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The story of Rockit Barbershop’s success

Thanks to specialised skills and a focus on customer experience, old-school barbers are well and truly back in fashion. Evan Rolton explains how Rockit Barbershop got in on the ground floor of the men’s grooming movement.

Know your market

In the 20 years since his career began, Evan has seen haircare trends come and go.

In the early days, a fresh-faced Manchester United midfielder named David Beckham was leading a men’s styling revolution, inspiring the male population to ditch the unruly locks of the grunge era and experiment with colour and product.

In recent years, Evan says they’ve swapped the ‘just out of bed’ look for cleaner lines and sophisticated styles, thanks in part to cult TV shows such as Mad Men and Suits.

In Melbourne’s CBD, Rockit Barbershop is well placed to cater to modern trends.

“You don’t even have to wear a suit to be a businessperson these days, but you’ve got to have well-maintained hair and a neat beard,” Evan says.

“Being based in the city, I know that 95% of my customers are businesspeople, so they have to look well presented at all times.”

A laidback vibe – online and off

Rockit Barbershop opened in 2005, just as the world economy was teetering on the brink of collapse.

Far from being bad for business, however, the global financial crisis (GFC) gave Evan the opportunity to capitalise on a growing trend.

“In the past 10 years, when the GFC hit, a lot of the men who were going to more expensive salons started to say: ‘Well I need to save some money.’ And there was a resurgence of barbershops.”

This return to barbershops coincided with the rise of social media, and Evan was savvy enough to see the value of Instagram “before it was huge”.

How to be savvy on social media

By now, a majority of small business owners know that social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn — are important for reaching prospects, customers and business partners.

However, that still doesn’t make it easy to block out the time for creating and executing a social media strategy, especially in businesses that don’t have a dedicated employee to manage these channels.

By keeping it simple and straightforward, taking and posting photos of Rockit Barbershop haircuts – Evan’s approach to social media was not only easy, it was very successful.

“Instagram and Facebook are both fantastic for marketing, but I let my customers do it for me,” he says. “We’re on Google and we’ve got 120 reviews, and we’ve got a 4.7 rating – not many people in Melbourne have got that.”

 A quick scroll through the reviews shows an overwhelmingly positive response, as well as a number of recurring themes. The “great atmosphere”, “awesome service” and “relaxed vibe” all get frequent praise, and there are naturally quite a few shout-outs to the free beer.

“If someone sends you a message, it’s important to always respond as quickly as possible, and to always respond by saying ‘thank you’,” Evan says.

So how do you create such a loyal and vocal customer base?

“It’s living up to the values that I want the business to run by. I really respect all of my staff and my customers – and ensuring they have a great experience is paramount. We’re a shop that prides ourselves on customer service, and the customer is our product, so we’ve got to make them walk away wanting to come back.”


To find out more about Rockit Barbershop click here