Whiskers fosters customer loyalty with top-notch, classic barbershop service
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Visitors to Whiskers know what they can count on when they walk in the doors of the local barbershop: quality service.
Customer service is important to Whiskers owners Joe and Kellye Cuzzort. When they created their business plan, they said they knew they wanted an atmosphere of relaxation and comfort. “From client conversations and reviews, I would say our atmosphere is one major factor that sets us apart,” Joe said. “Our clients comment with statements like ‘I feel like I’m sitting in my living room’ or ‘I’m relaxed and feel welcome.’”
The Cuzzorts opened the barbershop, located on Highway 72, in 2011 when Joe’s 26-year career with a major Caterpillar Dealership ended. His research in magazines like Inc. and Entrepreneur showed a resurgence of barbershops. “Barbershops had been dying out for many years, and men and boys were left with going to the ‘beauty’ salon with their wife or mom. These men got to sit and listen to women stuff, read Cosmopolitan or Southern Living and smell all of the wonderful aromas of perm chemicals,” Joe said. “Kellye and I decided we would open our own barber concept and offer a unique experience for men and boys.”
To find this uniqueness, they traveled to various states and found other owners who were willing to discuss the concept of their barbershops, often getting the inside tours of these businesses. “We visited places that charged as much as $50 for a face shave and still other places that were, from ground up, a high-dollar men’s spa,” Joe said. “We took these ideas and intermixed them with what we thought would work in Madison and Huntsville.”
The plan has worked. Joe said the business has continued to grow from day one and now boasts more than 2,000 customers. Whiskers has had limited space for more than a year, and the Cuzzorts are looking for more space or a second location to continue to grow.
“Our awesome team of highly-skilled barbers, our customer care specialists and Whiskers’ atmosphere keep our clients returning month after month,” Joe said. “We want to grow in place if we can gain the extra space because we stay pre-booked for weeks.”
Besides their philosophies of having an in-demand product, staying in touch with their clients and taking care of their team, the Cuzzorts said they feel giving back to the community is one more way to serve their customers.
“We have a set budget for donating to local school fundraisers and do our best to use that all locally,” Kellye said. “We have given free haircuts to individuals in need, including those at the Downtown Rescue Mission, and we have sponsored beard contests where the proceeds went to the Women’s and Children’s hospital.”
Although starting a business and running it at a high level is not easy, the Cuzzorts have made theirs a family affair. From the beginning, Kellye has been involved with design, decorating and writing business plans, and their children, Saylor and Ethan, have assisted in demolition, business ideas, product displays and cleaning. Both Joe and Kellye know, however, they cannot operate successfully without outside help.
“We have a Whiskers Advisory group that we can run ideas by. They are our eyes and ears to the daily needs and opportunities,” Joe said. “And of course, I’d be doing myself a disservice to not add that the way we operate Whiskers and our team is not a huge factor as well. Kellye and I pride ourselves in that our team of stylists are our clients, and we believe in treating them like family.”
Joe said they have learned lessons in owning a business in the past eight years, like growing faster, going with one’s intuition and trusting the team. “In order to offer Madison a locally-owned barbershop that offers extended hours to accommodate most everyone’s schedule, it takes trusting the team and delivering what clients want,” Joe said.