There are lots of ways to find a new barber -- you can ask a friend, look at online reviews, or take your chances and stop by a shop for a cut. Now, there's another choice that I think is kinda cool -- it's an iPhone app called Proper Cut. The Proper Cut app is VERY simple to use and navigate. You just launch the app and swipe left or right through a gallery of hairstyles until you find the one you want. Next, tap the "Get the Cut" button for a "proper" barbershop near you, based on your GPS location.
The app is, at this point, extremely basic. The style gallery is simply a bald head with 14 interchangeable styles (although more may be added soon), but the 14 which are represented pretty much cover most basic men's cuts. There is also a gallery of 7 different facial hair styles, which again pull up the same list of barbershops. The shops listed, which are recommended by customers, don't include salons or chain stores and are limited to what appears to be local barbershops only. In my tests here in Atlanta, my shop was listed as were other reputable shops in the area. The apps' focus seems to be traditional "proper" men's styles and traditional barbershops.
Going forward, I'd love to see added fields recommending a specific barber (right now, only shops are listed, and not all barbers in a particular shop are great) and the shops listed are the same no matter which style you choose. A barber who is good at flattops, for example, may do a horrible shag haircut, so it would be fantastic if the recommendations were style specific and mentioned a specific barber in each shop. It may also be cool for users to be able to upload pics of the cuts they receive so people could see the type of work the barber does. One of the things I love about traditional barbershops is the social aspect of being there -- if they could incorporate a social element into the app, it would be really cool. They could also consider adding a men's style gallery of actual photos to assist in choosing a cut. That said, there is something to be said about keeping things simple and easy.
Like finding a barber, recommending one is fairly easy. You simply click the Add a Barber button and type in a few details about the shop and hit the submit button. The app states "each barber will be contacted to ensure they are of the highest quality" and I'm not exactly sure what that means and what the criteria is for being included. Here is where it would be nifty if customers could recommend a particular barber, comment on his/her work, and upload a photo (or, even more simply, rate the barber on a scale of one to five). A bit more information would be helpful in choosing the right barber -- not simply the closest barber. There is also the option for a shop to purchase "Preferred" barber status which highlights the shop info and places a little icon next to the name. Again, I'm unclear of the criteria for becoming a "preferred" barber other than paying $10 a month for more prominent placement.
If you've already got a regular barber or stylist you're happy with, this app won't do you much good. However, if you're looking for a new barber or you travel a great deal, the Proper Cut app may prove most useful. I really like this app -- it is VERY easy to navigate and the slick graphics are top notch. At this point, it is only at version 1.2, and the shop list isn't an exhaustive one, but I think the app has a tremendous amount of potential. Right now, the app is only available for iPhone, but if it does well and Andriod version will likely follow. Did I also mention its a free download? Check out the app for yourself -- you've certainly got nothing to lose, and you may very well find yourself a new barber.