Hate queuing for a haircut? The solution may be just a click away, thanks to Q Cuts, a new smartphone app designed to help consumers avoid waiting.
"Q Cuts is like Halo [the taxi app] for barbers," says Mark Cox one of four founders behind the product.
“Barbers can maximise business during their quiet times by letting their customers know when they have availability. In turn, time pressed customers won’t have to queue. The barber can also reward customers of Q Cuts by using our code loyalty function.
“Other providers offer some elements of our model but no one is offering the complete [package],” Cox adds.
“Q Cuts offers a new way for barbers to connect with and reward their loyal customers as it is flexible and can be individualised.”
The company was launched in April 2014 with a beta trial in 18 barber shops including one each in Australia and New York.
Version two of the product, which adds more functionality and is Apple and Android compatible, will be released at the end of this month.
The company expects to start employing staff at that point.
"Peter Quinn is a barber and has first-hand experience of the 'quiet time' problem in his shop," Cox says.
“He had the original idea for the app and then we came together as a group and began doing some market research.”
The other team members are sales professional Fergal Brehony, and Mark McDonald, who has a background in e-commerce platforms.
Cox met both while all three were taking part in the Enterprise Ireland-backed New Frontiers programme at Tallaght IT’s Synergy Centre.
“As it was our first time developing an app we wanted to work with an experienced company that understood what we wanted to achieve. Additionally, we were working on a tight budget so we couldn’t afford any delays or errors in the development process,” Cox says.
"We began working with Amriss, a Dublin-based app development company, and they were extremely helpful with direction. They also had the insight to know what we needed before we knew it ourselves sometimes."
Q Cuts will be rolled out throughout Ireland this year and the partners also have plans to sell it in the UK and US. Development costs to date have been around €25,000 and the company is now looking for an investor.
Its primary financial support to date has come from the South Dublin Local Enterprise Office.
The company’s revenue model is an annual licence fee of around €250. Cox says barbers with existing paper loyalty schemes are already spending about half that and for a bit extra they can have the added value functions Q Cuts provides, such as the option to vary incentives or to add extra rewards for high-spending customers.
“It is up to individual barbers as to how much of the functionality they decide to use,” Cox adds.
“If they want, they can turn on the geo positioning feature which means someone looking for a barber can see where the closest shop is to their location. They can also use it to track spend and sales and it will show them how many customers might be entitled to a free hair cut under the loyalty scheme on a given day or week. This is useful for managing cash flow.”
Cox says there are around 5,000 barber shops in Ireland, and that many in greater London alone. “We recognise that others will try to follow us into this space so our plan is to push hard to build up a good customer base as fast as possible.”