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When What You Sell Isn’t What You’re Selling

Yesterday I skipped the early gym session, packed up my mac book and headed out to the hair salon. This particular salon runs a no appointment system, it’s first-come first-served. So I got there almost an hour before they opened, sat on the floor outside and worked. Ten minutes later another lady arrived, twenty minutes after her yet another who I’d seen before. With fifteen minutes to opening time a grandmother showed up, excitedly chatting to two little girls about how they’d be talking to Carmel and she’d know what was best for them to do.

By nine there were six of us all queuing for the same stylist. By 9.05 there was a three hour wait for a $20 trim with Carmel, even though there were at least four other stylists available right away. A couple of people chose to wait and some were reluctantly bumped to others.

I watched her work all morning. The first question she asked, before she even picked up a scissors was, “is this for the graduation, and if not when is that?” The next client was asked how long before her three month trip overseas, it was apparently important not to put too much colour in this time round, so that the timing was just right for the last colour before her trip. Carmel explained to the frail old lady who couldn’t cope with a two hour wait that she had a couple of colour clients already, but that she’d tell the other stylist what to do. I heard her reminding her colleague about the frailty of the hair quality and how they needed to use the mildest possible products. The grand daughters were having back to school trims. They were done in five minutes by another stylist, while the grandmother came to have a chat with Carmel as she mixed bleach.

Of course there are others in this salon who can cut and colour almost as well as Carmel can, but that’s not what people willing to wait for an hour or two, maybe more, are buying. She’s not selling a $20 haircut, she’s selling something people crave even more than looking just right for their son’s graduation… caring, connection, belonging and yes, even love. All of which take something ordinary and make it extraordinary.

Your business needs people who care this much. Often your products and services don’t need more bells and whistles. They just need a little more love.

Image by Mondopanno.