Career Tips from Pall Mall Barbers

Today our Academy and students were graced with a guest lecture from Adrian of Pall Mall Barbers, in Trafalgar Square, London. He took an hour of his time to sit with 15 of our students and share his 20+ years experience in the barbering industry.

Here are some of the highlights from Adrian:

Consultation is the most important part of service: 

Getting the consultation right is key to getting the haircut right. The consultation is done before the haircut and is a verbal agreement between the barber and the customer. During the consultation you get to know who your client is, their lifestyle, and the type of job that they have. From there you can suggest a hairstyle that might suit them and tell them what is required to maintain that style, such as a wax. In the consultation you also will show the client how much you will take off a haircut. With a good consultation you greatly reduce the likelihood of giving the client something that he doesn’t want. And once a client becomes your regular, then you likely won’t need to give a consultation anymore since you already know what they want.

Always be learning:

There is nothing worse that not knowing how to do a haircut that a client requests. After 25 years as a barber, Adrian still watches his colleagues do some haircuts to learn specific techniques or approaches. If he doesn’t know how to do something then he’ll ask a colleague for advice on how they would do it. He also recommends watching videos on youtube and other websites.

You can always improve your skill. You can never know it all; if you think that you do then you’ll fall flat on your face one day. Try not to make the same mistake twice– find out what went wrong and figure out how to get it right the next time.

Beards are in:

Adrian highly recommends learning to wet shave and to trim beards. He has been seeing more and more men getting their beards groomed, in styles such as Edwardian, chin-strap beards, and lined beards.

Tips for finding a job:

  • CV: Get that CV down to 1 page, list your experience, and include references.
  • Find the job before it exists through networking: Get your CV and a smart outfit, and go introduce yourself at a bunch of shops. There may not be a job available at the time, but something might open up shortly thereafter, and they’ll remember you and perhaps get in touch.
  • Look smart in an interview: An employer will form an impression about you within the first 10 seconds. Make sure you look the part. Don’t wear jeans, a t-shirt and trainers. On the other hand, don’t wear a suit! Wear some nice trousers or dressy jeans, some nice shoes and a collared shirt.
  • Be prepared in an interview: Bring your CV, a portfolio of your work, tools and model along to the interview. Show that you have a good attitude and can work in a team. Say hello to everyone in the room. Look at the shop’s website beforehand and learn the names of the employees if listed on the site.
  • Money is the last part of the conversation: Don’t bring up your salary until the end of the conversation. If you don’t like what is offered, then you can try to get a verbal agreement to review this pay in 6 months’ time. Most employers try to low-ball you on salary at the start until you prove yourself. Earning £300 per week as a starting barber is a good salary.

Choosing the right shop:

Adrian gave some tips on selecting the right shop to work at. As a junior barber, you’ll want to surround yourself by more experienced barbers so that you can learn from them on a daily basis. Don’t just select a shop based on pay, as this might be the short-term decision. Ideally you’ll want a place with experienced stylists, great pay, and a convenient location.

Aim for getting your own shop:

With time, after about 5 or so years, you might consider opening your own shop. This is where the money is. But just know that you first need some experience, and perhaps a mentor, to help you learn how to deal with those tricky situations involved with running a shop.

Barbering is great:

Hey, a half-decent barber is never out of work. People always need their hair cut. The profession is great since you can have a day full of laughs with clients and go home with a load of money in your pocket.

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