Quick Math; if a conference room can hold 100 guests, each guest paying Ksh 1000 as entrance fee, how much can we earn from this room if it is fully booked? Quick answer Ksh 100,000. How can you increase business income tenfold in one night? How can we earn one million from this same room on the same night? This is a tactical question asked by every serious entrepreneur in town and it borders on the powerful concept of maximizing.
Let us break it down.
At university, I personally hated maximization problems in calculus. Wait, I wasn’t as slow in it, but I always assumed I knew it so well that I would rush through the question and get the answer wrong at the end. Later, I discovered it was not calculus that was the problem, but algebra, the simple addition and subtraction here and there that led to the overall answer being wrong. And such is business, so many things are intertwined together waiting for the entrepreneur to unpack them and maximize them correctly and make money.
Assume you own a restaurant, it is running. You make sales worth Ksh 300,000 annually and you would like to increase this tenfold to Ksh 3 Million. How would you go about it? There is no one answer fits it all, but it is good to look at various aspects of the business with a plastic surgeons scalpel and panel beat parts that are not properly aligned while cutting a pound of flesh from other bulging parts and patching on others.
- Increase Customer base
Customers are the only creatures that bring in sales, which after deducting expenses, give us the coveted profit. Your business has finite capacity; it can only hold a particular number of customers at a go. What plans do you have to handle double the usual capacity? Can you erect extra tents around the swimming pools to hold the extras? Will you train and employ casuals to beef up your service force for the day so as to reach customers as quickly as possible? Will you set up extra grills to ensure you have more ready Choma than usual? Can you go online and serve more customers virtually?
- Differentiate your products
Customers like prestige, differentiating the products that you are selling plays well in their psychology. We can split our restaurant total area into two sections, the ordinary plenary and the VIP side, and charge a premium on the extraordinaire side. If your restaurant has a terrace, a first floor or a compound, you can place a few seats on that side, place a few properly dressed nice looking waiters (Kenya Airways Style) and charge more on the drinks and food served on that side.
Some churches have really mustered this concept very well. In a church in the Nairobi CBD, the preacher will call out for the offering in stages, ensuring that prayers are offered depending on your capability. Those with an offering of more than Ksh 1000 will be called first, and be prayed for, the preacher touching each of them, then Ksh 500 will be prayed for in a group and the remaining will be prayed for while seated or standing where they are.
- Hold special events
On special days, bring in extra and do more for your clients. For example, on Valentine’s Day, it will be good to offer more entertainment in the form of a live band, or a DJ system, replete with an MC who can chuckle the crowd. Some restaurants bring in dancers and even acrobats and magicians to tickle the kids. Even if the revelers of the day don’t consume significantly more, they will have stories to tell their friends who will flock your joint in the near future. This is a form of very powerful advertising that will keep these clients coming back month after month.
- Track and serve customers better
Do you know and serve your entire customer base? What about those that are online?
There is an age group that is mostly underserved, be it in the fashion industry or in the service industry like restaurants. These are the pre-teens and early teens. Walk into any place with your eleven-year-old girl and you will find that there is very little variety for this group.
A normal restaurant will have bouncing castles and a battery of other under nine entertainment gadgets and will quickly jump to the nyama choma, disco, and booze for the over twenty, leaving the teens wondering, looking out of place and immersed in their Instagram groups and snap chap videos.
This group is even shy to jump into the conventional swimming pools teeming with toddlers because their bodies feel weird, for girls the painful strawberry sized boobs just mushrooming on their chests make them shy to interact freely and hence need some kind of understanding.
Their fashion tastes keep changing weirdly. They are embarrassed for their feelings and serving them requires patience. They are extra choosy for food. That is why I think most joints just choose to ignore them.
Imagine if you had a plan and a product for this group? I bet if a family wants to go out for entertainment, this group holds the trump card, if they like your joint, you will see the family most often. If they dislike, they will even actively ensure their friends dislike you, even if they have never visited.
- Reward Customers.
On special occasions, reward customers, for example, sponsor a birthday for one or two of your customers to delight them. Network and know customers as well as suppliers and any other people who can add some value to your business. Remember to be genuine so that when you need more working capital because of the higher number of customers than expected, your suppliers are your first port of call followed by your bankers.
- Reduce costs and increase efficiency
Reducing costs is kinda cliché, but it works where you notice revenues are stagnant and costs are ballooning. You need to swing into action and control these costs. You need to be careful that you don’t cut off the hand that feeds you, where I mean while rationalizing costs, be mindful of the huge and significant psychological effects that a retrenchment of staff has on the remaining staff and plan in advance on how to re-engage or re-motivate the remaining workers.
Be cognizant that some of the leaving staff are friends and mentors to those remaining and it is always sad for humans to say bye to each other. During a cost rationalization process, be careful to ensure all areas are analyzed and areas, where significant savings can be realized, are attached vigorously, without fear or favor. This may require analyzing existing processes and procedures and re-engineering them to make them lean, efficient and low cost.
- Sell Complementary products
What about any other things that you can do that can give you more money on the day? On Valentines, can you offer red souvenirs in terms of wine and even branded merchandise like notebooks and utensils for your restaurant, which customers can purchase and provide as presents to their friends and family?
To increase business income, you need to maximize. You need to look at the resources available and critically decide what actions can be taken to ensure each resource is utilized fully. Looking at the room that we started with, yes, it is possible to make one million in a day, we only need to maximize. If we put all of the concepts discussed above and any other creative ones as relevant; we use the VIP concept and charge a premium for quarter the room, ensure all our customers are catered for and network as appropriate, we should make a million in a room that only looked like it could give us a maximum of Ksh 100,000.