Perception creates connection

It is summer 2001 and I walk somewhat hesitantly into the small barbershop Figaro on Begijnensteeg in Amsterdam. This salon was on a side street of the busy Kalverstraat. The moment I close the door behind me I imagine myself in an oasis forty years ago. Two authentic Italian barber chairs take center stage in this theater. A sign on the wall reads ‘Cutting from ƒ6.50 (it was in the guilder days). Hanging on the dark green walls are pictures’s of famous people who are among the guests. Socially engaged posters hang on the walls. The poster with the text ’A society without ideals is a society in decline’ completed this decor.

Pasquale Capone is the owner and approaches me cheerfully. A haircut with him is a performance, and he only determines the price afterwards. You pay at Pasquale's not for the haircut, but for the time you get. Before the cutting performance begins, Pasquale pushes several items into my hands. Based on the answers you give, he determines what kind of meat he has in the tub. Whether you as a guest überhaupt fit into his salon. Pasquale: ‘You are a good and calm thinker.’ His words were meant as a compliment and I seemingly passed his test.

Pasquale grabs his scissors starts with my hair. During these haircuts, the most beautiful conversations arose. Paying attention to each other was of utmost importance to him. The barber has the highest word and talks endlessly about his life and experiences. Pasquale gave me an explanation about mountain people and valley people. With a heavy Italian accent, he begins to tell me ‘Mountain people are quiet, valley people are busy and nervous’. According to him, this is because in the valley the natural violence comes together, forcing people to flee. That's why Pasquale says ‘Are Dutch people also so busy, traditionally they had to flee the deltas’s from the water.’

After I was cut I was allowed to checkout. ‘That's ƒ75,- for the cut,’ says Pasquale. It was a pricey cut that I completely enjoyed. Through the atmosphere, his professionalism and sincere attention, Pasquale provided a special experience. This just goes to show that everyone is willing to pay for an enervating experience. Just look at brands that are fully committed to the experience: Starbucks, Apple, Coolblue, Netflix, Efteling and Nespresso. These brands evoke a certain feeling in you and don't compete on price. They understand that it is the experiences that connect customers to their product or company. Creating experiences creates distinctiveness. Dare to think of your business or store as a theater and use thematic imagination? By using imagination, you transform your business or store into a theater where customers are optimally entertained.

Ruud Olijve

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