The Brainy Barber:

Smart tips & tricks for skillfully cutting hair & managing your own barber shop

Don’t Bad-Mouth the Competition!  What Smart Barbers Do Instead

“We Fix Bad Haircuts!” It’s such a common advertising slogan that it’s even in a current TV ad for a sign-printing company! No matter what the cost of a haircut at your shop or theirs, why not try to improve your business by bad-mouthing the competition?

Consider these reasons for not pointing out the faults of the nearest barber shop:

  • You’re giving the competition free publicity.
  • You’re giving the competition a reason to retaliate.
  • You’re daring prospective clients to prove you’re wrong.
  • You’re creating a negative atmosphere in your shop.
  • You’re missing the benefits of a cooperative business relationship.

The smartest businesses of any type never say anything bad about the competition. Instead they:

Learn from what the “other guys” are doing right—or wrong:

Who says you can’t use the good ideas you find in a competitor’s shop? Get out there and see for yourself what’s making your competitor successful—or not. Read books. Go to seminars. Check out the wealth of information on the Internet. Then DO something positive about what you’ve learned.

Develop a mutually-beneficial relationship:

Don’t be afraid to talk to your competitor. Make a friend rather than an enemy. Visit the shop. Complement the manager on the things you notice he is doing right. Tell him about something that’s working well for you. Sharing ideas creates an atmosphere where both of your businesses can grow, and where both of you will make more money than you could if you’d kept your ideas to yourself.

Use their resources to get the word out about their own strengths:

Why spend money or your clients’ time with negative talk or advertising about the competition! Focus on what you do well—without mentioning that you’re “better than the other guy.” Smart customers will come in and find out for themselves. Differentiate yourself from the competition by adding services they don’t have, or by creating a friendlier atmosphere in your shop. If you know that your competitor offers a product or service you don’t have, give them a referral. The chances are good that they will do the same for you, especially if you point out how their new customer found them, and they know your strengths.

The old maxim is still true: “You will catch more flies [customers] with honey than with vinegar!”

To learn more about the benefits from Not bad-mouthing the competition, click here. (link to )

The Brainy Barber:
Smart tips & tricks for skillfully cutting hair & managing your own barber shop

Bad Haircut? Tactful Barbers Don’t Criticize

You’ve got a new client in your chair with a very bad haircut. You know you can make him look so much better, but if you want to build a good relationship and earn a repeat customer, hold your tongue! You may be sorely tempted, but resist saying anything like:

  • Did you cut your own hair?
  • Wow! I haven’t seen that style in years!
  • Did the last guy who cut your hair forget to wear his glasses?
  • Have you looked at the back of your hair lately?
  • You would really look better without hair hanging over your eyes!
  • It must have been a long time since you had a haircut!
  • You’d look much better without a comb-over!

Why is it such a bad idea to criticize the cut a client comes in with? He owns it! He’s been walking around looking like this for who knows how long. He will consider it an insult. He’ll be embarrassed and feel uncomfortable about coming back.

What should you do instead? Start by asking the client the type of cut he would like. He might point out the flaws in his current cut without you saying a word. If it’s clear that he doesn’t notice what’s wrong and asks for a similar cut, be very discrete. To start with, think of something good to say, like:

  • Your hair looks very healthy and thick.
  • You have hair that could be styled in a variety of ways.
  • It looks like your hair grows quickly. That gives you a lot of options.
  • You came to the right place to make the most of the shape of your face.

It may be possible to fix what’s wrong without saying anything about it at all. Or you might say something tactful like, “Many people have hair that grows faster on one side than on the other.” You can blame an obvious flaw on irregular hair growth and suggest that you make that side a little shorter than the over-all cut. Set yourself up as the expert who knows how to fix naturally occurring changes to a person’s hair like thinning, receding hairline, or male-pattern baldness on the crown. Show the client how a good cut can make thick, unmanageable hair behave itself. You might even suggest that the client consider the mood-boosting power of a new style.

The client wants to leave your shop looking better than when he came in. The smart barber won’t comment on the “before” look, but will compliment the client on how good he looks “after” your cut and invite him to come back often to keep it looking that way!

Referrals from current customers can be the most profitable and the least expensive way to increase your barbering clientele. I’m sure you’ve already thought about the importance of great service and expert haircuts in getting referrals. But have you considered how you could make just coming into your shop more exciting? If your shop is like any other barber shop a potential client goes to, then it’s Boring! You want your shop to have a Unique and Exciting atmosphere. Don’t be boring! Instead, try some of these tips!

Make the windows enticing. The windows are like the eyes of your business. Put signage on them that will draw people in, and change it frequently. A flashing neon sign that says “Open” and includes your logo, painting or stenciling on the glass that points out one of your strengths or a new service, something representative of the season of the year—all are ways to get customers to think of your shop as a place that’s interesting and even extraordinary.

Greet customers with a smile and a firm handshake. Ensure that no one come through the door without being made to feel welcome, and don’t let them leave without a business card and an invitation to invite a friend to come in and see what all the excitement is about. You might even want to run a promotion where a discount or a product sample is given to anyone who refers a friend or who comes in as the result of a referral.

Turn your walls into billboards. Paint your walls a pleasing but unexpected color. Then use the space to hang motivational quotes, seasons’ greetings, testimonials from other customers or news of your latest promotion, coupons and service. A flat-screen TV with local programming or streaming video that contains tips and ideas for looking your best will be very attention-getting. A shelf or two with products that are On Sale will draw people in and have them talking to others about the bargains they bought.

Offer treats. A tray of donuts in the morning, a bowl of candy in the morning or free sodas will provide customers with an added bonus and pick-me-up. They’ll feel right at home, and they will want to share their good feelings with their friends.

Use colorful drapes. Add an extra splash of color and create a cheerful environment by using colorful drapes (hair cutting capes) at each station. Have special, child-friendly cover-ups for children that will give them something to look at and help them feel like something exciting is about to happen. It’s a simple thing that can enhance your branding and reputation.

Host a neighborhood party. When you’ve done some redecorating, use it as an excuse for a party! Invite customers and workers in nearby business over to see your “new look.” Serve light refreshments, and hand out business cards and coupons for a future visit.

Don’t forget to ask! Sometimes all you need to do to get a referral is ask for one. If customers are pleased with your work, ask them to tell a friend about their good experience. Be sure to tell them how excited you’ll be to see them and a friend Next Time!

Spending too much time on a hair cut for the amount you charge is the Third Deadly Sin committed by too many barbers! Too much dawdling, too many laughs with the customers, even being the least expensive barber in town could mean that you won’t be able to pay your bills and stay in business!

Master Barber Tim Hite of the Barber School suggests that you charge at least a dollar a minute for haircuts. Do the math! That means you should be able to give a $20.00 haircut in 20-minutes or less! Can you give an excellent haircut in 20 minutes? Is a $20.00 haircut a competitive price in your location? Will you have to work faster and charge less, or will your customers feel that a more-expensive haircut is worth the time you put into it? What can you do to ensure that you give the best haircuts in the least amount of time and at a price that the market can bear?

The first thing to do is some research. What are competitors whose quality of services matches yours charging? Go undercover and get a haircut at one of the more successful shops your customers might go to. How much were you charged? How long did it take? Were you satisfied with the quality of your cut compared with how much it cost? How does the total experience compare with what you offer in your shop? What can you do to bring more customers your way and keep them coming back?

Consider your cost for overhead and benefits. Living expenses are not the only bills you have to pay. Whether you rent or own your space, overhead is a big bill each month. What do you spend each month on tools and supplies? If you have employees working for you, do you offer benefits? The cost for health insurance can be astronomical, whether it’s for an individual, a family or a group. Don’t leave anything out when you’re figuring out what you need to earn per minute in order to stay in business.

Keep an eye on the clock. Something as simple as being aware of the time you take for each cut or service can help you to speed up and to be consistent in the amount of time you spend per cut. You can’t afford to vary the time much from customer to customer. Compete against yourself. See how fast you can go without losing any of the quality you want to be known for.

Improve your skills. If you feel like you’ve reached your peak performance and speed, there are probably things you don’t know that you could learn in order to improve both of them.

  • The Internet can be a great resource. If you’re reading this blog, you’re already at a site where you can learn tips and tricks from the masters. While you’re here, study and follow the tips or invest your time in the online coursework you can find on a site like
  • Watch videos, your colleagues or even your competitors to see what others are doing that you might not have tried. How about having someone video you in action and studying the “play-by-play”!
  • Practice, practice, practice! It’s what musicians do to get to Carnegie Hall! It can make you a master at barbering, too.

Charge the same price for a child’s cut. Some customers might think that a little person should be charged a smaller price for a haircut. Good business sense dictates just the opposite. Children will often make it difficult to cut their hair in the same amount of time and with the same degree of excellence that an adult cut requires. If you offer a special promotion or use a coupon in your advertising, make the offer consistent, no matter whose hair you cut.

Tim Hite says, “If you cut one hair, it’s a hair cut!” Don’t cut one hair, shave a head or trim sideburns for nothing! Time is money! Spend your time wisely, consistently and skillfully and you’ll be more financially successful in the barbering business.

If you asked Master Barber Tim Hite what he considers to be his most important barber tool, you might be as surprised as I was! After guessing— “Clippers?” “Shears?” “A Razor?” “The Comb?”—he walked me over to….. The Mirror!

At first I was puzzled, until he explained that the best way to see if there are any flaws in the haircut you are giving is to put some distance between yourself and the person whose hair you’re working on. He demonstrated how you could step 3-4 feet back from the chair, walk around the person and see the whole effect clearly, OR you could just look at the person in the mirror, while turning the chair. Duh!! And here I thought the mirror was just for the person getting his or her hair cut!

The cliché “Can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind. When you’re standing close to your clients and even looking down on their heads, all you can see is what’s right in front of your eyes. You might be focusing on the crown, the sideburns, the neckline or even the length of the hair on the forehead and trying to get each part just perfect. But until you get the “long view,” you won’t know whether or not your careful cutting all blends together into a perfect whole—the “look” your client asked you for.

The way to do that frequently, quickly and efficiently is to Look in the Mirror!

A quick look up at the mirror and you can see that one sideburn is longer than another. A quick turn of the chair and another glance at the mirror will tell you if the hair is tapered evenly all around the head. A profile view might show you some hair sticking out where you left it a little too long. All of these little flaws can be corrected once you can see where they are!

Using the mirror is a skill that takes practice. When you were learning to drive a car, you probably had to be reminded to look in the rearview or side mirrors frequently. You had to get used to the fact that things appear backward in a mirror compared to what the eye alone sees. Things often do not appear to be quite their normal size. Excellent barbers practice using the mirror right along with the clippers, comb and shears!

Just as the Wicked Queen in the movie “Snow White” looked in the mirror to find more than her own reflection, you too can ensure that “the fairest one of all” is the client sitting in your barber chair!

What Good Barbers and Good Bartenders Have in Common:

Listen to your customers’ troubles – leave your negative speech at home!

It’s a movie and TV cliché. The customer sits at the bar pouring out his latest hurts and disappointments, while the bartender seems to be listening with rapt attention but rarely says a word. Even though he has a somewhat captive audience, we don’t expect to hear about the negative things going on in his life. People getting a haircut have the same expectations. They sit in the barber’s chair expecting to be pampered, listened to and leave looking and feeling better than when they came in.

You may have mastered the skills necessary for giving a good haircut, but your clients might not come back unless they enjoy the whole experience. It order for that to happen, it’s important that you be perceived as an empathetic but not a negative person! How can you ensure that happens?

Be a good listener: Your first job is to listen to the client describe how he or she wants their hair cut, but you’re likely to hear a lot more than that! As clients relax under your skillful clippers and shears, they might tell you not only the problems they’ve had that day, but some of the major challenges in their lives. Make sure they know you are listening by giving short replies, but……..

Don’t give advice: Your clients expect a good hair cut! They don’t expect you to be their shrink, even though they may talk like it. Giving advice to someone you barely know can be offensive and sometimes dangerous. It may be okay to ask them what they think they should do or are going to do about this latest disaster in their lives, but don’t risk giving them advice, even if it seems obvious to you! Your advice might touch a nerve or it might even be followed! If things don’t work out, what then? They might blame you!

Don’t respond with your own negative experiences: If we hear something that seems similar to what we’ve experienced, we’re tempted to tell our own sad stories! We think it might help the person to know that someone else has gone through the same crap we have, or that they might feel like they’re not so bad off after all. The truth is, no one likes to be around a negative person, especially one they’ve just met. If you want the customer to come back, don’t burden them with your latest car trouble or the argument you had with your wife before work. It’s much more appealing to keep an upbeat attitude and lead the conversation in a positive direction. It’s the professional thing to do!

Keep confidences: If your client does tell you stories that they wouldn’t want just anyone to hear, don’t be guilty of passing them on to someone else, even your co-workers. Everyone likes to hear a good story, but you wouldn’t want it to get out that you can’t be trusted to keep your clients’ confidences. If your client hears something from someone else that they only told you, your relationship is likely to be over!No neJo

Above all, be positive about your job: Hopefully, you love your job. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a barber! However, everyone has a bad day now and then, and sometimes it’s not even related to work. It just comes out sounding that way. How would you feel about going to a dentist who spends the time you’re in his chair telling you how much he dislikes fixing teeth? You probably wouldn’t go back. You might think, “How can someone be good at doing something they don’t like?” If your feet hurt, if your commute was awful, if you’re missing out on a great outdoor activity because you had to come to work, don’t tell your client! All he or she needs to know is how happy you are that they chose you to cut their hair and how much you hope they’ll come see you next time!

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You can avoid being the kind of barber whose clients leave your shop with a red, scratched and irritated neck. Instead of being known as a “red neck” barber, be the one whose clients rave about their perfect cut. With just a few tips, you can create an even hairline, a neck free from unwanted hair and fuzz, and repeat clients who have no complaints about the pain and suffering they had to go through to get the job done.

1. Use your comb to measure the distance between the natural neckline and the middle of the collar. Then roll it from side to side to determine where to cut an even line of distribution all around the neck.

2. Adjust the clippers to medium and turn them on. (See our video on how to hold the clippers for the greatest flexibility.) Put the flat side of the blades against the neck.

3. Using no pressure, and with feather-like strokes, lightly move the clippers up the neck to the pre-determined neckline. A good pair of clippers won’t require pressure to cut the hair close to the skin. Pressure is one of the common causes of skin irritation.

4. Don’t turn the clippers upside down! Turning them over and moving them down the neck can leave red, painful marks. Repeat the light strokes as needed to remove all the unwanted hair. Take care not to cut into the even neckline you’ve created.

5. Remove the cut hairs remaining on the neck by dusting it lightly. Carefully remove the drape so that no hair goes down the client’s neck. Even if you’ve done a perfect job with the clippers, you don’t want the client to remember the haircut by constantly scratching an itchy back the rest of the day!

When you’re finished, let the client see the perfect job you’ve done by holding up a hand mirror while facing away from the mirror on the wall. Point out the even neckline and the clean neck. Remind him to come back soon to keep that great look!

To see an actual demonstration of how to cut a perfect neckline, watch the video of Master Barber, Tim Hite above.

Was this video helpful? Do you have other tips to share? Enter your comments below.

Grungy fingernails, rancid breath, rumpled clothes, offensive body odor and more—overlooking any of these no-no’s of personal hygiene can determine whether or not a potential client will sit down in your chair, come back for a second cut or head straight for your competition. The first impression you make counts big-time when building up and keeping a barbering clientele. Take a personal inventory! Can you rank yourself as “Professional” in all of these make-or-break-a-relationship areas?

  • I took a shower this morning. Avoid the risk of offensive body odor by showering daily and using deodorant. A little not-too-strong aftershave or cologne might be a plus as long as it’s not used as a cover-up. Don’t forget your hair! Remember, you’re supposed to be the expert on well-groomed hair.
  • My clothes are clean and pressed. It definitely can’t hurt to look better at work than you do when you’re lounging in front of the TV or working in the yard. Launder your clothes frequently—spots or not—and press them, unless they are made of a wonder-fabric that doesn’t need ironing. No rips or tears either, even if you bought something off-the-rack that way! Exceed the dress code in your shop.
  • My nails are clean and manicured. Your nails are going to be very close to your client’s face, or easily visible in the mirror. Dirt or grease under your nails and nails that haven’t been recently trimmed and filed can be a big turn-off. Would you want Your hands touching your hair and scalp? If the answer is “No,” better spring for a professional manicure every couple of weeks and clean under your nails daily.
  • My breath smells clean and fresh. What did you eat or drink last night, this morning or for lunch? Did you brush your teeth after eating and use a mouthwash or a mint to ensure that your breath won’t be offensive to those who don’t want to experience your meal second-hand? If you have any doubts, ask a co-worker whether your breath passes the “It’s safe to be near you” test!
  • My shoes are comfortable AND presentable. Anyone who works on their feet all day has to wear comfortable shoes or risk getting very cranky. But those shoes shouldn’t be the same worn out athletic shoes you wear to jog or mow the lawn. It’s a fact that some people will look at your shoes first and pass judgment based solely on them! Invest in a pair of conservative, comfortable shoes that you save for work.
  • My hair has been professionally cut. Why would anyone trust someone to cut their hair whose own hair looks like they haven’t had a good cut recently? Consider your clientele—sex, age, ethnicity, economic status, etc.—and make your hair an example of the kind of cut you think they can at least admire, or even want to try on themselves.

Do you pass every test? Will you leave a first and lasting impression that is professional in every way? A “Yes” answer will be the start of a great day and of building relationships with clients who will be back to your chair again and again.

Barbering e Barber School's StoryWe were told that we were wasting our time.  “I just don’t see it” said others.  “Barbering can only be taught in a one on one setting”.  “Online barber classes will not be effective.”  These were some of the comments made as people became aware of our desire to create an online Barber school.

Well we have now created barber courses that are taught online.  In fact, we will be launching The Taper Haircut course in a matter of weeks!  This is the first time that Mast Barber Tim Hite will be sharing his secrets of the taper haircut outside of the classroom.

Master Barber Tim Hite is one of the most experienced and well trained barber of our time.  As we contemplated how rare his knowledge and skills are it became obvious that we needed to somehow capture as much of his knowledge as possible to share with future generations.

Continue Reading…

The routine of Barbering is just that…routine. Each cutting movement must be repeated each time the customer comes in, in order to get consistent results. People expect what they got. Customers want the same experience and haircut the last time that they came in. That is why they are coming back. Consistency means everything to a Barber. It is amazingly simple to do each haircut as a matter of routine without necessarily remembering each step of the haircut. Think of the last time you drove home. Do you remember thinking about each turn as you got closer to home? No. You are familiar with getting home and it just becomes second nature. This becomes a routine.

Routines are made up of basic principles. In your mind the haircut is a picture and a plan. Your eye has to visualize the cut in the hair in front of you. Your hands must be able to execute the plan that you have visualized in the hair. This is where a routine is so valuable. A routine is habit force. You do the same process over and over. You are not in unknown territory because you have done the process countless times.

Once the professional routines are established in your mind, eye, and mind, and your hands are in place, you are a Barber. You can do any haircut expertly and in a very short time. (something that ammeters struggle with) You can perform one pick up, one cut and then you move on. This is why you should carefully learn correctly the very best ways from a professionally trained Barber. When these habits are set, they are the framework that determines your income and you career.

Most people do not have the knowledge to cut hair. However many people can be very critical of how a haircut is performed. Mothers and wives will watch a barber cut their families hair. Occasionally they will jump in and say “let me show you how to do it”. After all how hard can it be right? Others will just start cutting hair without any proper training. Anyone can cut hair off. It takes practice, discipline and proper training to become a successful Barber.

The truth of the matter is there is a lot to understand and know when cutting hair. Cutting hair is a process of very specific techniques and movements. It is the understanding of a proper routine. Anything else is cutting hair off. That is what untrained people do. Owning a set of clippers only makes one dangerous without proper training. The world if full of posers and amateurs. They want to look and play the part of a Barber but have not made the sacrifice required to become a professional.

Learn a proper routine and you will be closer to what others envy…..a Barber.