For example: I was waiting in line at a QuickieMart today 1. The only reason a line existed was due to one woman. She required the cashier to tell her all the kinds of cigarettes available. She forgot to get something, so made the cashier stop mid-transaction to go get a plastic geegaw for a relative. Just before she paid – but after the cashier totaled everything – she decided to add on some lottery tickets, but didn’t want the geegaw.
You get the idea.
That’s a transaction-based service. The transaction is simply “checking out”. When you go out to eat, the transaction is “ordering and eating a meal”. The business is built around an expected degree of turnover, because things like “available seats” are not billed separately.
Duration-based services are ones where you are billed directly for your time. Talk to your therapist about the latest webcomics or the dark trauma in your past – you’re still getting billed the same. When you’re being charged for the time you use, a lot more inefficient or demanding behavior is tolerable. You want to hit the restroom for twenty minutes at the beginning of your one-hour massage appointment? Have fun with that! That kind of behavior, though, would be completely unacceptable in a transaction-based business model.
And that highlights the potential problem: Businesses don’t always recognize which model is more important for them. Imagine for a second, that a fast-food burger joint tried to maintain the high turnover (transaction-based) while at the same time emphasizing sit-down dining, quality foods and waiters. The reverse would almost be as bad – can you imagine someone telling Chef Ramsey to churn out shepherd’s pie faster?
Sure, you can mix and match. Businesses in the same industry might have different priorities to differentiate themselves. But ultimately, one of these priorities must win out over the other.
Choose one. Stick with it. Go succeed.
1Yest, that is the entire reason for the picture of Ash. Shop smart, shop S-Mart!