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August + Wal*Mart + Back to School = Protractor Purchase

Do you make your customers buy protractors?My wife commented that this may be the last year we buy the annual pencil case to be filled with the additional new purchases of colored pencils, mini-stapler, brand new #2 pencils, a compass, and of course, the protractor.

For the life of me, I don’t know what happens to protractors.

I know what happens to the colored pencils. They end up in a drawer by a phone. And in a rush to find something to write a number down, the only thing that you can grab is a color pencil. But you don’t know it’s a colored pencil. Not until you try to erase the blue writing and discover it only smears around on the paper. Not, of course, that the colored pencil actually had an eraser attached on it’s end to begin with. Color pencils are intended to simply drive you crazy when they’ve escaped the confines of the pencil case.

But protractors? Who knows?

Last winter I actually needed a protractor. But, naturally, there were no protractors to be found. Because they simply GO AWAY.

Sally is in eighth grade this year. Jane said “I don’t think they give us a list of school supplies when high school starts so next year might be the first time in 14 years we don’t have to buy all the school supplies, AGAIN.”

It will be a magic moment. LIke when Sally, as the “last child” didn’t need formula because she could eat french fries. When we didn’t need to drag a diaper bag around. When a child could drive him/herself. When we don’t have to buy a protractor because it’s part of a list of “necessities” that often aren’t.

It made me think about how often in my business do I make customers buy a protractor? How many times do we create a list of things a customer must do that aren’t really necessary. Or only rarely necessary, but we make ‘em do it anyway.

A form to be filled out when a simple conversation, with me taking notes, would suffice. LIke going to a doctor’s office and filling out nine pages of information that, at the end of the day, simply isn’t necessary.

How many hoops do we make customers, patients, and clients jump through? And for what purpose? For us or for them? How many times do we make ‘em buy a protractor only to have them lose it or break it, and then discover they really didn’t need it anyway?

If my clients need a protractor, maybe I should simply give it to ‘em when, and if, they actually need one.

Actually, that’s an angle anyone could apply. Without even the use of a protractor.

Because in business, we can’t afford to be obtuse. (An angle, as when measured by a protractor, that is greater than 90 degrees.)

But come to think of it, it’s only rarely do we need a protractor to tell us when something is obtuse!

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