Last week I was at the airport to pick my Dad up. He had insisted he must join his wife (my Mum) who has been in Lagos for almost 2 months now.
The traffic congestion that Wednesday was mad, typical of what happens whenever it rains in Lagos so we decided to eat at one of the restaurants at the airport while we wait for the rush to subside.
After eating and waiting for an extra hour, it was already getting late so I swiped out my phone to book a taxi that will take us home (I hate booking any of those registered airport taxis except none of these car-hailing companies work in the area I visited).
I tried Uber first but their price was outrageous. I learned from an Uber driver some months ago that they estimate their fares with reference to the level of traffic congestion at the moment even before the car moves. That day I had spent about $42 to and fro the Island, Lagos and it wasn’t funny so I decided to engage the driver so I could learn from my experience.
When I saw the outrageous estimate, my heart nearly skipped again. How on earth will I be paying 3 times the regular fees?
I closed the Uber app and moved over to Taxify (now Bolt). In one touch, I got a driver and the fare estimate was pretty awesome.
I’m an introvert but it doesn’t hinder me from sparking up a conversation with anyone whenever I want to learn something new.
I needed to learn a thing or two about how this transport business works so I started by thanking him for the ride he was giving us.
Later, we dived into discussing the core challenges these drivers face on a daily basis and how they are able to contend with these challenges.
It was at this point he told me about a new foreign-owned car-hailing company called, InDriver.
I had downloaded their app some months back when they were following me up and down with their Facebook Ads but I never used it.
He marketed the InDriver app so well that I promised him that I will use the app in any of my movements going forward.
I asked him if he had installed the newly launched car-hailing app called, Mr Taxi and he couldn’t stop laughing at me.
He told me that he has never heard about them.
I showed him the picture of Mercy Okeke, winner of BBNaija 2019 signing an endorsement deal with this new company but that alone cracked him up the more.
A quick question for you…
How many of you here have the Mr Taxi app installed on your phone?
It was at that point he told me some of the most expensive mistakes businesses make that have continued to cost them more money until they can’t afford to pay their bills anymore and they will go the way of the dinosaur.
He mentioned a couple of car-hailing companies that had started in Nigeria but shut down after a few years and some for just a few months.
I don’t want to mention the names of those companies here for some good reasons (I’m sure you already know some of them) but I will tell you exactly the mistakes he told me that these companies made that made it extremely difficult for them to compete.
1. Wasting Money on Influencer Marketing When It is Not the Most Strategic Approach
Influencer marketing works but funnily enough, most companies in Nigeria are going about it the wrong way.
How can you spend millions of naira on an endorsement deal but can’t spend a dime on, on-ground marketing and advertising?
Majority of these drivers you want to sign up with you as riders don’t care who won the BBNaija.
They are mature adults who went into the business to make extra income for their families. Some of them are bankers, civil servants, officers, etc. They don’t care about your celebs.
What did InDriver do differently?
They targeted major locations drivers gather when there’s no work to do and went there to preach the good news of downloading their app and turning it on every single time.
Thereafter, they went online to run laser-focused ads to get passengers to download the app.
2. Wasting Money to Rent Expensive Office Space But Neglecting the Most Important Thing – Marketing
From what the Taxify driver told me, I got to know that those other companies he mentioned that folded up had amazing office spaces in VI and Lekki but couldn’t do well in marketing.
Having a good office space for your business isn’t bad but if you don’t invest in sales, marketing and advertising which happens to be the 3 things that bring the money, your business will shut down before you say, Jack!
Who checks what Taxify head office in Lagos looks like before booking a rider with their app?
Marketing first, then branding second.
While others were busy paying influencers and renting expensive office spaces, InDriver dived deep into marketing and advertising. They followed me “upandan” with their ads until I had no choice but to download it.
They treated their riders so well that the driver who drove us from the airport was marketing them effortlessly. Word-of-mouth marketing still works.
Another company that is doing well in this area is Opera News Hub. Instead of paying millions of naira on a popular influencer, they opted for micro-influencers.
In the coming year, I have a strong feeling that micro-influencers are the ones that will be cashing out big from influencer marketing.
How much are Taxify drivers making monthly and weekly currently? Going by my interaction with most Bolt drivers I’ve used, they make as much as N300,000 monthly. That’s less than a thousand dollars.
3. Lack of Longterm Approach When Invading a New Market
If your goal of going into any business is to make all the money now, I bet you, you won’t stay long in that business.
The short-term mentality approach to business is the reason I don’t advise a depressed or financially frustrated person to go into business.
It makes them want to get all the money now, thereby making them hurt their customers in the long run.
Even if you don’t have all the money to throw around like Opera did with OPay nor what InDriver is doing where they aren’t charging riders a dime, there’s still a smart way to prove to your audience that you aren’t just after their money but you are sincerely interested in their progress.
Once your audience understands that you truly care, they will open up their wallets for you.
This article you are reading from Emenike Emmanuel is one of the ways I prove to you that I’m not particularly interested in you giving me your money but I’m genuinely interested in your progress. I do the exact same thing in my Facebook community, The Excellent Entrepreneurs’ Network.
4. Ignoring the Most Important People in Your Business
The most important people in this ride-hailing company are; the passengers, riders, and staff (foot marketers).
The company won’t be in business if they don’t take care of these people I mentioned above.
As at the time of writing this article, InDriver is not taking a dime from riders as a form of their approach to breaking into the new territory.
The best part is that they are giving passengers the freedom to negotiate their trips with riders. The first to do that in this part of the globe.
Here’s what it means.
You can decide you will only pay $6 USD from the Island to Ikeja and they will keep matching you to different drivers until you find a driver within your location ready to take that amount. If all the drivers decline, you will have to step up or continue waiting.
Which of these lessons sounds more interesting to you? I’d like to hear from you. You can also request that I write about the lessons I learned using the services of any startups of your choice.
Would you like to learn how to start, manage and grow a highly successful blogging business? I recommend you check out my detailed Blogging Business Masterclass.