How a Philadelphia hairdresser and the Philadelphia Flower Show solved the same problem

When Drew Becher took over as the president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in  2010, he faced the same issue that Philadelphia hairdresser Nich Berardi grappled with five years earlier.

Both men were out of space.

True, Becher could have expanded the beloved Philadelphia Flower Show into new wings of the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, but at 550,000 square feet, people would be too exhausted to be tip-toeing through the tulips. "It's a monster," Becher said, describing the sheer scale of the flower show.

In Berardi's case, his row house-sized salon in Center City Philadelphia, was too small to accommodate another chair for his son Joey who was ready to join his father's thriving business, Richard Nicholas Hair Studio on Sansom Street.

"We had no room," Berardi said.

Both men resolved the issue the same way, by adding an extra day -- well, two days in Berardi's case. He agreed to allow his son to open the salon's doors on Sunday and Monday, when the rest of the staff was off. 

"Now Sunday is as busy as Saturday," Berardi said.

In both cases, the business upside comes with being able to extract more revenue from the same amount of space and the same amount of equipment with very little incremental expense. 

In Berardi's case, the incremental expense was his son, sitting by himself in the shop, waiting for customers, plus some utility expenses, such as extra lighting and heat. Berardi didn't hire a receptionist or a shampoo person -- son Joey did it all, until he built the business up enough to warrant the extra hires.

In Becher's case, he kept the cost low by adding an extra day for the public, but compressing the move-in time. Instead of front-loading an extra day for move-in, he kept to the same schedule as last year. He decided to pay workers overtime to get the job done before the members' preview on Friday. The bill for that, he said, was under $100,000 for a $10 million tab to produce the extravaganza.

This is all well and good as long as sales from the extra day don't pull from existing business. There is some evidence of that in the case of the flower show. In 2012, one bus tour company sold two tours for the flower show -- the first on the first Sunday and the second on the last Saturday. This year, the same company sold two shows, both on the Saturday's. So the new day didn't mean new sales, at least from that company. 

We'll have to see whether Becher's experiment turns out as successfully as Berardi's did.

Interestingly, when Princeton Tec, a Burlington County manufacturer of head lamps, ran into the same space problem, it moved its production to China. The company had maxed out with space and with time. Lately, it decided to move most operations back from China. You can read how it reached its decision by clicking here.