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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!

If you would like to try Booksy FREE of 14 days and get 20% discount if you decide it is for you click on the following link http://www.ihave2have.it

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The 3 Keys, To zero Gapping Any, Hair Clipper Or Trimmer, Quickly & Easily

Many customers at my http://www.larrythebarberman.com online shop ask me to zero gap their new trimmers and clippers before I send them out. I’m always happy to do it, but if you drop your device or knock it out of alignment during your busy day, you need to re-zero-gap it yourself.  Otherwise, you’ve lost that tool for the duration!

Today, I’ll show you how to zero gap and build your confidence that you can perform this important task.  But first, an explanation of zero-gapping:

Zero gapping is taking the cutting, or moving, blade (represented by yellow in the picture) as close as possible to top edge of the fixed, or comb, blade (represented by black in the picture) without going past the top of the fixed blade.  When zero gapping, you also position the cutting blade an equal distance from both the left and right sides of the fixed blade.  Again: the cutting blade goes very close to the top of the fixed blade and equidistant from both left and right sides.

This gives you sharper lines and lets you board closer.

If the yellow goes past the black, (cutting blade goes past the fixed) your client will get cut, so be sure to leave a bit of distance from the edge!

How much distance is determined by how heavy-handed you are.  The heavier your hand, the further you want the top edge of the cutting blade from the top of the fixed blade.

Barbers talk about 3, 4 and 5 hair-strands of gap (if you can imagine!), but that is how finely you will want to adjust the distance.  To test how heavy handed you are, try out your adjustments on the back of your arm before you put those blades anywhere near the back of your client’s neck!  You will soon find the gap that is right for you.

To sum up: Zero gapping is taking the cutting blade as high up or as close to the edge of the comb blade as possible to get a lower cut or sharper lines, with your ‘handedness’ taken into account.

Now, on to the Three Keys of Zero Gapping!

# 1 Take on the right tools.  You need various sizes of Phillips and flat head screwdrivers for the job. I prefer Tool Hub products for their good, comfortable grip, which gives you very fine control. You’ll need that, because zero gapping requires gentle, easy, controlled turns of the screws.

Tool Hub has a general set of combination Philips and flat heads as well as a precision set for use on smaller trimmers.  See for yourself!  (LINK HERE)

#2 Loosen screws as little as possible.  You will make it much harder on yourself if you loosen the screws too much initially. The cutting blade will slip when you retighten the screws, and you will have to re position all over again.

People make the loose-screw problem worse by tightening one screw all the way down before attending to the other screw.  This practically guarantees the cutting blade you so carefully positioned will slip!  Many people unscrew, reposition the blade, and tighten one screw all the way again, which again shifts the blade.  Rinse and repeat!  Very frustrating.

Don’t make yourself crazy this way!  Just loosen each screw ever so slightly so the blades remain braced tightly against each other.  This way, once you have positioned the cutting blade, it will stay where it is as you prepare to retighten the screws.

#3) When retightening, gently alternate between the left and right screws.  Make slight, gentle turns of each screw alternately, back and forth, back and forth. This keeps the blade, already snug, firmly in position. Once you are sure the screws are tightened and the blades are securely braced against each other, you can apply more force to complete the tightening.

If you are working with fixed blades, such as the Styliner II, it’s the same drill:  crack the screws ever so slightly, look down the blade, position it to your zero gap – depending on how heavy handed you are –  and retighten gently back and forth, top and bottom, until it’s perfectly tightened again.

Another tip: On the Styliner II blade, the flathead screw in the middle is the tension screw, which adjusts how tightly squeezed together the blades are.  If the screw is too loose, the blades will separate too much and catch or pull your customer’s hair. Too tight, the blades will not move at all.

So that’s how easy it is to zero gap your tools to the precise degree that works for you!  This is excellent knowledge to have and will make you more confident you can handle any problems that arise.

As always, you can watch me demonstrate the “How To” on video at my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

Good luck and until next time, happy barbering!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

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USING THE RIGHT TOOLS TO MAINTAIN YOUR CLIPPERS AND TRIMMERS. PLUS: A HANDY HACK FOR WORKING WITH DAMAGED SCREWS

Barbers frequently ask me to make videos about maintenance and repair issues, which I am happy to do!  I believe it is just as important that I share tips on how to avoid damaging your tools so that your equipment gives you the long, faithful service you expect.

Today, we will talk about your bread and butter: clippers and trimmers. If these are not performing well your work flow will be scuppered, customers may be irritated, and money will not be made!

First, it is important to have an array of screw driving tools, not just one screwdriver that you try to use on everything. Using a too-small screwdriver will destroy the pattern atop a screw, making it almost impossible to remove quickly.

One Screwdriver Size does NOT fit all

Imagine a busy Saturday when you need to zero gap your clipper, and you go with a too-small screwdriver, damaging the screw top and being unable to loosen it at all. It’s just that easy to spoil the tools that make your money, kill your workflow and kill the income going into your pocket.  This will mess up your big money-making day.

On the other hand, if you try to zero gap a trimmer, which takes a smaller screw, that same screwdriver is too big. You will damage the trimmer screws and lose the delicate touch you need to loosen the screws only lightly, so the tightness of the blade keeps them in position. It’s like trying to use your phone while wearing work gloves!

Even when you have the zero gap, you need to gently retighten the screws, first one side, then the other; back and forth; left then right; left then right. If the screwdriver is too big, you have to put too much downward pressure on it, causing the blade to move.  Very frustrating, and another reason you need the right tools.

Larry recommends

I urge you invest in quality tools, not just any tools.  I’ve found excellent ‘Tool Hub’ tools on E-bay, such as a set of screwdrivers with a broad array of Phillips and flatheads.  You need a larger flathead screwdriver for the power screw on the side of the clipper, which you adjust to get the arm closer to the motor. You need a quality flathead screwdriver to do the job.

The ‘Tool Hub’ set also has an array of Phillips heads so you can find the correct one that makes snug contact with the screw head.

You also want to ensure your screwdrivers have a good gripping handle because when it comes to zero gapping, you need a good grip as well as a snug fit with the screw head.

This set also features an array of medium screwdrivers perfect for adjusting hair clippers – a Master or Fademaster or the Senior or Wahl Super Taper.  Check it out at this link: (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)

For making adjustments on a trimmer’s smaller, finer screws, I’ve found another perfect precision kit with interchangeable flathead and Philips attachments and a telescopic handle, which helps with a host of jobs. It even comes with a magnifying glass, so when you position for a zero gap, you can look along the blade without killing your eyes. I strongly suggest you get this kit. (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)

Insider Hack: How to Remove Damaged Screws From Your Clipper and Trimmer

Back in the old days, barbers had to sharpen their cut throat razors using a whetstone and oil and a strop. We have it much easier with today’s excellent electric trimmers and clippers. All we need to know is how to tune these things with a screw driver; no heavy manual labor. It’s a relatively easy job, but it demands that you use the right tools.

Now, here’s today’s Larry the Barberman Insider Hack:  If you used the wrong screwdriver and hollowed out the tops of the screws, ordering a new one from the manufacturer is a long and expensive process, perhaps as much as £10  just for delivery – and just for one screw!

But temporarily, all you need is a rubber band.  Here’s how it works: Place the rubber band over the screw head you have destroyed and push it down into the screw with a screwdriver, using lots of pressure.  Under pressure, the rubber band will mold itself to the contours of the damaged screw in a kind of super grip, like when you can’t open a stubborn bottle with your hand and improve the grip by putting a tea towel over it.  It works!

That’s it for today’s How-To blog. Once again, based on what I’ve seen in barbershops all over the world, I strongly recommend you get the right tool for every screw in every clipper- and keep your work flow going!

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

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The Top 3 Cordless Hair Clippers/ Trimmers 2017

Harry Pirate is one of my favourite people to talk clippers with, since not only does he really know his stuff when it comes to the technical element of doing great barber work, but he’s also an active barber in a busy shop who knows how important it is for a clipper to perform well under that kind of pressure. You can read all about Harry’s inspiring career in this recent blog post; today, though, I’m going to be drawing on his expertise to give you reviews of three of the best cordless clippers available right now.

Let’s jump straight in with the first review, and Harry’s thoughts on the Andis Slimline Pro Li, a cordless trimmer which uses the lithium ion battery to make sure that this clipper stays strong:

“People who follow my channel will know that I am in love with these: they’re the best trimmer you can buy. In my opinion, they’re as powerful as the Wahl corded detailers, and once they’re zero gapped they’re amazing – I can’t fault them.

This cuts the closest, the way you can adjust the blade is great, and for me it’s all about the power. When I do head shaves, and the client want their hair razored, I will always use this to do a quick buzz over first. It’s very portable too”

It’s important to note that some barbers have had a few issues with the power button breaking, and that’s something that you should definitely be aware of – in Harry’s experience, though, this hasn’t been a concern. I also ask him how it compares with the iconic T Outliner: there are pros and cons to each tool, but although the Outliner does cut a little closer and a little sharper, for Harry it’s the Slimline Pro Li that wins.

In fact, he gives it a formidable 10/10 rating… a tool that deserves a spot on your shelf.

 

Next up we have the Wahl Magic Clip Cordlessone of the classic clippers that receives a lot of well-deserved praise from barbers across the country. Here’s what Harry has to say:

“There are a lot of things I love about this – the first being, obviously, the power. It stays powerful right until the very end. The blade is great as well; it has a little stagger tooth blade, which means that every other tooth on the bottom blade is slightly shorter.

They call it crunch blade technology, and what it does is give you a very nice texture when you’re fading: it almost fades for you and you really do notice the difference. And that’s because of the whole package –  the ergonomics, the power. Even though I use Andis tools I will always go back to this, I use it for clipper over comb, and I use it for fine tuning fades if there are little shadows”.

Wahl’s blade technology is a great selling point for several of their tools, with a range of different blades available, including that crunch blade that makes the Magic Clip so great. This is one of the key factors that leads to a very respectable 8/10 from Harry, and he adds that “I wouldn’t not have this in my draw”.

 

So, there’s one cordless clipper left to discuss, and for a powerful cordless tool, Harry and I agree that you should turn to the Andis Supra ZR. Let’s jump straight in with Harry’s thoughts:

“Honestly, these are brilliant. The great thing, obviously, detachable blades. These are great for everything: clipper over comb, detailing, you can line with these – if you put the 000 or 0000 blade on it’s as close as a detailer! The power in this is amazing. You have three speed settings, and even the lowest speed is really powerful.

They have a wonderful build quality too, very chunky. I think Andis have really done a great job with these and I think it’s genius having the three speed settings. I use the top speed for clipper over comb, turn it down to mid-speed on beards, and turn it down to the low speed for edging. But there’s no loss of speed!”

Getting good power with a cordless clipper is something that I know some barbers worry about, but with the Supra ZR that doesn’t need to be a concern! Harry rates them at 10/10 and I’m happy to agree that these are an excellent choice for a cordless clipper that can take down bulk.

 

If any of these clippers have piqued your interest then you can find them at my store – just use the links below and feel free to drop me a message if you have any questions. I’d also like to invite you to come and join me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, where there are plenty more views, reviews and interviews to watch and read.

Featured Clippers:

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/andis-slimline-pro-li/

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/wahl-magic-clip-clippers-cordless/

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/wahl-magic-clip-clippers-cordless/

 

 

 

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