There is a Difference
I’ll be honest.
When I first became a barber, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
I spent 1500 hours at the Moler Barber College of Sacramento and graduated without knowing much about cutting hair.
Luckily, after graduation I landed a job with a barber that was a “real professional,” he was willing to teach me the art of barbering (to date, he is still the best barber I’ve ever encountered).
What made him such a top-notch barber wasn’t just his knowledge of cutting hair—the man had class, was educated and he respected his profession.
Below are a few important factors that made him a real professional; your barber should exhibit some of the same qualities.
Four Signs You Should Look For
A professional barber will always use professional tools.
If it’s something that can be purchased at Wal-Mart, it’s pretty safe to say that your barber isn’t using a professional tool.
I once filled in at a very successful barbershop (whose name I will not reveal) that was located in an affluent area; I was completely shocked when I looked over and noticed the barber next to me cutting hair with a pair of animal clippers. Unprofessional.
Is your barber being sanitary?
You may think its standard procedure for a barber to use clean tools, but you’d be surprised at how many barbers don’t disinfect their tools on a regular basis.
The germs and bacteria that can be passed on from one customer to the next are scary, but don’t take my word for it read this article that discusses in detail some of the hidden dangers.
A professional barber will disinfect all of the tools before every use on a customer. They should also wash their hands frequently and change their linens regularly.
You should also notice containers that are labeled with the words “soiled” and/or “clean”—by law, these containers must be displayed for the public to see. If you look around the barbershop you should be able to use my tips to determine whether or not your barber is practicing sanitary habits.
A professional barber should be knowledgeable about cutting hair and anything related to their profession. It’s ironic how experience doesn’t always translate to professionalism.
Knowledgeable barbers should be able to use their professional judgment combined with your input to deliver a haircut that you deserve.
If your barber is using plastic attachments on their clippers, or asking you, “What number do you want?” it’s a n indicator that the barber’s skill level is less than adequate.
Anyone can buy a set of clippers at Wal-Mart and within a few weeks learn how to use the plastic attachments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a professional. See Tool Selection.
Also, there is a fine line between giving the customer a haircut that he/she wants versus giving the customer a haircut that he/she should have.
If a customer asks for a “bad” haircut, a professional barber should opt out of performing the work. But when doing so, the barber should also explain the reasons why they are opposed to doing the work and suggest a haircut that is better suited for you.
If you hired a contractor to build a fence and then you asked that contractor to build the fence in a way that was mechanicly unsound, a professional contractor would refuse to do the work the “wrong” way, while an amateur would probably listen to your requests.
Respects the Profession
As with any profession, someone who takes pride in their career choice usually follows a set of ethics (such as those discussed in this blog) pertaining to that line of work.
The same pertains to barbering.
For example, a professional barber doesn’t barter their services; they know that doing so lessens the value of their trade.
Just as you wouldn’t see a surgeon doing side jobs at home, a barber that respects their profession will only perform their work inside of a barbershop. Always.
Is Your Barber a Professional?
A whole book could be written about all of the signs that denote a professional barber; I just touched on a few.
I’ve come to realize that the standards held by the general public towards barbers, is different than the standards held towards other respectable professions. Part of the reason this happens is because barbers aren’t holding themselves to higher standards.
Instead of working towards strengthening the barbering industry, the majority of barbers are weakening it by using unprofessional tools, not practicing sanitary habits, not educating the public, trading their services and most importantly, not respecting their profession.
Again I ask you: Is your barber a professional?