Halfords bulbs

£16 profit in 5 minutes 42 seconds

Paul Green Uncategorized

I was at a property event on Friday afternoon (my other big project apart from working with MSPs is build to rent, where you buy land, build houses and keep them afterwards).

On the drive home my car went beeeeeeeeeep to tell me a headlamp bulb had gone.

Now, I'm the least hands-on person on earth when it comes to cars and fiddling. So Saturday morning I was straight into Halfords to get a new bulb, and get them to replace it for me.

There's lots to criticise in Halfords. But there are some things they do brilliantly. And clearly, someone somewhere in that organisation has an excellent grip on buyer psychology.

Look at my customer journey (I've pulled out the key points to make it relevant to your business).

There was zero stress to find what I needed

In the old days, you used to have to look up your car's specific model in a book and hope you'd got the right bulbs.

Now, in the bulbs section was a tablet fixed to a shelf. I entered my registration number and it told me which model bulb I needed.

For someone who's not good at cars. this removes all of the stress of picking the right part.

Key point: Assume your clients are uneducated buyers, and don't know what they don't know. Then make it really easy for them to find out what they think they need to know without feeling stupid.

I was efficiently upsold, with no overt selling needed

I wish I could have videoed what happened next to show you how beautiful it can be when it's done well.

I started by looking at the standard bulbs... then my attention was caught by some better bulbs... and then the best bulbs they have for sale.

Key point: Give people 3 choices - good, better, best - and it's easier to pick the level that's right for them. Because they've got options to compare their choice against.

Better and best in this instance was defined by "brighter". In fact, the main message on the packaging was "150% brighter".

No mention of technical terms like how many lumens or blah blah blah. I'm sure those details were on there if I'd gone looking for them.

But the word brighter did the trick for me. In my mind, brighter = safer. 

Key point: People buy based on benefits, not features. The heart makes the decision and the brain rubber stamps it.

Then, looking at the shelf full of the best 150% brighter bulbs, I could see an offer. Buy one, get one free.

This is how the internal conversation went:

Heart: "Wow, these bulbs are really bright. That's safer. And buy one get one free is a really good offer."

Brain: "I agree brighter is safer. But we only need one bulb. Just get one."

Heart: "I'm going to pick up two. If we only take one, the girl at the till will remind us that there's an offer, and we'll have to come back here. We'll get two and keep one as a spare."

Brain: "OK, I approve the concept of getting two. We only need to get one fitted."

Heart: "I think the car will look strange with one normal bulb and one super bright bulb. We should get both fitted."

Brain: "This is bad for the planet."

Heart: "I bet Halfords recycles the old bulbs. We'll be able to see better when driving at night. This is the safest thing to do."

Brain: <pauses> "I agree. The purchase and fitting of two new bulbs is approved."

Boom. Two bulbs in my hand, to the till. And it wasn't until I looked at my receipt that I remembered that it was only the product that was BOGOF, and not the fitting. I had paid 2x £8 to have my bulbs fitted.


Brain: "This is an extravagance. We should have struggled for an hour to fit these bulbs ourselves."

Heart: "It's raining. And it's always fun to watch someone else do the job for you."

Key point: Not everyone buys on price. Get the marketing right, and price is A factor, not THE factor.

Halfords was focused on the areas that had the highest gross profit levels

I have no idea how much gross profit there is on two lightbulbs retailing for just £39 under the BOGOF promotion. Probably very little.

But I do know that the £16 they charged me to fit them was pure profit.

Because I wasn't the only customer waiting to have things fitted. At the speed the guy was out fitting stuff, I assume he had already covered the cost of buying his time that day.

And you know how long it took him to fit and test my two bulbs? I know exactly, as I timed him (while waiting I'd realised this would make a good article).


5 minutes 42 seconds. To make £16 gross profit.

I have no idea when Halfords introduced its Wefit fitting service. And I can't see a breakdown from a 30 second flick over its financial results

But I bet it's quickly become one of the greatest contributors of profit to its stores. It's certainly a unique service that no-one else offers. Can you get 2 bulbs fitted in a garage in just 5 minutes, and for £16? Unlikely.

Key point: We all know that services are more profitable than selling commodity items (hardware) these days.  Find more things you can do for your clients that their hearts desire, and they will willingly pay for them.