Barbers of the Lowcountry in South Carolina looks like an old-fashioned barbershop. What you can’t see, however, is the technology that powers the barbershop’s relaxed vibe.
A classic barbershop on the Carolina coast
When Brent Nelson started Barbers of the Lowcountry in 1997 with his father, Lou, the pair had a dream of bringing back the artistry of barbering in a space that invoked a classic barbershop. But after a decade of being in business, Nelson realized that they could do more.
“For many years, we were just a typical old-fashioned barbershop,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t until about 2009 when I actually started looking at it as an opportunity to run a business and started doing more marketing and things like that.”
During the Great Recession, Nelson decided to mix things up—Barbers of the Lowcountry began offering product sales and additional services like straight-razor shaves.
“We weren’t making a lot of money at the time. So, I thought, ‘What can we do different that other shops aren’t doing?’” Nelson said. “In 2009, our business tripled, and that was mainly due to us starting to sell product. We’ve just been evolving ever since.”
Building room to grow
Barbers of the Lowcountry’s evolution has expanded beyond services and selling product. The barbershop moved from its original location on Hilton Head Island to Bluffton, a small town nearby, and the brand is planning on expanding to a second location in 2020.
But Nelson’s approach to growth is broader than just the business itself—the barbershop dedicates itself to supporting growth within its staff. Instead of a flat price for all of his barbers, Nelson developed a pricing strategy that rewards barbers for mastery and experience, while giving them opportunities to grow.
“One thing that I realized when I started working is that once my appointment book was full, I couldn’t make any more money unless they raise the price,” Nelson said. “So, this provides an opportunity for someone who is still learning, still trying to figure things out to get a job and get that experience. But they can also see how they can advance to the next level and make more money.”
This pricing strategy is beneficial for the barbershop and the barber—it provides a career path for the barber and helps Barbers of the Lowcountry retain and develop quality staff.
“My plan is to teach them and mentor them to get to that next level and making more money,” Nelson said.
Letting technology manage rebooking
Nelson knew early on that he needed technology to help make this pricing strategy and product sales work. He built a website in the late 90s and adopted online booking for Barbers of the Lowcountry in the mid-2000s. He’s an early adopter of new technology to help grow his business, from automated marketing to AI.
So, it seemed natural that Barbers of the Lowcountry would lean into technology as it faced 2020’s unprecedented challenges. When Nelson got the green light to reopen the barbershop, he realized that calling each of his customers was a time-consuming waste of resources.
“In the beginning, we sent out an email saying that if you had an appointment, we would contact you to reschedule when we reopen,” Nelson said. “By the time we were scheduled to reopen that that meant we would have called 5000 people back.”
Instead of calling those 5000 customers, Nelson queued up an email within Booker’s Marketing Suite, directing people to book their appointments online through Booker or text to book through their AI assistant, Bowtie.
The strategy worked—Nelson had a full appointment book for reopening without needing to contact thousands of customers.
And in the months since reopening, Barbers of the Lowcountry clients continue to use technology to book their services. “We have about 76% of our customers book online,” Nelson said. This frictionless path to booking has helped keep clients safe and staff the right kind of busy.
As the barbershop expands to its second location, Nelson can feel confident that he’s created a winning formula seamlessly blending old-fashioned service with cutting edge technology with automated marketing, online booking, and a Bowtie AI receptionist—all run through Booker, a single, integrated solution.