Joseph Lanzante shares his insights into what a trip to the barbers might look like when lockdown is eased
In the latest government guidelines issued on Monday 11 May, it looks like hairdressers and barbers will open on July 4 at the earliest. This means that people won’t have visited a barber or hairdresser the since the lockdown commenced on 23 March which is a total of 15 weeks!
Most men will visit the barber on average once every two months, so when the UK’s lockdown is finally lifted, the hair industry is likely to be inundated with customers looking to book much-needed appointments.
The question is, how can we adapt to ensure staff and customers are kept safe? How should we manage demand when social distancing is likely to be enforced, and what trends might be on the rise as a result of this huge social change?
As a barber myself and owner of a string of shops as well as the Joseph Lanzante barbering training academy, I understand more than anyone the impact this lockdown has had on our industry and people’s livelihoods, but we will recover and come back stronger than ever.
There is no shadow of a doubt that barbers’ shops will be inundated when lockdown is lifted and I’m expecting the government to enforce strict guidelines around social distancing to protect staff and clients. Due to the nature of salons, the barber or hairdresser has to come into close contact with the client, so gloves and masks will be worn and disposed of after each client. We must all take responsibility of this and not be afraid to take all the extra precautions.
For the first few weeks and months, many salons and barbers are likely to extend their opening hours to cope with the demand. My best piece of advice is to get booked in now as these appointments will be like hot cakes. Booking now will also help support your local barber whilst times are challenging.
You may find your first experience back in the chair to be quite different, with salons likely to operate an ‘every other chair’ policy to allow adequate space between clients. I am planning to put my staff on two 6-hour shifts a day to begin with, which will allow for longer opening hours whilst also providing relief for barbers who will have to work in protective masks.
You’re not alone if you’ve attempted to cut your own hair at home! The hair industry is expecting to see many customers whose wives, girlfriends and mothers have got hold of the scissors. The knock on effect of this is that barbers and hairdressers will have many repair jobs on their hands which will take more time in the chair.
I am already planning to do a big promotion on our ‘Welcome back grooming package’ which will offer a number of treatments in one visit. You may find it advantageous to book something like this so you leave the salon feeling sharp and well groomed. In terms of hair trends, we’re going to find a lot of men will have grown their beards long, so beard trims are likely to become more popular.
Similarly, lots of men who have grown their hair might decide they want to keep growing it, so this may signify a shift away from fades and blends going towards more layered haircuts and longer hair.
For the first few months many salons will only be breaking even whilst repaying depts and recuperating from losses. You may find that your local barber or hairdresser has decided to add a small price increase, anywhere from 5% - 10%, so if you usually pay £10 for a haircut, expect to pay £11. As a customer you won’t really notice this small increase, but as a business owner, it really will make a difference when multiplied by 20 clients a day. As we are currently going through a huge societal change, people’s spending habits have changed quite drastically. For most, we’ve been at home not spending as much on leisure, restaurants and holidays so it’s possible that many people will feel like splurging on themselves with a fresh new look.
Male grooming products are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the barber industry. Anti-ageing creams, night creams, moisturisers, exfoliators are all reasonably affordable luxuries that you can purchase at many barbers.
Many blokes rarely visit the shops, so learning about new products in the barber’s chair can help you understand what will benefit you the most, especially if you’ve not spent a lot of money on themselves in recent weeks. Barbering doesn’t have to be about the necessity of getting of haircut, it can be an indulgence, something to make you feel better, the same as ladies do when they visit the beauty salon.