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How to set up a Barber Shop

Barber Shop

Looking to set up a barber shop? We don’t have all the answers, but we have combined our collective experience in the industry to produce a guide for those looking to set up their own barber shop!

As professional barbers who have managed, owned and set up barber shops (and the academy), we put our heads together to combine some of our top tips on how to set up a barber shop.

Things you’ll need:

  • Qualifications or equivalent experience
  • Customers (ideally you would already have built up a good client list)
  • A business plan
  • Funding, capital, or savings
  • A premises or idea of where you want to set up shop
  • A personal license (once you set up)
  • An overall plan
Setting up a Barber Shop

Barber Qualifications

If you’re setting up a shop, not having qualifications means you could be classed as a higher risk when getting quotes for insurance. Plus, many clients will want to know you are qualified for peace of mind.

Before you open your own shop, we would recommend having an industry-recognised qualification, and a few years of experience. It would also be a great idea to register as a State Registered Barber with the Hair Council. Again, this isn’t required, it just demonstrates that you meet certain standards. Also, as touched on above, in many areas you will need to be registered with your local authority.

Customers/Clients

Setting up without clients is possible, but it may take longer to build up a loyal customer base. If you plan to set up a shop, it would be good to focus on having existing customers from either renting a chair or working in another barber shop.

You should also consider where you’re going to set up. You don’t want to be too close to where you’ve worked previously, but you also don’t want to be too far away, either. Too close and you risk not getting many customers, too far and you risk your existing clients being unwilling to travel the extra distance.

In terms of location, think about any up-and-coming places in your area, or consider looking around and see if someone is looking to sell up or rent their premises. Consider parking availability, what and who is around you, and who your customers are.

A Business Plan

Plan for success, not failure (although exit strategies are generally included in business plans nowadays). We can’t stress enough how important a solid business plan is. This will involve researching your area, costs, what you’ll charge, SWOT analysis, competitors, and so much more.

Setting up a barber shop isn’t cheap, but it is doable. You can choose to rent a location or buy somewhere, but this will all depend on your circumstances. Buying a shop requires continuous investment, and we realise not everyone has the means to go down this route.

You will need to factor in:

  • Rent/Mortgage payments
  • Licensing costs
  • Equipment costs
  • What you will charge and what competitors are charging
  • Stock costs
  • Rates (water, gas, electric)
  • Insurance costs (employers’ liability, public liability etc)
  • Tax and VAT
Barber Tools

The good thing about a business plan and taking the time to do it right is that you’ll be able to iron everything out beforehand. Once everything is costed and planned, that usually means that the hard part is out of the way! There is a lot to consider, some of which you can’t plan for, but making sure you have a well-researched plan means there won’t be much left to surprise you.

We would recommend looking at the resources online for your local area. Here in Wales, Business Wales has a lot of information that can help you to set up a business. 

Setting up your Barber Shop

We would advise breaking things down into a timeline to give yourself targets and goals to meet. Give yourself a realistic timeline based on your own situation; factors such as shop availability and funds will all have an impact on when you’ll be ready.

You can break your plan into stages that may look something like the below:

  • Create a business plan
  • Nail down your brand (how do you want the shop and your brand to look? Are you high-end, affordable, or something different?)
  • Find a premises
  • Invest in marketing (such as setting up a website and creating a social media strategy)
  • Source the best prices and suppliers for stock and equipment
  • Renovating/redecorating and fitting out your barber shop
  • Getting everything ready (legally, financially, systems etc.)
  • Making sure you have everything you need before the launch
  • Hiring staff
Barber Shop

This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a few things to consider before you open. You will be able to plan each stage to suit you and your circumstances. The main piece of advice we have is to take your time and do your research. We appreciate it’s difficult to do when you’re working, but you want to do it right!

Make sure you define your goals, understand your market, and we’ll stress it again; you need to spend a lot of time on research. Setting up a barber shop is the same as any business; it will take a lot of work but do it properly and you’ll be set up for success. Many of our students have gone on to open barber shops and have successful careers.

Whatever you choose to do, we hope this guide helps you get started!

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