December 13, 2017 Taylor Scott

Why It’s Important to Make “Walk Ins” Feel Welcome

My grandfather was a barber for nearly 50 years. So that means I was blessed, growing up, with frequent (and free) haircuts.

To this day, I get a haircut once per week. I’m loyal, to a point, with my barbershop patronage. However, sometimes proximity, timing, and where I happen to be at the moment determine which shop I choose.

Welcome is a feeling, and the ‘feels’ usually close the deal

Recently I was in a particular part of town where I live, on a Saturday morning, and decided to “pop into” a barber shop whose sign on the window read, “Walk Ins Welcome.”

I stepped two feet in the door, and the two barbers turned, slowly, with a nonchalant, “…can…we…help…you…?” greeting. It was as if I was imposing, entering without proper identification or even credentials to deserve a haircut.

Not exactly “welcoming”.

To make things worse, I asked, “Well, I’m in the market for a haircut {thinking to myself, which is why I walked into, um, a BARBER SHOP!}. Do you have any availability this morning?”

The two of them acted as if I’d just asked them to work a double shift, into the wee hours of the morning, and the look on their faces suggested that I’d just taken away birthday. They finally responded, with, “well, I guess we could get to you in about an hour…”

I’m good. And…I won’t be back.

A true welcome…and more

Contrast that experience with a much different, and far better one two miles down the road.

I walked into Ray’s Barber Place – North in Dana Point, CA, where I should have gone in the first place.

Two feet into Ray’s door, and her eyes lifted up immediately from the cut she was in the middle of at the moment. A huge smile lit up the room, and she immediately said, “Hey! Long time no see, buddy! I haven’t seen you in forever, but I follow all your posts on Instagram!”

I sat down on the bench, with college football on numerous tv’s, glanced to the two other barbers cutting their own clients’ hair only to meet them both with smiling faces, eye-contact, and a head nod to truly welcome me in. For a split second, some all too familiar feelings of walking into my grandfather’s barber shop came over me.

Ray tended to her own client’s needs, finishing up within minutes of my entrance, and her warm welcome. The phone rang twice while I waited a few short minutes for her to finish. She answered each call, personally greeting, and inviting two more clients into her shop.

She finished up with her client, closed him out at the cash register, and quickly (but not in a hurry) came back around, and said, “…alright, hop up here. I’ll squeeze you in before my next guy.”

She was booked, back to back to back before Noon that day, but that didn’t matter. She still managed to welcome me in, nail it on my quick 1.5 guard all-around buzz cut, making conversation the entire time. Ray also took two more phone calls as she was cutting my hair, inviting two more clients down to her shop, with a smile in her voice.

Her next client walked in, as she was midway through my haircut. Same thing. She greeted them with a smile, welcomed them into the shop, and immediately let them know she would be right with them.

It was busy, but she never skipped steps with my haircut. Mind you, I’m a bit of a haircut snob, having the craftsmanship of my very own grandfather, “Barber Bill”, for the first 23 years of my life, so I notice a few things when it comes to my haircuts.

For example, the week prior I got my haircut “at the other place”, and the minute it got busy, the fella cutting my hair skipped steps. He didn’t trip my ears, shave my neck, or line me up on the sides.

Ray, on the other hand, nailed every element. The big stuff, small stuff, and she connected along the way. When I asked her, “How’s business?” She simply said, “It’s growing!

Didn’t surprise me a bit.

She also got the revenue from my haircut, which “the other place” did not get. In addition, she enjoyed a 25% tip on top of it. And I’ll be back next week. And the week after that.

If you’re in a service business, or any business for that matter, the art of making people feel welcome is a differentiator which truly sets you apart from the competition, and it doesn’t necessarily cost a dime. 

It just takes a heart for hospitality.

When people walk in, make them feel welcome. It’s the “feel” which not only closes the deal, but also keeps them coming back…

Have a great day.