Nissan Ballard says it pleases him when his clients fall asleep.
“From the moment they walk in the door, you want to take the stress away from a person and put them in a relaxed atmosphere away from their busy schedule,” says the owner of The Grooming Parlor Barber and Spa in Business Report’s latest Entrepreneur feature.
Ballard estimates that 95% of those who visit his Beauregard Town salon for his classic straight-razor shave nod off, lulled not just by the subdued atmosphere with background jazz, but also by the intimate, personalized treatment they receive. Since 2010, Ballard and his wife, Nicole, have operated the spa as a team.
“She makes sure the customer service is there, that the books stay full; I make sure my services are performed in a timely fashion, and I give it 110 percent,” he says.
The Grooming Parlor today is a leaner version of the business Ballard opened in 2006. With a $70,000 SBA loan, he located it in a 1,200-square-foot space set up for eight operators.
“What I found was, it was just hard to get the staff I needed in order to turn enough revenue to cover expenses,” he says. He has a “passion” for barbering—“It’s a spiritual profession,” he says—and he couldn’t trust that those he hired all shared it.
In 2008 he took part in an international hair show, where he displayed his razor technique but also absorbed advice to focus on his strengths: the cut and the shave.
“It was just too big at first,” he says of the business. “I had to make a decision: We’re going to downsize … and concentrate on our niche.”
Over two weeks in 2010, he moved into a 700-square-foot salon where he alone wields the tools of his trade.