Barbershops these days are more than just storefronts on Main Street USA with fluorescent lighting, linoleum flooring, and helical-striped barbershop poles to greet businessmen and retired gents looking for cuts and shaves. Nowadays, barbershops have character and appeal to men of all ages, professions, and economic status. Take for instance Beardsgaard Barbers in Batavia, Illinois. In a community with a population around 26K, this relatively newborn barbershop, one that has only been open since September of 2014, is a prime example of a shop with appeal. The owners, Natalie & Tyler Anderson, have the education, experience and the right amount of nerdome to pull it all off.
This Anatomy of a Salon will give you a comprehensive look at how they achieved and maintain their success and some insight into how creating a niche brand and business can make you stand out amongst the competition
NOTE: Natalie & Tyler also have a way with words, and while we were gathering all this data below, they elaborated and explained a few things in greater detail. We didn’t feel right taking credit for their witticism so we added in some quotes here and there.
Shop Name: Beardsgaard Barbers
Shop Address: 117 South Batavia Avenue, Batavia, IL 60510
Year Opened: September 2014
Average Service Price: $36
Average Color Service Price: N/A (no color/chemical services performed)
Most Requested Service: The Dual Wield Service called “Haircut & Beard Fixin.’”
Most Requested Color Service: N/A (no color/chemical services performed)
Most Effective Form of Marketing: Word of mouth.
Rewards Program: They don’t offer discounts or promotions, but have a million and a half weird little ways of making clients feel special.
Method of Client Retention: Most effective method is just by keeping it real and making the environment inviting and keeping the clients feeling comfortable and “at home.”
Average Length of Client Relationship: Varies largely due to a number of clients who followed the barbers and owners from their previous places of employment.
Average Client Growth: 100% due to the owners doubling their staff.
Average Revenue Growth (Annual): 100% due to the owners doubling their staff.
“We are an old-school newfangled, barbershop that blends the best techniques from across the industry, time and space to create perfectly executed, easily wearable heads of furry stuff that are worthy of the epic journey many of our clients undertake to enjoy our services. We are a destination for classic barbering techniques, a museum for antiques and nerdy, and an apothecary for unique, rare, heritage, small brand and local products, including our own meticulously crafted and tested line, River Peak Apothecary. We are a place where the misfit toys belong. We are family. We are home.”
Three Biggest Obstacles:
- Opening: Finding the financial resources after an investor backed out at the last minute.
- Staffing: In the beginning it was a challenge, but has been resolved due to hiring experienced barbers and creating an apprenticeship program.
- Capacity: Balancing the “supply and demand.” Beardsgaard staff is usually booked out at least two to three months in advance.
Designer: Hired a designer to create the logo and for some website building consulting.
Cost: Logo creation was $350.
Method/Tools Used: Adobe Creative Cloud. They are learning how to use the program as they go. Pricing varies for this, but for a business it is roughly $70 per month for all the apps.
Cost of Branding Materials (Monthly): Minimal due to utilizing Adobe Creative Cloud.
Method for Maintaining Consistency: Because their branding is so heavily based on who they are and they always stay true to that, they believe it comes across as relatively consistent.
Front Desk: Mac equipped with MindBody Online. Shopify for web-based sales.
Throughout the Shop: Each barber has the MBO app on their phone so they can see all the details of their schedule for the day (or any day in the future). High-Speed WiFi available to all their guests.
Price Determination Formula: Due to their services being mostly labor-based, the cost involved in the service is very minimal. They like to stay in that “sweet spot” between basic and high, high end. High end enough for the barbers to make a competitive living, but low enough that clients can afford regular visits, all while ensuring the numbers square with their sales goals.
Services Based on Experience/Training Price Determination: Beardsgaard has two levels of barbers—staff and apprentice. Apprentice services are 15% off as a thank you to clients for their patience with slower times and commission adjusts with that.
Designer: Beardsgaard is responsible for all the decisions that have been made.
Contractor/Professionals: A professional plumber was used to get water to the main area. A wall was built by themselves to hide pipes. Approximately $7K was spent along with money for paint.
Description in 3 Words: Meticulous, Nerdy, Whimsical.
Personality: The lovechild of Joss Whedon and Ron Swanson with Deadpool’s vocabulary (and a great beard).
Color Scheme: Various shades of blue, gray, green, yellow and brown.
Chosen “Theme”: Beardsgaard states they consider themselves a fantasy world and had to rely on earth colors and tones.
Chairs: The story behind them is Natalie and Tyler knew they wanted old chairs, and the ones they have in the shop pretty much fell into their laps. One of Natalie’s clients owns Antique Taco down in Chicago in the Wicker Park neighborhood and had quite a few of them on hand. They are all 1920s-era: two being Koch brand and two being Koken. “They all have their quirks, but we love them like our decrepit children,” adds Natalie and Tyler.
Sink/Bowl: There is only one located in the shop and is porcelain.
Accent Pieces: Pieces around the shop were acquired thanks to both their own mother’s garage sale addictions, along with a combination of furniture from their own household and various childhood toys.
Flooring: Original hardwood floor.
Lighting: Due to the shop being very long and narrow, they have had to take a multifaceted approach by utilizing overhead fixtures equipped with blown seeded glass and Edison bulbs. These light up the original tin ceiling above. They have then scattered floor and table lamps throughout and to punch it up, they have globe string lights above.
Percentage of Budget for Rent/Mortgage (Monthly): 18%
Percentage of Budget for Utilities (Monthly): 2%
Percentage of Budget for Maintenance (Monthly): “Sometimes nothing, sometimes an absolutely stupid amount, like when a major system breaks,” shares Natalie and Tyler. “Old buildings are fun. It’s been hard to find a representative average yet.”
Number of Employees: 7 (including owners). 5 are barbers and 2 are support staff.
Levels of Expertise: You are either a staff barber or an apprentice barber.
Qualifications/Determination: Apprentice barbers are licensed barbers that are generally new, out of school or otherwise not yet at a technical (or confidence) level to handle the work Beardsgaard clients expect in the usual amount of service time.
Team Description: “A cheerful bunch of weirdos that live to make people look good. Gleefully obsessive misfits.”
New Hire Qualities: “Passion is the most important quality we look for in a new hire of any persuasion,” adds Natalie and Tyler. “Finding the exact right mix of technical skills and personality in a single person is so rare that those people may not exist. We all learned these skills, they can absolutely be taught, but you can’t drag more passion and enthusiasm out of people with training alone. Being too cool for anything is pretty much an instant disqualifier, even the guy in a touring metal band (he is definitely our coolest employee) will get over-the-top silly when called for. Must also have excellent emotional intelligence, fine motor skills, be able to dance the fine line between tact and inappropriateness, and having a stupid human trick or two in their arsenal doesn’t hurt, nor does being intimately familiar with deep canon lore from an obscure fandom. Do you speak Klingon? Let’s talk.”
Methods for Continuing Education: Natalie and Tyler support their apprentices and staff barbers training and education on an ongoing, even daily basis. They also bring in educators on various techniques and products, and conduct their own in-shop classes, off hours. They will even cover the cost of education.
Front Desk Qualities: The following is an advertisement they posted when they were looking to fill an opening at the front desk:
Front Desk Script (Y/N): Not necessarily a phone script, but definitely an order of “priorities” has been established and is set in place. For instance, “Everything happens up there at once,” adds Natalie and Tyler, “so depending on the needs of each person waiting on the phone or in person at the desk, they can get everyone taken care of in the most efficient amount of time. Want to check in? That takes but a moment, you’re first. Want to buy a gift certificate? That’s going to take a minute, feel free to pet the shop dog, oh wait, you’re already doing that.”
Departmentalized (Y/N): No
Structure: Commission. Booth rental didn’t give Natalie and Tyler enough control over the quality and details of client service.
Pay Structure: They have a scale for service commission where the barbers start out at a base rate (could be different based on their experience and technical skills), but to get to the higher commission, barbers have to put in the extra work.That includes helping out around the shop, jumping in at the desk when needed, and helping Natalie and Tyler train the apprentices. As they say, it pays to be engaged around there. Retail commission is standard across the board.
Team-Building Strategies: They are a bit adventurous and creative and like to make movies with fake blood and zombies. See for yourself. This was an actual Beardsgaard team-building retreat. NOTE: The shopkeep (who dies twice in there) had only been working at Beardsgaard for a couple of weeks when they filmed this. Kind of literally a trial by fire. https://youtu.be/gNQZHZ4VUlQ
Conflict Resolution Strategies: “We’re all relatively direct,” adds Natalie and Tyler, “so if there’s a thing, we deal with it head on, immediately, and nothing ever really becomes a big thing.”
Maternity Leave Policy: N/A
Health Insurance: It is something that is currently in the works.
Substance Abuse Policy: According to Beardsgaard, “It’s kind of Mayberry around here. Half the staff consists of a straight-edge guy, a guy who doesn’t drink and a teenager.”
Retail Line(s) Carried: Davines, Midwest Beard & Mustache Company, Iron Heritage, Merlin’s Beard, Brooklyn Grooming, Captain Fawcett, Hudson Made, Prospectors Pomade and Reuzel. Also, carry shave mugs from a nearby potter called Glazed Over & Fired Up and have their own line of beard oils/products called River Peak Apothecary.
Criteria for Retail Lines:
- Quality ingredients with flawless functionality that do exactly what it’s supposed to.
- Unique, heritage, hard-to-find, handmade, local, small-batch brands (or any combination thereof).
- Beautiful packaging that fits in with the shop overall theme (the general era is medieval through the 1940s).
- Excellent branding and web presence (in their words – brands that either aren’t active with their communities or are and get mean-spirited or political online are ones they tend to stay away from).
- If it makes them (or their product-junkie regular clients) “lose their shit” and they can’t live without it, it’s a winner.
Profits from Retail: Ranges between 35 and 40% over the last 6 months.
Retail Selling Strategies: According to Natalie and Tyler, “We know hair (and beards and skin and shaving), and we know our products. We’re just matchmakers and knowledge dispensers, then, whatever happens, happens. And we do take credit cards (not too many barbershops do), so the lack of cash is never a hindrance to desire.” They also have an Experimentation Station so clients can sample all of the products.
Product Knowledge Sources/Frequency: This is happening on a constant and consistent basis. According to Beardsgaard, they talk about products in the chairs all day, every day, and it’s ingrained in everything they do. They also have occasional dedicated training classes on individual product lines as needed.
Percentage of Budget on Retail (Monthly): 38% (on average).
Backbar Products: All of the products located in their retail area.
Method for Determining Amount Used: They have one of each so they can use all the things on their clients, but none is actual “back bar” sizes so they do run through them all at a reasonable rate.
Percentage of Budget on Backbar (Monthly): On average approximately $75 per month. “We use some pretty great products, one of the selling points is that this stuff is super concentrated, you don’t need a bunch.”
Beardsgaard does not offer any color services to their clientele.
Average Age: 38
Average Income: $90,000
Lifestyle/Type: A mixed group. According to Natalie and Tyler, “This area is suburban-bordering-on-rural and right on the river, so there are tons of outdoorsy types out here, as well as hippies-on-the-inside folks who are all grown up and get haircuts now. Lots of parents too (partly due to the average age), so most of them are in a very kid-centric part of their lives and often bring the wee ones along. Luckily we have the Shop Kid Extraordinaire (she’s 7) to steal everyone’s children away to our rad kid’s cave. She may be starting a cult, we’re not sure, but she does keep them well occupied in here. We also have a remarkable amount of artists, musicians, makers and craftsmen around here. This place seems to draw the creative type, whether they do that for a living or just for funsies.”
Target Market (Y/N): Yes
Describe a Client: “They really run the gamut around here. The majority of our clients are dads and either overt or closet supernerds, but otherwise, they vary from the giant biker/Viking/lumberjack types to modelesque grandpas to average Joes. Some come to us because they take style very seriously and want something very specific, some come to us because they have no idea what they want, short of help from a pro who knows how to make them look good. We also have a few badass ladies in for our services, but as we always say, if you would be offended being called “sir,” we shouldn’t be your barber. Short and masculine is what we do, we aren’t concerned with people’s’ actual gender.”
Percentage of Referrals: Actual percentage unavailable. Beardsgaard shared that the vast majority is via referral and through web searches (thanks to SEO).
Strategy for Unhappy Client: A lot of frustrations experienced by the clients is due to the lack of available appointments (NOTE: Beardsgaard is often booked up to three months out) and to help remedy this they have a barber on staff to handle walk-ins daily and have a weekly “Walken Wednesday” special.
Method of Client Removal: At this time Beardsgaard has not been forced with having to “fire a client.”
Online Reviews (Y/N): Yes
Social Media Engagement: Natalie and Tyler shared that they are some occasional meme wars that happen with the clients and a lot of fun interactions on a regular basis.
Technology Available for Clients: Clients can book their appointments online through MindBody that also allows the client to opt in for text and email reminders.
Additional Correspondence: Nothing besides following up on any questions or concerns the client may have had while in the shop that wasn’t answered right then and there.
Platforms Used: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube
Marketing Strategies: Social media is used more as a means to bring the community together through humor and engagement.
Paid for Strategies: N/A
Type/Frequency: Beardsgaard updates or time-sensitive information gets emailed when needed.
Photo/Graphic Source: Created in-house. Stock photos when necessary.
Email List Building Strategies: When Beardsgaard opens up a new month of booking availability, all the newsletter subscribers get an email the instant it happens so they can grab their spots before the rest of the world is alerted the next day.
Type/Frequency: Not currently, but in the future.
Side Note: If you haven’t entered to win the River Rock Apothecary Giveaway, you can do so, HERE.
Think you have what it takes to be one of our featured salons? Tell us in the comments below why and what makes your salon stand out amongst the rest.