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How Munaaz Catering Equipment Puts Customer Experience First

Yacoob Carr and Cape-based Munaaz Catering Equipment makes customers the number one item on the menu.

Monique Verduyn

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  • Player: Yacoob Carr
  • Company: Munaaz Catering Equipment
  • EST: 2011
  • Contact: +27 (0)21 447 9756
  • Visit: munaaz.co.za

Customer experience analyst and advisor Bruce Temkin defines customer experience management as “the discipline of increasing loyalty by exceeding customers’ needs and expectations.”

Today, an increasing number of companies are moving away from product differentiation, and are instead focusing on customer experience as their key differentiator.

One South African entrepreneur who has done just that is Yacoob Carr, founder of Munaaz Catering Equipment. Launched in 2011, the business has doubled its growth every year and has a presence throughout southern Africa.

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Ask him why he’s so passionate about his business and he’ll tell you it’s because he loves food. He and his team of 24 employees are all dedicated foodies.

“We love what we do because we provide the magic that makes everything happen behind the scenes. We give celebrity chefs like Luke Dale-Roberts, of The Test Kitchen fame, the tools to produce the wonderful dishes he creates. That gives me so much joy. Our clients are creators, and they inspire us. In turn, we take satisfaction from knowing that we add real value to their lives by helping them to meet their goals.”

When they choose Munaaz Catering Equipment, he explains, they purchase peace of mind, and not just a product. This is a critical factor in the hospitality industry and in the high-end food service business in particular, where consumers are fussy and have high expectations. 

Beyond a smile

To differentiate the customer service provided by Munaaz Catering Equipment, the company has a customer care management system in place, developed by its HR department.

“Customer service is not just a warm smile and friendly greeting,” Carr says. “It’s a total positive experience from start to finish.”

He says that a customer service ethic is built on passion for the business. “You have to be the first to believe in your product if you’re going to be successful at selling it. When you are not convinced, there is no way to convince others.”

Being consistent

Munaaz-Catering-EquipmentCarr insists that the most important feature of a focus on customer satisfaction should be consistency. “Even more important than the quality of your product, is the reliability and the uniformity of the customer’s engagement with your business.”

As an example, every one of his customers receives a call after delivery has been made to ensure that everything is perfect. If there are any problems, they can be rectified quickly, before there is any impact on the clients’ business.

“Most importantly, we run surveys with our happiest clients, those who rate our service nine out ten, for example, and ask them what they like best, and what we could do to score a perfect ten. Based on their critique, we continuously roll out service improvements.”

Having started his first business at the age of 21, selling second-hand restaurant and catering equipment, he has also learnt a thing or two about employing people who share his enthusiasm for customer service.

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“I only employ people who believe as much in helping our clients achieve their goals as I do. When it comes to sales staff especially, I seek out those who are better than me at what they do. I’m interested in having people on my team who are the creators of their own circumstances, rather than creatures of circumstance. During recruitment interviews we question people carefully to gauge whether they will fit, but there is also a lot of intuition on my part.”

Create your own circumstances

Nurturing the compulsion to succeed makes success happen. To gain power over your life, Carr believes, you must be a creator of your own circumstances, not a passive observer.

Taking inspiration from the words of Napoleon Hill, he says he chooses to employ people who make their own circumstances; their own opportunities.

“People who envision a better life for themselves are the type of people who will share your own passion for the business and, because they believe in success, they will be your best ambassadors.”

Focus on success, he says, and that will be the outcome. Focus on what’s negative, and failure will be your reward.

“By keeping your eye on the outcome you desire, you are able to overcome problems and challenges. I teach my staff a straight-line strategy – if you remain focused and ensure that you are in an enthusiastic state, you can achieve your goal more easily and directly.

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“If you are dealing with a client and a problem comes up, keep your eye on the goal, which is to provide exceptional customer service. Focus on the solution that will enable you to deliver, and worry about solving the background problems later. It’s amazing how much can be achieved by adopting that attitude.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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#Wealthiest List: 8 Self-Made Millionaires On How They Built Their Wealth

These inspirational self-made millionaires built businesses with nothing less than hard work and sheer determination.

Catherine Bristow

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1. Nick D’Aloisio Wrote a Million Dollar App At Age 15

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At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio wrote an app while sitting in his parent’s bedroom in the UK. At the age of 17, D’Aloisio sold his app Summly – a mobile news summarisation app to Yahoo for a staggering USD 30 million.

As one of the youngest millionaires, D’Aloisio is also the world’s youngest entrepreneur to be backed by venture capitalists – having secured seed funding from Sir Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s billionaire, as well as raising USD 1.23 million from celebrity investors, including Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.

“The number one thing I did that I think was wise was to get, through some of my advisers, was a Chairman; basically someone who was a very experienced business person, an industry veteran — Bart Swanson, who had been at Amazon and then Badoo. Then, myself and Bart really started finding people and growing the team.”

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7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business

These entrepreneurs have capitalised on a new market set to continue to grow rapidly as more countries legalise marijuana across the world.

Catherine Bristow

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1. Brendan Kennedy

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Brendan Kennedy worked on job sites as a carpenter to pay his way through university, with his eyes set firmly on becoming an architect, until the allure of Silicon Valley changed the course of his direction. While working at technology start-ups Kennedy began thinking about the possibilities that medical marijuana provided.

“I was really sceptical of medical cannabis,” he says. “It took a year of having conversations with patients and physicians and hearing the same story, repackaged but essentially the same, over and over and over again, where my scepticism eroded and I became a believer.”

In 2013, Kennedy and his partners applied for a licence from Health Canada and launched Lafitte Ventures, which was later renamed Tilray. Today, the company is a global leader in medical cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.

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Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt

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You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:

Leadership

The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.

Infrastructure

The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.

People

It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.

Strategy

It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.

Finance

Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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