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Mohamed El Ghareeb: “Happy and thriving communities define business success”

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Mohamed El Ghareeb is the Country Manager, Blackwood Hodge, the leading generator specialists in Kenya and Uganda. According to the manager, business success especially in the manufacturing sector is defined by the presence of happy and thriving communities. He says:

“The concept of business success has changed over time. It used to be defined by achieving high sales volumes, but now it’s about creating a satisfactory customer experience that leads to repeat purchases and referrals.

This experience encompasses more than just selling a quality product; it includes after-sales services and customer training to ensure proper equipment use.

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Importance of customer feedback

In Kenya, the new normal for businesses involves obtaining feedback on how customers are benefiting from the equipment, providing round-the-clock support, and supplying spare parts. However, due to liberalization in Kenya’s business sector, any shop can stock any product, and salespeople focus more on appearance than on the technical details of the product’s maintenance, proper use, and support.

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Many businesses prioritize immediate cash sales on the shop floor rather than investing in systems, staff training, and resources that would enhance customer service. Kenya, like other markets, is witnessing a proliferation of general merchants who sell a wide range of products without considering quality or providing local technical after-sales support or spare parts.

As a result, when equipment breaks down, buyers suffer significant losses as they have to purchase new equipment, often at a discount, and risk facing the same problem in the future. Some companies resort to hiring technicians without proper contracts to keep costs low, but this approach leads to temporary repairs and eventual breakdowns due to the lack of detailed maintenance records.

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Before purchasing expensive capital equipment, it is crucial to inquire about the availability of spare parts and equipment servicing. The way sellers educate customers on handling expensive machines can determine the future profitability of a company.

Globally, it is standard practice to establish a traceability system that connects manufacturers with product suppliers. This system allows for follow-ups on how products are used and provides an opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions for future product improvements based on users’ experiences.

Unfortunately, many sellers prioritize making a quick sale and fail to understand the customers’ needs. This recklessness results in customers buying the wrong equipment without receiving professional advice during the purchase, leading to subsequent problems and dissatisfaction.

Heavy machinery dealers worldwide typically provide pre-sale reports that recommend the best product to suit a customer’s needs. These reports also address environmental concerns, such as carbon and noise pollution, and offer measures to mitigate water pollution caused by machine effluents.

Sellers should invest in providing technical training for a customer’s employees in light maintenance and servicing skills. This training should take place on-site during machine installation and continue with the first maintenance exercise. By doing so, the client can reduce costs associated with outsourcing maintenance services.

Record-keeping and community service

The over-the-counter (OTC) tradition has led to a detrimental practice where no customer details or follow-ups are conducted. This prevents manufacturers from obtaining operational data about their products, which is crucial for improving machinery based on user feedback.

As part of the communities they operate in, companies are expected to actively participate in social activities that benefit the community, such as providing water tanks to schools, building school kitchens, tree planting, organizing cleaning exercises, and offering scholarships.

This comprehensive approach, where companies provide solutions beyond the products on their shelves, represents the future of business.”

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech. Write to me @[email protected]

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