As South Africa’s only jewellery retail franchise, NWJ has cornered a very lucrative market. The company, established in the early 80s as Natal Wholesale Jewellers by Hylton Rabinowitz, has its roots in an unremarkable store in Durban’s CBD. Today, it’s a national customer-driven business that offers a wide range of quality jewellery and watches at reasonable prices.
Although the company does not compete on price alone, NWJ has its own factory which allows it to cut out all the middlemen who add on their own mark-ups and pass these savings on to customers. That’s how NWJ makes quality jewellery affordable to far more people than most jewellery stores do.
Added to that, jewellery manufactured in its factory carries the NWJ-SABS guarantee of gold content so customers always know exactly what they are buying. It’s the only jewellery retailer in South Africa that does this. That’s one of the major differentiators of this business – Rabinowitz had the prescience to buy shares in one of the oldest jewellery manufacturers in Durban which supplied NWJ with the majority of its locally manufactured jewellery. By doing this, it was possible to sell top quality jewellery to the public at wholesale prices. “Having our own manufacturing division means that our prices are very competitive in the market and we are able to offer our customers a discount of 35% off their jewellery purchases,” says Clifford Stockley, who was appointed GM of NWJ in 2009. “Controlling channels of supply and distribution makes it possible for NWJ to be first to market with competitive prices and with equal or better quality when compared with imported products.”
The company also ensures that its customers can keep up with international trends in watches and jewellery by sending its buyers and designers to overseas fairs regularly so that they can see what’s fashionable and what is new and exciting. Although most of the jewellery in its stores is manufactured locally, some of it is also brought into the country from Italy, Germany, England, the East
In this type of business, that is a key competitive advantage, especially as South African consumers can be quite demanding and are very aware of international style and design.
Stockley says the company places a lot of emphasis on innovation.
“There are new jewellery trends in various types of metals and we have introduced these ranges – such as Tsar stainless steel and titanium jewellery – to the South African market with great success.
Variety is especially important in this sector and NWJ offers a wide range of jewellery that includes everything from affordable fashion items to more exclusive pieces crafted in gold and precious stones. This makes our products an appealing option to many different types of customers, whether they are drawn to classic or more modern items.”
Thanks to the manufacturing facilities, the company also produces custom-made jewellery, which is crafted by an experienced team of designers, gemmologists, goldsmiths and jewellers, and offers repair services.
“Part of the success of the brand is the fact that we consistently meet and exceed customers’ expectations, as evidenced by our Daily News Readers’ Choice awards which we have won for the past six years. That’s about customer service and it’s something that lies at the heart of the NWJ brand. Franchisees who buy into the brand will profit from it. It’s as simple as that.” Branding is a particularly strong point where NWJ is concerned and it’s been noted by the franchising industry. “We have enjoyed steady growth through the years as our offering to both our franchisee and our customers is unique.
“Our brand is very visible in the market place as we run numerous promotions throughout the year to ensure top of mind awareness.
We have ensured the sustainability of the brand by focusing on quality, value and choice, three elements that are fundamental to the business and which are adhered to by everyone at all levels. It helps to have an established management team with many years of experience in the jewellery field. Our company structure is very open with easy communication across the board.”
The NWJ Franchisee
This is a franchise system that will appeal to people who want to work regular hours in a sophisticated and attractive environment, serving customers who are men and women predominantly in the LSM 7 to 10 categories. What’s also attractive is that NWJ has an established customer base going well into the millions.
“Our ideal franchisee is a ‘people’s person’ who is able to handle customers and staff, and is willing to be actively involved in the business,” says Stockley. “You need to have an outgoing personality. A bit of artistic flair would also be to your benefit. Business acumen and a degree of management skills are required, as well as an understanding of the control of stock.”
Stockley points out, however, that NWJ provides full training to franchisees at its head office and in an in-store environment, so few specific business skills are required as franchisees know exactly what is expected of them. By the time they are ready to open a store they are familiar with all aspects of operating the business, from stock control, to finance, IT and product knowledge.
“All aspects are covered to ensure that each franchisee has the tools to make their store
a success,” Stockley says. “Beyond that, they have the full support of the head office team and a highly experienced field service consultant who visits the store regularly to monitor and advise.
“Our most successful franchisees have a very hands-on approach and are fully involved in all aspects of running their stores. They have a passion for the brand and that is critical to making a franchise store work. You have to wholeheartedly buy into the brand, live and breathe the brand and make it your own.”
As with all remarkable franchise systems, NWJ holds the brand paramount, which means that franchisees are required to be the custodians of that brand from the moment they join the group.
The initial investment for a franchise store is R1,5 million, which includes
R800 000 stock. Stores range in size from as little as 36 m2 to 200 m2. Franchisees pay a management fee of 5% and a marketing fee that is 4% of turnover. The company’s trading density ranges from R45 000 to R100 000 per square metre per year.
Here’s what franchisees can expect to receive from NWJ:
- A comprehensive business plan
- A carefully selected site
- nStaff selection and training
- POS system, back office
- Marketing and advertising
- Financial applications and
- Fixtures and fittings
- Cash flows
- Professional market research
- Product training
Once a franchisee application form has been received by NWJ’s head office, a meeting is set up where a full presentation is given to the prospective franchisee. If approved, the franchisee will be asked to commit a refundable deposit. NWJ will also provide all documentation required for the prospective franchisee to make an educated business decision. Application forms from the various finance houses are supplied by NWJ. Once the franchise agreement and forms are signed and submitted to the banks and approval is granted the set-up process begins.
As a FASA member, NWJ provides a full disclosure document that includes all the information the franchisee should get regarding the NWJ company and franchise, such as history, personnel, confirmation and breakdown of costs, and a list of fixtures, fittings and stock that they will
receive as part of the franchise package.
“Over the next five years we will be investigating master franchise opportunities outside our borders, and it will be exciting to see how the brand fares in other countries.
- NWJ At A Glance
- The first NWJ store opened in Durban in 1983.
- Today there are 67 franchise stores and 20 corporate stores.
- NWJ has won the Daily News Readers’ Choice Award every year since 2004.
- Average customer spend is R800, although NWJ also carries jewellery that appeals to much more expensive tastes.
- In 2010 NWJ was a finalist in the Franchise Association of Southern Africa (FASA) Franchisee of the Year and Brand Builder of the Year categories.
- NWJ Quality Jewellery is a member of both FASA and the Jewellery Council of South Africa (JASA). It is also accredited by all the recognised major financial institutions.
- Information on becoming an NWJ franchisee is available from Sean Coleman,
- +27 (0)31 570 5000, email@example.com
- To learn more about NWJ go to www.nwj.co.za
Jason English On Growing Prommac’s Turnover Tenfold And Being Mindful Of The ‘Oros Effect’
Rapid growth and expansion can lead to a dilution of the foundational principles that defined your company in its early days. Jason English of Prommac discusses how you can retain your company’s culture and vision while growing quickly.
- Player: Jason English
- Position: CEO
- Company: Prommac
- Associations: Young President’s Organisation (YPO)
- Turnover: R300 million (R1 billion as a group)
- Visit: prommac.com
- About: Prommac is a construction services business specialising in commissioning, plant maintenance, plant shutdowns and capital projects. Jason English purchased the majority of the company late in 2012, and currently acts as its CEO. Under his leadership, the company has grown from a small business to an international operation.
Since Jason English purchased Prommac in 2012, the company has experienced phenomenal growth. At the time he took over as owner and CEO, it was a small operation that boasted a turnover below R50 million.
Today, Prommac is part of a diversified group of companies under the CG Holdings umbrella and alone has grown it’s turnover nearly ten fold since Jason English took over. As a group, CG Holdings, of which Jason is a founder, is generating in excess of R1 billion. How has Prommac managed such phenomenal growth? According to Jason, it’s all about company culture… and about protecting your glass of Oros.
“As your business grows, it suffers from something that I call the Oros Effect. Think of your small start-up as an undiluted glass of Oros. When you’re leading a small company, it really is a product of you. You know everything about the business and you make every decision. The systems, the processes, the culture — these are all a product of your actions and beliefs. As you grow, though, things start to change. With every new person added to the mix, you dilute that glass of Oros.
“That’s not to say that your employees are doing anything wrong, or that they are actively trying to damage the business, but the culture — which was once so clear — becomes hazy. The company loses that singular vision. As the owner, you’re forced to share ‘your Oros’ with an increasing number of people, and by pouring more and more of it into other glasses, it loses the distinctive flavour it once had. By the time you’re at the head of a large international company, you can easily be left with a glass that contains more water than Oros.
“Protecting and nurturing a company’s culture isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. Prommac has enjoyed excellent growth, and I ascribe a lot of that success to our company culture. Whenever we’ve spent real time and money on replenishing the Oros, we’ve seen the benefits of it directly afterwards.
“There have been times when we have made the tough decision to slow growth and focus on getting the culture right. Growth is great, of course, but it’s hard to get the culture right when new people are joining the company all the time and you’re scaling aggressively. So, we’ve slowed down at times, but we’ve almost always seen immediate benefits in terms of growth afterwards. We focus heavily on training that deals with things like the systems, processes and culture of the company. We’ve also created a culture and environment that you won’t necessarily associate with engineering and heavy industries. In fact, it has more in common with a Silicon Valley company like Google than your traditional engineering firm.
“Acquisitions can be particularly tricky when it comes to culture and vision. As mentioned, CG Holdings has acquired several companies over the last few years, and when it comes to acquisition, managing the culture is far trickier than it is with normal hiring. When you hire a new employee, you can educate them in the ways and culture of the business. When you acquire an entire company, you import not only a large number of new people, but also an existing organisation with its own culture and vision. Because of this, we’ve created a centralised hub that manages all training and other company activities pertaining to culture. We don’t allow the various companies to do their own thing. That helps to manage the culture as the company grows and expands, since it ensures that everyone’s on the same page.
“Systems and processes need to make sense. One of the key reasons that drove us to create a central platform for training is the belief that systems and processes need to make sense to employees. Everyone should understand the benefits of using a system. If they don’t understand a system or process, they will revert to what they did in the past, especially when you’re talking about an acquired company. You should expect employees to make use of the proper systems and processes, but they need to be properly trained in them first. A lot of companies have great systems, but they aren’t very good at actually implementing them, and the primary reason for this is a lack of training.
“Operations — getting the work done — is seen as the priority, and training is only done if and when a bit of extra time is available. We fell into that trap a year ago. We had enjoyed a lot of growth and momentum, so we didn’t slow down. Eventually, we could see that this huge push, and the consequent lack of focus on the core values of the business, were affecting operations. So, we had to put the hammer down and refocus on systems, processes and culture. Today Prommac is back at the top of it’s game having been awarded the prestigious Service Provider of the year for 2017 by Sasol for both their Secunda and Sasolburg chemical complexes.
“If you want to know about the state of your company’s culture, go outside the business. We realised that we needed to ‘pour more Oros into the company’ by asking clients. We use customer surveys to track our own performance and to make sure that the company is in a healthy state. It’s a great way to monitor your organisation, and there are trigger questions that can be asked, which will give you immediate insight into the state of the culture.
“It’s important, of course, to ask your employees about the state of the business and its culture as well, but you should also ask your customers. Your clients will quickly pick up if something is wrong. The fact of the matter is, internal things like culture can have a dramatic effect on the level of service offered to customers. That’s why it’s so important to spend time on these internal things — they have a direct impact on every aspect of the business.
“Remember that clients understand the value of training. There is always a tension between training and operational requirements, but don’t assume that your clients will automatically be annoyed because you’re sending employees on training. Be open and honest, explain to a client that an employee who regularly services the company will be going on training. Ultimately, the client benefits if you spend time and money on an employee that they regularly deal with.
“For the most part, they will understand and respect your decision. At times, there will be push back, both from clients and from your own managers, but you need to be firm. In the long term, training is win-win for everyone involved. Also, you don’t want a client to become overly dependent on a single employee from your company. What if that employee quits? Training offers a good opportunity to swop out employees, and to ensure that you have a group of individuals who can be assigned to a specific client. We rotate our people to make sure that no single person becomes a knowledge expert on a client’s facility, so when we need to pull someone out of the system for training, it’s not the end of the world.
“Managers will often be your biggest challenge when it comes to training. Early on, we hired a lot of young people we could train from scratch. As we grew and needed more expertise, we started hiring senior employees with experience. When it came to things like systems, processes and culture, we actually had far more issues with some of the senior people.
“Someone with significant experience approaches things with preconceived notions and beliefs, so it can be more difficult to get buy-in from them. Don’t assume that training is only for entry-level employees. You need to focus on your senior people and make sure that they see the value of what you are doing. It doesn’t matter how much Oros you add to the mix if managers keep diluting it.”
When Jason English purchased Prommac late in 2012, the company had a turnover of less than R50 million. This has grown nearly ten fold in just under five years. How? By focusing on people, culture and training.
Who’s Leading Your Business Billy Selekane Asks – You Or The Monkey On Your Back?
You’re either a change-maker, or someone who is influenced by the shifting conditions around you. The truly successful know how to determine their own destinies. Here’s how they do it.
- Player: Billy Selekane
- Company: Billy Selekane and Associates
- About: Billy Selekane is an author, internationally acclaimed inspirational keynote speaker, and a personal, team and organisational effectiveness specialist.
- Visit: billyselekanespeaks.com
We live in a world of disruption. We live in a world where Airbnb’s valuation is $31 billion, but the Hilton’s market cap is $30 billion. Airbnb doesn’t own one square kilometre, and yet they’re worth more than the world’s biggest hotel chains with enormous assets. We live in a world where things have been turned upside down.
In this brave new world, you can either thrive, or fight to survive. As a leader in your organisation, the choices you make, the mental mind-space you occupy and how you engage with those around you, will determine your personal success, as well as that of your entire organisation.
“The business of business is people. You can’t just pay lip service to the idea that they are your most important asset. You need to live it. Leaders must be intelligent and honest. You can’t just push people to meet the numbers,” says Billy Selekane, personal and business mastery expert and international speaker.
The problem is that great leaders need to first find balance within, before they can successfully lead their organisations.
“Things can no longer be done the same way,” says Billy. “Success today is defined by people who are driven, are inspired by their own lives and goals, and have the power and capability to inspire others.” But before you can achieve any of this, you need to rid yourself of the monkey on your back.
Related: Billy Selekane
The monkey on your back
“If I continue doing what I’m doing, and thinking what I’m thinking, I’ll continue to have what I have,” says Billy. “That’s the definition of insanity. Are you doing things by default or design?”
Billy’s analogy is a simple one. It’s something we can all relate to, and it’s the single biggest thing stopping us from clearing our minds, focusing on the positive and achieving success. He calls it the monkey on our backs.
“Every one of us is born with an invisible monkey on their shoulder,” says Billy. “Your monkey is always with you. Sometimes they’re the one speaking, and you need to be careful of that.” What you need to be even more aware of than your own monkey though, is everyone else’s monkeys.
“Every interaction we have is an opportunity for what I call a monkey download. You have an argument with your spouse before work, and you end up getting into your car with not only your monkey, but theirs as well. Your irritation level has doubled thanks to the extra monkey. Now you get irritated with a pointsman, another driver or a taxi on your way to work. You’ve just added three monkeys.
“By the time you walk into the office, you’re bringing an entire village of monkeys with you. They’re clamouring, clattering, arguing with each other, and the noise is deafening. Not only does everyone get out of your way, but you can’t hear yourself think. And the more your mood drops, the more monkeys you download from the people around you. This is not the path to focus, achieving your goals or being happy. It’s certainly not the path to great leadership.
“Great leaders know how to keep all those monkeys out. They know how to control their moods, and regulate their own positivity. They understand that they are the architects of their own success.”
Getting out of the monkey business
To be a great leader — and personally successful and happy — you need to start by getting out of your own way, and as Billy calls it, ‘getting out of the monkey business.’ You need to not only shake your own monkey, but everyone else’s as well.
According to Billy, there are four simple areas you can begin focusing on today that will help you become the person (and leader) you want to be.
First, honesty is the foundation of everything else you should be doing. “Be clear and straight. Speak to people simply and honestly, but with respect. Connect with them, not through the head, but with the heart. Don’t play tricks.”
Next, be authentic. All great leaders are authentic, and recognised as such. Aligned with this is integrity. “This is sadly out of stock, not only in South Africa, but the world,” says Billy.
“There is nothing as disturbing as a leader without integrity, and on a personal level, you won’t achieve emotional stability if you aren’t a person of integrity.”
Finally, you need to embrace love. “Wish your employees well. Wish your family, friends and connections well. When we are given love, and trusted to perform, we take that and pay it forward. In the case of business, this means your employees are giving the same love to customers, but if everyone showed a little more love, the world would be a better place. When people feel cared for, they show up with their hearts and wallets, and they pay it forward.
“Great leaders understand this. They don’t only focus on making themselves better, but adding to everyone around them. Remember this: In every business, there are no bad employees, just bad leaders. Employees are a reflection of that.”
If you want to build a better future, business or life, you need to start with yourself.
Stop letting negative thoughts and minor irritations derail you. You are the master of your moods and thoughts, so take personal responsibility for them.
Shark Tank Funded Start-up Native Decor’s Founder on Investment, Mentorship And Dreaming Big
Vusani Ravele secured offers from every single Shark in the first episode of Shark Tank South Africa, eventually settling on an offer from Gil Oved from The Creative Counsel. Entrepreneur asked to him how this investment has changed his business.
- Player: Vusani Ravele
- Company: Native Decor
- Established: February 2016
- Visit: nativedecor.co.za
- About: Native Decor creates visually pleasing products from sustainable timber. The company’s designs are innovative and functional, with its creations mostly inspired by South African cultures, landscapes and wildlife.
It all started with a cordless drill. In February 2015, Vusani Ravele received a drill from his girlfriend as a Valentine’s Day gift. He immediately became obsessed.
“I couldn’t stop drilling holes in things,” Vusani laughs. “I just loved working with my hands.”
Unlike most people, who lose interest in a Valentine’s Day gift by the first day of March, Vusani’s passion for his cordless drill didn’t dissipate. Instead, it had reignited a spark. Thanks to that cordless drill, he rediscovered a love for design he’d first felt in high school. And one year later, he had started a company called Native Decor.
As a start-up he then made the bold move to enter the inaugural season of Shark Tank South Africa. He was funded by Gil Oved on the very first episode. It was a life-changing experience, but Vusani is keeping a level head. The money helps, but he’s trying not to let it change his approach too much.
I’m doing my best not to think of Native Decor as a funded start-up. The money has allowed me to do certain things, like buy a new CNC machine, but I still try to think like a founder without money. Once you have a bit of money in the bank, the temptation exists to throw it at every problem, but that’s not how you create a successful business.
You need to bootstrap and pretend that you don’t have a cent in the bank. With a bit of lateral thinking, you can often come up with a solution that doesn’t require money. It might require more effort, sure, but I believe it creates a stronger foundation for your business. If a business can carry itself from early on, its odds for long-term success are much higher. You also need to fight the urge to spend money on things like fancy premises or extra staff. The longer you can keep things lean, the more runway you create for yourself.
I didn’t enter Shark Tank just for the money. The money was important, of course, but there was more to it than that. Looking purely at money versus equity, Gil Oved’s offer wasn’t the best, but I knew that I wanted to work with Gil. Stepping into the room, my primary aim was to attract him to the business.
He wanted 50% equity for R400 000 of investment. I wanted to give away 25% for the same amount. We settled on 40% for R400 000 with an additional R3 million line of credit. It was more of the company than I initially wanted to give away, but I was okay with it, since I saw it as the cost of Gil’s involvement, which I knew would add bigger value to the business than just the cash injection.
Investment comes in many forms. I wanted Gil to invest in the business because I realised that investment isn’t purely about money. I didn’t just want him to invest his cash in Native Decor, I also wanted him to invest his time and energy. You can get money in different places. You can create a business that funds its own growth, for example, or you can get a loan from a bank.
What an investor like Gil offers, however, is knowledge and access to a network. Money can help a lot with the growth of a business, but a great partner can help even more. By giving Gil 40% of the business, I’ve ensured that he has skin in game. He has a vested interest in seeing Native Decor succeed, and that’s worth more than any monetary investment.
True mentorship can be a game-changer if you’re running a young start-up. A great advantage that often comes with investment is mentorship from someone who knows the pitfalls of the entrepreneurial game. With a new business, it’s easy to be sidetracked or to chase an opportunity down a dead end.
Gil is visionary, and he has helped me focus on the long-term goals I have for Native Decor. He has also helped me to think big. As young entrepreneurs, I believe we often think too small. We don’t chase those audacious goals. Someone like Gil, who has seen huge success, can help you push things further and to dream bigger.
You need to dream big, but act small. It’s important to have big dreams for your business, but you should also chase those easy opportunities that can help you build traction. When I started, I wanted to try and get my products into large retail stores, but the fact of the matter was, as a start-up, I didn’t have a strong negotiating position.
There was a lot of bureaucracy to deal with. Gil advised me to focus on the ‘low-hanging fruit’ — those small gift stores that would be keen to carry my products. By doing this, I’m gaining traction and building a track record for the business. Also, I realised the importance of aligning myself with the right kind of stores. Perhaps being in a large retailer isn’t a good idea, since this is where you typically get cheap items produced overseas. Unless you’re purely competing on price, that’s probably not where you want to be.
Funding is great but it’s not all about the money. If that’s what you’re chasing you’re doing your start-up an injustice.
Watch the Shark Tank investment episode here:
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