This annual list of the best barbershop franchises was revised and updated on May 24, 2023.
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Barbershops and hairdressers are big business, with 280,504 franchised outlets in the US, employing over 418,000 people and with revenues of $17 billion. Barbershops, with their focus on men, have traditionally been the lower profile part of the industry, but that’s starting to change. As growing numbers of men show a willingness to pay more to stay in style, business is booming for these grooming shops.
Hairdressing and barber franchises are currently seeing a period of financial strength, with a predicted 4.3% growth in 2023. Three years of solid growth is expected to continue, though at a slower rate, as the immediate impact of the recovery from Covid evolves into more normal business conditions. Volatility in earnings will decrease and business will return to something closer to its previous steady levels. As rising disposable incomes increase consumer spending, there will be greater demand for personal care services, driving profits up.
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Like many industries, barbershops were hit hard by Covid. People couldn’t come in to get their hair cut under social restrictions, and a fall in disposable incomes reduced revenues. Thousands of franchised hair care businesses disappeared in 2020, and those that survived had to adapt to changing conditions. But these shops have now come back strong, and the industry is ahead of where it was in 2017. The recovery has been good for barbershops, as so many people are reliant on their services to maintain their appearance, and so business was bound to return.
With so much of our identities tied up in our appearances, people are often very attached to the services that barbershops provide, and willing to spend well to get a good cut. But barbershops are about more than this. They’re about providing an atmosphere, even an event. A visit to the barbershop is about grooming, but it’s also about conversation and personal connection.
Most modern barbershop chains have crafted their brand identities around tradition. It doesn’t matter if the brand itself is relatively new, it’s the old-fashioned look and the sense of craftsmanship that sells it. This is partly about creating distance from the shiny modern trappings of women’s hair salons, but it’s also about creating a sense of value, and about presenting a front that fits with modern men’s hair trends.
At present, successful franchises are mostly centered around quality rather than affordability. A hair cut might be a necessity, but a trip to the barbershop is more than that. It’s a luxury experience, one to be enjoyed, one worth spending money on.
Community is important for many barbershops. For black customers in particular, these shops can be a safe haven and a source of self-esteem. It’s very important to understand the demographics of the area you’re looking at, the sort of hair on display there and the expectations of customers. Staff will need to fit well with that demographic, to connect with customers and understand their hair needs.
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As with any sort of branding, there are some novelties at play in the barbershop market. From mobile shops to ones that will serve you a drink with your cut, franchises are working hard to stand out. Many are now using apps, which can provide practicality as well as novelty. By making it easier to make bookings, and letting you push reminders on customers, an app increases the likelihood that existing customers will keep coming back. But whatever barbershop brand you’re looking at, make sure you understand any specific novelty it has, and that it’s one you’re comfortable leaning into.
Barbershops are labor intensive businesses, more reliant on labor than many other franchises. The biggest costs for hair dressing businesses come from wages (41.8% of revenues), with purchases (7.2%) and rent and utilities far behind. Finding the right employees is critical. They need to have the skills to cut hair and trim beards to styles that customers demand, and to advise customers on the styles that will suit them. Men’s hairdressing is different from women’s, and includes skills such as working with a razor to provide a close shave.
Social skills are also important, building a pleasant atmosphere in the shops and forging relationships with clients that foster loyalty and keep them coming back. Many customers enjoy the conversations they get in a barber’s chair, and these can be as important as a good cut in keeping up business.
In the long term, it’s becoming more acceptable for men to openly put an effort into their appearance in ways that weren’t possible before, to experiment with varying styles and spend money on their look. This should direct more revenue to barbershops, and create more variety for employees, as they try out different styles. For businesses that want a broad customer base, that means expanding the skills of their staff to meet different needs. For those happy to specialize, it means more individual niches to be filled.
There isn’t a great concentration of market share in the barbershop and hairdressing business. No companies have more than 5% of the market, making it relatively easy for new businesses and upstart brands to make their mark. Low capital and investment costs are allowing chains to expand their footprint, meaning that this could become a period of consolidation for the industry and growth for franchises in particular. If you’ve got an eye for hair, and you like building a community around your business, this could be the franchise for you.
The Top Barbershop Franchises of 2023
1. Sport Clips
Sport Clips is a place where men and boys can go to get their hair cut and feel at home if they’re into sports. The sports motif even goes into their core values, which are the same ones Coach Lou Holtz used as he built championship football teams: “Do Your Best. Do What’s Right. Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated.”
Their signature MVP haircut experience includes a cut (one-on-one consultation, cut, and style by a stylist trained specifically for men’s and boys’ hair), a tea-tree infused hot steamed towel wrap and massage, an invigorating massaging shampoo and leave-in conditioner, and a relaxing neck and shoulder treatment. A Triple Play includes the cut, hot towel wrap, and massaging shampoo. Customers can also opt for just a cut (Varsity Haircut). Additional services available include beard trims and detailing, the All-Star Treatment (all the elements of the MVP service but without a haircut), and complimentary neck trims between haircuts.
Founded by Gordon Logan in 1993 and franchising since 1995, the number of locations has grown steadily in recent years from 1,083 in 2013 to the current total of 1,895 (up from the previously reported total of 1,889), of which 74 are company-owned and 42 are located outside the US.
2. Roosters Men’s Grooming Center
Roosters Men’s Grooming Centers offer customers an authentic barbershop experience in a modern, upscale, yet unpretentious environment. Haircuts at Roosters can be a classic cut or a more modern trendy style. The Roosters Club Cut package includes a consultation and precision haircut, shampoo massage, hot-towel treatment, a styling, a brush of powder at the neck, and an application of aftershave. The Gentlemen’s Choice package adds in the Roosters Signature 7-step facial shave.
There’s special pricing on the Club Cut for active-duty military personnel, head shaving services, neck trimming services, hair highlighting, a color camouflage to blend away gray hair, and a special road recovery facial. Locations also sell the Rooster brand of men’s hair, styling, and shaving products, all of which are paraben-free and sulfate-free.
Founded by Joe Grondin in Lapeer, Michigan in 1999 and franchising since 2002, the number of locations has grown in recent years from 33 in 2011 to the current total of 92 (up from the previously reported total of 91), of which none are company-owned and three are located outside the US.
3. V’s Barbershop
V’s Barbershop offers customers the authentic look and feel of an old-fashioned barbershop but with a modern twist. Nostalgia is on tap with authentic vintage-style barber chairs, old-fashioned hot lather and straight-edge razor shaves, and so on, but customers can get a modern haircut and style as well. Services include haircuts, edge up, shampoo, facial and massage, straight-razor shave, mustache trim, standard beard trim, deluxe beard trim, neck shave, and even shoeshines at some locations.
While “old school” describes the overall motif, there are plenty of modern features as well, including an app to schedule appointments. Locations also offer a variety of V’s merchandise for sale, including t-shirts, caps, and barber products such as authentic barbershop tonic, shave cream, and shave prep.
Founded by Jim Valenzuela in Phoenix, Arizona in 1999 and franchising since 2005, the number of locations now stands at 54 (up from the previously reported total of 53), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
4. Scissors & Scotch
Scissors & Scotch is a cross between a traditional barbershop but with the feel and amenities of a modern spa, including a luxurious private lounge with a fully stocked bar where customers can enjoy relaxation and beverages from coffee to beer to cocktails. Memberships are also available that provide discounts, guest passes, members-only events, and unlimited booze.
Service packages are named by years, like finely aged scotch. The Ten Year package includes a full-service haircut and style, cleansing shampoo and conditioner, steamed towel treatment, and a back-of-neck shave. The Fifteen Year package throws in a soothing scalp massage and face refresher, and the Twenty-Five Year package adds in a paraffin hand dip as well as a neck, shoulder, and hand massage.
Founded by Erik Anderson in Omaha, Nebraska in 2015 and franchising since 2017, there are now 21 locations (up from the previously reported total of 14), of which four are company-owned and all are located in the US.
5. Hammer & Nails
Hammer & Nails is aiming to elevate men’s grooming to a whole new level. After all, men have follicles and cuticles and pores and palms and soles too. Hammer & Nails is no mere barbershop or haircut factory, it’s a grooming experience. Services include haircuts, beard trims, mustache trimming and shaping, manicures, pedicures, and combination packages for multiple services. Think of Hammer & Nails as a BarberSpa.
Each location offers a membership club, with three different levels of membership that provide a variety of perks, including priority bookings, a 20% discount on all services and retail products, maintenance services, and complimentary curated spirits and beer in a men’s lounge. Higher levels of membership include more service add-ons and other exclusive benefits. Membership services can also be shared with friends.
Founded by Michael Elliot in 2013 and franchising since 2015, there are now 18 locations (up from the previously reported total of 13), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
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The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.