Spa Pro Q&A: The Barber Spa Boom
Three “barber spa” owners discuss the ever-expanding, male-centric spa trend.
Judging by the statistics we uncovered while researching our March men’s issue cover story, one thing is clear: men are visiting spas in greater numbers than ever before. And not just in the U.S.: from Africa to Australia, guys are looking to be preened and pampered too.
Here, we spoke with three “barber spa” owners about what’s helping their male-centric businesses burgeon, and how they’re successfully standing out from the crowd in an increasingly busy field.
The Gents Place
Location: Dallas and Frisco, Texas, and Leawood, Kansas
Size: 2,095 square feet (Frisco); 3,200 square feet (Leawood); 3,100 square feet (Dallas)
Services: hair cuts; shaves; manicures and pedicures; massages; shoe shines
Although The Gents Place menu offers services that range from haircuts and shaves to pedicures and massages, owner Ben Davis carefully distinguishes his business not solely as a spa, but as a “men’s grooming and lifestyle club.”
The barber-spa was initially conceptualized and founded in 2008 in Frisco, Texas. Since then, Davis has opened two more locations: the second in Leawood, Kansas, in early 2011, and a third in Preston Hollow, a Dallas suburb, in mid-2012.
The shop’s top seller is its 7 Course Hair Service (55 min./$75), which includes a personal hair consultation, shampoo, cut and style; paraffin hand dip; scalp, neck, shoulder and hand massage; face refresher and hot lather neck shave; plus a complimentary beverage from a fully stocked bar.
It’s this 7 Course service that the business’ unique membership club is modeled around. The membership offers options for clients requiring regular cuts and spa services, with monthly and annual fees that include services every one to four weeks, depending on the package. Among the other perks are unlimited upkeep services, a free monthly shoe shine, discounts on retail products and spa specials, and the use of the Gents’ meeting room, “a spot to host your next sales meeting or close your next business deal,” according to the website.
“Having a membership model — and the specific way we approach that model — is something I’ve not seen anywhere else in the market,” says Davis.
Location: Norfolk, Virginia
Size: 3,500 square feet
Services: Hair cuts and colors; shaves; manicures and pedicures; facials; waxing; massages
Aware that the male clientele at Changes City Spa felt self-conscious about receiving services in the female-dominated space, owner Atoosa Cobb decided to opened Jake’s Place, a male-only salon and spa, in the same town.
“Today’s men are looking for a spa that makes them feel comfortable. They need to feel like this is their place, where they can open up and talk about any aspect of their hair, nails or grooming needs,” explains Cobb. “These men who come to Jake’s, our clients, can get a haircut and a Hot Lather Shave while watching their favorite show and sipping on a local brewed beer.” One of the most popular services is The Full Jake’s Signature Experience (60 min./$65), which includes a Classic Haircut, Spa Shave, refreshing Scalp Treatment and Buff-n-Shine MANicure.
The spa and salon offer shaves, waxes and pedicures to everyone from Norfolk’s mayor to local college students, and many of the repeat customers are loyal fathers eager to introduce Jake’s Place employees to their sons. “It feels good to say you get your hair cut by your dad’s barber,” says Cobb. “These young men are our next generation of guests.”
Cobb cites a lack of education courses as one of her businesses’ main challenges. “We have a large budget set aside to fly in the best education available to our staff,” says Cobb. “We actually spend more on education and less on advertising, because, thanks to our staff’s technical skills and customer service, our customer satisfaction is excellent and our number of word-of-mouth recommendations high.”
The Men’s Room Barber Lounge & Spa
Location: Rochester, New York
Size: 2,100 square feet
Services: hair cuts and color; shaves; manscaping; manicures and pedicures; massages; facials
The Men’s Room attracts many different male clients, from construction workers to teachers to CEOs, but according to Rebecca Webster, a licensed master barber and cosmetologist who co-owns the salon with her husband, Craig, they’re all looking for the same thing: exceptional quality and service.
Express packages such as a haircut and manicure (30 min./from $55) or shave, manicure and mini facial (45 min./$65) are particularly popular. Indeed, many of the spa’s clients are on a time crunch, so while they’re looking for a comfortable yet masculine environment, they’re also drawn to the fact that the spa offers them a place to clear their head — away from deadlines and work pressure.
Along with that pampering comes education: the enthusiastic staff teaches clients about the importance of grooming while performing the services. Education for employees is just as high on the agenda. Such attention to detail ensures clients keep coming back. “We care, and it shows,” says Webster. “We’re a small, family-owned business. How our staff treats our clients — and the fact that they feel good while doing so — goes a long way.”
When asked about the most challenging side of the business, Webster points to management. “I oversee daily operations. To have an owner/operator is a huge advantage. But as we have grown, the need for solid management has caused problems. We have it in place now, but during our early years finding the right person was a challenge.”