close to another well-established barbershop.
When looking for a location and thinking about your marketing strategy, find a niche you can serve. To really stand out, look for underserved niches (both client- and service-wise) in the area. Do you want to market to high-end clientele? Families? Only to children? Offer services most barbershops don’t? Whatever niche it might be, ensure it’s in line with the market and competitor research you’ve done to set yourself up for success.
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Step 2: Decide on your business’s legal structure.
Now for the crucial part of opening a barbershop: the legal structure. If this is your first location, determine whether you want to operate as a sole proprietorship, corporation, or partnership with another owner. Review the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website or ask a trusted accountant about the tax implications of each structure and how they can benefit your business.
On the CRA website, register for a My Business Account. Once you register your business with the CRA, you’ll get a business number. As with any business, you also need to obtain insurance and the necessary licences to operate if your shop is in Ontario (starting a business in Ontario is a little different than other provinces) — otherwise, Canada doesn’t have a regulatory body for barbershops. The CRA requires businesses to obtain a GST number and for businesses to ensure they properly charge HST and GST and remit timely payments. To be certain of your requirements and responsibilities, contact a trusted attorney and a licensed insurance agent in your area to help you get started on both.
Step 3: Figure out your finances and expenses.
How much does it cost to open a barbershop? Setup costs can begin to pile up when figuring out licences and policies for a new business, so be sure to budget for all operating costs. If you haven’t established a budget, this is an important step in understanding how much you’ll need to bring in each month and how low you’ll need to keep overhead for your barbershop to be successful. If you process payments with Square, you may qualify for Square Loans. A customized offer based on your card sales through Square will appear in your dashboard if you qualify.
You’ll want to:
- Choose whether to buy or rent the property for your barbershop.
- Estimate how much you can expect to bring in per year.
- Find out how much you can charge for services based on your market research.
- Figure out the cost of all physical tools needed to perform those services (i.e., scissors, razors, etc.).
- Estimate marketing costs to acquire or retain clientele.
Once you establish your budget, open a business chequing account to keep business finances and responsibilities separate from your personal finances. If you don’t have a trusted accountant to work with, it’s important to do extensive research about the financial accounting for your small business and what your financing options are. If you’re looking into loans, lines of credit, or even dipping into your savings, be sure to account for each of those scenarios and the fees or interest rates associated with each.
To keep track of incoming payments and revenue accurately and efficiently, you’ll want to have the point-of-sale system that best suits your business in place. With the extensive product options at Square, you can have all your data, earnings, sales, and team performance reports in one place. There’s no need to integrate any additional subscriptions since everything with Square is already integrated. With products such as Square Appointments, Square Team Management (if you’ll have employees), and Square Loans, your business can be up and running smoothly in no time.
Step 4: Build your brand.
While this is step four in our guide, the branding of your barbershop should be top of mind throughout the entire process. Depending on how you structure your business, you’ll need to provide the name of your barbershop to apply for your My Business Account, business number, insurance, and licences. Once your business name has been approved, it can be a challenge to change it, so be thorough when discussing and deciding on a name.
Once you choose a name, it’s time to kick your creative side into high gear. You can choose to design a logo yourself with free accessible tools, such as Canva (you might even find it worthwhile to upgrade to Canva Pro). Or, if you aren’t the artistic type, you can hire a freelance illustrator to design one for you. Remember, your name and logo will be your clients’ first impression of your business.
Your branding should be approachable to your target client and used in all marketing materials from business cards to your barbershop website.
Get discovered by potential clients
Take some time to craft a strategy for how to begin your marketing efforts and for how to scale up once you start to grow. Social media is a very cost-effective way to get your name out there, but this doesn’t mean you have to have a presence on every social media platform. Find the platform where your target audience is, and focus heavily on the strategy there first. You can even set up Square Appointments so your clients can book directly from your Instagram, Facebook Business, or other social accounts.
Once you have those marketing tactics in place, you can expand your efforts with promotions, print advertisements, and even a loyalty program to reward your best clients. And remember, the cheapest and best form of marketing will always be word of mouth. Be sure to ask your customers to refer you to their friends and families and leave reviews online if they had a great experience.
Create the customer experience
Branding isn’t just about a name, a logo, or an online presence. Your website should be fast and SEO-optimized, sure — but it has to function well. Square’s Canadian SEO lead Sean Carey’s advice to business owners with an online presence? Even in the beauty business, “you can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
A welcoming and unique customer experience can lend to the development of your brand, such as if you plan to sell branded products in your shop’s retail space. Your branding can also make its way into the physical layout of your barbershop and the types of tools you use.
An investment in high-quality clippers, shears, razors, and other barbershop equipment can go a long way to create a brand for your business. When you evaluate barber tools, be sure to pick the right ones for your business and your budget. These are tools you’ll use every day, so splurging on higher-quality brands such as Wahl or Andis could make all the difference for your client experience.
If you want to create a clean and sophisticated look, the new Square Stand transforms your iPad into a sleek and stylish POS system. Complete with tap and chip reader capabilities, you can take care of appointments, rebooking, and checkout all in one place without extra cords or clunky chargers. With less clutter, you can keep your space minimalistic or create more space for upsells at checkout. If efficiency and convenience are your game, the Square Reader allows you to take payments while the client is still finishing up, giving them a more seamless experience before they walk out the door.
Step 5: Choose the right location.
When looking for the perfect location for your new barbershop, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. Especially when you’re first opening up, you’ll want to consider the amount of foot traffic near the location. Is the storefront hidden, or will people see it as they walk by? Is it in a busy area with other businesses? The more foot traffic and the busier the area, the more potential there is to get walk-ins.
Is your storefront conveniently located? Is the parking area accessible with enough parking spaces, or is it hard to park? Is the entrance to the door easily accessible? The convenience and accessibility of a business can often make or break it, especially if it’s your first location.
It’s important to understand what you need or expect from your location before you buy or rent your storefront. Remember, it’s all about your target client and their interests. If you want your barbershop to be a local hangout, situate yourself in a location that lends itself to that dynamic. If you are relying on walk-in business to kickstart your clientele growth, be sure to choose a location where your business sign is visible and the atmosphere is welcoming.
Step 6: Build your team.
Once your business and location are established, it’s time to build your team. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, recruit barbers who you know will have your business’s success in mind. If they have the motivation to grow, they’ll want to support the growth of your business as well.
If you’re deciding whether to hire employees or to rent or lease chair space in your barbershop, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:
- Will you hire less experienced barbers with the expectation of training them?
- Will you accept payment up front for rented or leased chairs, or will you take a percentage of each cut?
- Will you promote your barbers or empower them to promote themselves?
You may want to hire a receptionist to help with scheduling and to welcome clients when they walk in, an accountant to help with the finances, and even other supportive part-time employees to help stock or clean the barbershop throughout the day.
A motivated and passionate staff is essential to building a successful business with a welcoming atmosphere. One way you can incentivize staff members is by offering commission if they sell more services or products. Square Appointments is a great tool to keep track of these upsells and can be customized into tiers based on a barber’s seniority or tenure.
As your team grows, Square will grow with you. Square Team Management is an all-in-one solution to manage your team. It allows you to schedule, manage, and pay your employees right from your POS.
Step 7: Manage your clientele.
When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing for your business, it’s all about a positive client experience. Your customers want to feel welcome from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave, but their experience with your barbershop doesn’t end there.
Managing your clientele and their preferences can make all the difference when it comes to providing an extraordinary experience and setting your business apart from competitors. With a strong management and scheduling system, you can save all the preferences for each client (as well as their contact details and loyalty points) and be ready to greet them before they walk in the door. You can know what cut or style they received on their last visit and when their last visit was, allowing you to provide a more personalized visit for them every time.