Commentary by Tom Columbia

Two Thousand Hours Is Your Only Commodity.

It is the diligence of the sharpener that developed and perfected the critical mechanisms which make selling scissors possible.


The manner in which stylist bought and then sharpened their scissors had a muddled introduction decades ago and has always been in conflict. It was in the late 1960s when European influencer Vidal Sassoon popularized scissors, and together with like-minded colleagues they encouraged precision cutting techniques, consequently millions of stylists wanted new scissors. The principal outlets at that time were local beauty suppliers and selling scissors was just another sundry item. What appeared to be an easy sale actually had inherent complexities, frankly, they disregarded the significance of offering a sharpening service. This drawback and them lacking an understanding of how scissors function proved to be overwhelming, and the perplexed retailers were unable to solve even the simplest grievances. In an attempt to restore credibility, the scissors brands excluded the retailers from needing to resolve any issues with their product. They offered a hot line for questions and a sharpening service that needed to be mailed by the stylist. The inconvenience to this method is obvious still, even with all the present-day high-tech advancements. Apart from a few key companies that exemplified the standards for quality sharpening, most brands to this day are ineffective at offering reliable customer support. The large retailers even now sell the bulk of all the scissors, and the sharpeners are provided with a continuous source of haircutters needing their service. For decades, this precarious arrangement has been the implicit alliance of competitors, each dependent on the other. This is clearly a misaligned approach, and the potential for a change has shifted to the benefit of the sharpeners.

Currently, haircutters perceive the Scissors Sharpening Service and the Full-Service Scissors Business as essential contributors in maintaining their scissors, but not equal as a reliable outlet for buying them. It’s the realigning of this paradigm that is the challenge. Each type of vendor has the same opportunities when entering the salon, yet they approach the stylist inversely. It's likely that they visit the same sites, frequently passing one another at the door, leaving potential sales behind. Still, bridging the gap between where the scissors are bought and who services them exist and it single-handedly disrupts the buyers’ ability to attach their loyalty to a single source. Prospective buyers avoid buying from sharpeners that continually backorder product or show an aversion to stocking inventory as they are annoyances. Alongside a narrow selection of scissors that is combined with a strenuous sharpening schedule handicaps the spontaneity needed to initiate a sale. This forces impatient buyers to seek out competitors or search websites to find solutions.

Stylists buying scissors from large retailers are well aware of their ineptness in servicing what they sell, and internet merchants are equally disengaged. The more credible alternative has always been the independent dealers/sharpeners who are face to face with buyers, sharing the common interest of scissors. It takes effective salesmanship to establish credibility and it is the sole tactic that can merge buying and sharpening with one vendor. Ousting persistent rivals from their assumed dominance in selling scissors to your service customers requires a conscious and deliberate preparedness. In an earlier publication I discussed my thoughts on credibility;” Is Your Value As A Vendor Greater Than The Product Itself?” With the number of sharpeners rising and the salons being inundated with merchants it is the time to recognize this as the moment to enhance your perception of being the preferred vendor.

Preparing for change can thwart a disheartening incident before it occurs, and it demonstrates that you have a disciplined strategy. This level of insight can preserve an active account instead of discovering that new scissors were purchased, all the scissors’ edges reworked, and the account upended. It was avoided because you recognized that complacency is intoxicating, and it was time to adjust yesterday’s approach to remain viable in today's business environment. Let’s consider the influences encouraging many sharpeners to view retail sales as a secondary business. The question to be asked is whether there is a stubborn resolve even in the 21st Century promoting benchmarks not yielding significant growth in decades. The single objective of sharpening a mass of scissors and making an occasional sale has always been the prevailing standard. This traditional business model repeated every couple of months together with a few scissors sales conveys a single approach for doing business, and that is what needs reevaluation.

Numerous salespeople, perhaps presenting to the very same buyer, can develop an ordinary or an amazing result solely based upon their ability to offer a complete solution versus only a portion. The status of being a vendor that is preferred over all others implies that there is no room for competitors to disrupt the bond between the buyer and seller. This would entail overcoming the routine of stylists that buy scissors from one retailer with the intent of sharpening with another. Vendors inadvertently invite the competition to solicit their accounts if they are unaware or unable to meet all of the buyer’s needs. Offering one portion of a multi-part buying process displays weaknesses to rivals that are committed to a more diverse presentation. Conserving your own affiliation with buyers and fracturing the opponent’s position is discussed in a prior article; “Are You A Constructive Influence”? Never become the inconspicuous person, you are the Scissors Coach, a mentor deserving respect, and the ability to respond properly to scissor questions adds another layer of adhesiveness that bond a loyal buyer.

Two thousand work hours a year is your only commodity. Growing a business is dictated by the right choices and then accomplishing it in the limited time available. The products/services you opt to sell or not, choice of price structure, quality, and your managerial skills all determine your business model. Positioning yourself to solve the customer’s needs does not necessitate parroting what industry influencers or competition consider to be normal.


For those sharpening scissors, whatever the sum of money charged it requires an equivalent amount of skill and labor, its equally true for selling scissors, no matter the price the selling time is the same. Adopting a lower or higher value for your time is a choice, the 2000-hours is the limitation. This decision predetermines your maximum gross revenue for each workday that ultimately dwindles down to the remaining money called net income. Take home pay is permanently affixed to choosing the correct dollar value to be placed on each hour of the workday.

In the endeavor to produce more scissors sales a sharpening service transitioning to a Full-Service Scissors Business should be contemplated. Accept the straightforwardness that sharpeners are able to become a proficient salesperson over the likelihood of a large retailer achieving the role of a Master Sharpener. It is actually the sharpeners diligence that developed and perfected the critical mechanisms which make selling scissors possible; these attributes are not to be undervalued. Some sharpeners might underestimate these qualities, but they are the resources that the most accomplished salespeople cherish.

It's worth considering the prospect of allocating more time to engage a buyer to ease the selling process, adjusting this alone can stop others from securing a foothold in your accounts. Can it be feasible that the choice to embrace an ideology relying on sharpening masses of scissors purchased from competitors has the false appearance of a windfall? The rewards being sot might actually be in the selling of the scissors, and then servicing them supports additional sales and preserves the status of being the preferred vendor.

This is a strategy that can develop additional business. Sharpening requires special abilities that takes years to develop and is the advantage that large retailers have never been able to accomplish or to commit. Bigger companies can be the equivalent to The Wizard of Oz, possessing no special insight, lack qualifications, and have a conventional product, yet they convincingly sell scissors as proclaimed experts. A glimpse behind the curtain reveals a purposeful reliance on sharpeners, as it enables even more scissors sales knowing their answerability for product support has been passed forward to the sharpener.

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Inadequacies flourish within large retailers where little interest exists in the significance that a scissors purchase has on the stylist. Their frequency of visits to the salon is to offer a plethora of products making scissors a spinoff item to lighten up the routine. Putting it simply, it’s their lack of ability to talk about a scissors unique features and benefits which exposes an indifference to the buyer’s needs. Consequently, the necessity to simplify and reduce their salespeople to offer one size scissors that fit everyone, a special price just for you, choose a pretty color, along with a selection of free stuff. All these selling methods are deliberate distractions to avoid talking to stylist about a scissor’s performance. Any salesperson seeking the status of being the preferred vendor would have done the opposite. Encouraging stylist to talk about a scissor’s capability confirms what they need to know when making a good buying decision. In another previous article with a title that says it all, “Why The Buyer Walks Away And Says, Let me think about it.,” is worth a fresh look.

My next article will focus on inventory that does not constitute a mishmash of scissors that’s an accumulation of left-over monthly specials. There are methods to promote sales using your scissors portfolio that entices any stylist anticipating improving their tool selection. The appropriate scissors assortment characterizes you as a preferred vendor. Making this method work has always required a commitment to specific inventory levels when routinely restocked sets the groundwork for future sales. It is a decision to move away from a business model that sells “one offs” and monthly specials that distracts from developing a customer’s loyalty. Two thousand hours is the limitation, how you sell is a choice.