Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bevelled Edge Hedge and Having a Point of Difference

This morning I walked the children to school. It turned out not to be the most brilliant of my ideas, as I’m consumed by a cold which, having taken hold of my head, is now continuing its assault towards my chest. As I was labouring along on my way home, to lessen my suffering I turned my mind to what was around me and I noticed as I walked along that a number of hedges on this particular street had been trimmed with a bevelled edge finish, and I recognised immediately the “trademark” edging of a particular hedge trimmer in our area.

I knew this was his trademark edge because of a really important thing – he had told me it was.

About three years ago, a man came onto our property and asked if he could trim our hedges. We didn’t know him but he looked like he’d had a really bad day/week/month/year. He offered a heavily discounted rate for cash on the spot. We were on the verge of saying ‘no thanks’ as we had done to other hedge trimmers that had approached us over time, when a curious thing happened.

Mr Hedge Trimmer started to tell us about his work - what an excellent job he would do on our hedges, how ‘his’ hedges carry his trademark bevelled edges and how we would have seen his work in our local area. His whole demeanour changed as he spoke about his work with pride. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Even his posture changed.

We changed with him. We said ‘yes’. He did an excellent job – just as he said he would. He trimmed our hedges to perfection, complete with bevelled edges – just as he said he would. Now, as I walk through my local area three years later, I recognise his work – just as he said I would.

Mr Hedge Trimmer did some things really right that all people offering a service or product should be aware of – he took the time to create a point of difference for himself and his business – the bevelled edge hedge –he perfected his craft, producing clearly distinguishable bevelled edge hedges (pretenders beware, I’m not sure how he does it but there are no others quite as good) – and just as important as the act itself, he spoke with pride when telling his customers about his point of difference, with the effect that it wasn’t easily forgotten (not for us anyway).

What sets you apart from others in your business sector? What’s your ‘trademark’ or ‘signature’ piece that is particular to you that others can easily identify? If you haven’t identified a point of difference for your business offering yet – do it – make it real – and tell everyone about it.

Mr Hedge Trimmer reinforced for me another important lesson in business that is too easily and too often overlooked – don’t forget to leave a business card – but that’s another blog entirely.