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Success Lies In The Details

Overcoming the challenges of a highly commoditised market means you need to be smarter and more cost-efficient than your competitors. Here’s how Christoph van Zyl is refocusing his business to achieve just that.

TomTom Telematics

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“Henry Ford said that to improve productivity means less human sweat, not more. That’s what TomTom means to us.”

In 2014, Christoph van Zyl went from working the night shift on a quarry to launching his own transport company, Renavatio Vervoer. Named after a boat in the sci-fi movie The Island, Renavatio means ‘rebirth’, an idea close to the new entrepreneur’s heart.

Christoph chose the transport industry because of low barriers to entry. By borrowing money against his house, he was able to purchase his first truck, a Mercedes-Benz extra heavy interlink. He then tapped into his mining contacts to secure a few coal transport contracts. Once he had a track record, he grew his fleet to six rigs, all financed through Mercedes-Benz.

Related: How TomTom Telematics Is Blurring The Lines Between Your Fleet And The Office

“It was an industry I could enter fairly easily, but so can everyone else. There’s a huge oversupply of trucks in South Africa; it’s an extremely open market,” he says.

This means Renavatio operates from day to day with no security and is expected to be able to deliver the same rates as large operators with 100 to 200 trucks in their fleets.

“They’re operating on completely different economies of scale to our business, which has a fleet of six trucks,” he explains. “It’s a heavily commoditised market and contracts are won and lost on price. In a tight economy, this means you’re in danger of your margins eroding to the point where your business is no longer sustainable.”

The very real challenges of transport

coal-mining

By November 2017, Christoph had been operating for just over three years, and was facing his greatest challenges yet.

“Our coal mining contracts dried up, and we needed to pivot to another industry. I had friends with connections to farmers, and secured contracts delivering grain from farms to silos.”

Although the pivot was successful, the change in industries brought new, unexpected challenges. “Our new contracts meant we needed to find farms off small, unmarked dirt roads. I would sit on the phone with one of my drivers at midnight, talking him through the directions. If he missed a turn-off though, he’d need to turn this huge truck and trailer around, invariably burning out the clutch.”

Rising fuel costs, inefficiencies and the challenges of locating their customers was putting a huge strain on the business.

“I had a friend who worked for TomTom Telematics and he told me about their solutions. Cash flow in this business is tight, and I hadn’t entertained the idea of investing in additional hardware or software, but I was getting desperate. I called him and asked him to walk me through the solution. Within half an hour I was sold. It honestly seemed too good to be true.”

The TomTom Telematics difference

Like many transport operators in South Africa, Christoph believed the capital expenditure to set up a telematics system across his fleet would have put too much strain on his cash flow.

However, because the TomTom Telematics team has worked so closely with local operators and understands their needs and challenges, they have developed a subscription model where customers don’t need to invest a large capital outlay into TomTom Telematics’ technology. They receive the tech and software, including installation, at no extra cost for a monthly subscription fee.

This fact was a game-changer for Christoph — he could instal ground-breaking technology into his fleet without a capital outlay. “It was this model that made the solution possible for us, and the impact on our business was immediate.”

A leading edge

transport

“‘Just follow the TomTom device’ has become a mantra for us. Drivers who were previously scared of entering specific areas because they were convinced they’d get lost are confident to go anywhere now. We’ve delivered a load of lime to a farm on the Lesotho border. All we need is a pin drop from our customers and we can find them.”

Related: Changing The Shape Of What’s Possible

The system offers so much more than the security of drivers knowing where they are. “The percentage of work done for money expenditure is not even relatable,” says Christoph. “The system works perfectly and has given us a return on investment of 8 000%. We save 2 000 litres of fuel per truck per month, simply because the system monitors driving style, idling time and a host of other data. Drivers can log in and check their performance on a scale of one to ten — and they’re incentivised to do so. We pay monthly bonuses based on their personal scores out of ten.”

Not only has Christoph managed to significantly cut his operating costs, allowing him to be more competitive in a highly commoditised market, but he believes he now has the edge to survive the current tough economic conditions when many other operators won’t.

“Now is when we prove ourselves and keep our head above water while we wait for the economy to turn and consumer and business confidence to return,” he says.

TomTom Telematics is a Business Unit of TomTom dedicated to fleet management, vehicle telematics and connected car services. WEBFLEET is a Software-as-a-Service solution, used by small to large businesses to improve vehicle performance, save fuel, support drivers and increase overall fleet efficiency. In addition, TomTom Telematics provides services for the insurance, rental and leasing industries, car importers and companies that address businesses as well as consumers. TomTom Telematics is one of the world’s leading telematics solution providers with over 50,000 customers worldwide. The company services drivers in more than 60 countries, giving them the industry’s strongest local support network and widest range of sector-specific third-party applications and integrations. Our customers benefit every day from the high standards of confidentiality, integrity and availability of our ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified service, re-audited in November 2018. In January 2019 TomTom announced the sale of TomTom Telematics business to Bridgestone Europe NV/SA (“Bridgestone”), a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation in EMEA. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and it is subject to customary closing conditions. For further information, please visit telematics.tomtom.com Follow us on Twitter @TomTomWEBFLEET

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Company Posts

Set Up Your SME For Success With Fibre

Boost your business potential when you plug into fibre. It offers unprecedented benefits, taking your business to the next level of connectivity.

Ignite

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More South Africans are turning to fibre for fast Internet access. We’re witnessing a boom in fibre expansion and as a result, it’s becoming a more affordable option for SMEs. Once businesses connect to fibre, they can access a reliable, ultra high-speed connection that unlocks the full advantage of cloud-based processing.

Cater to usage demands

A slow Internet connection can derail your business. It’s imperative for business owners to prepare their networks to handle additional usage requirements. Failing to do this might lead to interruptions, slowdowns and a potential impact on your bottom line. An Internet connection should be a tool that supports innovation and uninterrupted productivity.

Shift to the cloud

More businesses are accessing cloud-hosted information via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools and other platforms. In 2018, nine out of 10 companies in South Africa said they had increased spending on cloud computing, according to a report by World Wide Worx and F5 Networks. Running your day-to-day business on the cloud requires you to have a more powerful Internet connection.

Support video and VoIP

Some businesses make use of video capabilities for training and meetings, and VoIP for sales and marketing. On a fibre line, businesses can ensure they meet these demands without putting a strain on the network. With fibre, business owners can run voice and Internet data on the same line but may look at installing a second data connection for redundancy.

Get what you pay for

There’s no denying it, fibre provides exceptional speeds and offers a brilliant price-to-performance ratio. You won’t receive the same contention ratio as other connection mediums – you will get what you pay for. Bandwidth caps are less of an issue with fibre because there’s a choice of affordable uncapped deals on offer.

Make the right choice

  • Before you decide on your fibre deal, ask the right questions, understand exactly what you’re paying for and match your business requirements with the right amount of bandwidth.
  • Choose a provider that allows you to manage growth for the long term – one that allows you to choose your deal, scale when necessary and not throttle your fibre line.
  • You’ll also want an ISP to have your back further down the line. Insist on obtaining a comprehensive list of services along with the monthly fee. Ensure you are provided with a full service including all necessary support and equipment to deliver optimal fibre performance.

Ignite’s drive and purpose is to be the spark that inspires SMEs, which is why the Ignite Fibre service is structured to put you in control. Ignite offers you tailored packages that take into account your daily Internet and business startup needs.

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Company Posts

Designing Her Destiny

Oh Yay! owner, Emmerentia van den Hoven does business her way.

QuickBooks SA

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In 2011, Emmerentia van den Hoven took a leap of faith when she decided to leave her graphic design job at an agency and pursue her real passion – and it has paid off tenfold. Here’s her story.

“When I started planning my own wedding eight years ago, I fell in love with wedding design and wanted to do that for the rest of my life. Designing for brands had become a set of rules rather than being creative, and I’d always wanted to work for myself. So, in September 2011, I turned my seven-month-old side gig into a fully-fledged business and launched Oh Yay!

I have to hustle every month to get new clients because every client will use my services maximum twice – first for the wedding invitations and then for the stationery on the day – so I don’t normally have returning clients.

Because my main business is seasonal and usually once-off per customer, I have branched out into branding for small businesses in the beauty and lifestyle industry. I also earn a passive income through the Oh Yay! online shop where I sell wedding décor items.  Oh Yay Kids – my other online store – is my passion project. I launched it just before my second child was born, adding items to the store that I made for my two boys when I saw a need for it. I then expanded into prints for nurseries and kids’ party stationery.

I work for myself and have no employees, so the fact that QuickBooks lets me load all my services, products and prices in one place makes running my business so much easier. Being an entrepreneur is difficult because you don’t know if you’ll be successful or not. But if you believe in and love what you’re doing, it reflects in your work and the service you give.”

Less admin, more of what you love

quickbooks-business_emmerentia-van-den-hoven

When Oh Yay! was launched, along with her dream of being an entrepreneur, came the nightmare of other administrative tasks. But that changed in 2018 when Emmerentia started using QuickBooks.

“When I was using spreadsheets to balance my books, I was spending 80% of my time on admin, which left very little time to tend to customers’ orders. I now spend no more than 25% of my time on admin, which is important, especially when it comes to the speed at which I send quotes. You don’t get any work if you don’t send out quotes and it’s tough to juggle the admin with your actual job of running the business.

Numbers were never really my strong point, so having a professional quote done in record time not only projects professionalism, but the format also changes the way new clients see me. In my industry, the quicker you can send a quote out, the likelier you’ll get the clients’ business. It gives legitimacy to my business. The QuickBooks system operates so seamlessly that clients communicate with me differently, like I have my own accounting department, when in fact, I’m a one-woman-show.

I used to dread doing admin, but now it’s so easy and quick. I’m not just saying this – QuickBooks changed my life.”

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Company Posts

The Future Of Fleet Management Is Now

TomTom Telematics

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Power up your fleet management and make even smarter business decisions with the new WEBFLEET. WEBFLEET is the award-winning Software-as-a-Service fleet management solution from TomTom Telematics, designed to provide you with the data needed to help your field operations become more efficient, more productive, safer and more profitable.

An improved interface and enhanced features mean WEBFLEET is now more powerful than ever before, and can be accessed anytime, anywhere on any screen. Find everything you need to help save on fuel, maintenance and administration costs, while delivering the quality service your customers demand.

It has already delivered proven results for customers across the globe and is powered by continuous innovation, meaning it is ready to grow with you and your organisation as goals and challenges change. Discover the future of fleet management now and help give your business an edge on the competition. Request a demo and find out more at telematics.tomtom.com/webfleet/landingpages/launching-the-new-webfleet.

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