“How far are you? My clients are getting impatient.” She enquired for the bazillion time.
“Thirty minutes…. and I’ll be there.” He lied. Again.
The little voice in my head nudged, “Are you getting value for money, My Darling?”
I was visiting the milk vending shop for the second time in less than six hours. And each time I snacked on a disappointing pie as the vendor begged me to wait. What started as ‘they hardly get this late’ turned to, ‘This boy is messing me up!’
Sitting there wasn’t the best use of my time.
Meanwhile, the scruffy delivery boy left his house, a frumpish studio behind Club Mios in Bamburi estate, and catapulted towards Mtamboni Roundabout. His shirt flew high dancing to the violent noon wind, exposing the vest with more holes than fibre. His prized possession. Hopefully, his recklessly ridden motorbike would reach its destination, the Farm to Fridge milk collection centre in Shanzu, in one piece.
He would join the placid Mombasa-Malindi road at the Bamburi Cement Junction and make his usual call notifying his boss about the alleged traffic jam. Unbeknownst to him, his motorbike’s tracker shouted his location from the top of the palm trees. He had been on the radar from the minute he turned on the ignition.
Two parties were on his neck. The boss for habitual lateness. And the milk vendor for lying about his arrival time. If you must know, there was no way he was going to make it to Shanzu and then drive the milk truck to Tudor estate in Mombasa Island in the promised 30 minutes. Not in the notorious Bombolulu midday jam. Public services vehicles parked in the middle of the road to pick up undecided passengers making the supposed 20 minutes drive impossible.
But the delivery boy didn’t care. He would be done with the day’s deliveries before the official clock-off time. Of course with a mastered story. He would fake an apology blaming his lateness on a traffic jam and with practised remorse convince the vendors it wasn’t his fault. It never was. And that would warrant him full pay at the end of the month. No delays expected.
Are You Desperately Paying for Air?
You perhaps have encountered a similar incident. The delayed services, unending lies and fake apologies wrapped with an unmistakable ‘What’s you gonna do?’‘ attitude. Because after all, you are desperate for fictitious comfort and aren’t sure who to turn to for better services.
It doesn’t matter what kind of services you are looking at, or the level of monopoly surrounding such. The chances of getting value for your money are highly dependent on how fast you sober up and see the services you are getting for what they are.
This rule applies whether dealing with corporations crowned with powers from above or a lying employee. None is worth your time as long as they fail to deliver according to the contractual agreement.
It’s one thing to have a delivery truck stuck in traffic with Mombasa’s unforgiving heat baking the driver into a burnt offering against his wish. But it’s another when the truck driver lies between their teeth about his whereabouts when he should be on duty. The delivery boy’s case above leans towards the latter. A case that would cost Farm to Fridge and the milk vendors a good sum of money if competitors got the wind of this story.
It’s about time you …
Mind Your Own Business
Here are three actions to take when your service providers fail to deliver value for your money.
#1: Tame the Reward System
Your service providers range from your employees to suppliers who fuel the activities of your business. Everyone who contributes to the everyday operation of your firm. Each one of them owes you value for your money as per the written or verbal agreement.
They are however bound to abuse your relationship if they sense you are 100% dependent on them alone. And that they will get remunerated in full whether they deliver or not. This is a rogue culture. They know they’ve got you by the neck. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe.
How about paying the scruffy delivery boy according to the number of successful deliveries made per day?
An end-month salary can make any lazy fellow feel entitled. He knows you will pay even when he hurts your sales. Like in the case of the delivery boy. He knew his boss would pay him despite late deliveries. But if the reward system was based on merit, wouldn’t he respect the opportunity and give his all, and then some?
In the words of the vendor, “He would even call me before the cock crows to find out how much milk I would take that day, leave alone if at all I even needed it.”
She spoke from experience.
She didn’t make a standard amount at the end of the month. Her income depended on how much milk she sold in a day. Taking care not to waste a drop, always having milk to sell and never letting the milk rot in the vending machine were the order of her day. With so many variables hanging around the neck of her income, she was watchful.
But not the delivery boy. He didn’t care for any of these variables. Showing up at the office was good enough to warrant him a salary at the end of the month.
So you see, there’s always a push when the reward is tied to performance.
#2: Go Where You are Wanted
Andrew Henderson, owner of Nomad Capitalist runs by the rule, ‘Go where you’re treated best.’ This mantra applies to all service providers whether like him you mean changing citizenship or investing in countries with reasonable tax systems, or your employee.
You can even fire your supplier in the same way you would dismiss an employee who brings losses consistently after three non-conformance warnings. Your Internet Service Provider included. Especially if your case reads anything like this thread: #thisiskenya
But that comes with doing bucketloads of research to spot the most suitable replacement. You don’t want to replace one let-down with another. Start with counting the expenses involved in maintaining the relationship with the rogue service provider. Both direct and indirect.
My internet service provider comes with a standard monthly charge of about Sh.3000. That gives me internet for the four gadgets in my house. My target provider charges one thousand shillings more but has a reputation for compensating for downtime beyond 1 hour with data bundles. Not to mention their excellent customer care.
If I unsubscribed from my cable TV, which is supplied by yet another provider, and leaned on the services from my target provider, I would save at least Sh. 700 every month.
I had to beg the current provider to compensate me for a 3-days downtime. Their response was non-commital, “Apologies for the inconvenience caused, we do compensate in case of total downtime of service exceeding 48 hours.” And the general customer care is pathetic, to say the least.
Why then shouldn’t I go where I’m treated best?
#3: Upgrade Your Operation
Your business isn’t perfect either. I know that comes as a shock for an article like this.
But there are, in all honesty, ways in which you are failing your customers. The only way to identify these blind spots is by asking your customers for feedback. Emailing them if you must, and seeking their opinion as well.
Of course no two customers are the same. Their demands are worlds apart. But imagine being able to meet each at the point of their needs. That would take understanding them in intimate detail and then crafting elegant ways to deliver your services to them.
Think of it as saying the same thing to different people. You will require rephrasing and rewriting your speech. In the end, each one of them will be smiling.
Is it easy?
Absolutely not. But it will give you the income you desire. And earn you new clients. Because you are willing to make way for them. In the Clarity4D personality profiling system, we say, “You’ll have travelled to their village and communicated with them in their language.”
Speaking of Clarity4D, consider having your staff members undergo the training early into their employment. You and your employees will save each other from the agony of miscommunication. And help you grow your firm into an industry leader in a short time giving you value for your money!
Just so you know, the milk vendor delivered my milk right to my house. And then went on to have a serious talk with the Farm to Fridge boss. I can smell the upgrade coming up soon.
The milk boss may on the other hand have to replace the employees with independent salespeople working on a commission for the delivery. The kind who would even seek new milk vending partners for the firm within Mombasa city because they understand the art of delivering value for the money in bold letters. What do you think?