Tips for Attracting and Integrating Walk-in Clientele

Walk-in clients are welcomed at The Parker Barber, a new Aveda barbershop at The Ace Hotel in New Orleans.

Walk-in clients can add a healthy boost to any salon or shop’s revenue, but they can also be difficult to draw in and hard to incorporate into an appointment schedule. We talked to four top barbers and found out how they attract, retain and seamlessly integrate walk-in clients.

Q What are a walk-in client’s top concerns? How do you make them feel
at home? 

A “Men want instant gratification. So making the walk-in process quick and easy makes a big difference. Men also want a professional they can trust, but they don’t want to wait forever for the process to begin. At my shop, all walk-in clients are given a new client consultation form and a quick ‘man tour,’ including a tour of the salon, an explanation of additional services exclusively for him and a stop at the fridge for a frosty beer or beverage.”
—Kelly Bileddo, (@kellybileddo) Sexy Hair Master Artist, Barber

Q What helps you attract new walk-in clients?
A “Word of mouth helps attract walk-ins—it’s your best advertisement. You need walk-ins to help grow your clientele. People move, change jobs, relocate, go to school—walk-ins breathe new life into the business. You also need walk-in clients to build business for new barbers that don’t already have a regular clientele.”
—Garland “G-Whiz” Fox, (@thisisgwhiz) Wahl Education and Artistic Team Member

Making the most of walk-in clients can help boost your bottom line.

Q Do you treat a walk-in client differently from an appointment client?
A “For me, appointment clients always take priority—as long as they are on time. If a walk-in client arrives, but I won’t have enough time to complete the service before my scheduled appointment, I explain the scheduling conflict and ask them to wait. I have a strict 10-minute late policy. If it’s 10 minutes past a scheduled appointment time, and my client still hasn’t arrived, I take the walk-in customer and have my appointment wait.”
—Jessica Zeinstra,(@jessicazeinstra) Andis Global Education Manager

Q How do you juggle walk-in clients without offending appointment clients?
A “We book an appointment for all walk-in clients. The person who usually gets offended is the one who walks in and can’t been seen for another two hours. My step dad would call that a ‘quality problem.’ We’re busy, and sometimes we can’t see everyone.”
—Garrison Neill, (@garrisonneill) owner of The Parker Barber, a new Aveda barbershop at The Ace Hotel in New Orleans

Q How do you manage who services a walk-in client?
A While your first instinct might be to give a walk-in client to the next available barber, I recommend giving him to the individual with the week’s best numbers as a reward. This encourages all the other barbers to hit their goals. —Zeinstra

See if you can squeeze in a walk-in client in between your appointments. You can work a walk-in client into your schedule between a shorter service, such as a shave. —Fox

It’s all about who has the time to give them the service they want. That’s who gets the walk-in client in our barbershop. —Neill 

We use a retention report to determine who gets the walk-in client. Our software pulls a report stating who is more likely to keep a client, and that person is first to get the guest. —Bileddo