Initially we managed our shops in Dubai with a traditional viewpoint. The customers would ask for the things they needed from across the counter. The salesman would then fetch the products from the shelves and prepare a bill. The products were neither arranged systematically nor displayed attractively and only we knew where a particular item was placed. The customers didn’t have the chance to handle the groceries themselves. Even the billing was done traditionally. People would form a queue and wait for their turn to pay.
One incident was crucial in helping me change my old fashioned perspective and bring about a change in my business. My sons were studying in secondary school then. One day I noticed that my elder son Hrishikesh was delaying a haircut. I asked him to accompany me to our usual, reliable salon. He declined by saying, “I am not coming to that old fashioned salon. All my friends visit a modern men’s parlour. The parlour is always crowded and admission there is only by prior appointment. I have also booked an appointment there and am waiting for my turn to come.”
I casually enquired about the rates in the parlour, to which he replied that they charge 100 Dirham for a single visit. I was shocked and burst out, “My God! I pay only 20 Dirham for my monthly visit to the saloon and you are going to spend 5 times more?! It is very expensive. What is so extraordinary in this parlour?” Hrishikesh smiled and answered, “Come with me and see for yourself.”
I was curious as to why this parlour was so popular-so I went with him and realized that he was telling the truth. The parlour looked less like a hair salon and more like an air conditioned corporate office. The interiors were well conceived and aesthetically decorated. The employees were hospitable and prompt. The salon section was amazingly clean and equipped with state-of-the-art machines and technology. They had a facility of showing each customer his face on a computer and suggesting which haircut perfectly suited him. No wonder customers were ready to pay such exorbitant rates. It was a result of the luxurious amenities and excellent service.
I grasped the message quickly and left behind my orthodox attitude. The first thing I did was to refurbish my shops and turned them into aesthetically built super stores that were modern and spacious. I arranged the merchandise neatly and attractively. The customers were provided with baskets and carts and also had a chance to select and handle the products on their own. The billing became faster with the help of computers and barcode scanners. This helped my business to take a quantum leap. The chain of Al Adil super stores began to expand rapidly.
A quote by John F. Kennedy is worth remembering – Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.