Old Rule #7: How much is an $85 haircut worth?

This is Part 7 in my series, The Old Rules of Business That Still Matter. Links to previous Rules are available in right sidebar.


IMG_0632Every four weeks I pay $85 for a haircut. $85. And I'm told that's actually a DISCOUNT off my barber's stylist's regular price.

Here's the kicker. I'm HAPPY to pay this.

I've been getting my hair cut styled by Rick Brassfield for something like 23 years now. Yes, Rick is responsibile for making me that bon vivant, irresistable-to-women hottie so many men wish they were.

Rick's barbershop salon is called the Hair Lounge. To be perfectly accurate, I believe Rick started the Hair Lounge with Marv Smith and RJ Jones, but for some reason Rick takes all the credit. 

One thing I haven't figured out is this sign in both changing rooms. "Due to the SIZE…  to other clients, we ask you not bring your children…?" I don't know what that means. Size of clients? Size of children? Size of appointment?

But I digress. This post is about my $85 haircut. 

Several years ago I started asking myself why I was paying so much for a haircut. I couldn't rationally justify in my mind the price. So I decided to get a $25 haircut. I did it once and immediately went back to Rick the next time.

Did I get a bad $25 haircut? Not really. It was okay, which for most men is more than good enough.

The reason I went back to Rick was because going to the Hair Lounge for me is lot like Norm going to Cheers. It's the place where everybody knows my name. I walk in and immediately hairdressers call out "Steve!" They look and act genuinely happy to see me, and I think they are. As soon as Rick or Marv or RJ see me they walk up and give me a hearty handshake and man hug. Going to the Hair Lounge is like going to therapy, I suppose. It's an hour of general guy talk and decompressing. The outside world and its pressures don't exist when I'm in the Hair Lounge. I'm a happy guy.

Like I said, the $25 haircut was okay, but nothing else happened. The hairdresser didn't ask if I'd seen "Horrible Bosses," or "Thor." She didn't tell me about her latest trip to Las Vegas or Hawaii causing us to swap excellent "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" war stories. (I mean about RICK, not about ME, honey!) 

So what am I actually paying $85 for, anyway? To fair, Rick is a world-class hair stylist. I've often suspected he keeps me on as a client more for the comedy relief than the cut. I'm not sure I've ever even seen Rick cut another guy's hair. Most of the time, he's got these amazingly beautiful women before and after me. Reminds me a bit of Warren Beatty in Shampoo. (Now I'm REALLY showing my age.)

It's pretty clear what I'm paying. It's Old Rule #7 of Business That Still Matters:

A Richly Imprinted EXPERIENCE Wants to be Repeated.

Much like previous Old Rules, the crux of this is that it's not about the product. I'm not going to Rick for an $85 haircut. I'm going for that getaway time. I'm going where I can zone out from my pressure-packed world and get my blood pressure down for a while. I'm going for an $85 Experience. 

The is a huge deal for all businesses today. The actual product or delivered service has less and less to do with the customer's perception of value and their decision to stay as a customer for a long time. It has everything to do with the experience it's all wrapped in. 

In reality, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and the Matterhorn at Disney World are just roller coasters. They're not even considered to be world-class roller coasters. But they are each wrapped in a memorable wants-to-be-repeated experience that transcends the actual rides themselves.

Experiences are based on the intangible deliverables. Intangible deliverables are usually difficult to copy. As I shared in previous Old Rules, "Everything Walks the Talk," and "Be Brilliant at the Basics." Paying attention to these greatly impacts the customer's experience and that might be all that's necessary to create what I call Uncopyable Superiority.

Having products and deliverables that are superior to the competition are often short-lived. (Anybody remember the hotel that put irons and ironing boards in the rooms FIRST?). We don't want to be easy to copy. We want to be uncopyable.

For me, my experience with Rick and the rest of the zany cast at the Hair Lounge is great. I'll also say that my experience is uncopyable, so it looks like I'm stuck with my $85 haircuts hair styling.

And I'm happy to pay it.