10 questions with the founder of the UK’s biggest barber chain

With 35 locations, thousands of clients, and a partnership with a major supermarket chain, Gould Barbers is one of the UK’s biggest barbershop success stories. Run by brothers Darran and Leigh Gould, they’re famous for giving a high-quality, traditional barbershop experience across the country.

Darran caught up with us to share how Fresha plays a key role in managing his business, plus important advice for every barbershop owner – whether they’re building a franchise or kickstarting a local barbershop. 

Tell us about your journey as a barbershop owner. 

Our father trained my brother and I to be barbers. We learned to cut hair in his own eight-chair barbershop back in 1997, and used what we learned to open our own shop in 2013. Since then, we’ve grown to become one of the UK’s biggest barbershop brands with over 35 locations.

How do you make sure your barbershops stand out? 

Guaranteed quality of service. Our success is built on our reputation. Clients trust that they’re getting a top-quality cut every time they visit, no matter which barber or location they book with. 

What do clients love most about your barbershops?

We make it extra convenient for clients to visit us. We’re open 12 hours a day, so they can book whenever suits them best. Plus, since almost all our locations are inside Tesco stores, they can do their shopping in the same outing. 

We make our clients feel at home, and they know they’re going to get top-quality service from our barbers. We cater to everyone, from senior citizens to children. Everyone’s welcome. 


What’s the secret to your success?

Work ethic and attention to quality. We don’t rest on our laurels – whenever we hit one goal, it’s on to the next one. And we always give details the attention they deserve, whether that’s choosing what haircut styles to offer or deciding who to hire at a new location. 

What’s your biggest challenge as a barbershop owner? 

Recruitment. Since quality of service is one of the biggest reasons clients choose us, we have extremely high standards to uphold. Finding new barbers with skills that meet those standards can be a challenge. 

It’s worth it though. By taking time to make sure we recruit the best barbers in the game, we know our clients will get the quality service they came for.

What led you to start using Fresha?

"Fresha ticked every box for us. It's a lifesaver."

We used to be walk-in only. It wasn’t sustainable – if you came to one of our shops on a Saturday, you’d see 40 or more people waiting to get their haircut. That was stressful for our barbers, and frustrating for our clients. 

We tried lots of booking systems, but none of them made the cut. Each one was missing a key feature, or couldn’t handle all our locations and clients. 

We then found Fresha, and it ticked every box for us. It’s a lifesaver – clients know they’re going to get their haircut at the time they choose, and our walk-in clients don’t have to wait in queues for ages. 

How easy was it to get started with Fresha?

"It couldn't have been smoother."

The Fresha team personally trained our managers and senior barbers to use the system, so getting started was a breeze. They also helped us make the switch from our previous system. No other platform did that for us. 

We were nervous on the day we launched, because we had so many clients booked – but there were zero issues. It couldn’t have been smoother. 


How has Fresha helped you grow your business?

After just a few weeks of using Fresha, we’d won over 200 new clients through the Fresha marketplace. People can see our barbers have plenty of great reviews, so they’re more inclined to book with them.

The marketing features on Fresha help us keep those clients coming back. We send text messages and emails right after appointments, to ask for a review and encourage them to rebook.

What’s your all-time favourite Fresha feature?

The online booking system is a game changer. It’s so easy for clients and barbers to use. We get about 10,000 clients a week, 80% of which book online – Fresha makes managing all of that a simple task.

The reports are also fantastic. I get daily reports on sales, appointments, occupancy and client retention, which lets me really hone in on how we can grow the business. Fresha handles all our invoicing for us too, which is really convenient.

One word of advice barbershop owners need to hear? 

Recruit the best of the best. Clients are putting their appearance in the hands of your barbers. It’s a big responsibility. Do a great job every single time, and your reputation will help you stand out from your competition. 

And make sure you’re using an online booking platform like Fresha. It’ll help you grow your business, and help your barbers do their best work.

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