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Why nine? Why do all alarm clock makers use a nine minute snooze? You probably know your nine tables better than any other: nine minutes, 18 minutes, 27 minutes, 36 minutes, 45 minutes… Next time your kids asks why they have to memorize all those multiplication tables, tell them it’s because of the snooze button.

So before your feet even hit the floor, you’re in problem-solving mode. You’re making complex decisions, weighing your options, looking at the problem from different angles. You do the alarm clock math. You calculate how much time that leaves you to get ready. You figure in any errands or tasks that have to be done before work. You try to remember if your clothes are clean and ironed. Do you have coffee and frozen waffles? Is everyone’s homework done? What’s the weather like?

All this before coffee, and you’ll probably spend a good part of the rest of your day coming up with solutions to various problems.

What problems does Ms. Jones want to solve in your store? Have you ever looked at your products and services as solutions instead of commodities? A mattress isn’t just foam and batting; it solves the problem of sleeplessness and fatigue. A sofa isn’t just cushions on a frame; it solves the problem of standing up while you watch TV. Delivery isn’t just the time you get new furniture; it solves the problem of squeezing a dining room suite into a Dodge Ram.

Ms. Jones does not buy a commodity. She buys a solution.

Do you sell solutions? Are they obvious, or are they in multiples of nine?

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