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Bridgestone: Romano Daniels

The first-ever tyre franchise concept in South Africa, Supa Quick is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and showing no sign of slowing down. Romano Daniels, MD of Bridgestone South Africa Retail discusses the brand’s history with Chana Boucher.

Chana Boucher

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Romano Daniels

At a time when franchising was mainly characterised by burgers, restaurants and hardware stores, a major tyre manufacturer spotted the opportunity to do something unheard of – apply the franchise concept to the tyre industry.

Bill Taylor, MD of Firestone in the early 80s, believed that it was possible to establish a retail arm that would bring together the smaller operators currently trading in the market. This belief lead to the opening of a pilot Supa Quick store in Port Elizabeth in 1986, and over the past 25 years, Supa Quick has grown to become the biggest tyre franchise in South Africa with over 250 outlets across the country.

The franchise now falls under the Bridgestone Retail brand owned by Bridgestone Holdings, following the subsequent acquisition of Firestone by Bridgestone in 1996.

According to Romano Daniels, MD of Bridgestone South Africa Retail, when Supa Quick first entered the market the industry was characterised by a low focus on service. The franchise was poised to turn this perception around by delivering on service expectations.

Developing the Franchise Model

Daniels explains that the introduction of the Supa Quick franchise saw a slight shift in focus, in comparison to where the company started. “The core business was tyres because of the association with Firestone,” he explains, adding that the challenge was striking a balance between the owner of the brand who was supplying tyres and the profitability objectives of the franchise operators. He says that Firestone had to determine how to sustain an independent retail brand without compromising the future sustainability of its own brand.

In the late 80s a true franchise model emerged: one that was no longer only about tyres and pricing, but provided a back-up service as well. There was a strong support team that helped individual operators be part of the supply chain.

Daniels says a coach and mentor dynamic was needed. “In franchising there is a catch phrase, ‘Be in business for yourself, but not by yourself’. We needed to mentor a number of individuals and give them the option to be part of a franchise system.” He adds that Supa Quick was the pioneer of tyre franchising.

Lessons Learnt

While Firestone was breaking ground with its new franchise, Daniels says it learnt some very important lessons. “Whilst there was a need to distribute tyres through a channel, there were also needs on the other side. The operators needed to make money. There needed to be a balance between distributing the product and making money.” Daniels explains that as a manufacturer it was easy to view the world from one side of the fence, but once you put a foot on the other side, your perspective changes.

The brand realised that a different partnership had to be formed. The expensive lessons were learnt in the realisation that the relationship between a supplier and customer was different from the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. Supa Quick Pty Ltd was formed as a new company to manage this relationship, and the structure of the company was based on how best to manage franchisees. Within the Supa Quick company, much focus was placed on things like relationship partnerships and support structures to make it a viable business proposition.

Growing the Brand

From the early 90s to 2000, the Supa Quick brand enjoyed “massive” growth. Daniels attributes this to the franchise being something fresh to the market. He says the franchisees experienced tremendous success. But when something is successful, it attracts competition. “There were suddenly new entrants who wanted a slice of the pie. But this is always a good thing.”

Daniels says there were now a few franchises starting to compete in the tyre industry and that the free reign Supa Quick enjoyed before had to be shared. “The increased competition forced Supa Quick to challenge itself to maintain profitability and diversify its product range,” he explains. While the brand was extremely successful with tyres, it couldn’t sustain this level and there was a need to diversify.

“The entire brand shifted from tyres, and added shocks, batteries and exhausts,” says Daniels. This developed the model that Supa Quick is still currently applying as part of its franchise offering. In the ten years from 2000 to 2010 the model established a unique space for itself in the marketplace, Daniels explains.

Franchisees can take comfort in that they are not only competing on tyres, even though this is still the bulk of the business. The closest opposition to Supa Quick now are tyre and rim businesses.

According to Daniels, the brand’s turnover exceeds R1,5 billion a year and the aim is to be at R2,5 billion by the end of next year. Supa Quick is responsible for up to 30% of all tyres distributed in South Africa.

Remaining Relevant

Supa Quick, says Daniels, is in a strategic position to compete effectively by offering a model unlike any other to both franchisees and customers – a model comprising a one-stop-shop. “The strongest brand equity is a customer’s perception of the product,” he adds.

Looking at the decade ahead, Daniels says Supa Quick is working on a new revised model that will have a distinct differentiation in the marketplace. “Whenever we introduce something, people copy us, we pull ahead and people follow,” he adds.

Supa Quick has identified the major challenges it faces and is working on the next “leap forward.” Daniels says there have been two major shifts in the marketplace which affected the operations of the franchise. Firstly, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have changed their products to make them more efficient; they are using components that last much longer than in the past, which has resulted in a decline in turnover in specific product categories for the industry. Government’s move to reduce the sulphur content in fuel has also resulted in less corrosion, and a reduced need for repairs to exhaust systems. Daniels says Supa Quick has to find new solutions for the next ten years to pull ahead of its competitors.

The other major shift has been in the world economy. “Consumers’ wallets have been arrested by debt. About 75% – 78% of their disposable income goes towards servicing some form of debt,” Daniels says. He adds that Supa Quick deals with a product that is more of a grudge purchase. People don’t have available income, but the products need to be purchased. “Most people do not budget for the product on a monthly basis.” Daniels says the franchise is looking at ways to manage the brand, maintain its customer base as well as attract new consumers, but in the same vein maintain a sound franchisor/franchisee relationship. “The operator has invested money, so when there are changes in the marketplace we have to look at how we adjust to the changes in the best possible way.”

Another factor is that cheap imports represent 35% of the market. Daniels says the challenge is to maintain a profitable model for franchisees that are selling a product they need to make money out of.

Keeping Watch

Daniels says it is vital to look at how to position the business to ensure that relationships are formed to attract and retain customers. He emphasises that a model that secures repeat business is required for the next ten years.

Further, Daniels says the franchise has to watch what is happening in the market all the time. For example, the proposed roadworthiness legislation, if implemented, will require that every vehicle which is ten years or older produce a roadworthy certificate every two years. “We have to watch new car sales, the second hand market, government legislation impacting the Ministry of Transport and road infrastructure,” he says.

“To be successful in the next ten years we have to change our footwork. We can’t do the same things to retain customers as we have been doing for the last 20 years. If the next ten years look the same as the last 20 years then we are failing.” However, understanding a problem, is 50% of the solution.

Attracting Franchisees

According to Daniels the tyre replacement market is now characterised by tyre franchising, and there are, relatively speaking, very few individual operators. “The South African consumer trusts franchise systems. There is a higher trust index buying from a franchise rather than from someone consumers know very little about,” he adds.

Supa Quick mainly attracts two types of operators; retailers from non-tyre franchise systems who want to do something different and existing tyre retailers mainly from the opposition. Daniels says some franchisees are lost to the opposition as well, but Supa Quick recruits more than it loses.

The franchise wants to have the largest tyre footprint and as such has an aggressive recruitment strategy. “We focus on recruiting prospective franchisees who could benefit from the brand, but the brand must also benefit from the operator. The brand services you and you service the brand.”

The Importance of the Right Location

According to Daniels, consumers change their behaviour and the manner in which they travel to a point to spend money. Supa Quick devotes resources to developing market intelligence that guides decision-making and ensures that outlets are positioned in the most suitable locations. Timing is also a very important consideration. The information collected is used to predict how consumers will visit certain places to spend money over the next three years.

Daniels says it is essential for a Supa Quick franchise outlet to be visible, accessible and convenient. “A customer is already irritated by having a flat tyre, they don’t have the patience to seek out a building that is hard to find,” he explains. Instead they will choose a brand that they are constantly exposed to.

Supa Quick works with its franchisees to relocate if they are outside the ‘shortleg’ (the route to buy) and open up new stores where there is new development. But, Daniels says, there is a shortage of ideal sites. Although Supa Quick has achieved success in spite of location, he concedes that site management is a critical driver of any sustainable business.

Learning the ‘Supa Quick Way’

All franchisees go through ‘The Supa Quick Way’ training to expose them to the retail company’s culture. But one of the things the franchisor is constantly improving is its formalised training programmes. ‘The Supa Quick Way’ training is ongoing and teaches franchisees and their staff how to manage the customer from the initial visit to waving them goodbye. The franchisor also offers training to the technical team employed at a franchise, including the branch manager and sales people.

Supa Quick has a dedicated training facility and a technical training manager who visits every Supa Quick site to check and assess the staff as competent. Daniels says staff turnover in the industry is relatively high, so this is something that constantly needs to be checked. There is also an area manager who services every Supa Quick to deal with any complaints. “We can’t allow one franchisee to hurt the brand,” he adds.

The evolution of the brand

The red and white colours used in the Supa Quick branding were taken from the Firestone brand. The brand’s name was conceived on the premise that one day service excellence would become the buzzword. ‘Supa Quick’ was chosen because the waiting time for tyre fitment had previously exceeded one hour. The franchise wanted to reduce the waiting time so that customers would say ‘that was super quick’.

The Supa Quick Franchisee

Daniels says it is important for franchisees to have an entrepreneurial streak, over and above financial ability. The franchisee should also appreciate the Supa Quick brand and understand that they are part of a bigger system. “If they don’t understand that they have to comply to a directive, there will be a problem.” In the interview process, Daniels says franchisees are selected on the basis that they understand these two things.

Franchisees are recruited from other retail franchise businesses and competitor franchises. It is critical that they fit into the organisation because of the culture, says Daniels. They should be comfortable fitting in with the way the franchise operates.

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Going The Extra Mile With Neil Robinson Of Relate Bracelets

In business, your offering is only as good as your relationships. Neil Robinson from Relate Bracelets explains how FedEx Express has helped the business grow into Africa and beyond.

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  • Who? Neil Robinson
  • Company: Relate Bracelets
  • Position: Managing Director
  • Visit: relate.org.za

Neil Robinson, MD of Relate Bracelets understands the importance of business relationships. While Relate is a non-profit organisation, it is run like a business. It does not rely on donors, but instead produces and sells a product.

For each bracelet sold, one third of the income goes towards the materials and operating costs, one third supports the people who produce the bracelets, and one third goes to the charity for which that particular bracelet is branded.

In order for the business model to work and be sustainable, Relate’s partners are incredibly important. These include the retail chains that stock the product and who provide prime point-of-sale positioning, the charities who Relate works with, and most importantly, Relate’s logistics service provider, FedEx Express.

“Retail is all about visibility and availability,” explains Neil. “A brand is a living, breathing thing. People can see it, use it, and comment on it, but if they can’t access it, it’s all for naught. And so, at the point of purchase, it’s both visible and available, or it’s not.

“Logistics is key. You need to get your product to the retailer on time, 100% of the time. The expertise and focus that FedEx displays in supply chain and logistics encompasses far more than just retail, they understand our specific needs, making them a strategic partner, rather than merely a supplier.”

Related: Zenzele Fitness’s Clever Tactics To Grow In Next To No Time

Building a relationship

The FedEx/Relate Bracelets relationship stretches back to 2009, when Relate Bracelets launched its first campaign with ‘Unite Against Malaria’ leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“We did the first campaign in partnership with Nando’s,” says Neil. “Robbie Brozin was passionate about the cause, and he pulled in strategic partners to launch the campaign. Within two years we’d shipped hundreds of thousands of bracelets. FedEx was an incredible partner, ensuring the integrity of our product and time-sensitive deliveries, and we’ve worked with them ever since.”

As with all good B2B relationships, the FedEx and Relate Bracelets teams understand that regular strategy sessions and updates are important.

“FedEx understands the inner workings of our business,” says Neil.

“A successful campaign has multiple elements, from planning and strategy, to marketing support, pricing and distribution planning. Of these, distribution planning is the most critical. For us, the bridge between our brand and the consumer is logistics. FedEx have delivered beyond expectations. They literally and figuratively go the extra mile for us.”

Protecting a brand

FedEx has customers across different industries and each of their needs are different. In the case of Relate, who operate in the retail sector, buying patterns are important. “Retailers run a tight ship,” explains Neil.

“They have planning cycles and seasons. Besides the fact that penalty clauses are built into contracts, you can’t miss a deadline by two days, or you’re in the next cycle, and that might be two weeks later. Not only are you missing out on valuable shelf time, but this can affect an entire campaign. Lost sales can also influence the retailers’ buying decision the following season. FedEx has made it their business to understand our business, so they know what’s at stake and what’s important to us.”

Supporting growth

FedEx has also played an integral role in the overall expansion of Relate Bracelets, particularly into new markets. “As a global organisation, FedEx has been absolutely critical in supporting us to grow our business into Africa, the US, Australia, the UK, Western Europe, and now New Zealand. They play an enormous role in the delivery of our products, with sophisticated tracking systems ensuring that the quality and integrity of our products are maintained.”

Through the relationship with FedEx, Relate experiences the benefits of working with a globally recognised and credible brand. “When you work with quality, you get quality.”

Related: Entrepreneur BB Moloi’s Inspiring Story of Rise To Success Through Grit And Hard Work

The business

If you’ve ever bought a beaded bracelet that supports a cause (for example: United Against Malaria, Operation Smile SA or PinkDrive), chances are it was a Relate Bracelet. If you bought it at Woolworths, Clicks, Sorbet or Foschini, it most definitely was.

To date, Relate Bracelets has raised more than R40 million, which supports various charities and ‘gogos’, women living on government grants and supporting their grandchildren, and who desperately need the additional income Relate Bracelets provides.

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Entrepreneur Profiles

Slikour’s Moto: If You Dream It, You Can Be It

Rapper and entrepreneur Slikour believes his success is the result of one key element: The aspiration to make something of himself, and create a platform for his voice to be heard. Now he’s bringing that mindset to South Africa’s black urban youth.

Nadine Todd

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Take note

Before you can achieve great success, you have to believe in the possibility of success. This is the single greatest secret to changing your circumstances — you have to believe it’s possible.

Did music or entrepreneurship come first? Siya Metane, aka rapper Slikour, isn’t sure himself. The two have worked hand in hand for him since he started selling cassette tapes of his own music when he was 12 years old.

What has developed over time however, is an innate and deep understanding that with his success comes a responsibility to pay it forward, and help his community and kids like him see that they can be anything they put their minds to.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

If they can dream it, they can be it — provided they realise they can dream it in the first place. This is his challenge, and greatest driving force.

Start small, but dream big

I bought cassette tapes on Smal Street in the CBD for R5. My best friend, Lebo and I recorded our own rap music onto them and sold them in our neighbourhood for R15. We needed the mark-up — it meant we could buy more tapes, and also that we were making a profit.

Related: Zuko Tisani Learnt These 7 Invaluable Lessons On His Path To Success

I’m not sure if we were trying to start a business or launch our rap careers, but if you’re living in a hood like Leondale you don’t always recognise that there are opportunities open to you. No one is going to do it for you — you have to have your own aspirations, and find a way to make them happen.

Keep dreaming big, no matter what

That was one of the biggest and earliest lessons I recall growing up: The ability to dream big can be stifled out of you. I lived in a hood where there were no aspirations past our neighbourhood — the neighbourhood and its opportunities were everything. If 90% of the people you know are suffering, who are you to not suffer?

It’s a very limiting mindset, and one that does a lot of damage to our youth. I knew kids who had incredible potential, but could only look at their immediate environments for opportunities. So a budding young scientist doesn’t find a way to change the world — he finds a new way to make drugs.

Those are the limiting aspirations I was surrounded by. I call it the Trap, and it’s the driving force behind everything I do today. I want South Africa’s urban youth to recognise the Trap, and understand that they should have aspirations beyond it, because they have the abilities and potential necessary to break free.

Work hard, be determined and believe in yourself

I was lucky, I wasn’t a victim of the Trap. What so many people don’t understand is that I could have been. Hard work, drive and discipline aren’t enough to break free of the Trap. You need to believe you can break free — to look beyond your current circumstances. In my experience, that seemingly simple mindset shift is the biggest hurdle to overcome. It’s more complicated and pervasive than you can imagine.

Two things showed me a different way. First, my mom got me bursaries at Holy Rosary Convent and then St Benedict’s College. I was surrounded by rich white kids, full of privilege, and it struck me that here were the same talents and opportunities, but with a wealth of aspiration in the mix.

Related: Self-Made Millionaire At 24 Marnus Broodryk On How To Build A R1 Billion Business

That was the real difference — not ability, but recognising that ability and having the aspiration to do something with it. It was eye-opening. The second was meeting my best friend, Lebo Mothibe. Lebo, or Shugasmakx, as he’d later be known in the music world, had one foot in the privileged world, and one foot in our world.

His mom lived in the hood, his dad was a wealthy entrepreneur who lived in Illovo. And Lebo straddled both worlds effortlessly, and with humility. But he looked beyond the limiting beliefs held by many of his neighbourhood peers.

Find people to inspire you to reach success

His dad was also the first self-made, wealthy black man I met. But when I heard his story, I realised that it wasn’t overnight success. He’d slept on Lebo’s mom’s couch while he slowly but steadily built his business. It gave me an understanding that success is earned. You need to work at it, and push on against adversity. This had a huge impact on me.

Lebo was the ying to my yang. Even though we didn’t think of each other as business partners, that’s what we were, from the age of 12. We formed Skwatta Kamp, we hustled and shook up the music industry together, and changed the face of rap music in South Africa.

I was the dreamer, the visionary, and Lebo was the executor. He found a way to make my crazy schemes and ideas come to life. This is exactly what a partnership should be — helping each other grow, and complementing diverse skill sets.

Build your success, one step at a time

We built our success, brick by brick. I entered a TV show competition, Jam Alley, and won. I used the cash and Dions vouchers to buy recording equipment. Lebo’s dad helped with speakers and a keyboard. My brother, who was studying IT, downloaded software and helped us with our recording quality. Everyone pitched in with what they could. 

Be your own biggest cheerleader

We tried the recording contract route for a while, but realised that the only people who cared about our success were us. And so we hit the streets — hard. We had street crews, we sold our own CDs and negotiated with music stores to carry our albums.

Recording studios kept saying they’d sign us, but they never had a studio available. They just didn’t see the value in rap and hip hop. They didn’t believe there was money in it in South Africa. We needed to prove there was.

Gallo finally approached us and signed us after we won at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs) as an independent act. We used real guerrilla tactics to get our name out there — on stage, with that platform, we told our fans that if a music store didn’t carry our album, to burn it down. We wanted the attention — that’s how you build a name.

Related: Entrepreneurial Powerhouse TBO Touch On How Success Is Built From Small Acts

Our first album went gold, and we used that to push the idea of rap into mainstream media. If 20 000 people bought the album, another 200 000 had bootlegged it. There was money here; and slowly brands and advertisers started realising we were right.

Drive a movement with your business

We were musicians, but first and foremost we were driving a movement, and that meant we needed to be businessmen as well. We hosted end of year parties, and got brands on board, realising we had a captive audience that aligned with their target market demographics. We started our own label, Buttabing Entertainment.

Our goal was to find and nurture young musicians from the hood to get them established in the industry, and show other kids in the Trap that it could be done: Anyone can create their own destiny. One of the things I’m proudest of is discovering a kid in Katlehong, Senzo Mfundo Vilakazi, who would develop into Kwesta.

He’s doing phenomenally well, and recently appeared on Sway in the Morning, one of the biggest hip hop shows in the US. Our success spilt over into Kwesta, and now his meteoric rise will hopefully inspire a whole new generation to dream bigger than they ever thought possible.

Pivoting to further growth

All success has its pinnacle. By 2010 we had achieved so much as Skwatta Kamp. We’d brought rap music into the mainstream and opened opportunities for countless kids, as music labels actively sought rap and hip hop acts. I realised that I’d hit a ceiling. I needed to step back, regroup and figure out what to do next.

What I did was something I’ve only ever associated with privilege. I moved home, spent a lot of time lying on the couch, and wrote. I wrote my life, my lessons, my dreams, my ideas. I don’t know how I reached a point where I was able to do that, but I’m grateful. I started collecting my thoughts and understanding my purpose.

During that time I was approached to join a few marketing agencies. I had no formal marketing training, but we’d worked with big brands at our parties and activations.

Sprite was the first to recognise that they had an opportunity to authentically connect with the black urban youth through us, and so we partnered up. I learnt above-the-line marketing in a Coca-Cola boardroom, and built onto what we’d learnt on the streets about below-the-line marketing.

Take a step back, and rediscover your purpose

That experience had drawn attention, and so for a while I joined an agency. But its mandate was sponsorships, and my heart was with the black urban youth. I’d discovered my purpose, even if I’d subconsciously been living that purpose for almost 20 years.

I wanted to create a platform that gives young black artists a voice; established artists a way to reach out to the youth that other platforms don’t offer; and brands a way to authentically connect with that audience — not just to sell products, but to show black urban youth that their culture is important, that it holds value, and that they, in turn, hold value.

Related: Shark Tank’s Romeo Kumalo Weighs In On High-Impact Entrepreneurial Businesses

Adidas’s support of Run DMC in the US showed that kids from the ghetto had a message worth listening to. Big brands have the power to connect the unheard and voiceless to the mainstream, if it’s done correctly. I had the marketing experience to understand the ROI that brands need, as well as what I could do with that to support black urban youth.

All I had were dreams and a URL, but that was enough. I quit my job and launched my website, Slikouronlife.

Reveal opportunities and create aspirations with your message

This is my politics and CSI. If we can get marketing to marry culture, and change the positioning and perception of young black South Africans, we can show there are opportunities out there, and create aspirations.

But we need to put culture first and tap into the authenticity of who we are as South Africans. We need to recognise and acknowledge the mental traps that exist in our neighbourhoods, and that we are victims of limiting beliefs, and then show that there is another way.

Everyone told me I was nuts. That black people don’t go online. I did it anyway. With Skwatta Kamp we had created a market for our music. Kids supported us; my name added value — and then brands came on board. We now average between 200 000 and 250 000 unique visitors a month, which is impressive for a mainstream website, let alone a niche music site.

Ten months ago we were a team of three operating from my house with one desk. Today we’re a team of ten with one focus: To make a real difference on the ground. To give the voiceless a voice. To prove that if we can drive the aspirations of South Africa’s urban youth, the sky will be the limit.


Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

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Entrepreneur Profiles

Edward Moshole Founder Of Chem-Fresh Started With R68 And Turned It Into A R25 Million Business

Edward Moshole started a business in 1999 with just R68 in his pocket. Today he has a company that not only has a turnover upwards of R25 million, but is also on the cusp of expanding to the next level. Here’s how he’s turning clients into partners.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital Stats

In 1999, Edward Moshole was a cleaner with just R68 in his pocket, but he noticed a business opportunity.

Good quality detergents and disinfectants could make a tough cleaning job much easier, so he started buying quality products in bulk and selling them to his fellow cleaners. He wasn’t satisfied, though. He wanted a business that made and sold its own products. So, he tackled the long and arduous process of creating cleaners and detergents that could pass strict regulations and compete with the best products on the market.

It wasn’t easy, but he kept at it. In fact, he only got his first real breakthrough in 2006 when a supermarket agreed to start stocking his products. Today, his Chem-Fresh products can be found all over Africa, and he counts Pick n Pay as one of his main clients. How did Moshole manage to turn R68 into an empire?

Here are his rules for building a large and sustainable operation.

1. Find the right clients

“Very early on, I identified Pick n Pay as a must-have client. I could see that the company was changing its strategy — it was starting to move into townships and rural areas, places where it hadn’t been operating until then — and I thought it would be the perfect place to sell Chem-Fresh products,” says Moshole. But getting in wasn’t easy.

“As a small business, you don’t get to sit down with decision- makers. Becoming a supplier to a large retailer is a difficult process. It took me years to get a foot in the door, but I didn’t give up. I just knew that Pick n Pay was the right company to do business with, so I kept at it.

I refused to take no for an answer. Today, Pick n Pay operates more like a partner than a client.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

Thanks to my partnership with Pick n Pay, I’ve been able to scale Chem-Fresh quickly and access a distribution channel that allows Chem-Fresh products to be sold all over the continent. Once you have the right clients, you gain instant clout and reliability.”

2. Own the manufacturing process

chem-fresh-products

PC: risingafrica.org

When starting out, entrepreneurs often have little choice but to buy other companies’ products and resell them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing — it can be a successful strategy. However, it can eventually limit your growth.

Firstly, buying and reselling products places a cap on your margins. When you own the manufacturing process, you can increase your margins, since making and selling products tends to offer wider margins than merely buying and reselling.

That said, you have to keep in mind that this is only true when you operate at a certain scale. Making and selling something in small quantities can often be more expensive and time consuming than simply buying it from a supplier. You need to crunch the numbers and make sure that the expense of a manufacturing facility is actually worth it in the long run.

Secondly, it allows you to keep control of the quality of your product. “The secret to any great brand is consistency,” says Moshole.

“People should know what they can expect from the brand, and one of the best ways to ensure this is to have total control of your product. If you make it yourself, you’re in charge of the quality.”

3. Be willing to diversify

Some companies can grow while sticking to a very specific niche, but most have no other option but to diversify. Although Chem-Fresh started out selling just one or two products, Moshole soon started to expand the range. The company now has more than 100 products.

“Generally speaking, you can only capture so much of a market. Sometimes it makes sense to actively try to grow your market share, but it’s also a good idea to diversify. Not only does this open more revenue streams, but it also protects the business against market changes. So, if the sales of one product slows down, another speeds up and everything evens out,” says Moshole.

Related: Sibongiseni Mbatha’s Top Collaboration Techniques To Grow Your Business

But the important thing is not to stray too far from your comfort zone. Chem-Fresh now has a large product range, but it has stuck to an industry that it is knowledgeable about. The company has built a name for itself within a specific industry.

4. Build a strong foundation

“Don’t wait too long to start thinking about the long-term life of your business,” advises Moshole. “The stronger the foundation of the business, the easier it is to grow it, so you need to implement the right systems and processes early on. If you don’t, the business will fall apart without you.

“You will always be very involved at an operational level. You’ll be so busy with the daily grind, that you’ll never be able to take a strategic view and focus on building the company.

So, you need the right systems and the right people. You need to know that the business can keep going without you. If you do this, you will be able to grow the company while others deal with the operational demands.”


Key Insights

There’s no substitute for perseverance

It took Edward years to get his product onto Pick n Pay’s shelves, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Today, the relationship is more like a partnership.

Own the process

In the right quantities, producing and selling your own product can significantly increase your margins over selling someone else’s products.

Strategically increase revenue streams

Diversifying your product range within your niche allows you to offer the same clients a greater range, tap into new markets, and protect the business against market changes.


TAKE NOTE

Take a long-term view when contemplating the growth of your company. It’s never too soon to prepare a business for growth. Implementing the right systems and processes right now can make it much easier to scale the operation down the line.


Related: 6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa

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