How I Built Resilience: Songe LaRon of Squire

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Hey everyone and welcome to how I built this resilience edition on these episodes were talking with entrepreneurs and other business leaders about how they're thinking creatively during lists very disruptive moment and today my conversation with Song Laurent. The CO founder of Squire Squire is an APP that connects barbershops with clients. Song founded Squire 2016 with his best friend Dave Salvant to modernize. Modernize the barbershop experience, and nowadays their APP is not only booking appointments, but also helping barbershop stay open if they're allowed to a spoke Asong a few days ago, about Squire and the barbershop industry but I. Sam let me know that he actually wasn't at home. I should mention a you are actually in an office of a barbershop right now in Connecticut. which you can, you can hear of it behind you. Know, that's fine. That's fine. So so first of all our our barbershops in Connecticut. Open yes. Yes, they are. They are open. I, Think Connecticut is probably faced three or phases where barbershops other service based businesses are open, so yeah, they're. They're open for business. And what's the protocol near the barber's wearing masks and the customers? Wearing asks Barbara's wear masks. Customers were masks There's no waiting in the barbershop anymore. Customers will have to wait outside in their car until their appointment time is is ready, and there's also no social distancing between chairs. They spread out the share, so they're. They're know they're servicing less fewer customers. As a result, our say that Barbara's are probably one of the few. Types of professionals that are very well equipped in this in this new environment, because they actually go to school for this in order to get a barbershop Barbara License, you have to study disinfecting and taken different precautions, so you know unlike. Maybe waiters or other types of people who are providing services I think Barbara's are one of the few that actually already had to get licensed and go through education to be prepared for this environment, so I'm a big proponent of of our shot of your opening. I'm in California and now barber shops are closed and I have to be honest like I'm a little I'm still nervous about I. would still be nervous about going. You know I've I've given myself to very bad haircuts over the last six months with with clippers and my kids do but what I mean. When you go now to barbershop. What are they doing? Everyone's everyone's wearing a mask, but are they disinfecting the seats between customers and you know? Disinfecting. have to disinfect tools between every. Bet should be doing man now. They're also disinfecting of seating area. Many of them are using disposable Barbara case. Or they're using a one per customer. The have a supply already, so they're not reusing the case. A lot of them are not doing certain services like they won't do beard worker. They won't do a shave. Anything would require the client to remove their. Ask You know I think that there hasn't been lot of evidence of barb shrouds being one of the high transmission sentences yeah with. With anything, there's risks as this risks. Walk outside a any day is going to be some risk involved, and it's just a matter of the balance of how how much you want that service, so it makes sense. If you don't feel comfortable getting haircut, there was this article. You probably saw it a couple of days ago of a hair salon where I'm two of the stylists had. Tested, positive, Kobe, but none of the more than one hundred thirty customers at went in over the course of the day's tested positive. Everybody was wearing masks in. Suggests that really work mass to work if there's one thing I, wish, everyone could kind of agree on I. think that you know Mass Work. Yeah can we can we just say that right now? All of those people who were on the hike that I went on over the weekend. who were not wearing masks when you pass by me on the trail? That was this wide. Please wear masks. All Right? Let's talk. Brass tacks here song, so I mentioned a little bit about Squire for people who don't know the APP Tell us more about it. Yeah, so squire is a business management in point of sale software focusing on barbershops, so we do essentially everything that at barber shop needs to run their business from handling the booking interface to the back end inventory is really customized specifically for the barber shop, Industry and consumer side is a client You can actually find a barbershop a book. Pay Tip all in the APPAR- on the west side, and what's the business model? How do you guys make money through Business from Helena payment processing so that quarter our business there's a subscription component so the shops that use our platform pay one hundred dollars to two fifty a month, and then there's a customer booking fee, so if you book and pay on Squire, you'll pay about a dollar extra and that revenue goes to squire. Don't know this, but a lot of barbers are independent contractors. You may go to a barbershop and they have a chair there, but they actually are their own business right? Yeah, so to central models for Barbara business models. One is where you mentioned which we call kind of model Riche Barber is essentially an independent contractor of they run their own business. They manage their own schedule. Go and come as they please, and then they pay rent. Rent to the owner usually on a weekly basis, and then the other model is recall a commission model where those barbers are treated a little bit more like employees They have certain hours they come, and in that case they split the percentage of the transaction with the shop. Usually it'll be sixty, forty or fifty fifty and the owner get a piece of every transaction. you cope out of this with your friend Dave Tell me how you guys had the idea I know. I mean you studied philosophy? As an undergraduate went and got a law. Degree and Dave was an old friend I guess. How did you guys come up with this idea? So I actually. Found this squire I was at a corporate law firm and Davis actually in business school, and both of us wanted to do something entrepreneurial didn't want to go the corporate route so we would just brainstorm ideas on the weekend. And we eventually stumbled on the idea of barbershops and idea came out of our own experience. I haven't gone to barbershops for decades like most people I started going my dad as a kid around six or seven and experience of going to the barbershop heading change very antiquated, low tech industry cash-based. Call to make an appointment. Wait Times, so all of those pain points that we experienced form the basis of why we came up with the idea of this is something that we wanted to work on yeah. I shop. They don't take appointments. You have to get there. When the doors open at eight thirty, and they have a chalkboard, and there's usually a line, and it's cash only it's thirty five bucks, and you can get there eight thirty, and you might only get an appointment like eleven forty five, and some days all like ride my bike down there at eight thirty, and then they only have an appointment at a time. We'll have a live interview and I can't get an appointment. I can't get a haircut. But basically that's that's been the model for ever and ever for most barbershop. Yeah, so that's what we're solving. Because that's not really an ideal experience for you as as a customer, and it's not a good experience for the Barbara's either I in terms of efficiently. Running their business, but getting a haircut such such a great experience, and it's such an important part of your life that you're willing to to go through You know that poor customer experience to to get the service but we think that recommit the better than that. How how of you like? How do you approach barbershops I mean I have to imagine like there are a lot of barbershops that are like I. Don't want to give up my cash. I don't WanNa. Give Up. You know percentage of my business or percentage of my income I mean it's presumably you get some pushback from potential customers. How do you make the case for people to sign up? Yeah I, mean we? Sell to them is that this is going to make their lives easier? It's going to save time, and this is actually gonNA enable them to be better business and make more money and we can show them that. The software the software actually does early on. We did get more pushback from cash only shops. So our focus was more on shops that are already taking cards, but that's really the trend in the world, generally consumer are used to paying for services with cards, so the shops that are cash only there will be some segment that doesn't want to pay taxes quite frankly, but we're seeing more and more particularly. The newer shops that are opening, they understand that if they want meat consumers and provided really great strengths of their clients that they have to kind except cars, and it enables them to charge, you know we know that assess. People will pay more on card versus cash, and if you want to charge thirty dollars, a haircut for haircut, as is the case in many many cities. It just makes sense I have to imagine that bookings are significantly down because there's so many states you can't. You can't go a barbershop. Yeah, so bookings definitely took a dip when the shutdown started march April in our revenue, went zero gap, and we also decided to waive all of our subscription charges to current and new customers until October because we knew that their revenue was also GonNa go to zero. We want them to have that overhead. So as a result we expecting squire, since wouldn't be making any money, but row cave that because this is such a difficult time. What we have seen though is that at shops? Our customers reopening? They are getting put out. There getting relatively fast, and then and then the programs are continuing to stay consistent. You know that that just kind of speaks to how much of a neither was like a pent up demand from their clients to get haircuts, and I think that there's something about just the barbershop experience and the community element of it that people men in particular really look forward to to that normalcy, and to be able to get a haircut feel great about themselves and feel the way things were. They were before covert. So we're, we're actually seeing for the shops at rb opening higher than usual bookings and. Know we'll see how that trend continues in the months to come so far. There's something I read that you. You said about barbershops you call them. fail-proof service which I think is is right, you know I think you said look. They bring in roughly half the population that needs grooming, but this pandemic which nobody predicted and nobody anticipated has shown that nothing is fail-proof. Everything can fail even the most resilient. Is So however, the past few months, kind of made you rethink your business model. It's made me understand that you could never predict the future. There's always gonna be an unknown. We always thought that that are a a recession was coming some point right now. The good the gravy train can't go on forever. Our sought that out our business would fare relatively well in a downturn because. People will continue to get haircuts and we've seen this you know in in in the past that these type of of services no tend to remain consistent in downturns I mean. This is a total black swan ran. I never would have predicted a pandemic at the scale, but if anything I. Believe that our business is even more resilient than I thought before. Just seeing how we've been able to Kinda DAB to to the reality and make changes on the fly, a push features that we know our customers need during his time, and as a result, we've seen in the last two months actually more inbound. And more customers signing up than we ever have in the life of the confident. When we come back in just a moment, we'll hear from song about running a business drink a global economic crisis and his plans forgetting squire through the pandemic. Stay with US I'm guy and you're listening to how I built this resilience

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