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5 Ways To Wow Your Customers Right Now

By following these five tips, you’ll wow your customers and make sure they come back.

Basil O’Hagan




1. Determine lifetime value of customers

Have you ever worked out the lifetime value of one of your customers, based on past history? Basically, what would be the sum of all their transactions at your store?

Assume that a customer visits your retail outlet once a month and spends R400. Over 12 months that is R4 800. Over two years she spends R9 600. Over five years you earn R24 000 from that one single customer.

You can put whatever figures you like into this equation to more closely reflect your store’s reality.

But the moral of the story is, look after the customer today to reap the rewards tomorrow. It’s vital to win new customers over and convert them into regular customers.

Related: Franchising Mistakes You Need To Avoid

2. Enable customer feedback

The best managers care about what their customers think and make it easy for them to tell them. There is a confectionary store in Sandton, Johannesburg that lives this approach. It’s sparkling clean, and extremely well run.

Sitting prominently on the counter is a sign: “If you have any comments, please call me,” with two numbers — a landline and a cell number. The employees can’t help noticing the customers checking out the sign.

For the owner, it’s clearly all about really wanting to know what his customers think. And the staff know all feedback can be delivered instantly. So they ensure that if there is any, it’s going to be good.

Many of the most diligent supermarket managers also do this, featuring a sign at the check-out counters. “If you feel you have waited longer than you should, call 083 …..” with the manager’s cell number. I’m sure that I have seen some of these at Woolworths. Consider this for your store. I’d be surprised if anybody phones you, but it shows you care, and ensures that your staff do too.

3. Open when others are closed

One of the first banks to see the opportunity for customer-friendly ideas was Capitec Bank. They offer inexpensive basic banking services to people who might not earn a lot, and they treat them with respect and consideration.

Visiting Capitec, you don’t even have to stand in queues. You sit on comfortable chairs and are then invited to meet with a consultant.

Even their banking hours are innovative. You can go in to your Capitec branch on a Sunday. This makes so much sense because people often don’t have time to go to the bank during the week and when they do, there are normally long queues.

Long Saturday and Sunday opening hours are advantageous to the customer and that’s what it’s all about — giving the customer what they need. Consider extending your business hours — it will set you apart from your competition. If not permanently, you could have extended hours over the festive season.

Lately I’ve seen other banks picking up on Capitec’s lead — offering reasonably priced banking and longer hours. That’s the power of competition — it shakes up the complacent corporates we find in many industries.

Related: The Future Of Retail?

4. Surprise and delight your customers


Depending on what market segment you’re in, customers have certain expectations of the service they’re likely to get at your store.

A boutique is a boutique as far as most people are concerned. You stroll in, the shop assistant asks if they can help with anything, you say: “No thanks, just browsing…”

It’s kind of predictable. So here’s a great opportunity to break out of this funk by offering your customers something surprising that they don’t expect. Imagine walking into a boutique and the assistant asks you: “Would you like some tea and biscuits?”

The novelty alone would blow people away. And if the customers take you up on it, they’ll spend more time in your store and be more likely to buy.

I know of a boutique that has a section with a couch and a TV showing sport, where long-suffering husbands out shopping with their wives can relax and watch football while their lady tries on clothes. What an amazing surprise.

5. Tell them when not to buy

You’re trying to build trust with your customers. It’s counter-intuitive, but sometimes the way to do that is to discourage them from making a purchase.

Let me give an example. Have you ever been to a local garage with a niggling problem in your engine, or a light that won’t go off? You bring your car in, secretly dreading the response.

You’re half convinced the manager will call you with a quote for several thousand rands to install something complicated. But what if he calls to say your fanbelt just needed a little tightening, and you can come and pick your car up.

No charge!

Likewise the lady behind the till at Nando’s who points out their half-chicken combo deal, saying, “If you want a half chicken, rather get the combo with a coke. You’ll save R10.”

Even at Woolies… Let’s say for example, you are purchasing two tins of baked beans, the cashier might tell you that you can get three tins for the same price. That’s marketing, and a customer service “wow”!

Related: Reverse Engineering Franchise Success

These people are actually encouraging you to spend less money. But at the same time, they are building trust. They are showing that they are not just in business to get as much money out of you as possible.

Pointing out a promo deal benefits the store and the customer, so everybody wins. Building trust makes for a longer relationship and repeat business far beyond that initial transaction.

The ‘wow’ factor

Find ways to surprise and delight your customers for repeat business.

Basil O’Hagan is the founder of both O’Hagan’s and The Brazen Head. Today, he runs Basil O’Hagan Marketing, which serves chains, independent operations and small family businesses, pinpointing and overcoming problems through proven neighbourhood marketing solutions.


Company Posts

Freedom As A Franchise Owner With Less Risk

Franchising could therefore provide freedom to new business owners as a business opportunity, with the following reduced risks.




Over the past two decades South Africa saw an influx of international firms selling franchises, as well as an increase in local ones. The franchise sector provides ideal opportunities for small to medium enterprises and is an effective vehicle for growth. Its importance to the economy is significant, contributing an estimated 13,3% to the country’s gross domestic product. There are more than 800 franchised systems operating countrywide, with over 40 528 franchised businesses employing more than 343 000 people.

Franchises, such as Mugg & Bean and Nandos, are among many South African firms operating around the world. Today, at least 90% of franchises in the country are local firms.

The franchise industry is a money-spinner and those prepared to work hard can benefit. There are many success stories of how people left the corporate world to seek freedom in running their own franchises.

A consideration for gaining freedom could be a standalone business. However, one has to be mindful that businesses are experiencing challenges due to the tough economic conditions in the country and the world. It is also becoming more expensive to do business as a result of increased lending rates, electricity costs, staffing and rental.

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?


Franchising could therefore provide freedom to new business owners as a business opportunity, with the following reduced risks:

  • Due to the brand’s support structures, it is possible for business owners to open a store without the risk of failure experienced with independent business owners.
  • Franchisees have the advantage of a turnkey operation without having to blindly set up a store and secure suppliers, which makes franchising a sleek and fast way to set up a business.
  • With a good support structure and management team, franchisees are able to customise their working hours according to peak and crucial trading times.
  • With the backing of a recognised and responsible brand, franchisees’ expansion plans are escalated and the probability of becoming a multi-unit business owner improves.
  • As business owners, franchisees are ultimately still responsible for and in control of their bottomline. The more efficiently and effectively a store is managed, the more profitable the business will be.
  • Franchisees have more control over their competitor landscape than licensee holders and independent business owners. Most franchise concepts guarantee a certain radius of trading territory, which gives franchisees the advantage of no new competitor entrants within the brand.

Nedbank Business Banking has the following tips on how one can tap into franchising opportunities:

  • Identify a franchise within your area of expertise.
  • Raise the capital through own or loan funds – at least 50% personal savings are required to start up the business.
  • Understand the business and do market research.
  • Draw up a business plan – without one, no financial institution will understand your vision.
  • Maintain a good credit history – check the status of your profile through the various agencies as this impacts rental agreements, financial applications and credit for the business.
  • Obtain financing options from the franchisor.
  • Get an accountant and a lawyer – financial and legal expertise is necessary, especially with new regulations.
  • Understand the implications of the Franchise Industry Code of Conduct.

Related: Owning A Franchise – Good Idea Or Bad Idea?

For further information on franchise funding send an email to

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Company Posts

(Watch) Franchises Help Create Jobs

The franchise sector has not been immune to the challenges of the current economic climate. However, it has demonstrated resilience and continues to play a key role in contributing to the economy and creating jobs.




Mark Rose, Head of New Business Development, on Nedbank Franchising

Recent statistics from the Franchise Association of South Africa reveal that the industry has grown to over 750 franchise systems, with nearly 35 000 franchise outlets, contributing an estimated 11,6% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) through an estimated R493 billion in turnover in 2016. The franchise sector has helped create more than 350 000 jobs.

See money differently

Nedbank’s new brand proposition encourages clients to ‘see money differently’. We have a broad spectrum of finance products available to clients who wish to become involved in franchising. This includes access to working capital facilities, asset-based finance loans, debtors finance and term loans to enable entrepreneurs to fulfil their dreams.

There are obvious benefits to purchasing a franchise rather than starting an entirely new business, since being linked to an existing brand established in the marketplace can make the financing process easier. We offer funding for all franchise models. However, preference is given to brands that demonstrate ethical behaviour, have operational structures in place and, most importantly, are able to offer their franchisees support, especially in difficult times.

As a bank for business, Nedbank’s finance application approval rate is higher for franchises than for independent business, as we rely on the inherent benefits of a franchise system.

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?

What we offer


Nedbank has customised packages for franchises that cover lending, transactional banking and value-adding and investment solutions.

Pre-negotiated pricing also provides the respective brands with upfront pricing on transactional banking services.

These are delivered through our local regional offices, which are supported by a centralised credit unit to ensure quick turnaround times on decisions.

Finance solutions for franchises include:

  • New-store financing
  • Financing for resale transactions
  • Financing for multistore transactions
  • Finance packages for alternative energy efficient solutions/projects
  • Financing for revamps or refurbishment.

What we look for in a potential franchisee

As a bank our assessment of potential franchisees is based primarily on the viability of the business: affordability must be evident, location of the business must be sound, the franchisee must have sufficient experience and a healthy credit record, and the franchisor must provide a support mechanism.

Nedbank will assess the application in line with these requirements. The franchisee is generally required to invest 50% in unencumbered funds in the franchise. The finance gearing for the purchase of multiple stores is negotiable, depending on debt levels and performance of your existing outlet(s).

Related: Owning A Franchise – Good Idea Or Bad Idea?

To ensure the success of franchisees Nedbank offers additional support in the form of transactional products and services, such as card acquiring services, merchant facilities and electronic banking, which have been designed to add value to franchisees, giving them the edge to succeed in a competitive environment.

Innovation for clients

Nedbank has also introduced a solution for franchisees who have to secure a fuel or rental guarantee, allowing franchisees to secure a guarantee without having to provide the bank with cash cover.

We also offer a variety of products, such as Market Edge, a first-in-market data analytics tool that enables clients to gain insights into their customers’ behaviour and to develop strategies for their business on a multilayered, real-time and user-friendly dashboard.

GAP Access is another innovative product that enables the bank to provide Nedbank merchants with access to working capital, advanced against their point-of-sale (POS) terminal turnover. Repayments are made daily as a small percentage of card turnover, while cashflow is tracked and the merchant is net-settled.

Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success

Nedbank Business Banking

Our tailored solutions take franchisees’ current and future goals into consideration, and aim to assist franchises in attaining the competitive edge needed to succeed. A dedicated business banker gives franchise owners the opportunity to have an experienced financial expert as a partner in their business.

For more information on franchising email us at

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Franchise Your Business

Great Service At Entry Level

Sometimes in our country you find great customer service at the lowest rung on our economy.

Basil O’Hagan




I’m speaking about the informal sector and below – people who barely even have jobs, but who deal with the public every day.

These are the car guards, the ladies selling loose cigarettes at kip-kip stands and spaza shops, the gents with the black bags at the robots, the window washers… Some see these people as a nuisance, but often they do provide a service. The best among them are a pleasure to deal with.

I know a man named Sabelo, whom I’ve been dealing with for almost a decade at a set of robots near my house. He’s never been less than friendly, polite and helpful. We do regular business, with him taking some of my car litter off my hands and me paying him a few rands each time.

Related: See You At The Top: A Guide To Winning At Customer Service

Ironically, some of the biggest multinationals in the game don’t even show the same level of human sincerity and customer service as a humble robot guy.

I recently visited the coffee shop at a cellular service provider. There I had a horrendous service experience. There was no welcome, no smile, no menu, no TV. I was kept waiting for more than an hour as staff shouted across the restaurant at each other. In the end, they couldn’t provide a receipt slip for my meal. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

The best part of the whole experience was the parking attendant. He was enthusiastic, smiling and helpful, and created a great first impression when I arrived. He should be working at reception and representing the brand, instead of the current staff, who couldn’t care less.

The learning, for me, is that people who work at the street level are often well-versed in personal interaction, in making connections and naturals at customer service.

management advice

Related: 9 Top Customer Service Turnoffs That Are Chasing Away Your Sales

Service Tip: Offering someone a job is a lost art, in these days of job applications, CVs and employment agencies. But there is talent lurking everywhere. Keep an eye out for it, and don’t be shy to offer someone an opportunity.

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