Despite the challenges of recent years, the barber shop has proven to be endlessly resilient.
With the constant demand for grooming services and the prospect of repeat loyal customers, opening your own barber shop can offer lucrative potential.
But while the industry is highly fulfilling and allows for creative expression, it isn’t a venture for the faint-hearted. Setting up a barber shop requires specialised skills and significant upfront investment. What’s more, barbers are facing increasing competition and rising business costs.
If that doesn’t deter you from pursuing your dream, then this guide covers everything you need to know about starting your own barber shop. Let’s get started.
1. Create your business plan
Setting up a successful barber shop begins with a well thought out business plan.
This document will serve as your roadmap, outlining your goals, strategies, and financial projections. It should detail areas such as branding, marketing strategy, management, cashflow, and earnings.
You should also consider including a competitive analysis to understand your local market better, your unique selling points and how you’ll fit in.
Your plan will prove useful not only for your own guidance, but also if you need to secure any funding or financial support on your business journey.
2. Determine your services and pricing
Gaining a competitive advantage within the barber shop industry will come down to a number of factors, including the types of services you offer and the prices you charge in return for them.
To start, you’ll need to understand where you’re positioning yourself in the local market, and gauge what your competitors are offering and charging for various levels of work.
Consider your brand image – for example, do you want to be the affordable go-to for traditional barber’s services, or do you want to offer a more luxury grooming experience?
While traditional barbers will typically offer haircuts tailored to the customer’s preference in terms of washing, styling, beard trims, and facial grooming; a more luxury service may provide hot towel shaves, scalp massages, facial treatments, and hair colouring.
Wherever you decide to position yourself, keep in mind that competitive pricing can help attract initial customers, but you will need to ensure your pricing is sustainable and profitable in the long run.
3. Choose your location
When opening a new barber shop, your location can make or break you as a business.
Your choice will significantly influence the foot traffic and visibility your shop receives. With that in mind, you should seek out an area with a high concentration of your target demographic and consider proximity to commuter routes, up-and-coming parts of town, and complementary businesses, such as beauty salons, offices, or fitness centres.
You’ll also need to assess the accessibility of the location for both customers and staff. Easy parking or nearby public transportation links can make your shop more appealing.
Choosing your premises
As well as selecting your general location, you will need to choose suitable premises for your barber shop. Take into account aspects such as size, potential layout, and interior design. You should also carefully assess your lease terms and conditions and negotiate rental agreements that align with your budget and long-term business plans.
If financial resource is limited, you might want to consider renting a shared space within another premises or operating as a pop-up. These options can provide cost-effective ways to establish your barber shop while still benefiting from a strategic location. Shared spaces can offer built-in foot traffic, while pop-ups allow you to test the waters in various locations without the commitment of a long-term lease.
4. Register your business
Once you have the logistics of your barber shop in place, you’ll need to choose your business structure.
There are several business structures to choose from, but the two most common types you should consider are setting up as a sole trader or as a limited company.
If you’re running your barber shop alone, then setting up as a sole trader is the most straightforward structure with the fewest administrative responsibilities.
As a sole trader, you’ll operate your business as an individual without forming a separate legal entity. This means you will have complete control over your day-to-day business activities; however, you will be personally responsible for all business liabilities and any business debts.
You must also register for Self Assessment with HMRC and complete a tax return each year.
A popular choice for barber shops is to register as a limited company.
Operating as a limited company provides you with limited liability for any debts the business incurs. Not only this, but limited company status can help project a more professional and credible image to customers as well as business partners.
Limited companies also have more tax planning opportunities compared to sole traders, and can potentially reduce their tax liability by taking advantage of various tax reliefs and allowances.
5. Get clued up on regulations and training
While there are no statutory requirements to be officially qualified as a barber, it’s a good idea to earn a recognised qualification and keep up to date with the latest training, to stay in the loop with the newest barbering techniques, trends, and safety procedures.
Typically, you should possess a BTEC or NVQ Level 2 or 3 from a reputable training provider. As well as equipping you with invaluable knowledge, having this qualification will help strengthen your credibility in the industry.
Handling chemical substances, sharp tools, and coming into close contact with customers means there are also a number of health and safety measures you must be aware of. For detailed guidance on these issues, you might want to consider joining a professional body like the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF).
Additionally, to run your barber shop legally, you may need to register with your local council and obtain a licence depending on the rules in your location. Each local council has different requirements, so get in touch with yours to ensure you’re aware of the regulations that apply to you.
6. Get insurance
As a barber, it’s essential that you protect yourself and your business with adequate insurance, in the event that a customer or employee happens to make a claim against you.
Public liability insurance can offer protection should an accident involving a member of the public arise, such as an injury on your premises or an unsatisfactory service.
You might also want to consider equipment and contents cover, which could prove to be a vital lifeline should your equipment malfunction or break suddenly, covering repair and replacement costs.
Meanwhile, if you hire staff, it is a legal requirement for you to have employer’s liability insurance. This will offer protection should an employee become seriously ill while on the job.
7. Hire barbers
As your barber shop begins to take shape, you may find that the demand for your services exceeds what you can handle on your own. This is a good problem to have, and a sign that your business is thriving and ready to expand.
Nowadays there are a number of avenues to advertise jobs. You can create listings on your website or social media pages to attract candidates who are already familiar with your brand. You could also use online job boards and platforms like Indeed and Reed to reach a wider pool of candidates who are actively searching for new roles.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of your local network. Word-of-mouth referrals, connections within the industry, and partnerships with local barbering schools or training providers can help you find experienced barbers who may not be actively searching for jobs, but are open to new opportunities.
Taking on employees for the first time can be a daunting task. To ease you into the experience and as a more cost-effective option, you might consider hiring an apprentice, who’ll work with you alongside studying for a barbering qualification.
8. Promote your barber shop
Attracting and retaining customers to your barber shop goes far beyond your physical presence. To build a loyal customer base and keep your chairs filled, you’ll need to implement effective marketing and promotional strategies. Here are a few areas to focus on:
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential.
Create a professional website for your barber shop, that includes essential information such as services, pricing, opening hours, contact details, and an online booking function.
Optimise your website for search engines (SEO) to ensure potential customers can find you easily when searching for barbers in the area.
Leverage social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to showcase your work, engage with your audience, and build a community of loyal followers.
Share high-quality photos, before and after images, and videos of your haircuts and grooming services. Make use of social media advertising to target a wider audience in your local area.
Loyalty and referral programmes
Consider implementing a loyalty programme or referral scheme to reward repeat customers. Offer discounts, free services, or exclusive promotions to those who frequently visit your shop, and encourage satisfied customers to refer friends and family by providing incentives for each successful referral.
Word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool for growing your customer base.
Starting your own barber shop is no mean feat, but with the right amount of dedication, it can be a hugely rewarding venture.
We hope this guide has provided you with enough information to get started on your new business journey. Remember, if you need any assistance getting started, then we’re here to help you each step of the way – contact our team of experts today.