"Why does the barbering industry favour self-employed chair renters over employing staff? This is a question I have found interesting since starting my own male grooming business a little over three years ago. I have been in the industry for 15 years, and I find the industry one of the most creative and inspiring out there. It’s full of amazing businesses with great brands, training and entrepreneurs. But is it time to shake up how we build and grow our businesses?
I chose to employ my team because it suited my intention of growing a brand and having a team of people all pushing for the same goal. If I chose to set my business up as a chair rental business, it would mean the following would be up to the individual and not that of the owner: what days or hours to work, how to charge, which clients to take on, how to dress for work and much more.
However, quite often self-employed barbers aren’t given any of the above choices. This, alongside the lack of job security (which has been an issue throughout the pandemic), no pension, and no secure monthly income, makes me sure that employment is the right option for me and my barbers.
Someone renting a chair should be marketing their own business within a shop the way they would like to. People who rent chairs can’t be expected to train an apprentice or take part in any in-house training and development. Why are shops not complying with this? Why are shops getting away with treating the self-employed like they are employed without the benefit? Maybe it’s because it’s the way it’s always been or maybe some shop owners feel it’s too expensive to employ staff. As a whole, I don’t think barbers charge their worth. High street salons’ average haircut price is more than that of a barber’s.
Employing staff can have huge benefits for both staff and business owners. For the employee they get state pension, a standard monthly wage with options of commission, tax and National Insurance sorted, in-house training as a company standard and paid holiday.
For the employer I believe it builds a great culture, offers both protection for both employee and business owner, control of prices and hours worked – and personally I love the satisfaction of helping someone in their career. I know there are great barbershops out there that rent chairs to the self-employed correctly, and do a good job and make a good living. When done correctly and fairly it can be beneficial too.
But my team is the reason the business is great. It’s my responsibility to keep them as part of the shop’s future and culture, and to give them the benefits of employment. We are currently living through the scariest of times to be a business owner. Brand logos and great decor are only part of a brand – your staff/team are the real brand. Maybe now’s the time we set barbershops up to echo this and push this great industry even further forward.”
KEEP THE CONVO GOING…
If you run a successful business using a chair rental model we’d love to hear from you. Share your side of the story and why you employ your barbers on a self-employed basis by emailing email@example.com or dropping into our DMs on Instagram @modernbarbermag