Nkechi Adimora is the CEO of Ozi Express, a logistics business she started with her husband a little over a year ago. This startup is focused on local delivery of food, parcels, and errands within the city of Abuja, Nigeria.
Prior to this, Nkechi has run businesses ranging from retailing authentic human hair, a mobile clothes and accessories boutique, and a food vending stall. Although Nkechi’s educational background in International Relations and Development gained from Sussex University and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London seems a little different from her savvy and quest for business, she has successfully integrated these skills to ensure she runs her logistics business with class and excellence.
The young CEO shares with us some key things to note while keeping your startup running during the recession.I adopt the 'customer is always right principle' because my main goal is not money Click To Tweet
Let us be honest while it is somewhat fulfilling to become an employer of labor, it is getting increasingly difficult to find good employees. Somehow it seems like everybody wants to earn money but nobody wants to work. My employees are not the best but they all have one thing in common -they are very hardworking.
The business needed a lot more effort to keep customers which meant that we had no room to mock about especially since we now have an almost saturated market for delivery business. But they wake up every day and self-motivate themselves to work – and this helped us through the recession.My employees self-motivate themselves to work - this helped us through the recession Click To Tweet
I began the business handling the customer relations myself – this meant that despite my regular day job, I spend an enormous amount of personal and family time responding to customers and ensuring that they were satisfied with the service I am providing.
Now I love speaking to customers – and sadly I feel that nobody can handle my customers like I do. This is because I can instantaneously take decisions in order to ensure customer satisfaction such as offer discounts, deal with complaints immediately and appease customers whenever my employees have delayed a delivery/errand.
I also always adopt the good old ”customer is always right principle” because my main goal is not the money but rather to keep them coming back to me. I had years of customer service related training and work experience right from when I was in University – from being an International Student Ambassador to call centre jobs in corporate companies where I sharpened my Customer Service Relations (CSR) skills to the core.
Now, this is one area where I am still not an expert in but I realize you do not need to be an expert to do simple numbers. I am very strict with monitoring the accounts (which I do myself).
I keep a simple spreadsheet which helps me track my daily income and expenditure. And this year when the recession really hit, I administered cost-saving strategies so as to keep our costs as low as possible in order to maximise profits.
When I initially started I offered very low prices for even far distances. In the new year, we announced a price increase to our customers which was between 100 – 200 naira.
Unbelievably, we lost a lot of customers even though the majority of them understood the reasons for our decision. But of course when you lose some you gain new ones and this was our case. We had to ensure the price was right so that we do not end up running a charity business.
Supporting Small Businesses
Every small business or start-up in Nigeria already understands that the environment is very unfriendly to our business. With this in mind, I consider small businesses when I want to offer discounts to my loyal customers. It’s simple.
If food company A has a product for 5 naira and my delivery cost is normally 5 naira, it does not make sense to me to charge him or her 5 naira for delivery. In such cases, I am usually willing to charge 2 naira for delivery. In my opinion, I am also contributing to support small businesses to achieve their dreams.
A lot of my customers now are startups/small businesses who have negotiated affordable prices for delivery that they feel their customers will be happy to pay (although not in all cases). Generally, in business, people only think of how much they can make out of it.
While this is not in itself a bad thing, I think that money should be the second thought – crazy as this sounds. The first thought could be passion, filling a gap or meeting a need…then comes the money.
Ozi Express is on Instagram as we continue to leverage on innovative ways to support businesses and grow our clientele.