Today’s marketplace is extremely competitive, offering thousands of products and services accessible at customers’ fingertips. The single distinguishing factor in attracting new and retaining existing customers is increasingly becoming ‘service’.
“The battle for repeat business is critical to long-term success in today’s intensely competitive marketplace. Customer Service is not just a competitive edge. In many industries, it is the competitive edge. Service is the new standard by which customers judge performance.” – William Band
Customer Service is really selling. It is what inspires a customer for return purchase more often. Customer Service is not only the responsibility of the customer service personnel, but also of the overall involvement of all stakeholders in the organization. The quality of service offered in an organization greatly impacts on the bottom line result.
The only competitive advantage available to an organization in a service economy in which everyone is providing essentially the same level of quality service. It has become a long-term competitive advantage for businesses in competitive markets. Irrespective of the industry, the approach to service delivery plays a vital role in the accomplishment of any organization’s corporate goal. It must be planned, strategically implemented in line with customer expectations and appropriately measured for improvements.
Sometime, we are all in a marketplace where all contenders are offering the same product with similar prices and almost the same marketing strategy. If there is a service element in any activity, then there can be a competitive advantage.
Quality Service should ingrained in every department of the organisation because, ultimately all activities impacts on the perceived final quality of the product and service experienced by the customer. In rendering outstanding and impeccable service, one’s attitude plays a vital role. We must continuously express thoughtfulness, show courtesy, integrity, helpfulness, efficiency, availability, friendliness, knowledge and professionalism in our work.
It is worth noting that poor services eat away at a company’s reputation. Your customers deserve to always experience an impeccable service, which in turn triggers a longing for repeated business.
Whatever you are engaged in, your service is a reflection of your brand and commitment to proffering a memorable customer experience. Let quality service be your competitive edge in the marketplace.
By ‘Lola Thompson Makinde
When you walk into one of John Lewis’ 46 stores in England, you will be served by a genuine stakeholder of the company, not just a committed employee. John Lewis has adopted a unique business model that ensures that every employee is not just a unit’s manager, but a partner of the business. A partner who has a right, once he gets employed by the organization, to knowledge, power and profit sharing. This ‘Out-of-the-Box’ model, might be extreme to most Nigerian companies, but it is noteworthy that a store which is only 10 years old, has a turnover of over a hundred million pounds and is favorably competing with brands like Marks and Spencer that have been around since 1884.
What can we learn from John Lewis’ culture about a well-disposed employee who is not only engaged but adequately empowered?
Let us look at the 3 key rights given to the John Lewis team members (partners) that make their business outstanding:
Several studies have shown that, where clear-cut information has been exposed to team members about the state of a business or key reasons why decisions have been made, productivity of employees improves. In addition, there is improved quality as employees see the need to improve. Secondly, there is an increased respect for management’s decision as they are aware of the reasons behind such decisions. Thirdly, knowledge promotes a work environment filled with trust, which reduces staff turnover.
An organization with the culture of providing autonomy to employees encourages them to take ownership of their work, know that they are valued and also empowers them to make an impact. This in turn positively affects productivity. You can empower your team by:
Communicate when they are not meeting expectations. To maintain accountability you must ensure they understand the consequences of failure. You need to be consistent and ensure you use the same standards and rewards for yourself as a leader, as well as, all employees. For effective results, as the leader, you need to be seen as accountable to your employees as much as they are accountable to you.
Conclusively, in answering the question, “Would you rather have people work for salary or work to contribute? “ think of how big you want your business to grow and how important your employees are towards achieving that vision.
Employee engagement is having employees who are not just disposed to their employers, but who feel like partners in the business and are therefore willing to ‘contribute’. In the end, achieving employee engagement is never a quick fix, but it’s worth the efforts.
by Tubosun Aliu
For an aspiring entrepreneur, one challenge in the journey to starting your first business is the
question, “Where do I begin?”
There are no simple answers to this seemingly simple question, as starting from the very beginning is
the only way. There are no shortcuts on this entrepreneurial journey and you have to spend time,
intellectual resources and perhaps tap into your social capital to get started.
However, in order to make this journey easier, the important question that an entrepreneur needs to
constantly ask himself/herself is “Why am I doing this?”
Starting and owning a business takes a lot of time and energy, and can be physically, emotionally and
psychologically challenging. You might have to spend hours studying and researching, finding the right
location, technology, people, and working out your strategy, marketing plan, operational plans, etc.
This would eventually take its toll on you and you will most likely get to that point where you ask
yourself, “Why am I doing this again?”
Having an answer to the question of “why” is one of the things that would keep you going and push
you beyond that critical point when your momentum seems to be failing. When you successfully cross
this line of doubt, you become almost unstoppable!
The question then is to define what is important to you and the motive behind your wanting to start a
business. Yes, a lot of folks will say “of course, it’s to make money”, and I agree that making money in
business is very important and making profit is extremely critical. But the fact of the matter is that
there are a million and one ways to make money and a million and one businesses that you can do to
help you achieve that purpose, but you chose this particular business! So why this business and not
The “why” behind your business is the motivation that keeps you going. This might be expressed in a
mission statement or might just be a strong conviction of how you believe you can bring about
positive change in the society, or improve the quality of lives of your target customers or even
Whether it’s a slogan or your core mission statement, this will be your strength on your journey and
ultimately continue to keep you fired up!
By Eyitayo Ogunyemi
Has it happened that you intended to communicate a point but your client interpreted your message wrongly? This usually happens when written business communications are vague, morose and without a sense of simplicity. The end result, more often than not, is that potential clients “move on” to the next service provider. To take your business to a bigger level, you must write with clarity in such a way that your potential clients easily get your point. When you achieve this, your clients become happy to engage you, because they understand your terms and their own obligations. Below are five hints to write to win both existing and potential clients:
1. See your words as PRECIOUS GEMS, you won’t give them out carelessly, so write what you mean and mean what you write.
2. Prefer the positive expressions to the negative expressions. I like the way Deborah S. Bosley gives the picture of how our brain reacts to words we read in her article Positive language makes our brains happier
Your selling point may be connected to the use of certain negative words (drug industries for example capitalises on the use of negative words and then tell potential clients how their drugs cure those negative vices), one of the solutions in such instance is to use as few negative words as is possible.
Another arm of this lesson is to avoid using double negatives because they make the readers engage in “mental gymnastics”. See for instance the following statement:
“You may not disengage from the terms of this Agreement unless….”
The challenge with the above example is that, like the rule in mathematics, two negatives make a positive, so where you have “not” as the first negative and “dis” (from the word “disengage”) as the second negative, you have a positive statement which will communicate a wrong intention. It could have therefore been put this way:
“You may disengage from the terms of this Agreement if…”
To conclude on this, greater chances are that when you write in the positive sense, you will use fewer words.
3. Your choice of words should be determined by your likely readership. For instance, your colleagues will probably not patronise your business because they are your competitors, so why write as if you are addressing a colleague?
Potential clients easily get worn out trying to know what you mean when you use technical words (which only your colleagues are licensed to understand). What you must therefore do, is to put the technical words in simple contexts.
One last note- if you must use technical words, make sure that you create a portion to interpret those words in the plain English sense. If you are preparing an online article, link those tech words to other sites where they are exhaustively interpreted.
4. Avoid the repetition game. Many people do this because they are afraid that they have not been heard. For whatever reasons, the thing about repeating yourself is that you become boring.
Here is an example from my archive:
“ON no ground whatsoever or howsoever shall we be liable….”
You will notice that one of “howsoever” or “whatsoever” could have been sufficient, or a more simple word could have fit in perfectly.
5. Engage your clients in the active voice:
“Active voice” is when the subject of a sentence performs the action in the verb, while “passive voice” is when the subject has the action performed on it.
In elementary school, we were taught that when the passive voice is used, it means something is being done for the actor, but active voice puts the actor in charge. When you apply that explanation to your business, you will realise that passive written expressions make you look frail, while active expressions give a sense to your clients that you are in charge.
You don’t say: “The account will be audited by us”
You should say: “We will audit the account”
Communicating in the active sense helps you to be clear on your thoughts and also clear on who should do what, and what is to be done.
Investing time to communicate to your clients with clarity and simplicity is an act that should be taken serious when preparing your marketing strategies. The Businessperson that engages his/her clients with simple written expressions has a good chance to have the most clients (observe the trend for instance in Insurance companies). The days are gone therefore, when it is assumed that the black man appreciates the content of a book by its cover.
Culled from AfricanFarmer Mogaji’s presentation at Covenant Capital Seminar titled ‘The Untapped Agricultural Potential of Nigeria’
Looking at the history and development of agriculture in Nigeria, it is not a coincidence that virtually all our past Presidents and Heads of State had passion for agriculture; this is not surprising as the state of oil sector in our economy was never so encouraging. With that understanding, you may agree that it is high time we went back to the drawing board to explore the gains of agriculture in order to fix our crawling economy.
We need to work together to fix our economy, but, how do we fix it? Agriculture is the way to fix it, and if your interest is already being aroused, below are some “food for thought” in Agriculture that may stimulate business idea(s) for you in your bid to make a business opportunity out of agriculture:
It may interest you to also know that the Federal Government has made a drastic move to stop rice importation by putting in place measures which will give the local rice farmers opportunity to develop rice production in the country, so what do you intend to make of that?
Culled from Managing Counsel of Templars; Ijeoma Uju’s presentation at Covenant Capital Seminar titled Establishing a business in Nigeria ‘What you need to know’ (Part 2)
Many people desire to start their own business and they wish to gather as many information as possible on how to go about the whole process.
To start with, there are several benefits for starting up a business in Nigeria- depending on the kind of structure you decide on. Some of these benefits include:
Having identified some of the benefits of starting your own business, you may wonder next on the kinds of business structures that are available in Nigeria, and also on your own best option. Some guides are provided below:
The most common structures in Nigeria for businesses that are going to be profit making ventures are the business name, and the Limited liability Company.
The business name could either be set up as sole proprietorship or partnership.
For sole proprietorship, you must bear in mind that you are the business, everything you will do is about the business, you have complete control of the business- but it may be difficult for you as a sole proprietor to raise a substantial capital for the business, and you are not also guaranteed that your business will continue- which means succession on the business is not guaranteed as a sole proprietorship business owner.
As for partnership, financial commitments are shared amongst the partners; where you seek to operate one, you and your partners must share the load of profit and every other benefit that come out of the business and the risks. The principal issue is where dispute arises in the business and the partners are put to the test of carrying on together.
Lastly is the limited liability company structure which benefits hinge on the facts that the company is a separate legal personality from its members, it can transact business in its name, it can sue and be sued too, and there is perpetual succession of the business, plus the brain of the business which is referred to as Board of Directors. Conversely however, the tax liabilities on companies are higher, and companies are obliged to keep records and file annual papers and audited report.
From all stated, you may agree that the decision on which business structure to adopt has to be made as early as possible because not all the structures will be appropriate for the kind of business that you intend to run.
…. to be continued.
Moderator: Thank you very much Evangelist. That was really insightful. Grew up, watching mount Zion movies and I really admired the Evang. Mike and Gloria. It’s a big privilege being here today. Sir, when we think of Christian film making, the mind of the business man thinks of a low economic opportunity.
Mike Bamiloye: Yes, I think there is that economic opportunity. I remember many years ago, when we did ‘Agbara Nla’ (Ultimate Power). It generated a lot of traffic even though it was on home video and wasn’t in the theatre. It was shown on every major TV station in the Western Region. Quite a number of marketers about 5 of them were competing to sell the home video and were fighting amongst themselves. The demand was high! Content is key and once it’s a solution based content, demand will come for it. However, presently a lot of things such as privacy and the likes have gotten involved.
Moderator: How did you know or trust that there were prospects in this line of ministry or trade and will eventually pay off that you committed your life to it?
Gloria Bamiloye: I think everything is by faith. We just believed it’s of the Lord and that we were called. I was a teacher before then, but when I discovered God, I followed him. Once you are faithful and don’t play games with God, you will prosper. So it has been by faith
Moderator: Tell us a little bit about your drama training school and what you intend to achieve through it?
Mike Bamiloye: It is called Mount Zion Institute of Christian Drama. It started in 1991 and was situated in Ile Ife. The essence of this, apart from film making and drama production, is that the Lord has given the vison of nurturing and training others in this line. My objective is building people up and majority of people making Christian movies now are directly and indirectly products of the institute all over the world.
Moderator: With high level of piracy and sophisticated media world, how do you make your money as a Christian movie maker?
Gloria Bamiloye: Firstly, I will advise you not to look at the money but believe in what you have (Vision) and launch into it. Piracy is everywhere. Even our movies were pirated and Government couldn’t do anything. A woman got angry and went to Onitsha and saw this pirates but couldn’t do anything. It’s more of a calling and a way of passing a message to the world. God himself will surely take care of you.
Moderator: What are the opportunities for stage drama and Christian drama in the environment? What are your views about alternatives to cartoons for kids?
Gloria Bamiloye: The alternative is having Christians producing cartoons that will promote God-like and moral values in a very interesting way. Every person in drama ministry have varied gifts. Christian producers should be able produce contemporary movies as well.
(Moderator: Obinna Nwachukwu)
Over the months, there have been many theories propounded on the argument of what the value of the Naira is against the dollar. The loudest of these theories have most times resulted in the call for a formal devaluation of the Naira. These sounds are also echoed by the foreign and more established financial markets – and to be factual, I stood albeit without confidence in favour of devaluation. In this brief write up, my final position is quite clear and without ambiguity.
Those in support of devaluation hinge the arguments on:
• The Naira is already devalued as many imports are done using parallel (Black) market rates, so why not make it (devaluation) official…
• Devaluation will encourage exports, as inflows in FCY will be converted to Naira at high rates thereby increasing the LCY wealth of the exporters.
• From an NLC perspective, devaluation will enable the Govt. pay their new asking price for minimum wage … N56,000= I suppose ?
• Finally, our State Governors will now have more money (Naira) to pay salaries… well; this seems to be the main reason for the clamour.
However, after considering the following:
• Even in devaluation, the exchange rate will still be controlled by the CBN and pegged at a certain rate against the dollar. This defeats the theories of those that want a free slide so the Naira can discover itself as in efficient markets (depreciation).
• Devaluation means that the raw materials our small manufacturing businesses import will now be sourced at the newly devalued rate as against the current CBN rate. One may argue that the lead time to get FCY at the official market for SMEs is currently is long, but I ask – Who said it will not be long post devaluation? I think it will, because one cannot get wealthy by cutting cost. So long as the supply of USD remains the same, the waiting queue will not reduce in the long run.
• In devaluation, there will be real inflation and the already beaten pride of the Naira will take even more strokes. This has all its bad effects including the increased cost of cash handling.
A big NO to Devaluation
There is no sound logic around how the eventual value will be chosen, it will erode what is left of our Naira pride, will formally increase the cost of raw materials for SMEs and finally, it will not take the FX queues away.
Get Certain and Firm:
The CBN and the Government should find a way to assure the market that the rates are fixed at least for the next 3years. This has to be done because the dearth of foreign investments/inflow is not a result of the current value of the Naira, but a result of the uncertainty and perceived market volatility.
No More Domiciliary accounts (a hard one):
The CBN should give a short period notice for owners of domiciliary accounts to withdraw their monies from the banks or it will be mandatorily bought by the CBN at official rate. Further to this, every inflow into the country must be bought by the CBN at official rate, however, the sellers of such inflows will have the right to buy back FX when they have payment needs. This move will almost eliminate the arbitrage in the black market.
Bureau De Change Services: This should be run by banks and their subsidiaries alone (In the short run) as they can be properly monitored by CBN.
Pray Hard: We still need the oil prices up. We need a prudent Government to leverage off high prices to build infrastructure. Without infrastructure, our SMEs cannot be globally competitive in local manufacturing/production.
The impact of all these recommendations should take out the inefficiencies that are currently making the effect of the fallen oil prices worse. Also, when uncertainty goes away, foreign investments come in, the capital market would likely become bullish and stability will follow. As for telegraphic transfers, the banks will debit client’s Naira accounts, convert and send the FCY to recipients, but this will only be for properly documented transactions.
By Obinna Ukachukwu
Questions to ask
QUESTION 1: Do I really need to start this business? Is it the right time? (Cause it might simply be a hobby).
For a business it might not be your idea, you can key into a business or simply buy into a franchise, example Mr. Biggs.
QUESTION 2: Do I have a sufficient capital? Do a capital investment calculation.(Do the maths)
QUESTION 3: Will I be able to pay myself a salary?
QUESTION 4: Do I want to manage my business on my own, hire workers or a temporary staff?
QUESTION 5: What Business structure do I want to use?
Once a business is established the law has given it a ‘legal status’ it is different from you
• It can sue and be sued
• Can own land and enter into contracts
• There’s limited liability
Benefits depending on the business structure
i) Attracts investors
ii) You can transfer ownership
iii) Continuity of management
iv) You can have stakeholders (plan your estate)
v) Gives you control
Note that for a business begin with an end in mind
TYPES OF BUSINESS STRUCTURE AVAILABLE IN NIGERIA
Not all structure is appropriate for the type of business you want to have
1, Sole Proprietorship – you are the business and the business is you
2, Partnerships with other people MAX of 20 except law firms and accountancy firms
3, Limited Liability Company (either public or private)
– Public companies are regulated- make returns to the securities and exchange commission
– Private are not so regulated but there’s a cap on the total number of members you can have
They must have at least 2 for both private and public and as many as 50 for private limited liability company
4, unlimited liability company – liability is limited only to your unpaid shares
5, non-governmental organisations,
6, cooperated trustees
Most common structures in Nigeria for businesses going for profit making ventures are
– Business Names (sole and partnerships)
– Limited Liability Companies
Business name is easy and straightforward but there’s unlimited personal liability as the business is you and you are the business; the tax is less as you are simply paying tax for yourself. Also, you have complete control though there maybe issues of raising substantial capital limiting investors and succession isn’t guaranteed partnerships as an edge as the partners share the load
Limited Liability Company has a separate legal entity, has succession, attractive to third parties as the there are regulations and the structure
For a business name ten thousand naira is enough for registration of your business which can be done through a lawyer or on your own, for a Limited Liability Company it depends on the share capital if the share capital is 1 million the fee is 10,000naira every extra million incurs an extra fee of 5,000 naira there are also stamp duties on them.
Unlimited Liability Company with a share of 1million for registering is 10,500
THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
1, get the licences and know the regulators
2, for non-Nigerians there are other requirements to consider and it’s not open for business names.
Firstly, registration with the Nigerian investment promotion commission which simply monitors the foreign investment coming into the country and a business permit. If the foreign workers are coming to come and worker will have to obtain an expatriate quota or they are bringing in new technologies there is a need to register with National Office for technology acquisition and promotion
HOW DO YOU PAY YOUR FOREIGN INVESTORS
Through the (CCI) certificate of capital importation it enables you to access the related market and exchange at CBN rates
Once you’ve started your business you register for tax register with the federal internal revenue service and also the revenue service in the state. Income tax could be either 20% or 30%, 20% is for companies that are into manufacturing, agriculture or fully involved in exporting or turnover must be 1 million or less and only be done for the first 5 years and there is education tax 2% and also personal income tax from employee’s salary with can be up to 24% for pay as you earn scheme
value added tax on goods and services there are some exempted like dairy products basic food items academic books (5%), withholding tax which like an advanced payment on income tax it can be 5%-10%. then are taxes from local governments.
NOTE: verify all taxes with a lawyer
There are certain mandatory contributions that you’d be required to make, there’s the Contributory pension fund which only applies with total employees exceed 15 (18%-20%), industrial training fund (1%) of annual payroll, employees compensation fund (1%) of monthly payroll, 2.5% to the national housing fund that is 2.5% of the basic salary of your employees and non-payment incurs penalties
Pioneer status given to persons in industries that are considered valuable to the economy, it is a tax holiday for 5 years.
Export incentives like GTdrawback, like importation of raw materials and export of finished goods with the government refunding the import duties.
Public infrastructure and employment relief basically is when you generate and maintain employees and when you provide an infrastructure of a public nature
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND = You go to a trademark registry and have it registered.
All companies are to file annual returns to the CAC which is basically your financial statement. There’s also tax statement, there may be more filing depending on the industry you are going into.
This is simply a checklist to go through.