Lou Odunuga is the Director, Retail Sales, Etisalat Nigeria. In this interview with IKECHUKWU ONYEWUCHI, he says the firm’s recently opened franchise centres, which is a unique third party operated specialist retail programme, would help in solving Nigeria’s unemployment problem.
What propelled Etisalat to establish franchise centres in Ado Ekiti, Zaria and Abakaliki?
ETISALAT is known for its continuous involvement in innovation and customer satisfaction. In line with these attributes, we decided to come up with the franchise centers as a way of offering our customers easier access to our ever increasing line of products and services and provide exceptional experiences that are synonymous with the brand. Such business arrangements are made to be a win-win situation.
Expansion, entrepreneurship, innovation and customer satisfaction were the factors that birthed the franchise initiative. We always look for new ways and avenues that enable us give back to our customers and the society by providing channels for people to make a living.
How does a franchisee benefit from this scheme, as against just acting as distributors?
As a Franchisee, you benefit from a brand with proven track record and numerous success stories. You are also given the opportunity to establish a business with minimal investment, major support and a huge potential for profit making.
How does these centers improve on the quality of service in these cities and how do you access impact of services of the franchisees?
Over the last seven years of operations, quality of service has distinguished the Etisalat brand and this has been clearly demonstrated at every Etisalat touch point and experience centers. The franchise centers have been developed as an extension of the positive service experiences that customers enjoy from the network. Staff across all the touch points (franchise and owned experience centers) goes through world class training to ensure customers get consistent quality of service.
What parameters do you consider in setting up franchises and in what states do you have such arrangements?
At the moment we have six franchise centers in Nigeria and they are situated in Zaria (Kaduna), Katsina (Katsina), Ado Ekiti (Ekiti), Abakaliki (Ebonyi), Port Harcourt (Rivers), and Ikotun (Lagos). A massive expansion of franchise centers is being planned for the next two to three years.
Population, subscriber base and accessibility by customers were the factors used to determine the states for the franchise centers. Our ultimate goal is to ensure our customers receive exceptional service with ease.
The selection process was very rigorous and only persons with character and who will to comply with the standards and rules laid down and practiced by Etisalat qualified. The franchisees were also required to show a successful track record of a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) managed by them. This is to ensure that the standard of service delivery at the centers is not compromised.
How much support do entrepreneurs get in being a franchisee and what are your plans for them and the customers in 2016?
As a brand, Etisalat is committed to ensuring that the Nigerian economy blossoms, no matter what we have to deal with. The establishment of the franchise programme provides us with the opportunity to aid entrepreneurs with needed support financially and morally.
Etisalat is tailored to continually innovate with the introduction of new products and services in order to suit the communication needs of its present and potential customers. In 2016, we will not relent on the efforts we have put into making the business what it is today.
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