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Nashua West Rand: Colin De Vries

Systems and service are the basis for office automation franchise’s success

Monique Verduyn

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Colin de Vries

When Colin de Vries took over as dealer principal of Nashua’s West Rand franchise in 1997, the outlet – established almost ten years previously – was in trouble. Management structures were almost non-existent, systems were all but absent, and staff turnover was high. His first step was to bring in the right staff at management level, a move that has paid off. The office automation and technology company distributes its products through a network of exclusive franchises in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Nashua West Rand took top honours at the company’s Southern African annual franchise conference when it was voted best overall franchise for 2005 and 2006.

What does it take to be a winning franchise? Nashua West Rand won the awards primarily on the basis of sales and customer service. In addition to all-important sales figures, Nashua SA also takes into account factors such as technical expertise, response times and staff training. De Vries attributes the franchise’s success to his employees. “We have a very stable and established group of people, particularly in the sales division. That’s important because they have experience in selling, in dealing with the product itself and in providing clients with top-level customer service.” He is confident about the commitment of his more than 90 employees. “Turnover is low and people are eager to work here.” Incentives are important for sales staff, he says, so the franchise provides cash and travel bonuses for people who exceed their monthly and annual targets. De Vries inherited an outlet that was without systems and processes. He is a great believer in both and spent time putting these in place. “Systems must be logical, coherent and user-friendly and they must enable your business to flow effortlessly and profitably,” he notes. Where employees sometimes succeed despite the systems they work within, De Vries stresses that his team is thriving because everyone is able to work according to clearly defined and documented processes.

Each Nashua franchise is a separate and autonomous business, owned by the management team that runs it, but Nashua SA plays a major supporting role. The financial stability of each franchise operation is assured through the company’s direct involvement and assistance, where necessary. Each franchisee adheres to the Nashua corporate identity and markets only Nashua-branded products. Standards of customer service are established and monitored by the company in accordance with the SABS internationally approved ISO 9000 quality service rating. Nashua provides sales and technical training locally and overseas. “Support is a key factor for anyone looking into a franchise,” says De Vries. “Nashua franchisees get first-rate support and backup from the company. We are all linked through one big mainframe, which means that servicing clients to the standards set by Nashua is so much easier. Some companies leave their franchises to do their own thing and operate their own systems, whereas we are part of a big group and the way we operate is constantly being enhanced.” Having a good product is key. “We have 38% market share on the West Rand,” De Vries says. “It’s easy to sell Nashua because the brand is well-known and respected. But we also know that the only way to stay ahead is to provide the service to match.”

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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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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