Thinking Out Of The Box

In 1961, when President John F Kennedy announced the US would fly a man to the moon they had absolutely no idea how they were going to achieve this. They literally had to think out of the box. And again in 1965 when SA surgeon Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant there had to be a lot of thinking out of the box. And in 1915 when the Titanic struck an iceberg I’m sure they wished they had done more thinking out of the box especially in risk assessment.

Desperate times call for extraordinary action and extraordinary can only be found outside of the box.

For example:

Rent – according to many landlords rents are not negotiable. Sorry for them but there is a wake-up coming for retail shopping centres. Retail is undergoing a major transformation world-wide. It’s called ecommerce or on-line shopping.  With more and more shoppers shopping on-line there is increasingly less reason for shoppers to visit centres to shop, except for services. If this continues retail centres will become mainly service centres. Armed with the right information you could renegotiate your rent by showing your landlord exactly how many repeat clients you bring into the centre as well as new referrals that would not otherwise come to the centre from which other tenants benefit.

Staff commissions – paying commission was originally introduced to incentivise producers to be more productive, today it is just a way of dividing payroll to calculate tax and benefits. Basic conditions of employment state that qualified staff may not earn less than 40% commission but that doesn’t mean they can’t earn a constant commission on regulars, a lower one on walk-ins and a higher one on referred clients. Because regular clients and referrals represent 80% of the turnover you generate this will keep staff focussed on those two areas of sourcing new clients.

‘Getting bums in chairs’ has always been the name of the game in hair and beauty salons. While that is still true clients are not visiting salons as often as they used to. This means you have to create more ways to get clients into the salon. Hospitality plays a major part in the ‘client experience’ so it makes sense that all communications with clients be perceived as an invitation. This includes things such as overdue visit reminders, happy birthday calls, newsletters and all promotional activity. Clients do go where they are invited.

‘Muscle build your team’ – while having staff that specialise in certain things is great, in the long term it is not as effective as staff being multi-skilled. Regular staff performance reviews will identify each person’s strengths and weaknesses which, in turn, identifies training needs. This approach helps muscle-build your team. Together with regular performance reviews (feedback) will result in lower staff turnover.

Charging what you’re worth – This is probably the ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to thinking out of the box. Believe it or not clients do recognise creative ability, expertise and experience. It’s not really about how much you charge your clients as opposed to how much clients will pay for a job well done. I have no argument with people who under-charge for who better than they know the value of their own work!