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Hattori Hanzo Shears Stylist Spotlight: Zak Galindo

Zak Galindo
 Name: Zak Galindo
City: The Woodlands, TX

With over 15 years of barbering experience and having trained with some of the top-industry leaders, Zak brings barbering expertise unlike any other to this area. Coupled with a hospitality and business background, there are few more qualified to be at the forefront of the fastest growing barbershop brand in Montgomery County. Zak holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting and held a CPA license for 3 years while working for Ernst & Young, one the world’s largest Accounting firms. He also actively managed several Fine Dining restaurants in the area, developing customer service skills that would be later implemented within the barbershop.

After 5 years since opening the first shop and with a team of over 20 barbers across 2 locations that share the same passion for barbering and customer service, Galindo’s Barbershop continues to bring a new brand of barbering, unparalleled customer service and a customer experience that will leave you excited for your next visit. 

What made you decide to become a part of this industry?

 I grew up in Chicago, where there is a barbershop on every corner so when you need a haircut, you go to your neighborhood barbershop.  As long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of a fresh haircut and I always enjoyed my trips to the barbershop. I loved the smell of the aftershave, the conversations going on, I thought the barbers were the coolest people on earth because they knew everybody, always had the newest shoes and clothes on, and were very personable and outgoing. Like all barbers, I started cutting my own hair trying to imitate the fade that I would get at the barbershop. With time, I got better and eventually built up the courage to cut some of my friends. Within a short time, I had a line of friends wanting haircuts in my garage. I think that’s when I truly started seeing my passion for this. It wasn’t so much the cutting hair part, though I did enjoy that as well, but more so the community that was being built around it. It became a gathering place where people came to hang out, get a haircut and just have a good time.That’s the essence of any barbershop. I started barber school during my last year of high school and got licensed at the age of 17. 

 

I started working at a local shop and quickly built a steady clientele. I soon got to a point where I knew I wanted to open up my own barbershop, but didn’t feel like I had enough business knowledge, so I signed up for college classes. I would work at a restaurant bartending at night and would cut hair during the day on days that I didn’t have school so I could pay for college. It was a great mix because I could tell my barber shop clients to come at and drink at the bar I was working at and vice versa for the regulars that I had at the bar. This helped me build my clientele quickly and also introduced me to customer service in a fine dining atmosphere. I had done well in some of the intro-level accounting classes so when it came time to declare for a major, I chose Accounting (not really knowing what I signed up for at the time).  As I went through with my classes I was introduced to different career fairs where Accounting firms come and recruit students for internships. I wasn’t originally interested in that since my purpose for going to school was to eventually open a barbershop, but I was persuaded by a professor to at least try and see if I could get an internship. I was able to land one with a prominent accounting firm Ernst & Young and eventually was offered a full-time position as an Auditor. I felt like I was slowly going further and further away from what I originally went to school for but it was a great opportunity so I wanted to pursue it. I worked for the firm for almost 3 years and learned so much about big business and what makes a company great as well as what makes a company bad and how that translates to the work environment and employees. Like most accounting professionals, I was burned out from the long hours and started to realize that my heart was no longer in this. 

 

During my entire time as an accountant, I was still cutting hair during the weekends or any free time I had. I decided to start looking for a storefront to open up my first barbershop and told myself, if I find a spot, it will be a sign that I need to go into business for myself and leave the accounting firm. I was able to get a great deal on a space at my original location in Magnolia and within a week, I put my notice in at Ernst & Young. Fast forward 5 years, we have a team of 20 barbers across two locations, over $1M in revenue for two consecutive years, even during a pandemic. We are thriving and growing and in the process of opening a third and possible fourth location. I am grateful for all the lessons during my time as an accountant and my time in fine dining restaurants as I’ve been able to implement things I learned in the corporate world into my barbershop.

Business Advice From Zak

In one sentence, how would you describe your experiences thus far as a business owner?

I compare it to the NBA, you get wins and losses throughout the year and work towards a championship but then you have to go back to the drawing board each year and work to get even better.

What has been the best advice you’ve received as a business owner and who gave it to you? 

As a business owner, you have to delegate the low-priority tasks so you can focus on the things that actually move the needle. It’s easy to get bogged down with the tedious, low priority items that keep you from giving your energy to growing your business. I was at a business seminar for small business owners and that was one of the points that resonated with me and got me to start being more intentional with my time

Being able to change the past is an idea that we’d all like to do sometimes. If you could do one thing over again, what would it be? What would you change?

I would have started my business at a much younger age, when I first had the idea to do so. 

Hiring employees is always an interested subject. What are things you look for when you’re interviewing a potential staff member?

My mindset is that you can teach anyone how to cut hair if they want to learn, but you can’t change the way someone’s personality is. Our interview process is tailored around learning how each person’s personality will fit within our culture. Two qualities that are non-negotiable with us are being a team player and being coachable. If those two qualities are not obvious, chances are they will have a hard time being successful within our business model. 

A lot of salon or shop owners are always looking for new ways to praise or reward their team. How do you reward or praise your staff when they’ve done a great job?

Our team really enjoys frequent outings where we can have fun outside of the barbershop. We use these outings to celebrate successes and wins that our team has achieved. We also promote on our social media and spotlight our team when they execute a great fade, or reach a milestone. Everyone loves being publicly celebrated. I think as long as the team knows that you genuinely care about them and don’t see them as dollar signs, they will appreciate anything you do to praise them as they will see you putting effort in. 

Have you ever hosted a Hattori Hanzo Shears education class?

Yes, we held one a few years ago. We are always looking to bring someone back to educate our team further. 

Who was your educator? What did your team learn?

Alex Ross showed us different cutting techniques using the Hanzos.

What types of classes have helped you as an owner?

 I have been fortunate enough to have a business background (I am a former CPA), so I think that what I learned during my time in college, specifically the accounting courses have helped to get me to where I am now. 

Do you feel that a business education would help a salon or shop business owner? Expand on that.

 Absolutely! As barbers/stylists, we are experts in haircutting, bringing in clients, etc but when we make the jump from barber/stylist to owner, the focus is no longer solely on client work. There are so many moving pieces when running a business – payroll, marketing, budgeting, accounting, etc. This can be overwhelming for someone just starting their journey in salon/barber ownership and at times detrimental to the business if not handled properly. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to be a CPA to run a business but you should definitely have a fundamental understanding of general business practices.

If you could give advice to a new business owner on these following subjects, what would you say? 

Hiring: Be slow to hire and quick to fire. 

 

Firing: Set the boundaries from the very beginning including your non-negotiables. Be unwavering when it comes to your non-negotiables. 

 

Social media: Plan a month ahead and be intentional. Aim for shares and reposts, not just likes. 

 

Payroll: Outsource this. There are many affordable companies that will handle this for you. Don’t get bogged down doing this yourself

 

Taxes: Get you a great CPA and make sure to have them do tax planning with you DURING the year. You never want to go into tax filing season without a plan. 

 

General business practices: As an owner, your #1 job is to sell (in our industry this means bring clients in). 

Fun Q& A With Zak

If your family or friends could describe your character in one word, what would that word be?

Determined.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Key Lime Pie is my absolute favorite

What’s an average Saturday night look like for you?

These days are much more mellow than my younger years. Saturday night is date night for my fiance and I. We love trying new restaurants and enjoying a glass of wine watching the sunset. 

What are your pizza toppings?

 I keep it simple, Pepperoni & Italian Sausage

What’s your favorite board game?

I always enjoy a good game of Monopoly

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Santorini, Greece. I’ve always wanted to sit atop the white buildings looking out towards the water. Some of the best views in the world

Any last final thoughts?

I love helping grow this industry and appreciate everything Hanzo is doing for our industry. It’s been my lifelong purpose to help spread what we do throughout our communities so thank you for letting me share my story. 

Catherine Delahanty

Catherine Delahanty

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