Are Walk-Ins Becoming a Thing of the Past?
If this question were asked prior to March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, I can almost guarantee that 90%+ of the barber industry would have laughed. The answer would have gone something like “No walk ins?! Yeah right, how are clients supposed to find us?”. Even today I feel that many barbers and barbershop owners are scratching their heads on what the walk-in situation in the shop should or should not be and rightfully so. Walking into a barbershop signing in for the next available spot with no clue how long you would be there for was “Just the way it was”. If you went to a more popular shop your day would virtually have to be planned around your haircut, some would even look forward to it. As a barber for over 10 years now I get it, walk ins have always been part of the industry. It was a moment in time where you would get to hang out with a group of mostly men chatting about sports, cars, relationships, neighborhood happenings, and so much more. Making appointments were normally considered to be more of a “hairdresser/salon thing”. The most common comment I would hear on appointments was (In a deep voice) “I’m too busy, I can’t commit to a specific time for a haircut. I just want to come in whenever I have free time”.
Like most, our shop (The Original Clip Joint) was a barbershop that catered to walk in clients. We were extremely fortunate to be one of the busiest shops in the Covina, CA area with an overwhelming amount of walk-ins. We would leave space in between appointments for the possibility of taking a walk in. We even had an $8 appointment fee which was intended to encourage more people to walk-in.
Then in what seemed like a blink of an eye, our doors had to close, the world was at a standstill and our walk-in glory days were in the rear view. Part of the CDC guidelines that were put in place by most states for reopening were that you could not have people waiting inside your establishment which meant that walk-ins would now have to wait outside or in their car. Not really the social event we were used to but in the name of safety and wanting to look fresh for that hot socially distant date night people were going to have to champ it out and others would finally get the chance to go for that Van Halen look they always wanted.
Once we began to strategize what we were going to do and how our business was going to move forward, one of the first things my wife (IG. @alleycatbarberette) came up with was to find a good appointment software that could meet all the needs of our business and help us comply with the new guidelines. After much research and considerations, the software we chose was Squire. It easily integrated with our website, appointments are made quickly and conveniently with the professional of your choice at any of our two locations, it keeps track of all your business statistics and a nice plus was that clients could fill out our COVID waiver through it and begin to feel safe coming back in for their service. I know what you are thinking, why didn’t I do this years ago.
OUR BUSINESS SINCE MAKING THE CHANGE
Finally. Our “OPEN” neon sign came back on, and clients started to flow back into the shop. Transitioning to a more appointment-based system from the walk-in dominant system we had has taken a bit of work and getting used to but all in all it has been one of the best business decisions we have made.
Taking appointments online makes it easy for anyone surfing the web (Google, Bing, Yelp) to find you and book their service on the spot. It’s like having a business card, window decal or flyer that has a “Book now” button on it. The chances of converting your social media posts and website visitors into clients increases tremendously. Also, when a client books an appointment with you, you create a great line of communication with them and can communicate promotions, discounts, valuable grooming information like this cool blog your reading, holiday and product specials and any important announcements that can contribute to a better overall experience. You can have access to real time data on how your business is doing and how you can make better decisions for the growth of yourself and/or your team in the future. Your clients no longer must plan their day around a trip to the barbershop and now both of you can be more present to the time spent in the chair.
I get it, there is a certain nostalgia about walking into a barbershop and hanging out or choosing to get a haircut last minute as you’re driving by. I get the word “appointment” can sometimes seem as big a commitment as “I do”. I promise, not having to drive to the shop just to find out you should have brought lunch and dinner to have before your haircut is a good thing. It is easy, you call or click and BAM you know exactly what time you will be in and out looking “Mas firme que wow” as my brother Mario (IG: @chefmariocristhernan) would say.
“Stay hairy my friends. “
-Written by our very own COVINA BARBER JOE CHAVEZ