Selling workability, performance, satisfaction

mixed business

I gave a presentation yesterday to a group of lawyers and one of the great things about it was that I declared for myself, and for them, what it is I see my business as creating.

I didn’t exactly plan to do this. It just came out, and when it came out it was powerful and there was a quickening in the room. I see my business as creating workability, performance and satisfaction in the workplace. The ostensible product is training in writing and communication, but in a way this is kind of irrelevant. What I’m really selling is workability, performance and satisfaction.

So much about the workplace doesn’t work, and it doesn’t have to be this way. When there’s a basic level of workability, performance and satisfaction at work becomes possible and I assert this is what people want from their work. Your experience of work can go up and down, but as long as you feel able to perform, to contribute, then satisfaction ensues.

Being in the business of business for the last year I’ve become really interested in what it is that other businesses are really selling. When I think of my previous occupation – management consulting – I’ve concluded that one of the things consulting firms are selling is glamour. When it comes to the big players like McKinsey’s, the client is buying great suits, good-looking consultants, the sexiness of brainyness.

I’ve recently gotten a new hairdresser called Rob. When I think of what he’s selling that I’m buying it’s efficiency, reliability, predictability. I really like him because he’s on time, he’s super-quick, he tells me the cost upfront and he doesn’t muck around.

There’s a cafe I go to every week or two for lunch called Mixed Business in Clifton Hill. The food and coffee are great, but what this business is really selling that I’m buying is love and care.

Most times, I see an elderly couple who also have lunch there once a week. They’re in their late 70s or early 80s, and she has a walking frame. Every time I see them it’s the same routine. They have lunch, then the wife gets up and goes to the flower shop next door which is also run by the cafe people.

Her husband stays in the cafe until she’s chosen her flowers – today, I saw she chose pink tulips – then he goes out and together they sit on the bench outside the cafe waiting for the cab which the cafe staff call for them when they’re ready. When the cab arrives, one of the cafe employees accompanies them to the kerb, holds the flowers for the wife while she gets in and closes the cab doors when they’re safely inside. Then the cafe employee waves them off.

That’s what I’m buying when I go to that cafe: love and care.

What are you buying from your special providers?

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Mixed Business cafe is at 486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill, Tel: (03) 9486 1606; Rob, my hairdresser, is at Zuzushii, 171 Victoria Ave, Albert Park, Tel: (03) 9696 0686

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14 thoughts on “Selling workability, performance, satisfaction

  1. You’re so right! I have 2 mini-markets in my village. I go to the one where the owners are warm-hearted, even though it’s a little further away.

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  2. Yes, I get that. When I go to a place of business, I buying the extension of what the company wants to project. I often look for hospitality. Maybe that’s natural being a southerners and all. For what I offer as a graphic designer, I am selling precision and resonance. And you may well know that some clients see a produc they want and that is all they have to g on until they understand the intangible offerings.

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    • I’d definitely buy precision from my graphic designer. Good one.

      Agree that client doesn’t always understand the intangible offerings. I didn’t get it myself, and I’m the owner, until it came out out of my mouth during the presentation. As we say at Landmark, it all happens in the sharing.

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  3. What a wonderful question to consider. It’s like railways in the US realising they weren’t in the railways business, they were in the transportation business – but more personal. I shall think about it for my business – or perhaps ask my customers.

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    • I thought the same; it could be you and Dr Advice, sometime in the future (grin). I love my new hairstyle. Even better, I have a new hair project and I do like having hair projects. In about 3-4 months it’ll be complete, and then soon after it’ll be time to cut it again or do something so then I can have a new hair project!

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  4. On the other hand, I was recently told by a utility company with whom I’ve done business for years that they can no longer give me a separate bill for electricity and gas. Why? Because they converted their systems to SAP and the system doesn’t allow it. And why was I bothering them.

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