As salons and barbershops across Pennsylvania try to keep up with changing safety guidelines, we sat down with a local shop owner to chat through his experience. A Kennett Square native, Mark Avery, aka Juice the Barber, opened his own shop in November 2019. Mark’s shop is the KSQ Barber Lounge and offers everything from haircuts to hot lather shaves. In our conversation, Mark shared great insight around the value of building relationships with customers.
- Shop website: vagaro.com/ksqbarberlounge
- Instagram: @ksqbarberlounge
- Instagram: @_juicethebarber
- Twitter: @_juicethebarber
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What was it like opening a few months before the pandemic?
- When he launched his own barbershop, Mark was excited when both existing customers (from his previous job) and new customers began to fill his book of business.
- The shop was doing well, with 5–10 new customers coming in every week.
- Mark was serving 40-60 customers per week before the COVID-19 shutdown hit.
- The KSQ Barber Lounge offers a new experience with the one-on-one barbershop.
What happened during the COVID-19 lockdowns?
- When COVID-19 lockdowns hit, Mark couldn’t do anything. He had to close.
- Yet, the first year of a business is so vital to its success, to have it all to a complete halt was tough. Mark needed to turn to family for help.
- Getting economic relief from the government was tough because he opened in November 2019. He only had five weeks of a tax return to use as evidence of earning.
- Eventually, Mark was able to secure a grant for his business.
How do you manage having folks in the barbershop?
- The safety measures require additional tasks to keep the barber lounge clean, and both himself and customers safe.
- Mark has stretched all of his appointments to 45 minutes, even if the service provided takes less time.
- Between each appointment, Mark cleans the shop and his tools, and the extra time between appointments gives him the time to be thorough.
- For his business, it’s not as bad since he already focuses 1-on-1. Stretched his time slots a bit to give him a chance to wipe down everything – any surface that gets touched by the client gets wiped down.
How’s business since brick-n-mortar shops were allowed to reopen?
- As of late August, it’s hit or miss.
- It’s a mix; a lot of people have seen a drop-off because customers don’t feel comfortable; especially at bigger shops.
- Mark limits the amount of people in the shop – i.e., who can be in the shop in addition to the customer in the barber chair – so customers feel comfortable.
How are you communicating to your base?
- Mark admitted that he has slacked on reaching a wider audience.
- For current customers, Mark regularly sends email and texts – especially after he reopened.
- Mark made it clear that he needs to do more on social media.
- He wants to create a video documenting his cleaning procedures and practices.
- But he needs to take more pictures and post more regularly.
- Mark tells everyone who owns a business that social media is free marketing. He knows he needs to up his work there.
- For booking appointments and full business details, the barber lounge uses a site called Vagaro: https://www.vagaro.com/ksqbarberlounge
- Mark uses social media to build relationships with customers.
What are you hearing in the “barbershop talk”?
- When it comes to talking about the economy, Mark is hearing every end of the spectrum.
- Clients and friends are worried about jobs and businesses.
- Restaurant owners might not be able to open safely, especially outside the summer season.
- There are also people who are taking the opportunity to try something new or open a new business.
- Mark closed out the show with an eloquent monologue on how if we focus more on the relationships, the money will come. He explained that everyone comes from different experiences and we can learn from all of those experiences.