Lowveld or Slowveld business?
When we first moved here, we first encountered the pet-name for the Lowveld as the “Slowveld” which was supposed to refer to a slower paced lifestyle, less traffic, having more time with your family because of that… etc. BUT then we started to set up our own business and with that employed some contractors and secured some local suppliers. This is when we discovered, the “Slowveld” has another meaning, slow business… One of my German friends actually referred to it as the “promises land” and that proofed to be too accurate!
We see this too often, that many businesses suffer from the Slowveld mentality where it comes to service delivery. It is almost like everybody does it, like talking on a cell phone whilst driving… now it is OK to do it. Well it is certainly not OK. We complain every day that Gauteng is taking business out of the Lowveld and you have to ask yourself, why? Why do they find it so easy to compete against our local businesses head-on? Before I continue, let me put it out there that sometimes there are really valid reasons, like better discount structures from suppliers for the larger businesses, which enables them to come in at a lower price. However, mostly the reason is our slow response time, our lack of service delivery, unfriendliness, empty promises and high prices. Maybe for a while business was so good and the strength of local support was so tight that we could afford to get away with slack business practices, but certainly not in today’s competitive business environment. The Slowveld has to become the professional Lowveld. Let us take some examples from Gauteng businesses or just those around you who are making a success. What do they get right?
- Answer e-mails immediately (not receive a message which promises to reply in 24 hours…);
- Return phone calls if you are left a message;
- Thank someone for returning your calls;
- Greet a person who enters your business – this is everybody’s job, not only the receptionist;
- Always keep to your promises. If you tell a client the product / service will be ready by Friday, it must be ready by Friday;
- See how you can keep your prices as low as possible, not how high you can charge and get away with it. This area is notoriously expensive on services, particularly professional services;
- Be on time – to open your store, or for appointments, or for deliveries, etc.;
- Market yourself better, the Gauteng businesses are not afraid to do cold calling in the Lowveld, we should be out there selling our businesses;
- Stop complaining that business is bad, instead have a look what you can do better to have the best customer service in the Lowveld AND Gauteng;
We will talk a lot about certain points in detail during the next few weeks, but to summarise, the end of the Slowveld mentality will mean we have to become RELIABLE.
As a professional in your field, you are counted on to find a way to get the job done. Responding to people promptly and following through on promises in a timely manner is important, as this demonstrates reliability.
As published in Lowvelder, 15 February 2019:
Download article: Slowveld needs to speed up 15 Feb 2019 Lowveld Media