It has become almost a fact at this time that Asians are taking over the world market. A walk down the town district of this Island and I’m beginning to think I’m in India. Every shop on the block seems to carry a name I must have come across while watching Bollywood movies. Kumar, for instance. This was baffling because I saw same trend in Saudi Arabia. The Arabian souks were mostly flooded by Indians, Pakistanis etc. My curiosity has led me into window shopping at various Indian/Pakistani/ Korean/ Syrian stores here in Grenada, just to have a conversation with them and know a little story behind their success in trading. These are some tips I gained from just visiting these stores.
- They believe in working as a community: I found out their stores are mainly run by family members. One I visited, actually has a baby cot that The store manager keeps her baby because this is as good as home for her. Husband, wife, sister, brother, cousins, in-law, name it, has been strategically put for optimal efficiency. Most times it starts with one family member who would start a business and before you know it, he’s invited family members or friends to migrate and join in on the investment. And that’s how they birth a conglomerate. They invest in same manner in realty. They buy a piece of land and build a house, the next thing you know, a friend or relative is building next to them….and that’s how you have a “Little Asia” Estate.
- They believe in the Master being a Servant: Never have I gone in and seen a scenario where I would ask who is in charge and they point a secluded office to see the boss. Neither have I been told “Our Boss cannot be seen”. You also don’t see a Posh car that’s being driven in by a ‘well-fed’, business-is- good, gold clad man or woman, who gives orders and drives out. Who is the boss then? It’s that dude, you just passed by, carrying a box of products. They are the retailers, the strategists, the customer service officer, they assume any position when the need arises and make sure you leave the shop satisfied.
- Great Customer Service: They might not necessarily have a plastic smile like some Caucasians would do or a default frown like some Africans would. They just have a genuine expression whenever you walk into the shop. Even when you tell them you are just looking around and don’t intend to buy anything, they pleasantly receive you and even give you options to look at. I remember going into one and I ended up buying what I didn’t plan for. It’s not always like that with my African brethren. In fact, I should narrate my recent experience because that dude just lost a customer. This just happened yesterday. I walked into a Barbers shop with my almost-2-year old toddler. As we got in, the man in charge gave me a mean look like he just wasn’t pleased to meet us. I told him I was here for my boy’s haircut. He interrupted loudly that my son won’t stay still. I replied vehemently that he would. The barber had forgotten we had come there before and we had the same mean reception and yet, my boy complied. He started the trim and my boy was as cool as ice. As we were leaving, I told myself it has got to be the last time there for me. The first time, I assumed the barber was just having a bad day. Second time?! Nah! This dude is of an African descent and I wondered why he’d treat his fellow race like that. Ofcourse, customer service cannot be streamlined to race alone. It’s an individual thing but I think it’s more than a mere coincidence that I’ve had great customer service from Asians and not-so-great service from Africans. Be sure, if you treat a customer nicely, they are sure to come back.
- They believe in little beginnings: I hear some of their stories and what’s common is they start very little. Most times it starts as a little shack of a convenience store. They come in as immigrants and ofcourse they do not have the resources to go big from the start, so they start small and patiently and organically grow the business.
- They are Time Keepers: You would think a family-Centric business would at least cut the family members some slack but No!…they treat their business like a business. They make sure they open at scheduled times. This increases trust of their customers that they mean business (pun intended). This last point might not be peculiar to the Asians, some people naturally are time conscious but I chipped this point in here because it plays a part in the Asian community.
- They adapt easily in a foreign land: I remember a flight from Addis-Ababa to Abuja on my visit to Nigeria and I could count how many Nigerians were on that flight. The rest, your guess is as good as mine. Chinese and Koreans, speaking the pidgin English like it was their first language. The ones here in Grenada call themselves Grenadians. If you call them by their original race, they nicely correct you and say they are Grenadians. Man, I can see your squinted eyes and small feet, you are Chinese. They don’t think so anyway.
Familiar tips, right?! Yes!, especially if you own a business but most times it’s all theory, and no practicals. From Lackadaisical actions towards self-owned businesses to poor customer service, most businesses don’t stand a chance of thriving even when it was intended to thrive. I always run these facts in my head and I see lots of similarities with the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and just a handful of other tribes. Sailing a business is tough but there are little things you do right that can help. I am not a Business Strategist but this is what I’ve seen and noticed and thought I’d share with you. With time, I’d bring you an exclusive interview with these people I’m referring to. For now, it’s Adios Amigos!
Photo credit: fmprc.gov.cn
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