Globally, the outbreak of Covid-19 or coronavirus as is commonly known is forcing businesses to think even harder about diversification — from making sure that their supply of labour and material comes from different countries to as far as seeking nee markets.
In Botswana the coronavirus might not be a big concern as yet, but countries and companies which have been affected can learn one or two from the country’s capital city – Gaborone.
Gaborone is home to a small business known only as – The Parcel Counter and owned by one entrepreneur – Phuti Babotlhale.
The parcel counter service business assists people who are travelling to temporarily leave their luggage in a safe space and go handle other errands without feeling overwhelmed.
The owner opines that for any businesses – small or big to survive longer it needs to consider diversifying its offerings as a way of broadening income revenue streams.
Babotlhale shared that though he found a gap in the market with his temporary storage business when he started the business back in 2017, he still saw the need to introduce other services that could help grow the business in more ways than one.
Long term sales stability is not limited to just owning a good product or service it is also closely linked to consumer needs, understanding what makes them tick, and speaking to them in the ways that make them want to engage. As consumer behaviour is a psychologically-based study of how individuals make buying decisions; what motivates them to make a purchase.
Babotlhale says “we have two services to hold people`s luggage and the newly introduced service to charge their phones. I considered what needed to be done to increase profits and it needed to complement what I was already doing in the business. People who usually visited the shop would occasionally ask if we charge phones and that is where I saw the need to add it as people such as public transport drivers are the target market, street vendors and even people coming to the bus rank. What I observed is that people such as street vendors and combi drivers are too busy to charge their phones so that is where I hope to take advantage.”
“The intention was to grow the business and also double the profits. When I started with the phone charging business I used solar panels because connecting electricity was expensive as I operate in storage container. However I did have challenges with the solar panels breaking down but the issue with electricity has now been solved as council provided an extension,” adds Babotlhale.
The introduction of a new service offered has not only created an opportunity in profits but also created an opportunity for the business to recruit more personnel as this means more work is now available. “With availability of phone charging service and electricity I am now able to improve the overall outside look of the business. I am also now able to add new members to my existing workforce which means a change to operating hours as they become longer and staff would be able to work in shifts,” Babotlhale says.
The parcel counter business is now three years in operation and Babotlhale attributed social media advertising to the businesses growing popularity and appeal with the public. As people are able to feel connected to it and recognise it better when they see it in public. The use of popular personalities in the marketing also made huge difference and he is now considering using video marketing.