The value in shape shifting

King Kaka
Business tactics have evolved over the years, with purchasing power now influenced by how attached the consumer is to a product.

As a result, major corporations have gone the ‘emotions’ way, which means you’re seeing more adverts that speak directly to you.

In the past, we tended to buy products simply because our parents had them in the house when we were growing up.

My friend’s upcoming birthday reminded me of this evolution. It’s become Nairobi culture that when your birthday falls on a weekday, you celebrate it in a club over the weekend. If you’re a reveller in a club on a Saturday, you’ll have noticed the number of tables with cakes, and once in a while, you’ll hear the DJ throw in some shoutouts.

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The sad bit

The sad bit is that the hottest clubs in the city have been dying. The cycle is familiar: the new club announcement, the flocking, the hype, and then the moving on to the next big thing, leading to the death of the ‘old’ club.

Most club premises have been turned into eateries.

I realised this when we were discussing where to have my friend’s party. The most popular suggestions were two of the newest clubs in the city.

As much as most of us had a personal relationship with waiters and managers from other clubs, we were still willing to try out new joints.

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It reminded me of a job I did years back, a consulting job.

This is a secret I’m willing to share, so please practise if the module applies.

I was approached by a friend who had one of the biggest clubs in the city, and at that particular time, his profits were through the roof. The tables were always full and the stock wouldn’t last 24 hours.

In my business adventure, I’ve known that getting to the top is hard, but even more difficult is maintaining the position.

The secret

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So when the owner and I were talking and he asked how he could maintain this cash flow, I gave him advice my mentor passed on to me: don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.

Two weeks later, I asked him for a meeting because I’d got a crazy idea that would revolutionise his club business.

Let me break it down. There are three stages in the club business cycle in Nairobi.

1. The peak stage: Basically at this stage, everyone’s excited and the clubs are always full. That means the income is pretty good and the advertising is fully organic. The décor offers good attraction value, and the service complements the buzz. This stage is a major advantage to a club because it means all the top brands want to do activations at its premises.

2. The ground stage: In this stage, after all the buzz, most probably a newer club has opened somewhere, and the competition is steadily taking away your clients. By this time, though, your club is almost two years old, and a return on investment has been attained. Still, no one wants a business they’ve struggled to build to die.

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3. The downhill stage: At this final stage, the club is on the verge of death, and most managers or owners will neglect the cries of the consumers. You’ll find the service has deteriorated and the club needs renovation. After a few months of this stage, you’ll visit the club and find it’s been turned into a restaurant.

So how can you avoid this cycle? That’s what my friend wanted to know.

I’ll not mention the name of the club, but since this plan was put into good use by the owner, he enjoys new buzz every two years. As a result, he only enjoys the first, most profitable stage of the club cycle.

The plan

So, what was my plan?

Well, it was to create a really good club with all the fancy lights and TV screens, top-notch service and of course, a great VIP list, which creates a buzz automatically.

I also advised the owner of this club to sacrifice and save 20 per cent of all his profits for use in the future.

In the beginning, this was a major debate, but we agreed on it. After two years, I advised him to close the club the whole month of January, which is slow for the club business anyway. The 20 per cent was to be used to renovate the club during this time, and give it a new name.

That would bring in new numbers, constant profits and a return to the top position. That same club has changed names three times, with three different managers who rotate.

No one has a clue that it’s the same club; they just respond to the fact that there’s a new club in Nairobi.

I was given a bonus on my quotation and I’m always welcome at that particular club.

The bottom line? Never be afraid to shape shift even when you’re at the top.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

Business tacticseateriesentrepreneurshipNight clubs