NEW Schedulicity Genius Series: Mike Sio
By Maya León
Behold the first of our Schedulicity Genius Series! We first got conversing with Mike Sio–owner of barbershop The Parlor Inc in Hialeah, Florida–over Instagram concerning the new monthly Social Media Spotlight. He had such great things to say that we wanted to straight up feature this thoughtful human being. And thus was the Schedulicity Genius Series born. Enjoy this first of many one-on-ones to come with great minds and talents of the Schedulicity family!
Profile of a Schedulicity Genius
Name: Mike Sio
Business Name: The Parlor Inc.
Location: Hialeah, FL
Years in Business: 15 behind the chair, 6 as a business owner
Years with Schedulicity: 7
Maya: It’s great getting to chat with you! Tell me about yourself, Mike.
Mike: Well, I’ve been a barber for pretty much most of my life. I’m 30 now. It’s been quite a journey. I’ve been doing men’s hair since I was 15. I wasn’t cool with any other job. I did a little bit of retail and customer service. I just knew that I wanted a good haircut and I never really got that anywhere. Some of the barbers didn’t really take shape into consideration. They were just concerned with fade and gradient. I was tired of guys not getting a haircut that I thought looked good, so I started cutting my brother’s and neighbor’s hair myself. There was a Dominican guy who gave me a shot at cutting hair even though I wasn’t licensed, even letting me use a straight razor on some guys!
Unfortunately, I found that the barber scene down here in Miami isn’t as professional as I would like it to be. I found that other barbers view you as competition rather than as friends or as someone on the same team. I found it was just about going to go get yours. People would belittle you in front of clients; steal your stuff. I knew I had to separate myself from that.
“I was having trouble growing my clientele, but Schedulicity helped me get my schedule down and be consistent.”
I never really wanted to do hairdressing; I just wanted to do barbering. I saw that long hair was really coming into style, so then I thought maybe I need to learn to use scissors. When I started to take it more seriously, I ended up moving to an older men’s barber shop. It wasn’t ideal as far as environment. It wasn’t cool or hip, but I got to hone my skills, and that was around the time I started using Schedulicity. I came across you guys on Twitter. I had tweeted to you in response to something and asked, “How do I know if this is going to work for me?” I was offered a 30 day trial and I never looked back. I was having trouble growing my clientele, but Schedulicity helped me get my schedule down and be consistent. It helped me be as consistent as I needed to be a remarkable hairdresser. At first it was just me, but now the whole team is consistent.
Most of my success, I owe in part to you guys and am able to share it with my team. It’s been quite a journey and now I’m here at barbershop ownership!
Maya: I love that you speak to our core value of helping our businesses become better entrepreneurs from using Schedulicity!
Mike: Before Schedulicity, it was a nightmare taking care of booking clients while I had someone in the chair at the same time. The biggest thing with having a program like Schedulicity, is that it was sometimes hard to get them to book online. At first, people were hesitant to book online, but now I don’t book my clients any other way.
Maya: What made you want to try Schedulicity in the first place?
Mike: The free trial was great only because, going back to 2010, scheduling an appointment online wasn’t a thing. Getting a trial was awesome to get me on board. Since I didn’t have to do the booking and it was the client’s responsibility to book, Schedulicity helped me stay organized. I’m pretty OCD, so I need to see no gaps in my schedule. It helped me keep my anxiety at bay. I knew who I was going to see and how much I was going to make at the end of the week. Prior to using Schedulicity, people don’t know what their numbers look like. I think that was one of my biggest pluses: knowing what’s to come, what my schedule looks like, and filling in those gaps.
Maya: It certainly seems like you’ve got a poppin’ biz! The barbering and men’s grooming industry has blown up in the past few years. Why do you think this is and where do you see it going?
Mike: I feel like its blowing up is a two-part answer. I think there are a lot of barbers taking their craft more seriously. They’re enjoying being creative, whether it’s the more urban barber shops with lines in the hair and hair dye, adding texture, making people look lived in, like they didn’t just get a haircut. Now it’s a craft and not just a job. It’s more than just a chopping block, where you do it for $5-10 in 5-10 minutes. Guys now want style and shape. Men care more about their image. They’re looking at blowdryers and hair product. There’s been a boom in men’s hair products whether it be trimmers or memberships like Dollar Shave Club that provide services at a fraction of the price.
In the next couple years, as far as trends in hair, I see a great divide. Some men are going really short and some are going long. Pompadours versus textured tops. We’re going to see a variety of both short or long styles.
Maya: That’s really interesting. I wonder why the divide.
Mike: I feel like during the barbering boom, the in-between style was the hit. It was the in-between with slick tops and shorter sides. A lot of guys don’t know how much it takes to create these styles when they look on Instagram, so we educate them. What good are you as a barber or hairstylist when you don’t tell your clients how to recreate those looks?
I wasn’t originally classically trained. Some guys aren’t honest with themselves and don’t end up doing the style because they don’t want to maintain it. Then, some want to grow it out and make it easy, while others want to chop it off to make it easy. The divide is due to a maintenance thing rather than just the style of haircut.
“Everything here is organic, down to the relationships.”
Maya: You certainly have your finger on the pulse of the industry! Other than that, what sets you and your brand apart?
Mike: We don’t hire just anyone off the street with a résumé and barber or cosmetology license. We don’t care if they’re girls or guys. A lot of girls want fades now. Cute little pixies and stuff. I hire anyone.
But what happens after the hiring process is that we have a training program and until you finish our program, you can’t cut on the floor. You can’t have a profile on Schedulicity to book clients. You need to understand every hair type and texture first. Our junior barbers can only cut who they bring themselves if we feel like they’re competent.
My place doesn’t look like a barber shop from the outside since we’re in an industrial zone. We’re appointment only and it’s hard to take the occasional walk-in, so the apprentices get some of those. Our reputation is really important around here. We probably charge the most in the area, and by most, I mean 3-4x as much as what a gentleman’s haircut costs in this city. We’re really thorough. We really want everyone to get a great haircut.
Maya: It sounds like you have a great business and brand going for yourself!
Mike: For sure! I don’t look for much else in an employee other than morals, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. I can describe a cut over the phone to another barber at my shop and then they can recreate it exactly because we use the same language. The hardest thing with finding staff other than morals, is finding someone who can work like it’s their craft, someone who can work organically. Everything here is organic, down to the relationships. We run a tight ship but everyone is laid back. Our people learn how to sweep the floors and sell products even before they learn how to cut hair.
Maya: It’s interesting that you talk about an apprenticeship program, because I understand that’s how it used to be. People used to have to do all the basic stuff, like just sweeping floors, as part of their training. But now people aren’t learning to do anything other than cut hair in school. People aren’t learning the full set of skills to be a truly successful professional. Do you yourself see that in the barbering industry these days?
Mike: Barbering is the worst industry as far as professionalism goes. If I can be 100% frank, some barbers will leave a client with a half done head of hair to go outside and argue with their girlfriend or to smoke pot. Some of our success comes from how unprofessional others can be. It’s really, really bad. At these kinds of shops, the owners and managers don’t lead well. Barbers are like modern day pirates. You can be cool and professional and still have a nice day, but yeah, they come out of school not knowing customer service or money management. They just know how to cut hair and do sanitation.
Maya: What do you want to tell people to counteract such unprofessionalism?
Mike: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that–all schools across the nation–it starts with them. They hire kids right out of cosmetology school to teach classes. The schools also need to pay them better. But the country is also at a standstill because the country wants to deregulate hair dressing. In Europe it’s already deregulated. So, then the great divide becomes greater, but I would say it stems from the schools.
Maya: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business?
Mike: Probably scaling and staff. Scaling has been hard because my business model is so different from others. People don’t want to take our training and techniques seriously. They just want to start cutting hair. So, this ties into my challenge with scaling since I need enough quality employees to open another location.
Maya: Do you have more than 1 location?
Mike: No, but it’s in the works and in the plans. I would love to give my staff their own location.
Maya: Well, you’ll be good to go with multiple locations on Schedulicity when you get so far!
“Holding an appointment with a credit card is my favorite feature.”
Mike: Yeah. And I haven’t used any of the class features yet either, but we want to start using classes. I’m still trying to get permitted so I can train soldiers for my army.
Maya: Haha That’s an awesome idea! You could gain a lot of momentum and traction with getting more staff like that. You could also end up attracting potential students who don’t even live in the Miami area to come train with you too!
Maya: So, what’s your fave Schedulicity feature?
Mike: Oh my god. Holding an appointment with a credit card is my favorite feature. My partner here, Roger, is nodding his head ‘yes’.
Maya: That’s amazing. Can you give me specifics on what that feature means to you?
Mike: As a group, we have 0-5 no shows a week. We’re a team of 4 on Schedulicity. Some weeks are great; some are terrible for no-shows. Multiply that by $50 – that’s a decent amount of money. It’s maybe $1,000 per month that Schedulicity ensures me.
Maya: How has Schedulicity helped your business and your life other than that?
Mike: Schedulicity keeps us on our toes; be consistent. You may not have a 10 a.m. appointment on the books already, but the possibility of someone coming in anyway is high, so people being to work on time is likely because of our set schedule.
Maya: If you were to recommend Schedulicity to another person, what would you tell them?
Mike: With credit card disputes, you guys let us plead our case and explain to the payment processor what happened. The level of support and the price…it’s like me saying I just give 1 haircut per month for free! As far as the features go, the text reminders are great!
Maya: What’s the one thing you wish all men knew about beard care, hair care, or personal grooming?
Mike: Patience. And the fact that if you act out of desperation and you do something drastic, you’re gonna have to wait for it to grow back. Women can go longer without a haircut. Men need to practice patience.
Maya: You had so many awesome things to say, Mike! Thank you!
To see more of Mike and The Parlor, Inc. in Hialeah, FL check out how to book him online here and his social below:
Schedulicity is the leading online appointment, class and workshop scheduling system and platform for discovering and booking local services in more than 50 different industries. Consumers in more than 7,700 cities across the U.S. and Canada have booked over 117 million appointments, classes and workshops through Schedulicity.