Before the holidays, I was getting my ears lowered at my local barbers by David when [raise air fingers] that question came [lower air fingers]
“What do you do?”
Most of the time, I usually deflect what I do. However, when conversing with a man who has had 17 years to hone and fine-tune a craft involving small sharp implements…
... and who, in a Bond villain type fashion, has also strapped you into a revolving adjustable, chair asks you a question, answering the question becomes a wise practice.
Amongst the many things I do, I offered up:
“…and a little business consulting, from time to time.”
Which, as was predictably expected, was followed up with;
“How can I grow my business fast?”
It’s an innocent enough question and one which I have given much thought to.
As with all things, there is no single precise answer, and two ways that most questions like this can be answered are:
"Strategically or tactically?"
Most people are looking for a tip or a tactical solution and most often in the form of “push this button here and you will get a result.”
Without taking my eyes off the quick paced snip, snip, snip of his scissors and licking my lips, I offered a proven and rather swift strategic solution…
Snip, snip, silence.
Scissors held aloft. Waiting to resume their course.
I dry gulped.
We made eye contact, and like in a Mexican stand-off, flitted between eyes, scissors, scissors, eyes.
I was half expecting Danny Trejo to walk through the door when my barber spoke and finally broke the tension.
I resumed breathing...
I had told him to put his prices up and that he was too cheap.
I followed this up with our "25% Rule." Put your prices up. Get more customers. Make more sales to existing customers.
Increase each of those areas by 25%, and you can nearly double revenues in a short space of time.
That little nugget made him stop in mid-stroke, or mid-snip, in this case.
As I pondered his question more deeply, David also probed his newfound knowledge more deeply with his own follow-up questions.
We chewed around those three areas of growth for his business and decided the easiest thing for most people is to raise prices.
"How much could you increase your prices by?"
David agreed that 25% was doable. I estimated he could do 50% and still be considered good value.
Witnessing a man on the verge of an epiphany is beautiful. A man about to break the shackles of his existing "traditional" business thinking.
Always one to push the envelope, I suggested he should double his prices. That’s when he pushed back.
It did get me thinking about what it would take to charge what you wanted.
He was struggling to come to terms with increasing from £12.50 to £15.00 and completely resisted £20 for a man's haircut.
I know of an LA stylist charging $300 for what is effectively a man's cut.
Closer to home and a 10-minute drive into the city center a barber is gleefully charging £35.
Other than money, what is the difference between the two?
The difference is the difference. The experience. The novelty.
David’s barber shop was just another barber shop that was no different from any other barbershop. A commodity service where the lowest price wins.
In the city center, just a 10 minute drive away, I can get the same haircut but have a very different "experience."
Moreover, I need to emphasize that experience is everything.
All these barbers and the city center place I like are well groomed and styled themselves. Waistcoats and handlebar mustaches were in effect for emphasis. There is also a bar for patrons to chill out and relax while waiting.
There is a stark contrast between experience and creating demand versus "pile it high and sell it cheap."
Every time I go past this place I find myself slowing down to gawp inside. It seems every other passerby does this, too.
Photos are strewn across all the social media platforms to attract the attention of their "Perfect Client."
It seems as much a favorite place for the cool kids to hang out as it does to get your hair styled and groomed.
This is not a place to only get your hair cut.
It is a place to visit and be seen. The highlight of the week or even the month for many people. A talking point.
The very point of it being different makes it noteworthy as demonstrated by the fact I talk about it frequently.
They are different because they break away from the standard conventions and can have a thriving business because of this straightforward point of difference.
This is also very similar to what we do at UnHustled.
While popular gurus are talking about "grinding until your eyeballs fall out," we are practicing the art of doing less and having a better life as well as growing a thriving business while having a lot of fun doing it.
This is how you grow a thriving business.
Start by being different.