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Management Practices

Boys and their Toys

Elizabeth Jakaitis | August 18, 2015 | 9:51 AM
At J. P. Kempt in San Francisco, 80 percent of appointments are booked online, when the barber is closed.
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An interior of Floyd’s 99, which has 86 locations nationally.
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The Ultimate Shave pampers men in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
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V’s Barbershop operates 22 locations across nine states.
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The way to a man’s heart—and ultimately his hair—is through his smartphone. Salon owners sound off on how to leverage today’s mobile technology to grow your male client base. 

Men love their gadgets. So could the unstoppable rise of male-specific grooming destinations be linked to how they are using technology?

Paul Tate, CEO of Shortcuts Software certainly thinks so. “The overwhelming message we get from our salon clients is that men like straightforward, convenient messaging and support,” he says, “With 93% of men owning a smartphone the best way to provide that is often via their cell.”

From single, owner-run shops to ambitious multi-locations groups, those businesses using mobile-friendly technology to promote their unique brand of male hairdressing are the ones winning the hearts and loyalty of high-spending male clients. Online booking, review requests and appointment confirmations feature high on the “What Works” list, but new services currently being rolled out, such as self check-in and wait times indicators, are going to make the barbershop experience even more streamlined.

We caught up with some of the establishments that cater to men, and asked them how they use technology:

 

Shorty Maniace, Owner
J.P. Kempt Barber & Social
Location: San Francisco, California
Opened: 2013
Staff: 15
Online appointments booked out of hours: 80%

“Society has changed, especially with the young tech generation. Men have never liked phoning up and going through all the bother of negotiating an appointment, but now you can offer them an alternative—the freedom and control of online booking. Increasingly, they prefer appointments. I think it’s because they are more image-conscious these days, yet time-poor so want their hair cut at a time that suits them without having to hang around for it in the old traditional way. Give them that, without them having to talk to someone on the phone, and you’ve got a loyal client.”

 

Sherry Varone, owner
The Ultimate Shave Barbershop & Men’s Salon
Location: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
Opened: 2006
Staff: 14
Retention rate: 85%

“Men want us to make their lives easier and less stressful. That means using the most up-to-date, best technologies available. At The Ultimate Shave, our software allows us to predict accurately how long clients will have to wait. They know they will be sitting in the chair by the time we say they will. And because retention is vital for running a successful business, we foster their loyalty by keeping detailed notes in our software records.  This enables us to remember specifics like what number clipper blade they had at their previous visit, how their hair was cut or how many children they have. We are pretty confident that this level of service contributes to our remarkable success.”

 

Natalie Ifland, manager of education and point of sale
Floyd’s 99 Barbershops
Location: 86 shops nationally
Opened: 2001
Staff: 1,200
Website visits since 2014 relaunch: 3.5 million

“Men crave convenience. Floyd’s 99 leverages technology to make the male client’s experience quick and easy. Our website allows clients to view existing and new locations and check staff schedules. In addition, clients who make a reservation are sent a text confirmation to ensure they remember their scheduled visit. Because men are so ‘quick,’ it can be challenging to gather feedback about their visit after their service. Any client who provides his email or mobile phone number will receive a text asking him to complete a short survey about his visit. The survey tool was launched last year, and so far Floyd’s 99 has collected thousands of responses. That’s valuable information we wouldn’t have without technology.”

 

Meg Kott, regional and systems manager
18|8 Fine Men’s Salons
Location: 35 salons, with 300+ in development
Opened: 2002
Online appointments booked out of hours: 80%

“Communication with our clients helps us sustain and build our loyal clientele so we use our software a lot. Men are often reluctant to call in or take calls so we focus on using technology to reach out to them. We put emphasis on our social networks, with a mix of messages from practical to inspiration peppered with calls to action. We also keep in touch via texts and emails, with four- and eight-week reminders automated. But we also go for the personal touch with follow-up handwritten postcards to thank clients for using us.”

 

Emily Brown, director of operations
V’s Barbershop
Location: 22 salons in 9 states
Opened: 1999
Online appointments booked out of hours: 65%

“We know men like simplicity. They don’t want lots of services or layers of people to navigate through when they come for a haircut. And they won’t answer their phones. So we keep it real simple. We offer online booking and text reminders. And they love it. Technology is the link between them and their barber, which allows for a very personal, simple and direct relationship.

“It is simple for us, too. Technology has been essential. We’ve been with Shortcuts almost since we opened 16 years ago, and it’s helped us refine our strategy. The depth of reporting allows us to drill down into our business. We can see what’s trending in different states instantly and act accordingly. If it’s a service or a product, we can roll it out across our locations, delivering what our clients want when they want it.”

 

Jessica Hoach, co-founder and director of operations
Eikonic House of Barbers
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Opened: 2010
Staff: 13
New clients (excl recommendations): 95% from online searches

“To market successfully to men you have to understand two things: they are not long-term planners and they like to research before they buy. They tend to make snap decisions, check out what’s available on their phone and then go for it. We’ve found having an extensive review history online gives them what they need while pushing us up the search engines, and we’ve driven those reviews using salon software. Every new client is automatically prompted to send us feedback with the option to leave a review, and nearly 40 percent do. It’s staggering. Reach out to them using technology and, you’ll see, they like it.”

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