Starting and managing a business is not as easy as what we generally think. It requires adequate knowledge and experience on business management to be a successful business person, no matter how small your business may be. If you look at other countries, you would find people taking up numerous business management studies and training before starting a business of their own. Just selling away what the customers come for, or just having enough financial resources alone does not make you a business tycoon. It also requires a lot of commitment, hard-work and patience to be able to take your business to greater heights. But in Bhutan, I have observed that most of the people get into business without any such preparation. Hence, they lack the knowledge and experience to run a business in a systematic manner. People do not know the core ethics that should guide the business such as customer service, social and communication skills and so on. As a result, they end up driving away their customers instead of serving them with all their heart and paving the way for future visits. Speaking from the experience of an ordinary customer, I believe that if you adopt the right strategies, there will be certainly no shortage of customers, regardless of the location of your business. The following few tips might help you succeed in business.
If you are considering to establish a business, why don’t you take up some entrepreneurship courses offered by a number of institutes in Bhutan? Perhaps, they might prepare you better for such a venture. Having at least some basic professional knowledge and skills on business management would help you get a better overview of your business and you will be able to manage it successfully. In Bhutan, what I have found is that most of the business people start their business right away without attending any formal training on how to manage it. This brings a lot of struggle and confusion as you move on, not knowing what is happening and where.
Regular market survey
Doing the market survey at regular intervals to determine the reasonable prices for the commodities you sell is an important exercise that can enhance your business. For instance, if a packet of salt is sold for Nu.10 in the nearby grocery shop, selling it even for Nu.9 would attract more customers to your shop. You may not believe it as a business person, but I know even Nu.1 discount makes a difference when it comes to the customers’ choice. I am surprised to know that even the shops in the same row have significant differences in the price of commodities they sell. This shows that they have not studied the market around them properly.
Do not try to become a millionaire overnight when more customers rush to your shop
A couple of years ago, I learned from one of my friends that a restaurant in Changangkha was selling delicious cheese momo just for Nu.15 per plate. It was very cheap. He once brought me a few plates to taste and it was too good for Nu.15. Then I regularly asked him to bring a few plates and I even let my family taste it. They too had the same feedback. I heard that within no time, many customers had come to know about the restaurant and the momo, and they crowded the restaurant every day. This shows how one customer can bring in at least ten other customers if you can impress him/her. You don’t even have to advertise your business in the media if you can serve your customers well. But if you disappoint one customer, he/she can stop at least ten other customers from coming to your shop. This business ran well for several days, but soon the unusual crowd of customers could have made the restaurant’s owner more ambitious. Within the next couple of weeks, the price of the momo was raised straight up to Nu.35 per plate, an increase of more than 100 percent. The restaurant instantly began to lose its regular customers. Even I and my friend stopped ordering from there. A price hike of more than 100 percent once at a time is not reasonable. So when you see so many customers coming to your shop for certain commodities, please never think of increasing the price so high, because that would drive them away and along with them, you might as well lose other customers through their word-of-mouth influences.
Customer care is an integral component of any business management. In advanced countries, you would see customers being warmly greeted as soon as they enter a shopping mall and they don’t even have to wait for a second to get somebody to help them. But in Bhutan, I have found that some of the receptionists are as dead as a log. Some years ago, I had gone with my friend to buy some plumbing materials and we went to a local hardware shop here in Thimphu. The girl who was on the counter was busy on her computer and she didn’t have the courtesy to even talk to us. When we took out the list of materials we had wanted and asked her if those items were available, she just gave short answers “no” without even turning her head towards us. We just left the shop disappointed. In another instance, I and my wife were trying to select some bananas to be bought in a shop a few years back and instead of helping us, the woman on the counter warned us not to touch the bananas if we were not going to buy. We got infuriated and left the shop never to return in the future.
As a business person, your future depends on the satisfaction and happiness of your customers. Do not treat them differently. The attitude and customer care are integral parts of a successful business. You won’t lose anything when you talk nicely to your customers and help them get the things they want. Do not wait for the customers to come to you over the counter asking for help. Please approach them before they come to you, greet them nicely and try to help them get the items of their choice. I no longer go to Swiss Bakery and Jochu Drakey Bakery because I have had an unpleasant experience with the receptionist there. About five years ago, I had gone with my friend to Swiss Bakery to buy some cakes. At first, there was nobody at the counter. After waiting for sometime, a girl came out from inside but she never said a word to us. I and my friend who is a low-vision stood up and asked her what types of cakes were available. Instead of helping us, she just yelled “Everything is down there in the glass.” I think she might not have noticed I am blind and my friend was a low-vision, but certainly that was not the way she should be treating her customers. She would not have lost anything if she could have explained at least a few different types of cakes for me. I was so angry that I simply walked out with my friend without buying anything. The same thing happened at Jochu Drakey bakery sometime later when I asked for the price of a cake and the attendant just told me in a bitter tone that it was written on the package instead of reading it to me. So I feel these are some of the most important lessons we should keep in mind while doing businesses.