As of writing this in December 2021, I’ve been a barber in the hair industry for around 8 years. I’ve witnessed a few forms of competition that muster a wide range of reactions from fear and rage to inspiration and gratitude.
What do I mean when I say competition? This is how I’ve seen it show up so far:
- Competing for market share within a specific city, town or barbershop
- Competing for recognition and perceived value in the broader market of the hair industry
- Competing to achieve higher levels of mastery. This is usually measured by comparing your work to others.
Three mentalities and their response to competition
I’ve met some people who can only name one or two shops in their town other than their own. They don’t necessarily care about the larger market because their goals lie outside of their career and they don’t spend energy thinking about their peers. (There’s nothing wrong with this if that’s you!)
People who are of this mindset see their peers as threats. They see other barbershops, salons, and haircutters as actively working to steal their clientele and run them out of business. They are constantly comparing their “success” to others to see where they rank.
I’ve experienced this response personally, especially in times where I’m working to build a clientele from scratch. I felt myself develop the scarcity mentality out of fear. I was afraid I wouldn’t build a big enough clientele which would mean I couldn’t pay my bills.
Fears are there to keep us safe from danger. But If fear is left unchecked, it will tell you a story that there are only a certain number of resources (in our case, clients) to go around and if you don’t fight to steal them from other barbers/stylists, you’ll be left out in the cold. Scarcity tells the story “If they win, I fail.” and vice versa.
When we’re having this response to competition, we are viewing our peers as enemies. We want them to fail so we can win.
Abundance tells a different story: There’s plenty to go around. If other people succeed, I cheer for them. My goals aren’t dependent on the success or failure of others. I am safe on my own path.
In this mindset, we respond to competition with gratitude. We see a haircut another barber posts and think “wow, they killed that. Good for them! I want to try that sometime.” instead of “Hopefully they don’t ‘steal’ my clients.”
There are so many people who haven’t heard of your shop who want to know about you. When we see the true abundance of the world, we have no problem waiting for clients to find us.
Unchecked paradigms that need to shift:
- People are stealing my clients.
No client is “yours.” Your appointment book is made up of people who made a personal choice to get their haircut by you. They can choose tomorrow to leave your chair.
- Other barbers' success means my failure.
Negative. Have you ever noticed CVS is always across the street from Walgreens? Burger king is next door to McDonalds? That’s no accident. They found the sales in both stores GO UP when they are next to their main competitor. They become a destination for a specific need instead of an isolated provider. (You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?)
- I have to keep my prices lower than my competitors.
If your customer’s main concern was a cheap haircut, they would go to Walmart, buy a $15 pair of clippers, and live the rest of their life paying $0 for at-home buzz cuts.j
Your clients visit you because they value quality over price or convenience, and they happen to like the way YOU make them look.