Branding, Community, Culture, How To's, Marketing

The Derby City Chop Shop: creating line-worthy products and services

I drive by the tiny Derby City Chop Shop daily. It’s a men’s barber shop in my neighborhood and rain or shine there is a line 10-15 deep of dudes waiting to get their hair cut. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to know what the buzz was all about. So I went on a recon mission.

Zach waiting outside Derby City Chop ShopThe shop opens at 10am. At 9:15 there were two dudes in line. By 9:30 there were 7. I asked the gentlemen at the head of the line, his name is Zach, who was perched casually on the threshold typing away on his phone, what is the deal here? Why do you wait so long?

Zach told me, “Well, I don’t know. They give me a great hair cut. My girlfriend says it’s the best cut for me. And they trim my beard.”

OK. Quality service. Quality final product. But come on Zach, why would arrive an hour before the place opens? What’s with the voluntary waiting? He was very logical in his response, “If I get here at 9 and wait an hour I know I’m only waiting an hour. If I get here at 10 when they open I could easily wait 2 hours. This way I know I’m only waiting an hour.” Alright, that makes sense. But I’m still not satisfied in understanding what makes something Line-Worthy.

How does this barber shop do it? They groom men, it’s right on the door. In my not-so-scientific research it seems the quality and consistency of the product are the main drivers here. I also surmise, based on their target demographic and the no reservations format, that a sense of gamesmanship and exclusivity are at play here. Creating a line situation is possible in many product release situations.

Line in front of Derby City Chop Shop

Who else has this going on in their business? Apple is arguably the grand dame of line-worthy product. Anyoneremember the Tickle Me Elmo fights? Food does a great job of line-worthy products as well. Look at Cronuts and Di Fara Pizza in NYC. Bourbon fans have websites dedicated to hunting their favorite brands. Check out the lines for a Pappy release. These are all products that are so great and so exciting, people are willing to commit hours of their time to experience them. What are you willing to wait for it’s so good?

No one knows the business of line waiting like Robert Samuel of New York City who started a line waiting business called Same Ole Line Dudes. People pay him and his nearly one dozen Line Dudes $20/hour to wait in line for the stuff they want. Stuff like Kanye West sneakers, concert tickets, Santa Claus photos, and food. Lots and lots of line waiting for food. So much food waiting that Samuel is now close friends with most of New York City’s top foodie locations.

It’s amazing to me, this phenomenon of line-worthy products and services. I imagine most of these companies were not intentional in their line creation process. They didn’t have a board meeting to discuss tactics for creating line-worthy products. Well, maybe a few of them … but for the most part, quality, uniqueness, and exclusivity are the dominant factors in line-worthy products and services. Let’s all take a moment to see how we are making line-worthy products and services in our own businesses. I think the world will thank us and line up to get it!

Dayna Neumann

boundless. curious. renegade. founder @ execuity

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