Arthur Alayev, Co-Founder, Get Cuts, The Corporate Barber

Scaling Up Services - 022 - Arthur Alayev.png

Arthur Alayev, Co-Founder, Get Cuts, The Corporate Barber

Arthur comes from 3 proud generations of Barbers. He has been in the barber industry majority of his working career. It is a passion and an art that only the finest of haircutters can attest to. Hes been a barber for some of the greatest shops in the Tri-State area with thousands of extremely happy clients and amazing style cuts seen in the Manhattan area. He takes great pride and passion on his craft.


[00:00:02] You're listening to scaling up services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:22] Welcome everyone. This is scaling up services and recycle. I'm your host and today I'm here with Arthur Alayev and Arthur is going to tell us a little bit about his business. And business and it's going to be a great episode because this for me is kind of the route of services. We're going to talk about some of the fundamental aspects of service based businesses. Arthur welcome to the program.

[00:00:44] Thank you very much Bruce. Glad to be here.

[00:00:46] So yes let's start with your story because I think you've got a great background. I know you know I got a little bit of it before but I think you'd be great for the people listening again to explain how you got into this because there's actually a great backstory a family history to this.

[00:00:59] And then we can talk a little about that business and what you've been doing nothing lately so I come from three generations of barbers. My grandfather started back in the Soviet Union and then he told my father my father taught me and I really loved the craft everybody in the family decided to become doctors and lawyers so I I kind of wanted to stick to the trade. It's definitely an amazing business. And when I was 13 years old my father started taking me through the business and I started seeing the whole operation how everything works and he never really wanted it for me. And he just more or less wanted to take me he just floor to keep me busy. You know we're outside on the street you might get into some trouble. So he he always looked out for us. And I picked up the trade with him and he said you know what. It's always good to know you can be in one stage you can be in a whole different country and you'll be able to have this craft with you no matter where you go.

[00:01:59] Somewhere along the way I wanted to open up my own business and have a brick and mortar. And I just said you know what. There has to be a more innovative way to scale the business to change it up to have something more innovative. So with roots so deep is mine in the barber industry you know it's not much you know that compares to getting the perfect cut. It's worth the trek across town a disruption to your day and there enough to work and up to now that's what it required for a lot of people. But we believe that you shouldn't have to choose between luxury and convenience. So I decided to take the show on the road. We like to mainly go to corporate companies and events and all types of even weddings. So you know that's something that it's a service based business that you can try to scale today. It's all about convenience and it's all about comfort. So if you could always find a way to do something like that I would always be you know productive Yeah.

[00:02:58] So I think there's there's an interesting kind of insight here or or at least you know understanding of really what it means to be services.

[00:03:05] What do you think you picked up when you were young in terms of being at the barbershop and seeing what the experience was like from a service point of view you know there's one thing that sort of the technical aspect of you know how to cut someone's hair but above and beyond the technical side like what did you see as really creating a great experience or whether or not a great experience like what you do notice about the experience of getting you know of getting a good cut right.

[00:03:27] So the business that my father took over he took over Rudys barber shop and that's a pretty old chap it's about 60 years old now and he started picking it up and he gave a lot of great services. He gave a lot of extras he gave a lot of complementary products to the clientele and outway business started picking up. So for instance when a person would come in for a hot towel shave they would give him a complementary neck clean out. You know it doesn't really take a lot of time. It doesn't cost so much more extra. But the small things is more or less you know what people look at you know and when you can provide a little bit here a little bit there people actually take that into consideration and reductively starts moving up your business. And people always like a complementary service you know something that you can just putting there's something that doesn't cost so much something that you know you can't you can always you can always add something small. No I don't see it harming a lot of people and that was one of the ways was for a business to scale his business.

[00:04:44] And it was it was more or less about the customer satisfaction and that was one thing that I learned growing up from my father. Customer service was always the highest regard for him and he told me when you can when you can have great customer service and the clients will be happy definitely have more and more services you'll have you'll scale up the business much quicker that way.

[00:05:06] Yeah I was remember one of the best shaves I got you some kind of like a eucalyptus oil in a towel or something like that and put a tiny little thing with it.

[00:05:17] Something about it I think smell too is a very powerful kind of emotional reaction. So I always think of that achievement it's just because of the you know this little thing they did in you know for me in terms of the experience that made it memorable because I think it is.

[00:05:29] I mean like you know I mean there's technically there's good haircuts there's bad haircuts. You know but the broader experience is really what the emotional impact is and so exactly. So I'm curious when you kind of have this you know family history this experience education in barbering and then you know how many different kind of ideas did you go through and were looking at trying to innovate in that space what else did you consider and what else did you potentially kind of put it aside to you not see as viable. Because I can think of lots of different ways you can innovate there but I'm curious how you pick on the model that you picked him and what else did you not get.

[00:06:02] So I was helping out a good friend of mine and this was the Twenty third Street. He had a brick and mortar a barber shop over there. I worked with him for almost four years and. We had I was mainly booked for the day. So a lot of my bookings to call in and most of them would say hey I can come in I'm slammed at work. I'm very busy. I can make it. I got to reschedule. And that happened on a daily basis. So you know I was just sitting one day I had a thought maybe hey maybe we could do like like a truck. You know we'll park it on Park Avenue or Madison and we'll just you know try to advertise from there and have people come down on their lunch breaks. But then again I didn't want to limit it again so I just you know I said you know what let's let's try to do this On-Demand Barber service where we can go because I've heard of massage therapists going into office buildings.

[00:07:00] I've heard of Taylor shoe shiners. I said you know it's a mustache therapist thing set up their chair or whatever their bed. How is it any different from having a barber come to the office and provide a service. You know right there right in office and you know next to your desk and I said you know let me let me try. I gave a couple of phone calls I got a couple of girls and a lot of people actually thought hey this is an amazing idea this could be something great. So I had my first shot. And they love it. They referred me to other places and it just builds up from there. You got to get your feet wet. You know if you don't try you never know.

[00:07:40] Yeah. So let me ask though so you have this idea. I always find there's a big difference between having the idea and pulling it off.

[00:07:48] Zachary exeat like your first couple of cuts.

[00:07:50] Talk to me about it. How did it go. What were those kind of like moments where you're like oh no. Like I like things that didn't work or things you realize that they're switching it from you know them coming to you and your location where everything is set up and you've got it all kind of orchestrated to be able to do your job right when you come to them. What are the things that you anticipated that you knew you were going to have to do differently and maybe unanticipated that you had to figure out and then you know how you kind of absorbed the service to make it work in this contest.

[00:08:16] Exactly. So it's always a lot of people they can always say they can always talk they can have a dream but they don't pursue it. I thought to myself I spoke a lot and I always said hey this would be a great idea. That will be a great idea but I never would go for it. And up until recently I said you know what. This seems like a great idea. I don't want to be one of those people that actually says something but doesn't do it. I said you know what I'm going to try to do it. I don't do it I don't do it. It doesn't succeed. Oh well. But if you don't try you never know. And that's something that always pushed me. I had a curiosity for it and I said you know what. There's no room for failure especially. Listen I'm 28 years old right now married three kids and there's no room for failure. There is no room for failure no. And that's something that you have to push for and it's something that you have to believe in. And you know if you do have that inside of you that push that drive and I'm pretty sure that you'll be very successful. So some of the things that changed as I started going into offices was we always had accessibility to everything that we needed in a barber shop. And I thought to myself How can I put everything on the road. You know something that's compact that's easy to use simple to carry with you.

[00:09:33] So most of our tools today are cordless. They're on the go. You can use them practically anywhere. And believe it or not I've customized the barber chair that is perfect it's on wheels. All right. It's about 30 pounds but nonetheless it's pretty doable. It's very easy. There's no outlets we don't require no Al it's everything is horrible everything is compact. But one of the things that did stress me a little bit was the fact that we didn't want employees and tenants to go back when they would return back to work in the office. We didn't want the hair to be on them. So what we did was we got a portable hot towel maker and yeah we we went to tells before it eats up in about five to 10 minutes and just wipe down all air. And that's easy to go easy to use easy to go in they go back to work nice and clean. That was one of the challenges. Another big challenge as a service based business was obscurity people not knowing you how to get your name out what you're supposed to do. And. More or less we've you know we did big campaigns for social media. Social media helps big time. You know Instagram LinkedIn if you can find the right people on you then you have to know your client. You have to know your where you're trying to go for it.

[00:11:00] And good ones. Let's then let's zero in on that because I think the you know for me there's the whole sort of getting the service right figuring out like as you mentioned the whole country burning hot towels the whole barber chair. Like how do I innovate on the service delivery. But you know until you figure out exactly who your core customer is who your ideal customer is right. All of that can actually be tough to do because if you're trying to serve too many different people making decisions about you know do I go cordless Do you know do I need to bring in the chair like those things become you know harder to identify and harder to solve if your clients are too diverse. So how did you go about really zeroing in on who your core customer was. Like who who really made sense for you from a profit point of view from a service point of view in terms of being able to actually reach and target from a marketing and sales point of view. How did you zero in on that. Who is it and how did you zero in on that.

[00:11:54] So when when I was still at at the shop in Seventh Avenue and Twenty third Street we had I had a really good connection with a lot of my client tells. And when I started proposing that about the idea of the business a lot of people really enjoyed it they really liked it. They thought it was an amazing idea and they said you know what let me get you in touch with our H.R. department. And we feel that that's somebody who makes the decisions in the company. And so we knew from that point that the person who we need to contact our H.R. managers and from there we developed a LinkedIn account and we developed a little commercial base I guess now and we would pitch it to them and they would see it they would like it. Most of them were like it. Now some of them they had a little. They weren't so sure about the price point. Again it's a luxury and it's just more or less a comfort that you are paying for as well. Yeah. You know but at the same time I believe the first year it should be invest invest invest.

[00:13:06] And not look for a return right away because you want like I said before your whole thing not to get noticed is it's obscurity. People don't know you they don't they can't trust you they don't know what's what. So I would say you know try to give them services on the House side complementary items and something that makes them feel more comfortable. Now you can say hey I would like to come in and show you a complimentary two hours of how the business works from there and maybe even start a chart. And that's that's what we started doing. We started contacting H.R. managers. We started contacting community managers and we started developing more of ongoing lead and we would offer hey we want to give you a complimentary two hours or we want to give you a complimentary event on the house so people would say we like you and we definitely want you to come back and then they can refer you to other different people other companies. And that's one way how we started getting our name out. Yeah.

[00:14:16] Let me ask about pricing. I think that's that's always an interesting line can be a difficult one for a lot of service based businesses. How did you kind of I guess how did you approach pricing. Where did you end up in pricing. What have you tried and how did it how did it vary what did you learn.

[00:14:30] Right. So with price wise we started at a pretty high price point. I knew it was going to be a tough a tough one but we then we started we thought about maybe making a membership package which which is actually going very well. And that's something that people like to see if people can save 10 percent 20 percent. Yeah. You know they rather have a membership going on on a yearly basis. They can save up to a hundred dollars or more and it's cost effective that way. You can you can add extra services. Well with the charge we have how we developed it. We have a one time fee where it's a one time charge and and it's a onetime thing. They'll pay you a certain amount or you can deduct at least 20 percent and say hey we have a membership goal and this is our membership package instead of paying 120. You can pay 100. And people say hey that's a cost effective way we can save some money this way and we would love to have you on a monthly basis and that kind of secures you for the betterment of the membership.

[00:15:39] Yeah.

[00:15:39] I think a friend of mine has essentially bought into a service at one point where they paid a one time lifetime fee and they get free haircuts for the rest of their life.

[00:15:50] Yeah I know. I think it was part of a startup thing but I think that that whole idea of you know membership in Niska because like it everyone needs a haircut right.

[00:15:57] I mean this is a big end to the way the human anatomy works. It is a service that's always going to be there. So the question is how do you make it super simple super easy really committed to you know the program how it goes. Guess as you've seen your core customer develop and you've kind of played with pricing. What do you think that affinity is like how do you think the membership stuff is really working for you is not is up the model that that seems to be sticking.

[00:16:24] Yeah. So for us like you said everybody needs a haircut. And for most people that's you know that's the case for a lot of people are busy so they rather pay a small premium just to have a special service. And so what are the core facts. Is the membership is really working out for us just because it's a more cost effective way for people to view it as an it really has worked. And people do like it.

[00:16:52] I mean for other businesses you know that's something that they really have to figure because price point is always so hard to to decide whether you want to charge tenuis fee or if it's a long time fee what price you can give. So the client doesn't turn away from you. It was definitely hard.

[00:17:11] I had I had to consult with many people to narrow down the price point. And normally you would like to give a price that's more affordable I guess for the other side as well as for you in a sense. And after the memberships are over for us you can always go a little bit higher because you've already secured your investment with them.

[00:17:34] So let's talk a little bit about customer acquisition marketing sales.

[00:17:38] Because all of that you know the value of a customer is always kind of a key a key question in Amyas meaning you know depending on how long you're going to keep them what your profit is over the lifetime value kind of feeds into well what can you spend on customer acquisition.

[00:17:52] How are you. How have you acquired customers. How do you think about the cost of that. What's worked for you. What have you been trying. What haven't you tried yet that you think might be helpful.

[00:18:01] So one thing that's been really really amazing is more or less free advertising advertising today is you have social media. Yeah. You never know who can see you who will supply you and who call you and I will send you an email because practically the whole world is on it. And that's more than half of your battle if you can manage your social media correctly and post on average couple of times a day. Or I guess maybe even a couple times a week as long as there's some activity that's going on. People will start to take notice of it. And for us that's been the case. We've got a lot of hits on LinkedIn and we reach out to people on LinkedIn. Hey Char's community managers and all types of people. And that's where you can more or less pitch your idea to them your business to them and that's something that that really worked out for us as well.

[00:18:58] Referrals go a long way. Word of mouth people really loved and enjoyed your service. We'll definitely talk to their friends and family co-workers if you got a cool haircut. Right. And you always want to brag a little bit. Yes.

[00:19:14] Man I have this barber. He's so amazing and he gave me such a great card. I'd definitely recommend you to try him out you know. And now he's going to be a little bit like hey maybe he's right now. But then again we also know when we came in we had people who told us oh I have a bar Bing go into him for so long. I would never cheat on him.

[00:19:35] You know my ego. Then they go Hey I have an event tonight. Just give me a small clean up on the back.

[00:19:42] So that's one of the things when you're there and at that time at that specific location you know you can always have more people to try out your service. And when they try it out and you can perform better than somebody else you just secure yourself a client.

[00:19:59] Yeah how would have you been fighting on social media in terms of what you actually post when you posting people cutting hair or the final haircuts or are you just other things around you know lifestyle and grooming and stuff like that. What content is actually working for me.

[00:20:15] So we do put in haircuts we put in certain types of. Now Trents trends that are going around and more or less that's kind of what we've what we've been putting on social media.

[00:20:29] You know many of the calls to action anything that you're doing in social media in terms of actual engagement so you know great piece of content.

[00:20:36] How were you pulling people into trying to service or getting engaged in some way or doing or using your placement are you doing advertising as well.

[00:20:44] So when we started doing advertising where you can create like an explainer video I'm sure you can get that done today easily.

[00:20:55] And you can try to promote that on LinkedIn. Right. So many of the people that'll go through your profile. They can they can see the explainer video and they click on it and it'll redirect them back to your Web site.

[00:21:11] And that's something to the landing page. So that's something that we've got some hits also on Instagram as well. You can advertise that on Instagram you can put it catchy like hey get a haircut in your office. Like really you could do that. And also you know they'll click on the explainer video. It'll take them to the landing page and it will have page book Now or something like that. And that's something that you know people can easily acquired today for service based businesses. I think that's an that's an awesome strategy to attract clients. Advertising can boost polls on Facebook today. You can even choose your target audience from ten dollars overall and get thousand or whatever you're looking for. There's certain age groups that you can target and just for that point I think it's really worth mentioning. Facebook is also really amazing.

[00:22:04] Yeah I'm curious in this process if you found any kind of customers or segments that you thought would be really great for you that turns out you know or not that just didn't work out for some reason or you realized that you know it's not a good fit. Like is there anyone any anything that you've tried or a market segment or type of customer you've tried that you've decided that you're not going to do more.

[00:22:23] Well I don't believe in turning down clients. That's that's one thing that's that's all I think actually raised up with. And if you don't agree with somebody don't argue with them you can always say hey I'm sorry we don't have availability for that day and try to somewhat get away from that point but more or less I'm not much on on losing clients but that's like more or less how I was kind brought up. So if you need a haircut I'll give you a haircut and I'll give you a haircut. Exactly. Exactly. But more or less. We we target we target mainly corporate and you know respect.

[00:23:03] I mean by price point alone it sounds like you filter out you know a lot.

[00:23:07] Exactly. Because the ones that would not work. All right. You can you can target a certain audience and people below that audience will they won't even bother contacting you. So it's a natural filter.

[00:23:22] You mentioned referrals understand of course because this comes up a lot with with the people I work with and service makes businesses how to develop good referral strategies have you.

[00:23:30] Have you hit any real kind of nuggets or are great ways of promoting referrals from existing clients to new ones.

[00:23:37] So with the with referrals now what we started doing when we go into companies and we have events we actually like to have something that people can take with them.

[00:23:50] So we we have like this adhesive full wallet. So you've got it in the back of your cellphone and you can store your credit cards in there your I.D. whatever you need. And that's something that will go with you every day. And when people when we give it out and people say hey that's a cool thing. You know that's something that will always have you in the back of their mind you know. And we actually had an opportunity where one gentleman said hey I was talking to a friend of mine. You know he was they were actually looking. So we actually we do a lot of work with we work yeah. And so one of the ways that we acquired that was actually through the adhesive cell phone wallet. She goes to me.

[00:24:34] She was talking with one of her co-workers and her co-worker said hey you know we need some barbering here. You know for their Wall Street location and those guys work about 15 hour shifts they're always busy. And she goes take out my phone from her purse and she saw you know get cuts Barbra's On-Demand. So right away she passed over our information to her. And we got an e-mail from her and that's another way how we developed a strategy for customer acquisition. Yeah very catchy very easy cost effective.

[00:25:10] And it's something that carries with them every day that they have their cell phone and it'll just remind them I guess you know for referrals and like I said before you know you get a cool something cool you know you always want to brag a little bit about it and what's a great way to say to co-workers and friends family and that's something that'll bring you more more action and action.

[00:25:34] Most Great. So are my kind of last question is things are going well and you're successful over the next couple years in three years where do you hope to be.

[00:25:42] Where do you think the business sort of possibly can be if you continue to have the success that you've had so far.

[00:25:48] So if we continue the way we're doing right now we'll we'll be busy we'll be working. But the broader picture is we're looking to develop an app where barbers can be contractors and be able cross the United States where you know somebody in Florida need to haricot and they have barbers on contract there. And that approach has gone up and they'll say hey we need you know we'll need a barber you can book now that's more or less the broader picture floor for barbers to be more independent. We're looking for more of Uber type platform for barbers to use something that's more you know easier for them to manage their lifestyles. I remember when I was back in the brick and mortar we used to be there 12 hour shifts a day. And you know you hardly see family you hardly see your kids.

[00:26:41] It's tough. It's tough to balance out.

[00:26:44] Yes all this is going to be more of a leisure and productive way for four barbers to ultimately reach their you know successes. So so that's more or less the broader picture and hopefully where we are where we want to be from you know three years from now everything is on the tech side today. And if you can be tech savvy it'll it'll definitely play in your favor.

[00:27:07] Yeah. ACORDA seeing the app and getting my haircut on demand and you know what.

[00:27:12] Maybe you should put the haircuts in the Hubers that's your next. The next big guys.

[00:27:17] Yeah you know that that might be that might be something that Uber might be interested in already have. Yeah exactly. Or else maybe maybe that's something that they would like.

[00:27:28] Awesome. This has been great. We're going to come up on time if people want to learn more about you about gift cards. What's the best way to get a hold of you and more information.

[00:27:36] So to learn more you can always go on our Web site. Get caught dotcom. You can call us 2 1 2 3 0 8 0 5 8 0. Or you can e-mail us for any information you might have info at get cut. Dot com or awesome.

[00:27:51] We're always happy to hear from you and I'll make sure that all of that information is below the audio here on the show and out so that people can just click on and get access or that this has been great. Thank you so much for being on the show.

[00:28:03] I really appreciate it. Thank you Bruce.

[00:28:06] You've been listening to Scaling up Services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt. To find a full is a podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. This is a Web site that scaling up services dot com and toll free to sign up for the free newsletter scalingupservices/newsletter.