Link Selling Cobblers

The last time I had a pair of favourite shoes re-soled, it cost me almost as much as a brand new pair would have.  Despite my lack of amusement at this, I remain determined to help save the planet in this regard, so went to a local S African chain of cobblers and key-cutters whilst here called Multiserv.  They promised an excellent job on my casual knockabout Timberlands.

I regret to announce that although their general banter and attitude in person was exemplary, the fix seems unlikely to register any longevity.  And how they managed to leave a tack sticking-out, sharp-end up, from a glue-based fix verged on disgraceful.

Nevertheless, the (franchise?) manager-operator did impress me with his insistent link-sell.  As he handed over my shoes, he suggested what I really needed was a special polish. Keen to hear his routine, I played along.

My immediate response was the slight fib that I’d never polished a pair of shoes in my life and had no intention of starting now.  Unperturbed he simply countered that I must and began to show me the impact by unscrewing the pot and grabbing a cloth.

I tried to slow him by asking him to feel my hands.  So soft, he noted, as to reveal the total lack of a day’s hard labour in a lifetime.

Undaunted, he continued.  The polish was a Sara Lee brand (Meltonian) so I told him that if I were to buy any, it would have to be my favourite (Kiwi).  He giggled yet again and stated his was better.

Treating one particular portion of my upper, I had to give him his due, the complexion had indeed changed.  Hardly surprising, given the industrial-strength, tar-like texture of the heavy-duty paint, sorry, polish.  He explained how this repaired scuff marks and stopped the threat of water damage.  When I still wouldn’t say yes, he set about on another section.  And then another.  Perhaps if I held out long enough, he’d finish the entire job.  He made sure he showed me how the polish would not rub off on the bottom of any trousers too.

I then confided that I like such shoes to look worn, and now they appeared practically brand spanking new.  Could he get them back to their weathered state?

His forever chuckling nature was now morphing towards irritation.  To ease this, I asked how much (I calculated it added a touch under 15% to my bill).  Thankfully for me, another customer rolled up to the counter enabling my evasion.  Even then, he said as a parting shot that my shoes would last longer.

So, what to make of this pitch?  Firstly, hats off for him knowing he must try.  I wish I’d remembered to ask him of how many people that he asks does he find a buyer.  I hope that it yields a useful component of his profits.  His persistence too, that favourite of sales traits, was also laudable.  There were around seven moments when he could have folded but persevered.

Of course, turning one of his sales statements into a question would have helped wonders.  Even on a basic level, posing whether I would like my shoes to last longer, or look as good the the day I bought them, or to better keep water out could have hurried me along.

I later reflected on all the potential link-sells a cobbler must have at their disposal.  Polish, cloths, brushes, laces, insoles, pads, bags/cases, trees, racks.  Then it strikes you that there must be a link-sell for every single customer.  And when you factor in the locksmith element, maybe Multiserv HQ could do with a phonecall.

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