Barber shop ramblings

September 5, 2014

Today was one of those days that occasionally hit you when you travel a lot.   I came in overnight from South Africa and my original plan had been the best part of two days at home before flying out to Marrakech for a client event Sunday.   As it happened I was asked to go out a day early so the sequence of events today was not fun.   I had to pick up the last piece of furniture for the study from Station Furniture near Heathrow at 0830 so I used the free hour to have a shower in the new Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 2.  Then I stopped off in Marlborough for a haircut, then home to handle three loads of washing and repack for what will be a week away (I go onto Washington from Marrakech via a dinner speaking engagement in London on Tuesday night).  I also had to fit in two meetings and three conference calls before heading for the airport on the train.  The latter to allow me to finish off a key proposal.   All a bit frantic really but it will work out.

The most interesting aspect however was the hair cut.   The barber's shop I have used for twenty years in Marlborough has been going down hill for some time.   Now I don't have much hair so I don't get too precious about things.  My normal instruction is to trip the hair above the ears and use a number two clipper on the beard.  Last time I had the unfortunate experience of having the clipper run through my hair before I could do anything about it so I ended up looking like a skin head.  One bad experience like that I might have lived with, but fortunately a new Barber Shop had opened up in Marlborough to break the monopoly.   The guy running it had previously worked for his competitor but had left to set his own business up in disgust.  It turned out that the minute they got a good barber, they moved them onto a new shop (it was a chain) to get the new customers in.  In the meantime the old shop got apprentices or emergency short term hires.   Its OK to have a good business idea (the shops were well equipped) but in a service business you have to learn to treat your employees with respect.  That way you keep loyalty.   Interestingly in V's in New Jersey (my favourite barbershop of all time) you can book your barber by name on line.

It's a lesson for any business which depends on the quality of the relationship and doesn't understand that comes from the employees as much as the ambiance.   Also if you are selling yourself as a traditional barber shop they you need barbers, not hairdressers!   OK I am showing my age but there is a stability of identity in an old time barber …..

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