“If I dare to order more milk now, that will be the death of me!” The fear in her spoke out loud. “They will deliver around 3 pm. That’s too late to sell all of it. And you know I don’t open on Sunday.”
But I say unto you, ‘Have no fear!’
Never operate a business from the point of fear. Whether you sell perishable goods, have a mighty target glaring at your mental face or even a pile of bills awaiting settling.No matter what you sell, hem yourself with laces of confidence, or your customers will smell that fear and flee! Click To Tweet
Remember the article on getting value for your money?
I had a chance to hold yet another beautiful chit-chat with the milk vendor, which led to this piece.
This is what happened.
I call the milk vendor, a petit lady with a jolly heart, and ask her if I could drop by to buy some milk. For ease-sakes let’s call her Miss P. It’s 7 am on Saturday and with the month of Ramadhan running, there’s a chance she has sold all the milk. She tells me to get to the shop immediately because the amount remaining won’t last long.
I choose to heed her claim, rinse my milk bottles and head out.
The sun is bright and set to Mombasa degrees. But thanks to my white outfit; a short pair of shorts and a sports shirt, the heat has got nothing on me. Bragging just a little for milk’s sake!😉
The ocean breeze beckons me and so I speed up towards the milk shop. Yes, I live on the island. Miss P has been mopping the shop’s floor but has stopped to exchange pleasantries with a neighbour. Mornings and chit-chats are the coastal way. Even a passerby is greeted and asked about their family. Never mind the assumption that they have one.
She sees me and halts the conversation almost with a screech. To be continued next time, maybe. Her focus is now on me and she begins updating me about the milk business. The delivery delays. Last night’s power outage that almost spoilt her milk. And the most common Kenyan conversation about the economy. She raps the lamentation and all I can do is listen. Silently.
The business mentor in me however veers off the rap and begins picking her brain. I seek to understand what she meant by ‘That is too late to sell all of the milk.’
She punches some figures on the milk dispenser’s keypad and milk flows into the waiting jug.
“I don’t have enough milk to sustain the day’s demand. But if I order more now, the Milk Boss’ boys will only get here at 3 pm.” She pauses to pour the milk into the first bottle with a squinted look. Half a litre of farm-to-fridge fresh milk to be precise.
“Chances of me selling all the milk delivered before 9 pm, my closing time, are nil.” She continues while punching new figures on the dispenser’s keypad. “And since I don’t open on Sundays, the milk will have to wait till Monday. That surely can’t be fresh for my customers, can it?”
She pours the milk into the second bottle and I take this opportunity to digest her fears.
“How much milk do you buy at a go?” I poke.
“So you need 30 customers buying one litre each, or a maximum of 60 taking half a litre, right?”
She looks up and smiles. Both bottles are full. But the smile doesn’t wash away fear from her face. “What if I don’t get enough customers to sell to?”
“Miss P, you can’t afford to operate a business from a point of fear. You will soon be out of business!” I challenge her bearing in mind her shop’s back shares a wall with a huge church. In fact, the rear door literally opens into the church’s compound!
I can almost hear the words in Isaiah 41 verse 10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” through the walls.
Surely she must have heard a few ‘fear not’ calls from the pulpit.
The next 3 minutes are spent discussing ways in which she can ensure to sell all her milk despite receiving it at 3 pm. We wrap them up into these three points.
1: Create a rapport with the customers
Miss P has the contacts of her most frequent customers. She must therefore use them to keep the conversation going beyond the time of selling milk through frequent communication via text messages. So we agree that she should recharge her phone with one of Safaricom’s monthly packages to earn her at least 1000 text messages.
She will send messages to each one of her regular customers on Monday morning thanking them for their relentless support.
2: Inform customers about the operation hours
Every Wednesday Miss P will remind the customers when to visit her shop. The text message will state the opening and closing hours, the days she’s available to serve and then a nugget of wisdom on handling the milk.
Such could include the proper way of storing the milk, how to clean milk bottles or even a special tea recipe from one of the many Kenyan communities. The text should be short and sweet!
3: Show the care
Miss P will finally wish the customers a wonderful weekend ahead on Saturday morning while at the same time reminding them that the shop will be closed on Sunday. ‘So, remember to buy enough milk to cater for your Sunday needs.’ This should follow the simple process of placing an order, the payment methods possible, and emphasize the need to collect the milk before 9 pm when she closes the business.
Miss P is quite receptive to the free mentorship session though she doesn’t realize it is one. But she is grateful and bids me goodbye.
I walk back home weighing thoughts on how business people end up engulfed with fear like Miss P. I want to run to the mountaintop and shout my thoughts, but then I assume a modest conversation and remember how I steer off the path of fear in my business.
10 Commandments to Keep You in Business and Have No Fear
- Thou shall create a rapport with your customers to know and understand who they are.
- Thou shall appreciate and show them that you care beyond the money in their pockets.
- Thou shall never gossip about your customers or the fear of them finding out will haunt you.
- Thou shall never sell your product to a customer who you sense won’t benefit from it.
- Thou shall ensure your price is right such that if you were the buyer, you would buy it at the price.
- Thou shall always speak well of the trade you are in; there’s always something positive to say.
- Thou shall always seek a bigger and better way to serve your customers.
- Thou shall speak the truth about your product, and with confidence.
- Thou shall ask your customers for referrals, without shame.
- Thou shall see yourself succeeding in your business all the time!
My desire is to see businesspeople around me grow their businesses a hundredfold. And the best way to do that is by pointing out areas they could be selling themselves short. So to you dear reader, have no fear and stay in business!