Saturday, 10 August 2013

The rarer the dearer

Have you heard about the banquet hosted by Napoleon Bonaparte where the VIP guests were served with aluminium utensils and the LIPs (less important persons) had to manage the gold dishes?

The event planner was not trying to redefine the value of precious metals but at that time aluminium was more valuable than gold. The reason it is now so cheap is because it is very easy to come by while gold maintains its hard-to-get profile. I don't know why Mother Earth has made it difficult for us to lay hold on some things while surfeiting us with others; it's just the way it is. Take for instance, water was taken for granted a few decades ago but the harder it became to access clean water the higher its value climbed that nowadays we have several multimillion-naira water-bottling companies and water-sachet plants.

How this affects an entrepreneur is that the rarer the product or service-elements you deliver, the dearer it is to the market. I do not use the word 'dearer' in the context of being highly priced, so do not rush out to start selling antiques and limited editions; rather I refer to the quality of being greatly valued. True, value can often be defined by price-tags but it can also describe an unquantifiable feeling you cherish so much.
Those who are not producing or selling pricey products can still make their businesses the sought-out one in town and can charge good premiums by offering rare cherishable or memorable moments to customers when they come around.

There was a time I had to move to another house in a distant district but would you believe that I was still driving several kilometres every fortnight to my former neighbourhood just to cut my hair? The reason was simple but a little funny: every time I went to the shop, the barber made me feel like a king and his barber-chair like a throne. As soon as any customer steps in, he greets him with a lovely smile, hurriedly collects his clippers, seats him on the 'throne', asks him what style to cut and finishes by saying, "Thank you for coming sir" as the customer parts with his money. Every Christmas, my barber would send out SMS wishes and make customized mugs to distribute to all his customers.Needless to say, several barber shops in the neighbourhood were mostly empty while several cars were parked in front of his shop and the customers patiently waiting, reading magazines or watching sports on his big flat screen.

I know that some might say it was the TV or freebies that drew the guys, maybe yes maybe no. But the profile of his customers (myself inclusive) is the classy guy who could afford to buy TVs bigger than his and probably had them in their homes. Many of the guys I talk to in his shop attested to the fact that it was his service customized to each of them that drew them.

Smiles are rare, just as thank-yous are; dependable after-sales services are rare, just as prompt service delivery are; beautiful packaging is rare just as payment in installments is; return policies are rare just as warranties are; but these are the ingredients that smart entrepreneurs have added to their business to make it cherishable to people, sought out by people and paid for with good money by people.

Think of a few ways to make your business service dearer.

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