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Success story: Barney Martin Hair

28 Mar 2023 by Kitomba

Barney Martin Hair in Sydney’s Surry Hills has been in business for over 20 years, and is an outstanding example of a salon that offers a luxurious, yet laid-back, experience. We sat down with Barney Martin to learn about his biggest challenges in business, his tips for anyone starting out, and the secret behind how he keeps his clients coming back. 

Watch the video below and keep reading to learn more about Barney Martin’s journey. 

Tell us about yourself and your salon

I’ve been in the hair industry for 34 years and have been in Australia for over 20 years. I got into the industry through my parents, who were both hairdressers and had their own salons in England, Sheffield. They actually tried to discourage me from doing it because they said how much hard work it was. But did I listen? Not at all.

I spent most of my childhood in salons, hanging out with my mum, passing her end papers when she was doing perms, and watching my dad in action a lot of the time. I always tell people that it was in my blood and that I think it was my destiny.

Out of all of my achievements, I am most proud about opening my salon, Barney Martin Hair. I really wanted to have a salon when I was still living in the UK, but then I made the move to Australia and got a job in a salon straight away. After about six months, I realised I just had to do my own thing, and I opened Barnie Martin Hair and 20 years later, we’re still here.

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What makes Barney Martin unique?

The salon is known for offering a really luxurious experience, but without us having any kind of pretenses as well. Everybody here is really relaxed and laid back. Some of our clientele have been coming here for 10 to 20 years; we have a very established and loyal client base.

Barney Martin Hair is renowned for its laid-back styling. It’s kind of “undone glamour”. We’re also well known and loved for our wide range of alcoholic drinks to enjoy during your service, which always seems to go down well; and I infuse my own gins, which are very popular with our clients.



Barney martin holding his gin

What’s been your biggest challenge in business so far?

The number one challenge for me over the last 20 years has been transitioning from being a creative person to somebody that knows how to run a business and manage the two at the same time. I never did any kind of management training before I opened my business, and my advice to anybody thinking about doing it now is to get some help before you get started.

Another challenge that I think the majority of salon owners are currently experiencing is staffing shortages. Therefore, I think it’s very important now more than ever that we retain the people we have. At Barney Martin Hair, we invest a lot of money in training, bringing in guest speakers, and doing in-house training every week, and a full team training on the last Friday of every month. 

On top of this, we have a couple of hours to come together and do some creative work every week and we also close the salon twice a year for a full day and visit Wella HQ for a colour bootcamp, plus some salon team photo shoots as well.

hairdressers washing hair in basins

What are your favourite Kitomba features?

We’ve been using Kitomba for over five years now and the reason we chose Kitomba is because of the ease. I’m not overly tech-savvy, and I find the system very easy to use. There are a few features that we swear by and use every day.

Client Card

The client experience at Barney Martin is so important to us, and we need to make sure we capture all our client’s information to help our customers feel special every time they visit. This includes making sure we know what our clients like to drink and when their birthday is so we can treat them to a little cupcake with a candle around their birthday. 

This is where using Kitomba client cards is so important to us, as we have thousands of people on our database, and you need to be capturing so much information and record it to view later because you’re not going to remember it all.

Loyalty Programme

We like to use Kitomba’s loyalty programme to reward clients. We won’t tell them that they’re accumulating points as such, but they’ll come in for a visit and we’ll notice that they’ve accumulated a lot of points and we’ll surprise them with a loyalty bag of goodies, or not charge them for their hair service. It makes people feel special and indulged. 



Online Booking

The online booking experience using Kitomba is great. There are so many of our clients now who don’t want to pick up the phone or email. Making it easy for those people to find a slot for their appointment in the way they prefer is just fantastic!

On Monday mornings we find we have a lot of online bookings that have come through over the weekend which is amazing, so we get those organized for the week and it really helps us fill those slots.

Learn more about Kitomba Online Booking. 

Kitomba 1

Our software is such an important part of our business it is great that all the staff can have access to Kitomba 1 on their phones so they can get their days organised without crowding the front desk.

I also think it’s very important that they can have a look at the targets. We set their KPIs on Kitomba’s targets feature. We work together and say “look, what do you think is going to be achievable on your service sales with your color, with your hair cutting and styling? What do you want to do?” We can then set those targets up together. They can then look at these targets at any time and check their progress.

Learn more about the benefits of incentivising your team’s targets. 

hairdressers working on client

Ease of use

I’m not tech-savvy, in fact, I’m absolutely useless, but I just find Kitomba so easy to use. I do pretty much everything I need on my phone via Kitomba 1. I can sit at home late at night and be moving appointments around, book meetings, and have a quick look at what’s happening with the business with reports. I just can’t think of a simpler and more efficient bit of software to use.

We did actually stray away from Kitomba during the lockdown. For about three months we moved to another software provider, but once we started using it we realised that the other system was all bells and whistles, but it just didn’t have the functionality that we needed that Kitomba provided.Once we got set back up with Kitomba we just thought; ‘wow, thank God we came back!’.

What’s your top tip for other salon owners?

We have two people in our team who have been here for quite some time now, one of them is my manager, she’s been with me for 11 years and she started off as a school leaver apprentice and now she’s managing the salon. The other one is my head colourist, Andrew. He’s been with us for 11 years as well, so we tend to hold our team for a long time. 

I think it’s just trying to invest time in them and listen to them. I think having a good relationship with your staff and having a good company culture is such an important part of it, just making time to hang out with the guys. Especially at the moment, I think in our industry we’re getting a little bit of a squeeze, so just look after the people that you’ve got.

barney martin pull quote


Want to find out how Kitomba can help your business thrive like Barney Martin Hair? Book your free demo to see how we can help your business to achieve success.

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