On my way up to his office, I found myself looking at a big white board covered in writing of a green marker. The information there summarised had plate number details of the different company vans out on safari with the names of the guide in charge. I did not have the time to count. All I noticed is that the details covered the whole white board.
Maybe this is the easiest way of knowing the individual whereabouts. There was no doubt that the company was busy. It happens to be that time of the year when the tourism business is booming.
This little information could never have crossed my eyes at a time more called for and relevant as it was the case.
I was heading upstairs to meet Amos Wekesa to talk about the power of focusing on one client at a time. While speaking at the Market Place Convention recently, Amos hinted on the need to focus one client at a time.
Then, he had argued that companies begin when they are loyal and dedicated but grow wings the moment the money comes in. Once this happens, it means you do business as you please not necessarily as the clientele demands.
In the earlier days of GreatLakes Safaris, Amos made it a point to focus on giving the best of service to every client that walked through his company. One such a client was Cynthia. Cynthia was in the country for work when she did a tour with Amos. At the end of the trip, she expressed her gratitude to him and promised to recommend other people at World Bank where she worked to book their trips with him. True to her word, she recommended a team that was in the country for a malaria research to him. One of the gentlemen on the team, out of excitement promised to do something for him too. What Amos did not know was that that gentleman was a one Tom Cotter, an editor at Washington Times. Upon going back to the US, Tom wrote about his Uganda tour and in there recommended a one Amos Wekesa for business.
“I have never milked a news article like that one!” remarks an excited Amos, the memory is so fresh, the glow on his face wears on like it just happened the other day.
Tom’s article opened a thousand doors for Amos. Along with it came new challenges. Before, he could manage all his trips. Here now he was having to dispatch five teams at a go. First things first, the only reason all these clients were coming in was because of an individual’s recommendation, if they were going to go back as satisfied as Tom, Amos’ team had to measure up.
That is how it all began for the teams at GreatLakes Safaris. To date, it is a question of being able to pull off the best or nothing at all. The company has grown to give birth to a sister company Uganda Lodges, which offers accommodation in the different tour destinations in the country. “The standard has never changed. It has only improved,” strongly emphasises Amos.
“When you go to all our campuses right now, there’s a training taking place,” Amos informs me, “We don’t take it for granted that a client chooses us. We have to deliver our best and this is the one thing every member of staff knows the day they join our team.”
He is careful not to involve emotions in the process of running business. He believes that every member on the team should know that they are called to offer an excellent service before they can think of anything else.
“You shouldn’t fear to train people because they might leave you. You train them so that even if they are to leave, they leave better than they came. People outgrow businesses. Business is like climbing a ladder. Some people will have to help you from step A to step B and they will go. You will need another group to take you from group B-C yet some might be willing to grow with you from A onwards. Whatever the case, it’s okay.”
After running the company for the past eighteen years, Amos has learnt that no business survives without understanding its clients. And that there is no company too big to fail. “The day you stray from doing the right thing, that is the beginning of your downfall.”
He signs off our conversation saying, “You should always be reminded of why you are running the business. We all start with smaller dreams. As the company grows so should the dreams, should they not, chances are you will have a stunted growth.”
Photo picked from Facebook.
Other stories in these series include: