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Trimming the path: A barbershop’s journey towards nationwide expansion

By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter

IN THE EVOLVING landscape of grooming services, Bruno’s Barbers has shown resilience, facing challenges and seizing opportunities to become a nationwide wellness hub, its president said.

Providing complete services from head to toe — such as hair and scalp care, facials, massages, and hand and foot care — Bruno’s Barbers started in 1989 in Ayala Alabang.

Jose Marco M. Pascual, Bruno’s Barbers president, reminiscing about the early days, said, “Well, I was much younger then. It was in 1989 when my mom and her sisters founded Bruno’s Barbers.”

The birth of Bruno’s Barbers was not solely driven by entrepreneurial aspirations but by a genuine commitment to addressing the needs of the community, Mr. Pascual told BusinessWorld.

Recalling the challenges they faced, he said, “The only option that we had was to either go to the country club or go outside of the village where you had to travel to either Las Piñas or BF Homes, which if you’re coming from inside Alabang, it’s quite a distance.”

“We weren’t members of the country club, so my mom had to really take me to those places, and at that time, for a mom, I guess the standards of the store environment weren’t up to par. So she decided to put up our first branch in Alabang Town Center,” he added.

He said that Bruno’s Barbers now has 65 shops in the Philippines.

ELEVATING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCEAt the heart of Bruno’s Barbers’ journey lies a commitment to elevating the customer experience, Mr. Pascual said.

Emphasizing the role of the store environment, he said, “Since the beginning, the store environment has been very central.”

This focus on providing a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere has been pivotal in attracting and retaining customers, he noted.

Training workers and staying ahead in the industry are also important. “We try to make sure we’re on top of [it].”

Bruno’s Barbers saw a 9-13% growth in month-on-month transactions across its 65 branches across the country this year, according to Mr. Pascual.

“The whole industry is now at $5.6 trillion,” he said, citing the report of the Global Wellness Institute on its industry revenue worldwide, which valued the personal care and beauty segment in Asia Pacific at $273 billion. “I am very optimistic.”

“After COVID, people’s mindsets have changed. People now care more about themselves, are self-conscious about how they look, and want to feel more confident,” he added.

Mr. Pascual said the company has plans to open 10-15 branches each succeeding year, onboarding 200 barbers and therapists on a rolling basis to its nationwide network. “Generally, if there’s an applicant willing to apply, we’ll find a way.”

“They’re already skilled,” he said. “From that point on, we just try to engage them and enhance customer service, so it’s just fine-tuning.”

NAVIGATING CHALLENGESWhen asked about how the company stayed afloat during the strict pandemic lockdowns from March to June 2020, Mr. Pascual said it all came down to financial prudence, or making sure everything was in check.

“We were closed the entire time, so the whole network was not operating,” he said.

“We only got our first signs of life in June 2020, when we had different capacities allowed by the government.”

Bruno’s Barbers was fortunate enough to not shut down and keep all its stores, he added.

“In entrepreneurship generally, there’s no one way. It takes a lot of hard work and determination,” he noted as key traits for an entrepreneur.

“You got to enjoy what you’re doing because not every day will be a good day. You’ll have some setbacks, but you even have to find that enjoyable as well,” he added.


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