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Booksy and @barbersince98: Two Industry Dynamos Team Up to Aid Barbers Everywhere

You know @barbersince98 – also known as Oscar Torres – as the barber running one of the premier showcase sites in the business with more than a quarter million Instagram followers.  An American based in Rhode Island,  Oscar recently retired from cutting hair to blend his enormous online presence with Booksy, the powerful mobile appointment app and industry game-changer.

When I had a chance to interview him in Ireland this spring, I wanted to know the story behind Oscar’s incredible successes and his decision to go all in with Booksy.

Haircuts in the bathtub

Oscar told me he’s loved barbering since his mom plunked the kids into an empty tub for their homemade cuts. “When she said, ‘Strip down to your underwear and get in the tub,’ we knew it was haircut time!” he recalls.  “To be honest, though, I wasn’t the biggest fan of my mom’s skills.”

“When I was thirteen I found inspiration in my sister’s boyfriend, who would give me and my brothers haircuts,” he added. “I used to watch and think ‘This seems doable. I think I could try this.’”

Oscar soon talked his grandmother into spending most of his back-to-school money on his first set of clippers and trimmers, and Mom was not too happy.  “She said, ‘We’re taking this back to the store.’  But I was like, ‘Mom, I can make the money back!’  A couple of days later I had people knocking on my door for haircuts and that weekend I made all the money back.”

After being offered an apprenticeship by a classmate’s father, Oscar went to work in a barber shop. “That was 1998,” he said, “I took it seriously and it has been a blessing ever since.” It also explains where @barbersince98 comes from!

As his barbering and video/journalism skills grew, Oscar became a fast-growing fixture on Instagram. When Booksy began to take off, the two began to see a potential partnership, one based on mutual respect for innovation and skill.

“I saw the uniqueness of what Booksy is doing,” Oscar said. “There are a lot of tools in our industry, and most of them are just ordinary, but Booksy is helping people make more money, obtain more clients, represent themselves in the most professional manner.”

In my travels, I’ve found many barbers struggle with staying organized, even though doing so increases consistency, reliability and ultimately makes for a more successful career.  Oscar agrees;  one reason he loves Booksy.  “Booksy is helping barbers stay organized and helping clients communicate with their barbers,” he said.  Booksy takes the pressure off barbers to handle phone calls and walk-ins while trying to concentrate on the person in the chair, a fundamental and serious organizational problem for many.

With Booksy, customers see their barber’s schedule on their mobile device and book their appointments themselves 24/7, or even cancel or reschedule. All a barber needs to do is give great haircuts and check the calendar to see who’s next!

Meeting Obama’s barber

Oscar’s a big believer in consistency and reliability, and Booksy’s organizational tools help barbers develop both.  Oscar recently got big support for that point of view from Barack Obama’s personal barber, the legendary Zariff at Chicago’s Hyde Park Hair Salon.  After landing an Instagram interview with Zariff, Oscar told me “Zariff focuses on being consistent and reliable.  He feels skills are vital, but the first two are the most important. A skilled barber that is not consistent and not reliable, how effective can that barber be?”

Probably not effective enough to land Barack Obama as a client!

Oscar knows marketing and PR inside out, so he immediately grasped how important it is that Booksy goes above and beyond their already-innovative appointment management tool to help barbers market and grow.  Booksy can integrate a barber’s web site into the Booksy domain to boost Google rankings, and geolocate Booksy barbershops, attracting clients with practically no involvement from the barber at all.  “With Booksy a regular person like me or you can go to a different city,” he enthuses, “and if you don’t know any barbers there, you open up the Booksy app and it gives you the closest barbers. That’s bringing new clients to you.”

Oscar is so enthusiastic that he happily retired from barbering to focus on helping barbers get Booksy into their working lives.  Booksy’s power, combined with Oscar’s industry presence and marketing expertise, are a huge benefit to barbers everywhere.  “My job is to introduce Booksy to people who haven’t used it before or who are using it and need some help on how to make their page more presentable,” he sums up.  “By me dealing with so many businesses on this platform, that allows me to give people advice on what to do and what not to do.”

“I offer brand exposure,” he added. “I like helping brands who have a meaningful purpose in our industry.  My Instagram is a showcase platform.  If you have a brand that stands out and you need some help, I can help you out with that.”

“You can’t reinvent the wheel, but you can change the ride”

I always ask my interviewees for advice to young barbers and Oscar is straight up with his.

“One thing I learned is that you are never going to reinvent the wheel, but you can change the ride,” he told me.

“Social media is a big platform. You can be appreciated by people who will probably never sit in your chair because they are in another country, but I can’t stress enough, don’t lose the importance of your community.

“It is cool to get likes and follows by people you will never meet, but you need to focus on your community and the people who go into your business on a weekly and a monthly basis.”

And while Oscar agrees there is no substitute for persistence and hard work, he comes back to how important it is for barbers to be organized.

“If you think you are grinding now, tighten up your belt because it’s a long ride!” he laughs. “There are things you are going to go through, a lot of clients you will lose and gain, and at the end of the day, you need to stay organized!”

“That’s another reason I am with Booksy.  It helps barbers who are young stay organized and keep your clients,” he adds. “Focus on your clients, stay organized and good things can happen.”

My thanks to Oscar for a fascinating conversation.  You can contact him and inquire how he can help your business by emailing Oscar.torres@booksy.net

It’s amazing to me how Booksy is gaining traction all over the industry, and it is inspiring that so many barbers recognize its value and are not being left behind!

Be sure to watch the full interview on my YouTube @larrythebarberman, and ’til next time, happy barbering!

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Booksy’s Stefan Batory is Boosting Barbers’ Business, Easing Their Stress and Changing Their Lives. Not bad for a Late-Night Long-Distance Runner!

Barbers are over the world are getting to know Booksy, the mobile app that’s changing the business and, according to CEO and co-founder Stefan Batory, improving the professional and personal lives of business owners, independent contractors, and shop employees.

I’ve encountered many successful barbers who swear by Booksy, so I jumped at the chance to meet with Stefan at the Booksy home office in Poland recently.

Fascinating fact: Booksy would not be happening at all if Stefan wasn’t a late night long-distance runner.

Because of his business schedule, Stefan told me his running work outs happen late at night, “sometimes even after midnight.”

“If I feel something is not OK, that I need physiotherapy, it is too late to call for an appointment, and the therapist is not returning text messages at that hour,” he explained. “Often, he would have something available first thing in the morning, but I had no way of knowing that. So,  I missed out on seeing him and he missing out on filling that early appointment.”

“Even when I called during work hours, a therapist works with his hands, and it is not possible to answer the phone, respond to texts or keep up on emails in real time.”

“It seemed to me there must be a solution for this.”

The Booksy idea was born.

In the simplest terms, Booksy is a mobile app that allows clients to book their own appointments on their smart phones at any time in a matter of moments.  For the customer, that’s maximum convenience.  For the barber, it means no more dealing with missed phone calls, late text responses or lost emails. The Booksy monthly subscription model is also much simpler for barbers than paying a percentage of sales, as some booking apps require.

It all means a huge reduction in barber stress and hassle, Stefan says, and a big boost to the bottom line.

“If a client cancels a few hours or even an hour before the appointment, someone can book that last minute availability through the app.  Barbers tell me before using Booksy they had empty chairs on Friday and Saturday, even if they were super successful. They just could not keep up with the phone calls and the text messages. But the second they started using Booksy, that stopped being a problem.  People could change their times and dates and book appointment themselves.”

For customers, no more waiting for a barber to get back. For the barber, no more time spent chasing down all those messages.

“So we not only took the stress out of their lives but the fill rate became much higher because people could check in on their phones at the last minute and say, ‘Oh, he is available in 20 minutes,’ and book it.”

Success has followed this simple yet groundbreaking idea.  Booksy has more than 5,000 clients and has raised millions in capital markets to continue to develop and expand.

Their growing client base means Booksy has amassed original usage data that reveals previously unknown insights all barbers should be aware of.

For example, using the million-plus  appointments made using Booksy each month,  “we noticed 60% of appointments come outside of working hours, which proves people like to book appointments at night or super early,” Stefan says.” That changes business dramatically because, before Booksy, they were unable to make those appointments.”

“We also have the data to prove that people who switch to self-booking with Booksy increase the frequency of their visits by as much as 10 to 30 percent. The client who used to call you 8 or ten times a year now comes twelve or fourteen times a year. This is great because everyone knows it is much easier and cheaper to give your current clients better service than to acquire new clients.”

“What surprised us was that before Booksy, barbers not only missed out on business but also got hurt by cancellations or reschedules because they could not respond quickly.  So barbers would stay in their shops and wait for clients who never showed up. Booksy solves that, too. It’s easy for clients to cancel, it shows up on your calendar immediately, and it opens up a slot for someone else. The barber never has to get involved.”

Another unique feature is the merchant-facing software, which among other things keeps track of point of sale, which helps when calculating commissions and making other personnel and marketing decisions.

I was curious why Stefan chose to focus on barbers. He assured me Booksy was working with hair stylists, therapists, personal trainers, even doctors, and dentists, but there was indeed something about barbering that made us an attractive industry.

“Barbers work with their hands,” he told me.  “Anyone who works with their hands understands that it’s impossible to answer the phone, keep up with emails or respond to texts.”

“More barbers still use pen and paper whereas hair salons have been using management software for years, not necessarily for appointments but for back-office management.  It’s more difficult for them to switch over to Booksy.”

“We designed Booksy as a mobile-first app, and because we knew barbers making appointments manually don’t usually have computers in the shop, they were the perfect niche for the service.”

I shared with Stefan stories I have heard from barbers all over who love Booksy’s popularity with customers and its capability to remove stress from a barber’s daily work life. I had even met a barber who told me that until Booksy came along, he was ready to leave the business due to the stress of customer management.

‘People say it is magic,” he laughs. “They tell me, ‘I don’t do anything, and Booksy does the job, booking clients, handling cancellations and reschedulings, communicates with my clients. I can focus on barbering.’”

“We get messages all the time about this, how Booksy is not only about revenue, but we are helping change lifestyles.”

“One of the best stories I heard was a barber in the US who wrote, ‘Thank you, Booksy, for helping me to have a healthier lifestyle. Before Booksy, I had a lunch break but never had time to eat because I had to reply to emails and messages and phone calls. But now, I have 30 minutes to relax and enjoy lunch.”

“Many barbers are very artistic,” he adds, “They are doing administrative work not because they love it but just because they have to.  Part of what I love about Booksy is we are taking stuff that is not directly involved with their passion and doing it for them. Their life is easier and their work more enjoyable. They can focus on what they do best.”

That’s a real life changer!

Booksy is constantly developing, but Stefan says they are careful not to complicate the app, since ease of use is one of the keys to its popularity. “Of our 5,000 cents, almost all of them set it up themselves, and it took just two or three minutes,” he says proudly.

We will all need to stay tuned because, though is isn’t quite ready to reveal details, Stefan is close to announcing major partnerships with large internet service companies and social media giants that will make Booksy even more attractive to barbers and clients alike.

On behalf of barbers everywhere, I say “Keep on running, Stefan!”

I enjoyed our visit, and I am grateful for the time this very busy man found for me. I think this information is beneficial to all my followers and I hope you will give it serious thought and SHARE my blog or video with your friends. Perhaps it can change your life, too.

Til next time, Happy Barbering!

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