More & Better: Efficiency, Productivity & the Customer Experience
Having broken three Guinness World Haircutting Records ( I am on page 55 of the 2014 book) I can speak of efficiency with some authority. I have never asked anyone to cut hair faster. Over the years, managing chain shops, owning my own salon, training thousands of salon professionals I have never advocated for cutting faster. I have always discussed the need to cut better. Focus on cutting hair better and one day you will wake up quick. Focus on cutting hair faster and you will just do crappy haircuts. No one wants a crappy haircut. Period.
Getting to more, better haircuts takes time and effort. The more hair your cut the more your skills grow. The non-secret to being a better haircutter is and has always been VOLUME. 500 haircuts from now you will be a lot better haircutter. 500 haircuts after that you will be even better.
Along the way to your next hundred haircuts and the next hundred after that some specific efficiency focused tips and techniques will add to the skills that become a part of how you cut and how your cut better. Following are my top 5 efficiency haircutting tips to increase your productivity while maintaining technical quality and the highest standards of customer service.
Show a corner – It takes more time to cut two haircuts than it takes to cut one. That is pretty simple math to understand. Taper just a small front corner of the haircut and present that corner for inspection by the client? Is this short enough? Cutting the entire haircut, or even just half and then having the client tell you it is not short enough wastes a lot of valuable time. Cut a corner and have it blessed. Then cut the entire cut once to the proper length.
Cut the top first – Classic tapered barbered guy haircuts happen quicker and blend better when the top is cut first. I have been sharing this concept for many years as reverse blending. The classic approach of taper, layer and then blend is flipped around. Layering the top and then tapering the perimeter reduces the amount of blending and the blending time needed to complete the cut. Eliminating interior contributing weight from the cut lets you see the cut better, too. You can better cut what you can better see.
Condense sections – Razor thin, micro fine, 6-hair sections take a lot of time to cut. I recognize their value in stacking a precision bob or executing a similar precision shape. I support the idea that when cutting blended shapes, as is the case with most barbered and guy cuts, the condensing of sections adds huge amounts of efficiency with no loss of technical quality. Cross checking (also condensed) will smooth out irregularities that come from condensed sections. This is especially true in overhead layering applications.
Cut with styling product – Applying styling gels or other finishing products prior to cutting aids in efficiency in several ways. Sections are cleaner and tension and distribution are better maintained with product in the hair. Hydration remains more consistent with product as well. By the time we are nearly finished cutting hair has typically dried down quite a bit. In order to apply styling product we re-wet the hair. Now we dry what we have just re-wet. This wastes time. Working with and through product has the hair drying down with the product already in place. Final drying and finishing happens much faster having eliminated the rehydrating step.
Line early – My signature efficiency tip is lining early. Haircuts never look finished until they are lined and edged. We have always been trained to line and edges as the last step in a cut. Move the lining and edging to the middle of the cut. Once the lining and edging is completed you will now discover you have less than ½ of the cut left to complete. This has you finishing earlier. We tend to overcut when we cannot clearly “see” the finished look. By seeing the finished look sooner we will stop cutting earlier eliminating this tendency to overcutting.
Any one or a combination of the above efficiency tips will have a huge impact on your productivity and your customer experiences. These factors increase your income and your enjoyment of your craft. Let me know how they impact haircuts for you and your clients.