A Cut Above: Lessons From Finley’s Barber Shop

Feb 25, 2015

Guest Post by Scott Finley

Finley’s Barber Shop is an upscale men’s barber shop started by Darren Peterson and Scott Finley in 2008, there are currently five locations in Austin and North Texas, with four more set to open soon. Each Finley’s customer is greeted at the entrance and encouraged to relax in a lounge area and enjoy a beer or other beverage before his haircut. Haircuts include a shampoo, cut and style, hot towel face treatment, hot lather neck trim and rejuvenating shoulder massage. In this Good Call Blog, Scott Finley shares his approach to customer service and how he gets his customers to loosen up and allow themselves to be pampered.

GCB: What is Finley’s overall approach to customer service?

SF: It’s all about the experience. From how the client is greeted when he walks in to how he’s spoken to on the phone, we make it clear that he’s the number one priority. You have to go above and beyond expectations. For example, when you offer someone a drink, their first instinct is usually to refuse. Then, two minutes later, they think, “I wish I’d taken that drink.” We offer multiple times to the point where they get comfortable accepting a drink.

GCB: What sets Finley’s apart from other barbershops and how does customer service play into that?

SF: Guys look at a haircut as a chore, like mowing the grass. Women will plan the birth of their child around hair appointments, women know that it can be an experience, guys don’t. We have customers come in who are in their 60s who’ve never had their hair shampooed, because it usually costs more. We’re all-inclusive. We pamper guys without “pampering” them. The complimentary beverages, the music, the vibe, the energy, that’s what separates us from anybody else. We know if guys come in and experience it once, they’ll be hooked.

GCB: How do you get that 60-year-old customer who’s used to a budget barber to loosen up and enjoy himself?

SF: We don’t ask guys if they want something, we just do it. Whether it’s a shampoo or a hot towel with lavender, after they experience it for the first time, they say, “Woah, that’s awesome.” Any time you ask if they want something, it’s an opportunity for the client to say no, and they don’t know what they’re missing.

It doesn’t matter if the client is five or 95, it’s the same for kids, too. Five year olds get a shampoo, hot towel, and massage. Moms will come in and say they used to have to bribe their kids to come in and get their hair cut. Now the kids are the ones asking to go to the barbershop.

GCB: What happens once you get people hooked?

SF: The experience has to be consistent. The haircuts can be different because different barbers have different styles, but everything else has to be the same. To do that, you have to clearly define expectations for employees, down to the pinpoint. You have to tell them step-by-step how to do everything. Once they get it and buy in, they start to see. People feel cheated if they come in after a great time and it’s not the same.

Now that we’re more established, we’re attracting men with an expectation. If we don’t provide the same service for him that we did for his buddy, we’ve failed.

GCB: What advice do you have for other small business owners or people thinking about starting their own business?

SF: Expect to make mistakes, mistakes are ok. As long as you recover, mistakes are good. They’re like speed bumps, if you’re going 100 mph, you’re not going to survive. The speed bump sets you back to ask, “What am I doing wrong here?”

Clearly define expectations of employees and yourself. Get your hands dirty. Expect to work your tail off and eat, sleep and shower in your business. You’ve got to be there 24/7, 365. Once you figure it out, you can start to delegate, but if you don’t put 100 percent in, you won’t get 100 percent back.

GCB: What’s next for Finley’s Barber Shop?

SF: We want to grow organically. We’re focused on expanding without losing the integrity of what we’re doing. At some point you have to say, “I’m done. This is as much as I can do while still maintaining who we are.” We’re about to open four new locations in Austin, on North Lamar, South Lamar, Burnet, and in Avery Ranch. When we were six, seven months into this thing, we didn’t know if we were going to make it. Now, it’s unbelievable.

Finley’s Barber Shop currently has three Austin locations – downtown, Westlake Hills, and Lakeway – and two locations in the Dallas Metroplex – Southlake and Plano. Finley’s is open seven days a week and Scott promises that even if you come in just before close, you’ll still get the full Finley’s experience.

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