It’s a near-universal takeaway from an old story: taking a prescribed career path (college, internship, job) no matter how safe it seems or how much comfort it affords, can leave us feeling unfulfilled, bored or creatively stifled. 

Vagaro’s software has helped many people shift careers, start businesses and embrace professions they love, including UK-based barber, Dan Glass. In 2016, Glass left an award-winning career in digital marketing for the world of barbering. 

Glass had first discovered his talent with a comb & clippers as a university student, and using them for a living engaged his creativity, social nature and entrepreneurial spirit in a way that his old job no longer did.  

“I came to the realisation that the corporate world just wasn’t right for me anymore,” he said.Working as a barber suits many distinct aspects of my personality and provides great job satisfaction.”

Glass took an even bigger leap when he opened Dan’s Barbershop in July of 2020. He recounted his experiences with host, Taylor Burke, on Vagaro’s On Point Podcast. Glass gives his take on following your dreams, imparts business advice to up-and-coming barbers, shares his secrets for client retention and more. If you’re starting out in the beauty or barbering industries, this episode is not to be missed.

Read on to learn how Vagaro helped him make the transition to business owner and successfully run his shop through a turbulent first year.

 

Bad Timing & A Good Booking System 

Rinsing sink at Dan's Barbershop, London

Dan’s Barbershop sits at 102 Lower Marsh in Waterloo, London. It’s the ideal spot, Glass says. The neighborhood attracts a diverse range of clientele and is a perfect cultural fit for him. He even managed to recruit two exceptionally talented barbers, Luca Mihai and Francesco Amadini, whose personalities and barbering styles complemented his.  

The biggest mismatch was the timing of Glass’s grand opening—just after the UK’s first national Coronavirus lockdown was lifted.   

Barber Dan Glass cutting client's hair at Dan's Barbershop“I’m not totally mad, I promise,” Glass said. “Sometimes that’s just how the world works and, to be fair, whilst there have been a few rocky patches, we haven’t looked back since.” 

Glass knew from previous experience how important a good online booking system and CRM (customer relations management) platform are, as well as the litany of problems that come with choosing a bad one. 

He had no such problems with Vagaro, and this was especially important during his first year in business. Due to coronavirus safety rules and hygiene measures, Dan’s Barbershop, like every salon and barbershop, legally had to book all clients ahead of time and keep a record of their contact details. 

“Without Vagaro, this would’ve been exceptionally difficult,” Glass said. “It was incredibly helpful in the early days when we really depended on scheduled appointments rather than walk-ins.” 

iPhone with Dan's Barbershop Instagram page and Book Now Button
Photo by Beth Lavin

Clients could easily create their accounts and, with booking buttons embedded on Dan’s Instagram page, book their appointments almost effortlessly. Email reminders displayed the new shop’s address and location. Review prompts on receipts enabled Glass and his crew to get personal recommendations out into the world as soon as possible. 

“The platform helped us become efficient and profitable,” he said. “We could really organise our days, monitor sales and trends, and react accordingly.” 

 

Scheduling, Marketing & Building a Reputation 

Dan Glass and team cutting hair at Dan's Barbershop in London

Vagaro allowed Glass to run his shop as efficiently as possible, despite regular pandemic-related disruptions and drastic shifts in public mood. One month, people were afraid to venture into a barbershop; the next, they were thoroughly sick of overgrown lockdown hair or DIY cuts. 

“Everyone wanted their hair cut at the same time,” Glass explained. “We had to work every hour possible to squeeze clients in just before and after lockdowns.” 

Vagaro’s interactive calendar allowed Glass to seamlessly manage these manic periods and help get clients back to a more routine cutting schedule based on their specific styles. 

Laptop with Vagaro calendar at Dan's Barbershop, Waterloo, London
Photo by Beth Lavin

In slower periods, Dan’s utilised email and text marketing to send out updates and seasonal offers to his clients, as well as nudge those whom they hadn’t seen in a while back into the shop—maybe with a discount attached. 

“Just a friendly and helpful reminder that they probably [really] need a haircut,” Glass said. 

Customer notes tracked any specific requests related to that cut or style. In that especially important first year, every little bit helped the shop build rapport with clients and establish a reputation in the neighbourhood. 

Having the shop’s COVID-19 house rules displayed on their business profile, illustrating how seriously they took hygiene and client safety, didn’t hurt either. 

“I’m still proud of that blue Vagaro Covid Safe badge and certificate,” Glass said. 

A Normal Routine 

Shoppers walk by Dan's Bershop on Lower Marsh,

In two years, Glass and his team have made Dan’s the go-to men’s grooming parlour in their area. The image of them working through the storefront window or joking with regulars just outside has become synonymous with the Lower Marsh landscape. The shop just fits, as though it has always been there. 

Is expansion further into Waterloo in the cards? For now, Glass is happy in his role as single-shop owner and full-time barber. 

“After the last couple of years, I’m happy basking in the delights of a deliciously normal routine,” Glass said. “But, after this, who knows?”