I am a creature of habit. This has its advantages, but it also means I’ll keep doing the same thing forever even if I’m not all that crazy about it.
For example, for the past decade or so, I’ve been getting my hair cut at the same haircut place, even though the haircuts often aren’t all that good.
The last time I got my hair cut at my usual haircut place, though, the haircut was so bad my wife finally said, “Enough.” My daughters were appalled, too. One of them said I looked like I was “in a boy band.”
So that was it for my last haircut place. But I had no idea where to find a new haircut place. So I put off getting a haircut for about six weeks longer than I should have, until I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Then, this morning, when I finally had a free weekend morning and was about to cave and go back to my old haircut place, my wife shoved me in the other direction.
“There’s a barber down on 5th Avenue.” she said. “Try that.”
So I did.
And it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.
My old haircut place was a “salon,” which meant that I had to get a shampoo before I got my hair cut. That was a hassle, and it added a $US2 shampooer tip to the $US23 + $US5 tip haircutter’s tab. The salon was also full of women getting dye jobs, and it was popular enough that you needed an appointment. I could never be bothereed to make an appointment, so that meant I often couldn’t get in.
My new haircut place, “Benny’s Barbershop,” doesn’t require appointments. You just walk in.
Benny’s, furthermore, is not a unisex salon. It’s just for “Men and kids.”
Going to a haircut place for just men and kids, I discovered, has several advantages, especially when the place is run by folks who have the marketing acumen of the folks who run Benny’s.
First, Benny’s has two big flat-screen TVs showing live sports. Today, while I was at Benny’s, the live sport on the TVs was English Premier League soccer — Chelsea vs. Newcastle and then Fulham vs. Manchester United. One of the TVs in Benny’s is visible from the chairs you wait in, and the other is visible in the mirrors while you’re getting your hair cut. If you have to get your hair cut, I learned, it’s much better to get it cut while watching sports.
Second, I discovered, Benny’s serves beer. The guy who cut my hair, Jake, told me I was welcome to grab a beer from the fridge after my haircut and hang out and watch the rest of the game. Jake also told me that, next summer, I can come back and watch the World Cup at Benny’s. I’ve certainly never been offered a beer while getting my hair cut before.
(I wondered about the liquor licence thing, but I don’t think that Benny’s actually sells beer. I think they just share them with you. Like water. Or mints. Jake, by the way, is from Uzbekistan. He came to America 10 years ago. He speaks English with a remarkably good accent. I can’t even imagine speaking a foreign language that well without having learned it as a kid.)
Lastly, I also discovered, the toilet seat at Benny’s is already up.
So there are indeed several advantages to getting your hair cut at a haircut place for men. And there are also advantages, as every sharp business-person knows, to understanding how to appeal to the hearts and minds of your customers.
Haircuts at Benny’s also only cost $US16, which is less than the $US23 I was paying before. Benny’s has conveniently long hours — 8:30 to 7:00 every day of the week. And you can also get a full-on, lie-back-in-the-chair, hot-towel and straight-razor shave if you want. I’ve never gotten one of those, but I’ve always been curious about them.
So I’m happy to say I have found my new haircut place — Benny’s Barbershop on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. And I’ve been reminded of some excellent business lessons in the process.
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