What if you were me?
I sometimes wonder how others would have handled certain situations. Emotionally people tend to differ a lot, especially when it comes to professional situations.
I’ve thrown myself into the deep end of a very deep swimming pool at the beginning of the year (but I have learned to keep my head above the water, although I still get tired sometimes), and never had I thought that I would be where I am today. Starting your own company during an economic crisis is not for sissies – I can tell you that much! But here I am…and I am still the owner of my dream company, Travelling Mystery Guest!
I’d like to know how you would have handled these three situations (which I’ve had to deal with this year) – perhaps we could learn from each other for the upcoming challenges, who knows?!
- You just started your own company and one of your friends asked you to offer him/her your workshops (which you’ve worked on for at least two months) at no cost?
- You had to move back into your parents’ home in order to decrease your expenses and then your siblings move back home too and now you’re one big happy family in one house again? (One thing is for sure – I appreciate them more and more every day!)
- You got an opportunity with one of the top companies in the industry, only to find out that they just want a barter deal and you actually really need the money?
Getting your company off the ground is not that easy. I have been told by many that a new company takes up to three years to break even. Well, even though this year has been tough, one thing is for sure:
“Never underestimate God’s grace or your family’s support. It’s what keeps you standing through the tough times.” –Renate de Villiers
Being a fan of coffee shops and dining out and evidently landing up as the owner of Travelling Mystery Guest, I’ve visited quite a few restaurants in Southern Africa.
Most of the restaurants I’ve visited form part of popular franchises, as they are usually the most affordable. I LOVE fine dining, but unless it’s for work, someone else pays, or it really is a special occasion, I don’t often visit them. It’s interesting to see, also, how your perception changes over the years. Staying in a small country town for most of my life, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of fine dining. In grade 9 my favourite restaurant was Wiesenhof in River Square, Vereeniging! Today, after studying in Pretoria and experiencing life in Cape Town, I’ve learnt that there is much more to dining out.
“Where I was used to vanilla flavoured milkshakes and chicken mayo sandwiches, I can now appreciate pre-planned white, square plates with elegantly placed proteins, foreign vegetables and garnishes that turns food into art.” –Renate de Villiers
South Africa’s restaurant industry is quite versatile, though. Sometimes you really just want to experience the nostalgia that comes with a vanilla milkshakes or chicken mayo toasted sandwich. Other times an elegant white plate painted with food is the perfect fit. It is, however, always about the presentation and the service received and that is what classifies some restaurants higher than others.
Restaurants’ attentiveness regarding customers’ needs and expectations play a very big role in the customer’s journey. This includes:
- Digital interaction with customers (social media, on their website, blogs, etc.).
- More health options on the menu (i.e. for people with allergies or intolerances).
- Waiters’ knowledge about the menu and suggestions regarding wines, different menu options, etc.
- The restaurant’s involvement regarding social and environmental responsibility.
- Small things that make big impressions like a compliment in a cup, letting kids put together their own pizzas, something different like a unique teapot, freshly baked bread and now also the popular crafters’ beers.
These are but a few o the things that play a role in South Africa’s restaurants. Where do you fit in?
Starting your own company is a pretty big challenge in itself – let alone starting it in the middle of an economic crisis. And yup – that is exactly where I am! Yet, it is the most fulfilling thing I have done in a long time.
This challenge comes with even more challenges, which I experience hands-on every day. Here are a few of the challenges you will face when starting your own company:
- Finances. If you didn’t have enough capital to begin with, you definitely won’t have enough now. Make provision for more than you think you might need – things get rough out there.
- Your biggest enemy is you. This was a very scary part to realize, but trust me – you are a bigger enemy than your competitors. You are the one who get tired and lose faith at times. You’re the one who start thinking it’s not going to work. You’re the one starting to trust that voice in your head telling you that you were stupid to think it was going to work in the first place. Don’t fall for the lies! Keep your eyes on the goal and march on.
- Making time. You tend to work harder than usual. Ten to twelve hour days, seven days a week is nothing. Therefore, there is less time to spend with your loved ones, but remember: they are your support system. They are the ones who cheer you on when you feel like you can’t go any further. Make time for quality friend and family time. You need it and they need you to still be you no matter what.
- “What if’s”. Stop right there. Don’t even go there. Thinking “what if it doesn’t work” is not going to get you anywhere. Train you brain to rather think: “Okay, what next”. Don’t stop thinking, don’t stop doing and never stop researching.
- Possible clients will always have a comeback. Oh, this happens too often. People will tell you they don’t need your service, because they’ve been in the industry for “almost 20 years” and they don’t think anyone can teach them anything. Even though I really feel sorry for them (because you learn new things everyday) I respect their response and take them of my contacting list. Don’t let this demotivate you – there are always people like that in life and you don’t want to work with people who think they know everything anyhow.
- Sacrifices. When starting your own business, you need to be willing to sacrifice certain things in order to save some money. Testing out a new coffee shop every day will need to wait a year or two. Buying the best phone will need to wait another two years. Window shopping will need to become the new way of shopping for a while and holidays will need to be put on hold. In the long run, this will pay off – trust me.
- Forgetting the important things. Don’t forget or let go of the important things like exercise and relationships. These are things that will keep you going – don’t omit it from your routine.
These are but a few of the challenges I’ve encountered in the first few months of starting my own business and I suppose there are still many to come. But these challenges teach me something new every day and I love it. Starting your own business is definitely a good way to get to know yourself (and your limits).
So, to all the entrepreneurs out there: Up top for taking on the challenge and good luck!
I couldn’t resist sharing this quote with you today – so perfect for Good Friday.
May you have a blessed long weekend, peeps!
Good Friday Quote
Don’t we all just love to talk about what this restaurant did wrong and what that hotel didn’t do? We tell this to friends and family, share it on every possible social media page, run to TripAdvisor and Hello Peter, yet nothing really gets done. You might get your money back or a chat with the general manager, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Now you have a chance to make a difference!
Become a mystery guest
Travelling Mystery Guest invites you, the South African customer, to become a mystery guest with the company in order to gather more information about customer expectations in the hospitality and tourism industry. This, however, does not mean that you can just sit back and relax – the information you gather from your experience will be crucial to Travelling Mystery Guest’s findings which will be shared with the establishments visited in order to assist them on improving customer service.
In a nutshell the following will be expected of you:
- Attend an in-depth training session on how to become a mystery guest for Travelling Mystery Guest (Pty) Ltd.
- Sign an agreement with TMG, indicating that all information gathered is the property of the company.
- Have permanent access to internet and social media.
- Have your own transport and contact methods.
- Have experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.
What’s in it for you?
- A great new experience and the opportunity to explore your local environment.
- Some insight on the hospitality and tourism industry’s challenges.
- 10% commission on every establishment you visit.
- 10% on every TMG workshop booked in response to your visit.
- In-house training on customer service and the procedures to follow as a mystery guest for TMG.
What’s in it for Travelling Mystery Guest?
- More accurate recordings of a customer’s journey at an establishment, assisting us in giving restaurants, guesthouses and hotels the best possible feedback on their customer service.
- The opportunity to really make a difference in the industry.
- Some great new friends.
- An increased database.
Interested? Send your CV to Renate at email@example.com.
Terms and Conditions:
Only South African citizens may apply.
You may only become a mystery guest if you have your own transport, contact methods and constant internet access.
The application process may include further interviews.
Your participation may be terminated with immediate effect should you not adhere to Travelling Mystery Guest’s operating procedures and standards.
You may not participate as a mystery guest for the company if you have not completed Travelling Mystery Guest’s training and signed an agreement with the company.
All documents, photos, databases and other information gathered in the process will belong to Travelling Mystery Guest and the reproduction or reuse thereof will be illegal.
1. Cube Kitchen
With a dash of uniqueness attached to its stunningly beautiful food photography, the Cube Kitchen is definitely number one on my dining-in-Jo’burg bucket list. An intimate 30 seat tasting kitchen, they believe the table to be a source of fun and conversation. They encourage lengthy dinners with lots of wine, food and conversation – as long as you bring the wine (they are not licensed, which is a little sad). But it sounds like my kind of people and I’ll definitely pop in sooner than later. Visit their website here: http://www.cubekitchen.co.za/home
2. Leafy Greens Café
Their slogan, “Eat well, do good” caught my attention immediately. “Leafy G” is committed to producing food that has the lowest carbon footprint (food that it high in minerals and vitamins in its raw form). Therefore the menu also changes according to seasonality. Located in Muldersdrift the restaurant also offers a peaceful escape from the busy city life. Find more information about this vegan-friendly café here: http://www.leafygreens.co.za/
3. Schwabinger Stuben
After recently returning from Germany, I would love to visit this old fashioned, yet cozy Randburg Restaurant. Menu options include the traditional eisbein, schnitzel and German sausages and the atmosphere is apparently true to the classic Bavarian tavern. This restaurant seems to be the ideal down-to-earth dining option with good value for money. Contact them on 011 787 2550.
4. Lucky Bean Restaurant
Apparently, according to Food24, you are lucky if you’ve even just been there. This restaurant seems to have taken traditional South African cuisine to another level with Ostrich Bobotie Spring Rolls and a warm Jozi heart. Find them here: Lucky Bean Restaurant
5. The Good Luck Club
For the occasional craving of Asian food, this spot seems perfect! From creamy coconut juice and slow beers to ‘lucky wings’ with ginger, fish sauce, garlic, parsley and mint, this sounds like the best place to enjoy some Asian cuisine. Visit their website here: The Good Luck Club