Are Barbers Still Taking Walk-ins?

Published 16th Apr 2024 by Josie Jackson
While barbers have historically been known to accept walk-ins, in recent years appointment-based bookings have been increasing. We spoke to barbers across the UK to find out what works for them.

Kyle Ross, OSMO Ambassador from Sovereign Grooming in Aberdeen, says: “At Sovereign we have operated an appointment-based approach to our services since we opened in 2016. This gives many benefits to the clients who can book an appointment with the barber of their choosing at the time and date that suits them. A lot of our clients are professionals and don’t have the time to sit and wait, so being able to book appointments means they can fit their appointments into their day and around their busy life.”

However, walk-ins can also be attractive to those with tight schedules, with Frankie Bruno, barber at Supply 91’s Regent Street Flagship, sharing: “Some clients prefer the flexibility of walk-ins, as it allows them to come in on short notice.”

“There are a lot of benefits to offering appointments in a barbershop,” says Kyle, “such as allowing for accurate time management; we can allocate a set amount of time for each appointment and have an overview of how that will look on a calendar – that way, each barber’s day is as productive as possible, with clients being scheduled in throughout the full working day."

Frankie also agrees that barbershop appointments can be beneficial, explaining: “I believe that it’s through repeat bookings that barbers develop strong relationships with clients. I also think that client experience is generally easier to manage when bookings are made in advance, as a shop can manage long wait times.”

Operating an appointment-only business model can have its drawbacks, especially when it comes to missed appointments.  Kyle tells us: “A downside to this approach can come from clients not turning up for booked appointments. This can, however, be mitigated by having a reliable cancellation policy, which covers payments if a client fails to turn up for their appointment.”

For some the barbershop is at risk of losing its status as a community hub. “Appointments do keep the shop running smoothly but they’ve emptied the shops of their character. In the American barber shops, for example, all the barbers turn their chairs looking towards the waiting area, so everyone can chat and interact,” shares Carlos DePetrillo in our High Street Barber feature. “The shop has lost its togetherness, where men would meet up and have a chat. It’s worse for our senior gentlemen because they’re not catered for. The older clients have fabulous stories and want a chat, which makes your day a short one and more enjoyable.”

You can check out some advice on how to approach cancellation policies here. 

Alternatively, a hybrid approach of both appointments and walk-ins in your barbershop could prove beneficial for you barbershop business, with Frankie also explaining: “Embracing both bookings and walk-ins offers a balanced approach that caters to the diverse needs of clients. By providing flexibility, convenience, and a personalised service, it creates a welcoming atmosphere.”

We asked our Instagram followers where they stand on appointments vs walk-ins, and here's what they had to say...

Bookings - 67%

Walk-ins - 7%

Both - 26%
Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 16th Apr 2024

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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