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Business lessons from bus conductors

NCHIMUNYA MUVWENDE

Analysis: NCHIMUNYA MUVWENDE
WHAT could a bus conduct or possibly have to teach you about business? I mean, and with no disrespect to them, given their general level of education, future prospects and lack of a financial safety net, they are possibly one of the most financially marginalised groups out there.
If there is one person that you would interesting in a public bus is a conductor because he is usually a person who acts as an advertiser, financial officer, comedian, arguing with customers and a traffic police lookout watchdog.
Though a number of people look down on conductors, all these traits exhibited are in a bid to ensure that his business objective is met.
What you discover from a conductor is that he initiates the business, directs the driver and concludes the business transaction and this provides the basis for drawing lessons which can be applied in various businesses.
Business Initiation
A conductor will walk a long distance to pick a customer, initiate payments negotiation and use various techniques to ensure that the customer is convinced as to why he should use that bus. He will compliment you, plead with you and one skill you will discover is that of convincing one to enter an empty bus on the assurance that the bus will soon take off.
To a conductor, it does not matter whether or not there are other buses parked at a station and conductors fighting for customers, he would try to use his skills to even snatch a customer from another who may not have fully convinced the customer.
In order to build a successful business, you have to hustle and be somewhat of a hard-charger to do any type of business, you’ll find that already competitors exist but that should not be a discouraging factor, learn the skills of winning your customers using your own ways. Remember that how you speak to your potential customers, behaviour you exhibit, how you appear and generally how you initiate a customer interaction will determine the success of any business and so learn from the conductors.
Retain your customers while remaining focused
As the bus takes off, the role of conductor shifts from advertiser to financial manager. In most instances, he keeps the customers entertained in the bus by the stories and jokes he would usually share.
It is like comedy which is a mixture of vernacular and English makes the journey more interesting as the conductor goes about chatting with the driver as the passengers listen in awe and laughter.
However, the conductor remains focused to listen to the destinations of the passengers as money collection goes on. Despite looking seemingly uneducated, the amount of change required is calculated without using a calculator.
A conductor is so passionate about his money such that you will quarrel if you forgot to negotiate the price before boarding the bus and this is a needed business trait where you are not too lenient at the expense of getting needed profit.
The running of financial affairs of your business is your duty as business owner and what you do during the business transaction will surely determine the retaining of your customers. Pay attention to detail as customers speak to you, make them feel welcome, interact with them but do not forget your main business objective.
Watch out for obstacles
Everyone knows the Tom and Jerry relationship that exists between the police and the bus drivers. What you’ll find amazing is that despite the conductor sitting at the back together with most passengers, he is able to view the traffic police officers more than a kilometre away and warn the driver, actually, it is as if they can smell the police on the roads.
This is because to a conductor, the police would be someone acting as a hindrance in achieving their business goals as they would have to pay fines even for the slimmest of the offences.
As a business watchdog, it is your duty to analyse what the possible obstacles to furthering your business goals are. Develop the sense of seeing the obstacles before you encounter them. How do this you may ask? They simply focus on what is happening on the road despite being engaged in other duties.
Do not ever get so engaged in one area of your business such that the sense of observing and dealing with obstacles is forgotten.
Your obstacles could include family and friends who usually want to drain your pockets without contributing any value to your business and so it is important that you deal with them in a way that will not derail your plans. Think and act smart.
Be Patient
A bus conductor will ensure that the bus does not leave the station if it is not yet full. Even if the bus needs one more passenger, the bus will not take-off to ensure that all the revenue benefits are exhausted.
Nothing that is of value in this world usually comes easily and anything of value takes time even if it is launching a business initiate or growing it. Many are the times that business people would love to compromise on good strategies simply because you have something similar to what you envision but learn to have the patience to do what you must to achieve what you can.
The race is not in doing shortcuts but rather being able to plan and follow the plans till you are able to achieve your business objectives. Impatience makes you look desperate, clouds your judgement, distracts from credibility and damages relationships that should help you succeed in the business.
Lastly, it is always important to draw lessons from others, even those we consider to be of little or no value to us.
Instead of reacting or judging the behaviour of other others, sit down, reflect and draw lessons that will help you better yourself. After all, there is nothing that exists that does not teach a lesson. Think and Act Smart.
The author is an economist.



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