Square cannot provide advice on tax issues. This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Maybe the experience of cutting hair at home during the pandemic made people realise just how challenging it can be. Maybe it’s the sociability of the barbershop experience. Whatever the reason, more and more people are heading to their closest barber to spruce up their looks. If you’re thinking about opening a barbershop (or expanding into a new location), this guide walks you through everything you need to know.
Step 1: Perform market research to learn how to stand out from the competition
You could be a barber starting from scratch, leaving your clients with the old barbershop. Alternatively, you could be bringing your own book of business with you as you open a new shop yourself. In either case, it’s critical to do market research to determine who your target audience is.
This often depends on your location. For example, if you’re near a university, it makes sense to market to students. Understanding who is in your location and what they want from you helps you acquire clients faster.
Next, research other local barbers and businesses. Find out what other barbers charge in your area, what services they offer and where their shops are located. Stand out from the competition and avoid opening a location too close to another well-established barbershop. The one exception here is if you plan to target a clearly different market.
When looking for a location and thinking about your marketing strategy, find a niche that you can serve. Ideally, look for a niche that’s underserved. For example, if your competitors are focusing on adults, then consider making your shop family-friendly. The better your market- and competitor-research, the easier it is for you to find a niche that works for you.
Step 2: Decide on your business structure and complete all your legal obligations
If you’re operating on your own, then your choice is between operating as a sole trader or starting a limited company. This choice is not set in stone, and you can convert from one to the other.
Setting up as a business requires administration and also has tax implications. Think carefully about the right approach for you to avoid having to make rushed changes. Ideally, take professional advice on it.
If you’re working with other people, you could work as individual sole traders, form a partnership or create a limited company. This situation can be a lot more complex, so definitely get professional advice on your best approach.
Once you have your business in place, complete the other legal formalities. For example, you can open a business bank account and sign a lease or mortgage on a shop.
Register your business with HMRC as quickly as possible. You probably need to register it with your local authority as well. Getting local authority registration may require you to show proof that you have a certain level of insurance.
Step 3: Choose the right location
When looking for the perfect location for your new barbershop, there are a few things to consider. When you first open up, 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 plenty of 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 it easy to reach by foot or public transport or do you need parking space? If you have parking space, is the parking area accessible with a sufficient number of 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.
Understand what you need or expect from your location before you rent or buy your shop. 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, choose a location where your business sign is visible and the atmosphere is welcoming.
Step 4: Estimate your set-up and running costs
Set-up costs vary widely by location, even within the same local authority. Therefore, do your research on the exact area you plan to open your store. Running costs tend to be less variable. Allow yourself some breathing space in case of unforeseen circumstances (e.g. heatwaves and cold spells). Here are some of the key points to calculate:
The cost of renting or buying a physical store and providing the infrastructure it needs e.g. utilities
How much gross income you can earn and how much it will vary over the year
How specifically you will earn that income. For example, will you only provide services or will you sell products as well?
How much it will cost to equip your barbershop and what to expect to spend on replacing tools and products
Your marketing costs
Remember that your budget can be influenced by your choice of service providers. In addition to standard utilities, think about payment services. These days, most customers want to pay with a card or mobile, so you need acceptance facilities.
Square offers a wide range of payment hardware at reasonable prices. They also offer very affordable card- and mobile-processing services.
What’s more, once you’re connected to Square’s ecosystem, you get access to a huge range of tools and integrations. Many of these are either free or freemium. For example, Square Appointments makes it easy for clients to book appointments through your website.
Step 5: Build your brand.
In fact, the branding of your barbershop should be a top priority throughout the entire process. As with business structures, it is possible to change the name of a business, but it would create extra work you probably want to avoid, and it could lead to customers becoming confused.
As soon as you’ve settled on a business name, work on getting it in front of potential customers. Get a domain name and create a website to take bookings. Do both easily with Square Online.
Claim social media handles on all the main platforms even if you don’t intend to use them. Currently, the main platforms are Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. Keep an eye open for up-and-coming platforms. If you see any, claim your place on them too.
Have a logo. Create one yourself using free tools such as Canva. Or it may be worth spending a little money to have a truly unique one designed for you by a freelancer.
Get discovered by potential clients
Craft a strategy for starting your marketing efforts and scaling up once you start to grow. Social media is a very cost-effective way to get your name out there, but you don’t 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. Use Square Appointments to integrate with your social media channels so that your clients can book directly from your Instagram, Facebook Business and Reserve with Google accounts.
Online scheduling, payments and more with Square Appointments.
Scheduling software that helps bring in more business.
Another great way to get discovered by potential clients is to create a Google Business Profile listing. Square Online has built-in SEO tools for your site, so you can also integrate your Google Business Profile listing with Square Appointments. This free profile lets you provide the location of your business, photos, services and content information for your barbershop.
A Google Business Profile listing and strong SEO practices boost your discoverability both on a typical Google search and whenever your potential clients search on Google Maps. Your listing allows clients to leave reviews, and your review rating entices other potential clients to come to your barbershop as opposed to other competitors in the area. Once your website, SEO and Google Business Profile listing are set up, test and run paid ads to target these clients directly based on their demographics, interests and locations.
With these marketing tactics in place, expand your efforts with promotions, print advertisements and loyalty programmes. Remember that the most economical and best form of marketing is always word of mouth. Ask your customers to refer you to their friends and families and to leave reviews online if they had a great experience.
Create the customer experience
Branding isn’t just about a name, logo or online presence. It’s also important to create a welcoming and unique customer experience. Your branding can extend into the physical layout of your shop and your tools and products.
Investing in high-quality clippers, shears, razors and other shaving equipment goes a long way to creating a brand for your business. When you evaluate barber tools, pick the right ones for your business and your budget. These are tools you use every day, so paying for higher-quality brands is generally very worthwhile.
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, have your appointments, rebooking, and check out all in one without extra cords or clunky chargers.
With less clutter, you can keep your space minimalistic or create more space for upsells at the checkout. If you’re looking to maximise efficiency and convenience, Square Reader is a quick and easy way to take payments. It helps bring an appointment to a seamless, hassle-free close.
Step 6: Build your team
Once your business and location are established, build your team. Choose between hiring employees and renting or leasing chair space (or doing a combination of both). Here are the key points to consider.
Are you confident about managing and potentially training barbers?
Are you comfortable you will have the cash flow to pay employees?
Do you want to control the marketing for your barbershop or would you like individual barbers to market 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 maybe even other supportive part-time employees to help stock or clean the barbershop throughout the day.
Having a motivated and passionate team is essential to building a successful business with a welcoming atmosphere. One way you can incentivise staff members to promote your business actively is by offering a commission if they sell more services or products. Square Appointments is a great tool to keep track of these upsells and can be customised as tiers based on a barber’s seniority or tenure.
As your team grows, Square grows with you. Square Team Management is an all-in-one solution to manage your team that allows you to schedule, manage and pay your employees right from your POS.
Step 7: Manage your clientele
The key to generating word-of-mouth marketing for your business is to create a positive client experience. Your customers want to feel welcome from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave – and afterwards.
Managing your clientele and their preferences makes 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 have all the details and preferences of each client ready to go before they walk through the door. For example, you can know what style of cut they received last time and when their last visit was, allowing you to provide a more personalised visit for them.