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February 13, 2023
If you’re a man and you have hair, then you’re probably used to that sinking feeling you get at the barber when you’re looking back at yourself in the mirror. You know what you wanted your barber to do, but for one reason or another, he’s cutting and shaping your hair into something else. And short of shaving it all off, there’s not really much you can do about it.
It’s easy to blame the ability of the barber in this situation, but a lot of the time, it just comes down to miscommunication between barber and customer. Often this is because customers don’t know how to explain what they want, and barbers struggle to understand exactly what to do based on vague ideas and descriptions.
Solving this issue can be beneficial for both parties: customers who get the cut they want, and barbers who get satisfied customers and repeat business. This guide gives you five tips on what to ask for at the barber, to get the best results every time.
If you’re reading this guide, then you’re already part of the way through step one. Research is everything in communicating to a barber what it is that a customer has in mind. And this goes much deeper than just finding the name of a particular style.
That’s because every customer and every head of hair is different. Some men have hair that’s longer than others, thicker than others or darker than others, for example. Then there’s the shape of the head to take into account, and where there might be any crowns. And on top of that, the current popularity for beards and facial hair add a new dimension to the conversation. Exploring ideas that work for personal characteristics is therefore the ideal starting point.
You wouldn’t go into a garage to get your car fixed and ask them to take a look at ‘the thingy next to the engine’. So why would you go into a barber and ask them to take ‘just a bit off here and there’?
There is a surprising amount of terminology involved in barbering, but it isn’t a secret code: all the right vocabulary is out there for everyone to find if they look hard enough. Knowing the right phrases for what you want can break down many of the barriers in communication. Start by looking at guard numbers, types of fade and tapers, as these will form the foundation of most common men’s hairstyles.
Armed with research and terminology from the first two points, you’re now much better-equipped to work out a concise description of the haircut you’re looking for. If you can boil down all your preferences into a few short sentences, then you can deliver this to your barber as soon as you hit the chair, and start everything off on the front foot.
However, it’s important to be flexible to a certain extent, and not to stick too rigidly to your description. A good barber will be able to offer some advice on how your idea can be tweaked here and there to deliver an even better end result.
During the research stage, it’s highly likely that you’ll have searched through photos of different styles, and found some that closely resemble what you’re looking for. If you’re struggling to translate that visual style into a verbal description, then there’s no reason that you can’t take the photo with you and show it to the barber.
Many barbers use design and style like Pinterest themselves, so that they can keep up-to-date with trends and be able to offer advice and suggestions. Using the same apps to find your style inspiration, and showing your findings to the barber on the day, can help make sure that nothing gets lost in translation.
Don’t forget that barbers will have cut thousands of heads of hair over the years, and will have a wealth of experience and expertise that you can take full advantage of. And at the same time, they want you to get out of their chair feeling happy with the cut you’ve received.
Never feel afraid to ask for their opinion as they’ll be more than happy to help. Whether you’re not sure if your idea is right for you, or they want an expert view on a new style, remember that there’s a professional ready and waiting to assist.
If you’re a barber reading this, then you’ll already have plenty of experience of customers that struggle to get their preferences across. This guide can act as a business aid in helping them – and you – get the results you want.
Another important business aid for barbers is insurance, so that you don’t suffer financially should anything unforeseen occur. Protectivity offers specialist barber business insurance policies, including public liability, personal accident cover, equipment cover, and employers’ liability insurance (if you employ other barbers).
Our cover can give you peace of mind, help you grow your business with confidence, and starts at less than £4 a month. Take a closer look at all our options for barber business insurance here.