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Friday, May 24, 2024


How Not To Do Business

Enterprise Issues

With Siaka Momoh

It surely can and must not be allowed in any business. I remember quite well during my few years’ stint with MFP, a fromtline satellite TV Receiving Systems production and Marketing Company in Lagos, as a senior sales manager, my marketing director, Mike Adinlewa, told me ‘The customer is king. Relate well with them. Make them buy your product by all means – even if it costs you slaps from them, let them slap you but make sure you put their money into your pocket”.

 A recent incident concerning a rental company and a customer made me recall Mike Adinlewa’s tutoring. Mike Adinlewa is a U.S-trained marketing expert who was one of the few who pioneered the introduction of Satellite TV System in Nigeria. The rental company’s ‘manager’ – an untutored supervisor, talked down on a customer who could earn him  an endless chain of  business opportunities. Too bad. And I had to step in to advise his boss to tame him or change him.

Take this  tutorial on business etiquette from wecomply.com:

Every word spoken on the phone, every e-mail sent and every meeting attended reflects on you and your company. When the employees involved in these interactions lack business -etiquette skills, they may result in lost leads and cold deals. While often overlooked, proper business etiquette is vital to the success of your company.

In today’s marketplace, where business is conducted through e-mail, social media, phone calls and in-person meetings, business etiquette training is a way to ensure your company and reputation remain intact.

In a recent article appearing on CBS Moneywatch, Steve Strauss highlighted six business etiquette blunders as the most offensive including email etiquette flubs, tardiness and dress code bloopers.

“If it is true that business etiquette is simply the use of commonly accepted social norms, then by not using them you are sending a signal that casualness is a main priority in your business, and that is probably not the message you want to be sending, especially in this economic environment,” Strauss said.

While poor business etiquette may not lead to expensive litigation or federal law violation, it can lead to lost revenue and dwindling business connections. By providing business-etiquette training on common topics, you establish consistency within the workplace, which reflects in your dealings with business contacts and ultimately on you.

What is the cost of bad business etiquette? Why find out? Through proper business-etiquette training, employees can learn the basics of workplace etiquette and the skills to represent your company as a place that puts business needs first. Make a good impression the first time and you’ll get another chance at business with your clients. 

Business sense hurts

Small businesses in Lagos, if you like call them MSMEs or SMEs, they are all small businesses – play it smart and the consumers are the losers. How? Few months back, prices of soup ingredients like pepper and tomato shot up and it was not easy for families managing their monthly food budget. Housewives had to do a lot of talking to make their husbands agree to supplementary budgets. 

When prices come down, what follows?. Trust some Nigerian food vending SMEs, they wouldn’t let go. For them, the price should still be up there no matter what. The calibre of customers they target help to make this easy for them. Take Agboju Market and  Third Gate,  both in Festac/Satellite Town axis for instance, prices of soup ingredients and several food items here are still high – some 20/30 percent more – compared with what obtain elsewhere. Why not when at Agboju Market, you find luxury cars lined up – cars owned largely by full time housewives. Food vendors are not dumb. They may not have degrees in Economics. They are street wise economists.

To the food vendors, these housewives are rich and so can afford the high prices in question. But there are thousands of others in the same neighbourhood   who are poor and are made to buy at the same high price!

One other interesting art that plays out is that brokers in market places are obstacles. This plays out very well in Lagos Island. One item can be sold at different prices. If you do not know your way very well you are a sure victim. Several items – belts, shirts, shoes, cosmetic jewelries, name it. You find people buying belts that should cost them N500 for N1000 or more.

Same story goes for Alaba International market, the home of electronics. Here, the teeming number of street vendors who stand between you and shop owners is big problem. You end up paying more than you should  pay for items you purchase.

The story is same everywhere. The building industry is not left out. You engage an electrician to run cables and connect you to light. He goes for cheap electrical materials whereas you paid for quality materials. This is done to make room for follow-up repairs which you will call him to handle.

How do they react to this issue when you confront them? They tell you ‘Na business sense’. Business sense that hurts.

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