Now more than ever it’s important to be shouting about your rigorous hygiene methods and proving that sanitation is sexy. We spoke to Andy Willis, owner of Andy’s Barbers in Bicester, Oxfordshire who’s doing just that.
What are you doing differently since COVID-19?
To be honest, we’re maintaining the same high standards of hygiene that we’ve always had, give and take a few changes. I’ve seen a lot of social media posts from barbershops and videos of them cleaning the shop which is all well and good but it makes me wonder ‘what were you doing before?’ Scrupulous hygiene should be kept up at all times. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for people to be doing this! I’ve been in the industry for 27 years and I think we’ve always been a poor relation of in terms of service and hygiene to hairdressing.
Post-pandemic one of my greatest wishes for the industry is that local councils take control of the hygiene rating of barber shops. We should have a five star rating system just like the food industry does. If we can draw a positive from this terrible situation, the spotlight on hygiene has to be it, as I firmly believe that customers and wider media will be more aware of just how hygienically clean a barber shop should be. There really is no excuse for not having a clean and fresh Barbicide jar, new gowns everyday, new towels and blades for every shave etc.
Why do you think official ratings are important?
I’m a fan of ‘scores on the doors’. Display your certifications proudly, I say. I contacted a brand called Salon Standards Agency and learnt that it was absolutely free to get a certificate. The process is an hour and a half video call of intense questions and showing the agency around the salon. I was asked what the barbers were wearing in terms of PPE, how often I changed my Barbercide, whether we have public liability insurance, how often we have a professional cleaner and whether my toilets catered for both my male and female staff.
What was the feedback?
We got a 5* rating, which is the highest there is. I was told we were the “you’re the cleanest barbershop I have ever seen”, which made me really proud.
Hairdressing salons show so much pride in their salons and cleanliness and the client is always king. I’d love to see the same across barbering. Everyone should get a rating. Even if you don’t get 5* rating you then get given a list of improvements you can make. It’s a win win situation.