By Kate Hahn
Yeah, we know. You can think of 10 ways to make men happy. But this article doesnt feature Kama Sutra excerpts, aphrodisiac-laced dinner menus, or the season's sexiest stilettos. For a (semi) serious top ten list of how to fill your chairs with guys, we turned to TRISH MCCORMICK, owner, THE MEN'S ROOM BARBERSHOP, Milwaukee, WI and JANET PECCARELLI, design director, TAKARA BELMONT, and co-creator of man-magnet SAVILLE BARBERS in Irvine, CA.
Build a Den: As men age, they get more squeamish about sharing their salon space with women. Why? Services get a lot more personal. Think nose hair grooming and eyebrow dyeing. And just in case you haven't heard about the graying of America let us clue you in - we're getting older from sea to shining sea. So offer men a sanctuary where they can peel off the years in peace. Knotty pine paneling and trophy shelf not required.
Go to Boot Camp: Train staff in guy grooming techniques. McCormick brought in a 70-year-old barber to teach her team how to use the classic straight razor. (Check your local laws; the old-school scrape is now illegal in some states.) Work with your distributor to hold classes in clipper and razor methods. And practice target services like neck massage and mini-facials - McCormicks clients love them. But don't create too many cutesy packages. Men like to pick and choose.
Get a Barber Chair: If you can make only one design change, buy an old-fashioned barber chair. Set it up in a semi-private area, and your appointment book will never grow a five o'clock shadow. The design of Takara Belmont's classic perch hasn't changed in decades, so check it out for vintage appeal and contemporary quality. Men love the fedora-era look and feel, even if they don't use gadgets like the built-in armrest ashtrays (except as a place to stow their PDA during a shave).
Give Pep Talks: Adjust your communication style. Guys don't like too much frill or fill. McCormick refers to a taper cut as deconstructed, not softened and dubs manicures "hand detailing." She takes a few minutes a day to scan the sports news so she can talk stats. And she preps a man for his cut by describing it in detail before she starts. Smalltalk subjects: sports, hobbies, food, sports. And remember those compliments. You're an ego coach.
Pick Up Lines: Stock shelves with retail lines made for men. You can even set up separate displays so guys don't have to dodge Kate Spades to check out the latest wax. Go for companies that know how to appeal to the sideburn set, like Paul Mitchell. Their Tea Tree line offers cleanser and conditioner, as well as Shave Gel, Stick Wax, and other whisker-crowd pleasers. McCormick says beard-clearers like shaving cream, brushes, and bowls sell as well as shampoo.
Host Poker Night: Go all Elk Lodge or Scout den for an evening or an entire day. Call it Male Mondays. Testosterone Tuesday Nights. Whatever. Just set aside a specific time when guys know they can recapture that No Girls Allowed tree house atmosphere without being hit with a lawsuit. You can even get male-focused companies to partner with you to offer education sessions that help sell products and services.
Men-tertain: Most men care about more about the Gridiron than curling irons, so tune at least one screen to ESPN. And stock that waiting area with magazines like Sporting News, Maxim, GQ, Esquire, and Playboy. In the lobby at Saville Barbers, stylists mix cocktails for clients at a wet bar, cigars tempt from a humidor, and a putting green offers a moment of Zen.
Offer Valet Service: A lot of guys want to get home to their favorite chair, chips and chug-mug as soon as you switch off the clippers. Okay, they might be heading to the opera or a tango lesson. Either way, offer extras like shoeshine and dry cleaning drop-off services to help streamline their lives. Men love the one-stop convenience. Besides, they might be inspired to get their nails buffed when they see the glow on those newly polished wingtips.
Do Construction Work: McCormick says the number one thing her clients comment on is the dcor - black leather couches, hardwood floors, tin ceilings, paper-bag painted walls, and chrome trim. Very manly. Gen-X-ers have different taste than Boomer execs, but today's trendy maple and pear wood tones appeal to everyone. At Saville Barbers, vintage-style leather recliners from Restoration Hardware dot the waiting area and Rat Pack portraits line the locker room. You can skip the trademark socks on the floor.
Play Fair: Blare Britney and Celine all day and guys will tune your salon out permanently. Spin a timeless soundtrack that appeals to a man's fantasy life. McCormick's play list: classic jazz like Duke Ellington (New York, bootleg scotch, Josephine Baker), standards from the Rat Pack (Las Vegas, martinis, Kim Novak,) and a few rhymes (Los Angeles, Cristal, J.Lo) for the Gen-Y kids.
Like it or not, guys make up the majority of corporate boards, court benches, and congressional seats. Stick to these ten tips, and they won't be a minority in your salon.