What New Barbers Need to Know When Going Into a Rental vs Commission Shop

Rent vs commission is a hot topic in the barbering industry, as the choice can have a profound impact on your early career. But the right option for you will vary depending on your unique personality and circumstances. 

In this article, we’ll break down the main factors to consider when deciding between booth rent vs commission in order to make the smartest decision for the future of your career. Oftentimes, choosing the right path simply comes down to understanding yourself and what your long-term goals are. 

A Guide to Understanding Whether Rent or Commission Is Right for You

To determine which type of compensation style might work better for your barbering services, take a careful look at the following categories and their comparisons. Which option from each pair best describes you? 

Considering what aligns most with your own goals, values, and personality will help you make the most best choice. 

#1 The Boss vs The Apprentice

When renting a booth, you’re sort of like the boss—you’re running your own business and making the decisions. But it’s also up to you to pay your booth rental fee on time if you want to keep your space. Once you’ve settled up on your rent, the rest of your earnings are yours to keep and manage—but you do have a lot more responsibility to keep your business running. 

When working in commission, you’re more of an apprentice in that you have more opportunities to learn from barbers and shop owners with considerable experience under their belts. In this system, you’ll earn a set percentage of the total amount your clients pay while the rest goes to your boss, making you an employee and team member at the shop. In this case, you'll have a lot less responsibility and won't need to be crunching numbers after hours.

#2 The Self-Starter vs The Team Player

Barbers who choose to rent need a strong entrepreneurial drive to fuel them. This allows them to make sure all their t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted as the owner. This could be your ideal path if you don’t mind getting things done mostly on your own. 

On the other hand, commission-based barbering allows you to be part of a team. You’ll be able to work under someone else’s brand, giving you a bit of a headstart with guaranteed clients, as well as a bigger safety cushion to fall back on. 

#3 The Hustler vs The 9 to 5

The life of a booth renter requires a scrappy hustler mentality. You shouldn’t commit to this career path unless you’re ready to grind while you’re first starting out. Barbers who rent must be willing to work longer and harder than their commission-based counterparts in order to build up their brand and clientele. 

In contrast, working on a commission basis comes with a more normal schedule. You can enjoy a predictable and consistent workload, and once you’re off the clock, you can take full advantage of your free time without needing to bring your work home. 

#4 The Risk-Taker vs The Sure Thing 

Renting a chair or booth means taking on a higher level of personal risk. You alone are responsible for your success or lack thereof. However, this lifestyle also affords you more control over how much you work and what price you charge for your services. 

Commission agreements do come with undeniable perks like reliable income and even benefits, such as health insurance. The path may not be as lucrative, but what you sacrifice in money you gain in stability. 

The Impact Of Rent vs Commission On Your Career Goals

Picturing your ideal future as a barber and working backward from there can help you choose the right path to take now. Because chair rental and commission work offer unique experiences, they can accelerate your career goals in completely different ways. 

Let’s first examine the benefits of opting for a barber chair rental. This option is optimized for professionals who prefer: 

  • Self-employment – Working for yourself means building up your own brand and clientele early on. Setting this strong foundation gives you a great base to work from as you continue to grow. 
  • Freedom – With full control over your schedule, you’ll be able to pursue other opportunities at will without feeling tied down. 
  • Entrepreneurship – Running your own business on this smaller scale can give you a good sense of how to open your own shop one day. It can also help you decide if opening a barbershop is even a pursuit you’d potentially be interested in down the road. 

If you choose the commission-based route instead, you may earn less than you would at a rental shop, even when you provide the same amount of haircuts. This can mean it will take longer to progress financially toward your next career goal. 

While it’s important to keep this factor in mind, especially if opening your own shop is a priority, working on commission at the beginning of your career may be wise if you prefer: 

  • Continuing to Learn: Learn from experienced barbers to improve your cuts and business acumen 
  • More Time to Develop: Spend less time hustling for new clients and more time focusing on developing your craft/personal brand 

Before committing any further time to weigh this decision, be sure to research if chair and booth rentals are allowed where you live. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, don’t allow barbers to practice this business model.

It’s also smart to look into how taxes could impact your earnings. Some states offer great tax benefits for barbers who are the business owner vs. 1099-based employees. 

You should also consider that self-employed independent contractors (such as barbers who rent chair space) must pay for their own benefits and state/federal taxes, in addition to keeping track of taxes on all their products and services.

It’s clear that there are pros and cons on both sides of the rental vs commission debate. Ultimately, you can make either path work if you’re willing to put in the effort upfront to establish your brand and learn how to build clientele as a barber. 

Give Your Barbering Business a Boost with SQUIRE 

There’s no right or wrong way to start your barbering career. Rather, what you choose should be tailored to your unique lifestyle and preferences. 

No matter what type of shop you decide to work out of, every barber needs to keep track of their appointments, remember client preferences, and provide a seamless experience for every person who sits in their chair. And SQUIRE is here to help. 

SQUIRE is the all-in-one barbershop management system that can revolutionize your business whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional. Start by requesting a demo to discover how SQUIRE can increase both your customer retention rates and revenue.

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