Connect with us


Go Above And Beyond With Your Customer Service

Great customer service often means going above and beyond what is expected. But that doesn’t mean that you need to launch expensive initiatives. Exceptional service starts with the small things. Here are six simple ways to ‘wow’ your customers.

Basil O’Hagan




1. The five-star guarantee

Here is a very simple but effective neighbourhood marketing tactic. Put up a sign near your waiting area or in your reception — a neat and professional one in Perspex, steel or wood is ideal.

It should simply say: ‘5-Star Service Guarantee’ and have five golden stars underneath it. This sign serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it reminds your staff to keep service levels high, and secondly, it puts your customers at ease. People are prepared to pay a higher price if they know they are going to get five-star service.

Related: Customer Service Success Secrets

2. Welcome new customers

Many of your customers are coming to your store for the first time. Welcome them with a welcome sign that simply says: ‘Welcome’.

Moreover, if the environment and the manners of the staff make customers feel welcome and comfortable, they’re more likely to spend time and money there.

If you have a waiting area, do you have a proper coffee machine? Or do you simply have a tin of typical South African coffee and some half-finished milk? Does that create a welcoming impression? No, it doesn’t. If you’re going to do it, do it right!

Look at your business. If you visit a doctor’s reception area that’s dusty with ancient magazines to read, well, that doesn’t give a very good impression of the appointment you are about to have.

If the doctor can’t look after his reception area, how well is he going to take care of your health concerns? The same goes for your business.


3. Have a distinctive greeting

You must surely be familiar with the Hawaiian “Aloha!” greeting that the staff use at our local Kauai stores. It sets them apart from other health restaurants in South Africa, and is in keeping with their brand values.

Another distinctive greeting I once received was when I had occasion to call up the Kruger Lodge just outside Hazyview in Mpumalanga. This was the welcome: “It’s a wonderful afternoon here at Kruger Lodge. How may I help you? My name is Michelle”… Now isn’t that so much better than the usual “XYZ Company,” rattled off so fast you battle to hear it.

Think of a trademark greeting that you could institute at your company, whether it’s in the physical store, online or in your telephone communication. If you choose well, people will notice and you’ll have set yourself apart from all your competition.

How often don’t we go to a restaurant and we hear: “Hi my name is Tracy, I will be your waitress for this evening”. How about: “Hi, my name is Tracy, I’m here to make sure that you have an absolutely wonderful evening!” See the difference?

Related: 6 Ways to Make Your Customer Service Better

4. Know how much your customers mean to you

A good way to boost your customer-service ethic is to sit down and really think about how important your customers are to you.

After all, their business is what stands between you and poverty.

Thanks to the income their support generates, you are able to feed and clothe yourself and your family, send your kids to school, put petrol in your car, shop for groceries and even go on holiday at the end of the year. That’s quite something to be grateful for! Keep reminding yourself and your staff of that, every single day.

These are the people paying your bills and supporting your lifestyle. Appreciate them. Now put that gratitude into your service attitude.

Many of you may remember the famous actor Christopher Reeves, who starred in the Superman movies many years ago. He fell off a horse and was paralysed from the neck down. When interviewed on Good Morning America he mentioned the word ‘grateful’ ten times in a 30-minute interview. He was grateful still to be alive. Gratitude and positivity were at the core of his outlook. This is something to emulate in your business outlook.

5. Never forget the freebie


People want value. And a good way to deliver that is to add a little free gift with every purchase. Throw in a free wheel alignment with every set of tyres. Include the rice for free with every curry take-away purchased. If you’re running a community newspaper, give your client a free ad for every six ads placed.

It doesn’t have to be something too expensive. It could just be a lollipop or a chocolate that you give to every customer, free with every purchase. What about a suit bag with every suit dry-cleaned? A bottomless cup of coffee with every breakfast meal?

Giving people more than they expect means you’re providing value and also shows how much you appreciate your customers. That lollipop is a sign of respect, and customers will take notice.

Related: 8 Keys to Award-Winning Startup Customer Service

6. Remember that apathy kills

Some of the worst service I’ve yet received was at a take-away drive-thru in Sandton, supposedly the commercial heart of the country. I drove up to the microphone where I was to place my order to be greeted by dead silence — no welcome, no hello.

I had to shout into the microphone to get someone’s attention and place my order. Then I found myself stuck in the car queue for 35 minutes, with no movement. If I could have left I would have. When I eventually got to the front and asked about the delay, the employee just shrugged and said: “Big order.” They certainly won’t be getting any big orders from me in future.

Does the above anecdote sound familiar? Staff or management who don’t care about their customers can be the death of any business. In the above example, a polite greeting and better communication would have made a massive difference to the customer experience. Sadly, queue management is a forgotten art in many South African businesses.

If something goes wrong, and a long queue develops, too many clerks sit grimly at the counter, when what they should do is go out onto the floor and address the group. Whatever the reason is, communication is the key to managing the situation. Sadly, many workers simply don’t care enough to do that.

That is the apathy that makes customers go away and never come back. But if you can inspire your staff to communicate better and manage such situations, it can be what sets you apart from your competitors.

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.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Company Posts

Spur’s Got A Taste For Success

With eight brands across five countries, the Spur Corp’s secret sauce to success has all the best ingredients — most importantly, its franchisees. Sacha du Plessis, Group Marketing Executive at Spur Corporation, explains the company’s 51-year journey in creating some of the most popular places to eat the world over.

Nedbank Franchising




What is the biggest contributor to Spur’s success?

Since the beginning, we’ve made an unwavering commitment to run restaurants that are operated by entrepreneurially-minded owners who put the customer first. Customer satisfaction is one of Spur Corporation’s most important value drivers, we partner with people who ensure we retain and grow a loyal customer base. We seek to work with franchisees who take pride in the training of their staff and prepare food with passion.

This mindset has been alive for over 50 years in our staff and franchisees.

Please share some of the challenges Spur encounters as a franchisor?

We have a sizable franchise network and a big priority is to ensure that we meet customers’ expectations in every single franchise they visit. Another challenge is finding the best franchisees to partner with, people who are aligned with our company values and customer orientation.

In terms of growth, it is sometimes challenging to find the correct locations per brand and to ensure the rental is at a level where it’s sustainable for the franchisee. The management of our marketing communication to ensure we remain relevant and distinctive in an ever changing landscape can also be a challenge.

Related: A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success

Name a few of the qualities you look for when selecting franchisees?

Our business was built on a highly focused customer orientation and centred on a love for food. Our franchisees need to be focused on the customer: Pleasing the customer, meeting the customers’ needs and being willing to spend large amounts of time in growing a business that essentially is the hospitality industry and is really about people. Our franchisees are people who have an appreciation for, and love, food as well as serving their local community over and above their product.

Why is Spur a solid investment for entrepreneurs seeking to pursue franchising?

We’ve invested greatly in growing our brand over a long period of time. Spur was founded by our Executive Chairman Allen Ambor in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Over the past 51 years, we’ve built a track-record of comprehensive operational, finance, marketing, IT, training, procurement, distribution and development support. Our marketing approach grows sustainable brands in a considered and well researched manner.

Our customer scope is broad, so while our main brands are focused on the wider South African market, we also have niche brands. This track record reassures the franchisee and broader market about Spur Corporation’s credibility.

What kind of support can a franchisee expect when joining Spur?

Franchisees can tap into expertise that’s been built up over five decades. We provide franchisees with the most effective tools to help manage and sustain their businesses successfully. Our operational support is wide-reaching and includes access to procurement, development, logistical as well as IT support. Skills development is one of the most important ways in which Spur Corporation supports its franchisees to run successful businesses.

Marketing support enables franchisees to actively identify opportunities and get assistance in developing and implementing bespoke marketing plans for each restaurant. Most importantly, when a franchisee joins Spur Group he or she gets access to cutting-edge management know-how from an experienced team of people who are passionate about our business.

Related: Nedbank’s Full Service Offering for Franchise Owners 

Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit the franchisee?

Buying into a brand is a substantial investment for a franchisee, so they need a banking partner that will help with financial planning and running the business. Nedbank has built relationships with franchisees while helping to open and maintain their businesses.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Muscle And Grill Is Your Daily Chef. We Provide Fresh, Nutritional Food At Affordable Prices

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

Muscle and Grill




Vital stats

Muscle and Grill is a healthy fast food establishment based in South Africa. In the face of modern South Africa, lives spent on the go require a fuel to match their aspirations while maintaining a delicious, fast and fresh service.

As our lives swirl into life’s vast depths of opportunity, our bodies are often the product of poor health habits, while trying to keep on the move to achieve our goals. Muscle and Grill challenges this. We want to be able to support the South Africa of tomorrow by offering the food your body needs to keep reaching new heights – to keep pushing the boundaries of accomplishment with health food convenience.

At Muscle and Grill we’ve got you covered. We provide nutritional fast food that is fresh and affordable. We have your health at heart. You could start your day off with some free-range scrambled eggs or fresh oats – for lunch a mixed bowl of rice, protein and fresh vegetables – or to round off your day, replenish your mind and body with a hearty health-infused burger and all its wholesome goodness. We have not forgotten that home constitutes a hungry family who have all been active, so grab a lean beef pasta salad with some greens on the side to go.

Related: SA Fast Food Franchising On The Rise

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

About us

It was once said that great ideas are born from ones’ frustrations. That is exactly how Muscle and Grill came about. Having no real on-the-go option to stay healthy, or having the time to prepare to be healthy, became a huge frustration for us. We struggled to find enough hours in the day to keep up with a busy lifestyle and still eat healthy while on the move. Our work came first and our lifestyles suffered.

The vision for Muscle and Grill is to make it possible to stay healthy on the go. We want healthy food to be easily accessible for all walks of life.

Our mission is to provide quality, healthy fast-food. The food we provide is delicious and will keep you coming back for more.



Muscle and Grill works on an almost self-service basis. The point of sale system is customer operated where you can select what meal you would like to have. Once payment has been processed electronically the kitchen staff will receive the order and prepare it to spec. Muscle and Grill will be a completely cashless business, making it super-efficient for consumers and business owners.

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

The concept of Muscle and Grill is partnered with Puré Frooty. Puré Frooty is a self-service smoothie bar which prepares smoothies for you at the touch of a button. You can have a store with or without a machine – the choice is yours. Both concepts look to promote the idea of healthy living on the go.

We’ve looked to compliment our values by looking after that which grounds us. Our packaging and utensils are all eco-friendly, as we believe ‘going-green’ is not just a choice of eating but of the environment too.

So, when you are ready to join the next revolution in the fast food industry contact Muscle and Grill at or visit the website at to inquire on our franchise options today. Achieve your goals, stay on the move and look after yourself through Muscle and Grill.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Nando’s Is Firing Up The East

Carlos Duarte has been part of the Nando’s brand since inception. When his brother Fernando co-founded the flamed grilled chicken brand in 1987, Carlos soon participated in its success and today owns four highly successful franchises in Johannesburg — three in the east and one in the south. Here’s how it all began.






Vital Stats

  • Player: Carlos Duarte
  • Franchise: Nando’s
  • Position: Franchisee
  • Visit:

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?

I was in the audio visual technology field, as an employee. Then I joined Nando’s as an assistant manager in the Savoy and Rosettenville corporate stores. Franchising was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

Why did you decide to become a franchisee?

When my brother, Fernando Duarte, launched Nando’s in 1987, I noticed its quick growth and wanted in on the action. Being assistant store manager prepared me for when the opportunity to run my own store came along soon after.

What prompted you to partner with Nando’s?

I joined Nando’s in 1991 as a joint venture partner. At the time, Nando’s hadn’t yet franchised its operations, and the JV partnership meant the brand owned 51% of the business, while I owned 49%. My first franchise store was in Edenglen in 2001.

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

Describe some of the challenges of running not one, but four franchise locations

At the Edenglen store, we initially battled with sales and getting feet into the store. To be honest, I think the area was overtraded at the time, so it wasn’t the best location. Since acquiring the store in Lambton, Germiston, another in Greenstone and a third in Comaro, I’ve learnt to be cleverer in how I do things — and how I handle some of the same challenges — and learn every day from the brand itself.

Name some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a Nando’s franchisee

Nando’s is 31 years old this year. We’re in 30-odd countries worldwide with thousands of stores across the globe. As franchisees, we leverage off the dynamism of an operational business that’s known for its marketing — customers talk about our ads and they love our food.

What kind of support do you receive from Nando’s as a multi-unit franchisee?

Besides the popular marketing campaigns that attract customers, Nando’s has an extensive training manual along with a skills development training consultant who comes to the store for two days to help staff understand and implement it. The training is really effective — it has to be as this industry involves a very high turnover of staff and new skills need to be taught often.

Why is it important for a franchisee to have a good banking partner?

As a franchisee, your bank should understand your business — from operating costs, to overdraft needs and revamping expenses — so it has cash available for loans that can be approved quickly, with minimal hassle. On the technical side, a reliable mPOS device is imperative, especially for us, because 30% of our sales volumes are from home and office deliveries. It’s a fundamental method of payment every bank should provide its customers of a similar nature.

What advice do you have for budding franchisees on seeking out a good franchise brand and banking partner for their business?

  • Do your research to ensure you’re partnering with a brand that is established, well-known and expect to pay a fair price for that franchise.
  • Be aware of how the franchise brand is perceived in the market and what location opportunities are available to you as a franchisee.
  • Choose a banking facility that always has the funds available to grow your business.
  • Ensure the bank understands the brand’s business model and where you’re falling short.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.