Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Appearances

Appearances are important - in everything. A part of being in business is the appearance of doing business.

Exhibit 1: I was travelling in a bus a few years back - and the bus made a halt at some unearthly hour for 'tea'. The tea-shop was a bustling place with atleast 10 buses at that specific point while we halted and I am sure over the night, serviced many more vehicles. For 3 am, the place sure was busy. But what was intriguing was that a biscuit stall owner, right next to the tea stall was busy, incredibly busy arranging his biscuits, moving them a bit here, a bit there and generally appearing busy. And he was doing brisk business. There was no reason to be cleaning the shop at 3 am which in all probability was his busiest part of the day. Perhaps.

Exhibit 2: There is this 'pressure cooker' repairman I often see. To be fair, I have seen him handle a real customer just once. At all other times, he is incredibly busy. Walks up and down, cleans the cookers he has, rearranges his shop and generally appears incredibly busy. He has another trick up his sleeve, he walks around apartments with a cooker in his hand - he appears busy.

This is typical behaviour that you see, and not in the bigger shops, but in the smaller ones - the ones which are the old world types. Those small restaurants that you would see near railway stations, bus stations, tourist hot spots and the like.

And the explanation I have for it is that people like to walk into a shop which appears busy (and that means they are 'doing' business) and not at a place where the shopkeeper is sitting, waiting for business.

And bring that back to your business. How do appearances matter? What do you have to do to 'get' business? What do your people have to do, when they are 'apparently idle'? And how can you use that to keep them focused and sharp?

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