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Expansion Insights From One Of SA’s Power Partnerships



Mike Templeton, key account manager for the Vida-Shell relationship, imparts some useful insights from their journey for entrepreneurs rolling out their own expansion plans.

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There’s no secret South Africans love their coffee – with new stores popping up on a weekly basis across the country, both through independent and retail chains.

Two of the country’s biggest players in their respective industries are leading the pack in the explosion of coffee in SA, with Vida e Caffé and Shell announcing the opening of their 100th store in South Africa, in Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.

The Vida-Shell relationship started off in 2013, and after just two years the partnership has hit a significant marker, coming together to offer South African motorists a moment of sanity amidst the malaise of their daily commute.

Related: (Slideshow) Believe It or Not, Starbucks is Not Just About the Coffee

Vida introduced a new brand within its stable, known as Torrador, specifically to work within the majority of Shell sites, together with Vida stores in selected large Shell forecourt environments.

With over 100 Vida e Caffé, and Torrador by Vida e Caffé, coffee bars at Shell service stations across the country, the pairing have seen a very positive consumer response with robust growth in coffee, food, convenience retail as well as fuel sales. Motorists are now becoming accustomed to getting their coffee fix at Shell whether in the Cape, Gauteng, KZN or at a Shell Ultra City somewhere in between.

After a great deal of research into convenience trends in the South African market, Shell identified the rapid emergence of the coffee culture in South Africa as a significant opportunity and key lever of its convenience retail strategy.

South Africa had been identified as a key growth market for the business and building on Shell’s 113-year heritage in the market, Shell invested in upgrading its store formats and non-fuels offers over the past few years.

Related: Wiesenhof Coffees: The Cream On Top

After considering all potential partners both locally and globally, the Vida brand stood head and shoulders above competition given the critical role the brand has played in creating and establishing the coffee experience in South Africa.

To meet the varied trading environments within which Shell operates, the Torrador sub-brand was then established, ensuring that the Vida experience is readily available across the Shell network.

Mike Templeton imparts some useful insights from Vida’s expansion:

Customers-drinking-coffee

1. Meeting customer expectation

Identify the demand and plan the full solution accordingly. While any expansion plan may be all mapped out on paper, be sure to keep top of mind what it is the customer likes about your offering and what they’re expecting, and then give it to them. If you veer too far from that, your plans may not net the required result.

2. Build management teams

Select wisely and develop the people that will be rolling out and leading the realisation of your vision. All too often, those that are expected to perform are not in place. Identify and employ the right individuals and how to get there. Share the vision and the journey with them, train them, and ensure they have absorbed the entire concept and how to make it a reality.

3. Training and routine

It’s imperative that there has been ample investment in human resources to ensure the stores are operational and excellent at all times. Businesses are built on skilled and motivated people. Be sure to take it slow, pilot and test, fail, assess and re-design, then improve and roll-out.

4. Maintain day to day involvement

Keep a close and watchful eye on the brand, ensure compliance with standards and operational guidelines, as this will give you the best opportunity to stay true to brand delivery.

5. Keep it fresh

It’s all too easy to get a bit stale and complacent once you have launched. But as time progresses, it’s critical to stay motivated, seeing what the customer sees, and making the necessary amendments to exceed customer expectation. Continuous improvement and innovation is a key principle in good business.

6. Partner up

Leverage your partnerships, identify the strengths in each other’s skills and brands. Use one brand or offer to drive feet for the other which will increase your total basket.

7. Consistency long-term

Launching and building a business is the easy part – running the operation and keeping the quality and energy up is the challenge. Stay the course.

Vida e Caffé has had an impressive 12 months. Alongside the 100 Shell stores, they continued their development of new stores that opened in corporate and mall environments throughout Africa.

Related: 5 Minutes with Vida e Caffé Founder Grant Dutton

Explains Vida e Caffé CEO Darren Levy, “We spent the last year focusing equally on coffee, the in-store experience, and our food and beverage product innovation. October 2015 was our new food launch and this contributed significantly to some fantastic growth in the past few months. As an organisation we have placed a high level of importance to the sourcing and roasting of quality components that make up our coffee blend. To this end, we have been actively engaging importers, roasting experts and industry experts as we continue to evaluate the taste profile in line with international and local trends. Much of the success of a perfect in-cup experience is attributable to the methodology followed to make the flat white or meia in store. The coffee market is growing exponentially in SA and we have to do what is necessary to remain on top in a very competitive space. I think we’re well positioned to do that.”

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The Innovator Trust And Citi Are Searching For Black-Owned Smes Who Are Ready For Growth

The Innovator Trust, an enterprise development organisation, and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Africa’s oldest incubator, are calling on Cape Town-based growth-stage ICT entrepreneurs to join the intensive 2-year enterprise development programme.

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The ICT sector has gone from strength to strength and is one of the fastest-growing industries on the African continent. Yet African entrepreneurs are still finding it a difficult business landscape to navigate. That is why The Innovator Trust and CiTi, through exposure, training and mentorship, now aim to equip entrepreneurs and businesses in the sector with tools that will keep them on track, assist them to achieve their goals and create tech leaders of the future.

ICT entrepreneurs in need of mentorship, skills development and business support who have been operating for more than 2 years and are fiercely committed to growing their business, can now apply to the prestigious 2-year Innovator Trust programme, co-developed and run by CiTi at the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn and remotely in Cape Town. Applications close on 22 February and the selected candidates will be announced on 4 March.

The Innovator Trust programme aims to support the: increase annual turnover, equip businesses with the necessary accreditation to remove red tape, as well as increase profitability and number of employees. Get ready to move the dial on your business.

Celebrating its 20th year of supporting entrepreneurs, CiTi currently runs a number of incubation programmes from idea to growth stage. After a very successful first cohort of the programme, completed in 2018, CiTi confirmed a second collaboration with the Innovator Trust to support further Cape Town businesses over the next two years. Applicants need to be in “ICT”, but this has included a broad range of focusses in the past, from IT recruitment, network security to cabling service provider and software solutions.

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

The programme, designed by CiTi and Innovator Trust, is not to be taken lightly. Monthly training, mentorship sessions with industry experts, and a strong focus on technical improvements means a substantial time and focus commitment by the entrepreneur. But this intensive design enables significant business progression over the two years.

 “Once the entrepreneurs who take part in our Enterprise Development programmes become more established, they turn their focus to growth. This accelerator is especially for entrepreneurs who’ve created businesses with high-growth potential and provides them with the skills to scale at speed and responsibly,” says Tashline Jooste, CEO of the Innovator Trust.

Cape Town was recently confirmed as the Tech Hub of Africa, by an Endeavor Insight Report commissioned by CiTi and partners, presenting growing opportunities for those businesses serious about growth, and with the right support.

“I believe strongly that ICT entrepreneurs are going to be critical to South Africa’s economic growth, which is why we need to focus on equipping these businesses with the skills they need to grow, create jobs and stimulate our economy,” adds Jooste.

In order to be considered for the programme, prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A company defined in South Africa as an SMME, QSE or EME;
  • Must be operational and trading for two or more years;
  • The business should be at least 51% black-owned;
  • A minimum Level 1 – 4 BBBEE status according to the DTI or ICT Codes;
  • The business must be a registered company with key focus in ICT and be based in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

In addition, applicants will need to supply copies of their company registration, company profile, and annual financial statements along with their BEE certificate and IDs with their applications.

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

“We had a fantastic experience on the Innovator Trust programme, perhaps most beneficial was the advice and mentorship on our financial management, up-skilling of our team, and establishing a 3-year budget and growth plan for the business. Our advice to entrepreneurs considering the course is “JUST DO IT!!!” The skills and knowledge you gain are invaluable and put us on a serious growth trajectory.” states Jennifer Classen, Founder of Ngaphaya Y2K10, and Participant in the 2015 – 2018 Innovator Trust programme.

Ready to grow your business? Learn more about the programme and submit your application HERE.

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Rocket Challenge Targets Local Coding Skills

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

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Addressing the growing skills gap within software development, local information technology value added distributor, Axiz has sponsored the Rocket APT Challenge and encouraged 39 students to participate in the regional round of the Rocket.Build coding challenge. This comprises 40% of the total numbers of entries received globally. Hosted by Rocket Software and APT Solutions, this annual challenge provides a forum for participants to develop applications on Rocket’s MultiValue platform.

Colleen Becker, Axiz pre-sales engineer, says that the response to the challenge was exceptional and the company is excited to be part of this global initiative: “This is a fantastic innovation challenge that provides students with an opportunity to hone their coding skills on a leading software platform. South Africa is by far the bigger pool of entrants and we are excited to see who is selected for the global Rocket.Build 2019 Hackathon.”

Participants are required to design an app on Rocket’s MultiValue application platform in support of the challenge theme: ‘Improve your Community’. Consisting of three regions: EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas, three winners from each region will be selected and awarded a cash prize of:

  • $1,000 (USD) – third place
  • $2,500 (USD) – second place
  • $5,000 (USD) – first place

Related: Want To Take Your Coding To The Next Level? Check Out These 7 Productivity Hacks

The nine developers will also be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Massachusetts, USA in June 2019 to participate in Rocket.Build 2019, where they will compete in teams of three to decide the global winner of the Rocket APT Challenge. The winning team will share a grand prize of $24,000 (USD).

Becker says that this is the first year Axiz is participating and the company will definitely register for the 2020 challenge, recruiting of which starts in September 2019: “We are committed to grow the number of young coders on the Rocket platform. There is a global opportunity for students to graduate into a developing industry and support the growing shortage of MultiValue-certified coders. Participants also stand the chance of receiving an internship from participating partners across all industry sectors.”

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

For more information, contact colleen.becker@axiz.com

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SMEs: Have You Completed Your Financial Planning For 2019?

While small to medium enterprise (SME) owners may not have a great deal of control over South Africa’s broader economic issues, they do have control over how they plan and manage their finances, says EasyBiz Technologies Managing Director, Gary Epstein.

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“The failure of many SMEs to make it past the critical 3.5-year mark is more as a result of their inability to get the fundamentals right, rather than being able to deal with issues such as political uncertainty, crime or credit-rating downgrades.

“Several SMEs do not gain an adequate understanding of their markets or the competition they are up against. In addition, failure to manage their finances properly or to access funding and adapt to changes in the marketplace can also be serious hindrances to success.”

Epstein believes without proper financial planning and management, businesses place themselves on the back foot. “Business owners can only make informed decisions when they have a clear view of what is happening with their finances.”

That’s why having the proper financial management tools in place is so important for start-ups and SMEs. “At EasyBiz Technologies, we offer accounting solutions that are aimed at helping businesses manage their finances properly and placing them on a sound financial footing,” adds Epstein.

Tangible outcomes of a good system include increased productivity, reduced monthly expenses, improved accuracy, simplified tax compliance and better financial security. An effective system can also provide critical business insights and allow business owners to make informed and proactive decisions.

Epstein says efficient accounting solutions can help speed up business processes, affording business owners more time to focus on their core processes and growing their operations. “After all, time and money are the most precious resources when it comes to running a small business.

Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning

“Our solutions include analysis tools, report making applications and payroll assistance. In addition, income and expense trackers provide valuable information for tax and audit preparations,” he adds.

Epstein urges SMEs to plan for 2019 if they haven’t done so already. “It’s not too late to prepare for the year ahead and, with the financial year end for many businesses looming, now is the time to get a good system in place.”

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