Catching the competition
When a new shopping centre was built in Richard Chauke’s hometown of Soshanguve, the developers included the community in its future operations. Yet, at that time, Chauke’s business couldn’t have a sustainable relationship with the mall
Someone suggested that Chauke instead tender to provide waste removal services. “I didn’t get the tender, but the owner of the company that did allowed us to work with him. I learnt the ins and outs of the business and started Value Waste. We sort waste from recycling and provide recycling audits. We then sell the recycling and reduce pressure on landfills,” he says.
Chauke’s also proud of the buy-back centre he started. “We buy recyclable products from community members and help them generate incomes.”
Companies with track records of more than 20 years pose challenges for Chauke. “When we make bids to office and shopping complexes, these companies often under-quote. It’s not financially viable for us to do the same.
“Government institutions assist us by not immediately overlooking us based on price. Commercial organisations, however, don’t care – they just want the best price. Quality and service are seldom factors in their decisions. How can I compete against these businesses?” asks Chauke.
AN ECO IMPERATIVE
Mohamed Majapa from Bora Growth Partners says that before he can compete viably, Chauke must determine where his business fits in. “He’s up against competitors, so he needs to carry out market research to ensure that that specific sector is capable of supporting him. He may find that he’s too small to fight. In that case, there’s no point in trying to beat substantially larger and better-established companies and he should rather enter the market by a different route, such as eco-marketing. Many companies are required to track green scores and Chauke can help them gain higher ratings while delivering a reliable service,” says Majapa.
Chauke should also identify the best marketing methods. “His buy-back centre provides excellent marketing opportunities. He needs to educate community members on the importance of recycling, besides its income-generating potential. The brand can grow from that perspective, rather than from his current focus,” explains Majapa.
“Chauke should then use that relationship with the community to obtain work at the local malls, demonstrating his efforts to recycle waste in order to drive people there. In that way, he’ll play a more meaningful role within the community.”
Ultimately, stories attract customers. “It’s essential to demonstrate the importance of recycling and show that everyone plays a role in it. If Chauke cares passionately about the business’s purpose, it will filter throughout the venture’s operations. He should define himself by showing that it’s not just about money, but about the environment too,” advises Majapa.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Jeremy Barton from PE Coach says many people are getting involved in the waste sector as awareness of its importance grows. He agrees that the first step is to understand the market. “By doing that, Chauke can identify his competitors and how best to target his resources.”
Following this, it’s essential to take small steps to become a big player. “He should start by doing what he’s already done and work with larger players. I agree that there’s no way he can compete with companies that have been operating for 20 years. Instead, he should choose an effective route to market by forming relationships with bigger companies, especially those buying recyclables. This must be a major focus until he’s ready to compete with them.”
Barton says Chauke needs to determine what kind of business he wants, where he wants it to be and the steps he should follow to get there. Competing with larger companies might be premature at this stage.
“It’s crucial that he have a plan, whether this is written down or in his head, so that he can chart the measures he must take to achieve his goal,” says Barton.
Mohamed Majapa, Managing Partner: Bora Growth Partners. Tel: 021 418 2812. Website: boragrowth.com
Jeremy Barton, Executive Coach: PE Coach. Website: pecoach.co.za