Barber takes a cut

Barber.jpgCompetition for business is everywhere. Even everyday services have to learn to adapt to market demand and pricing in order to survive.

Case in point is my barber. I’ve been going to him for my snips for several years. He used to charge S$10 each time but raised it to S$12 a couple of years ago.

As a regular, I have not issue with this increase because of inflation and continued going to his shop in the heartland.

Yesterday, I went for my cut and was surprised that the S$12 sticker on his rate card was removed with the price reduced to the original S$10 of recent past.

I was curious and thought that perhaps there was a mistake.

Why asked, he sighed and replied that he had to reduce the rate two months ago because potential walk-in customers saw the price and did not come in.

He had to do this to draw more customers in the face of growing competition.

Price is a sensitive matter — perhaps more so in HDB towns. Over the past few years, new hair salons have sprung up in the neighbourhood where my barber is located.

Some look new and spanky and offer cuts at highly competitive prices — as low as S$5. In some other areas, I have seen prices as low as S$3.

While the price sounds good for consumers, it can take a hit for service providers who rely on a regular clientele to survive. Barbers sell time so whether it’s a S$3 or S$12 cut, it still takes the same amount of time. Charging a lower rate means that they are earning less per hour.

Competition and an ever changing business landscape are inevitable but there has to be a bar somewhere. Otherwise, traditional barbers may find it hard to make a living and close shop altogether.

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