There are several lessons we can pick from some local traders that we see everyday.

We may not be attentive to picking up those lessons, so let me help you.

1. Lessons from the Suya Man – You approach the Suya man to buy Suya. You are standing in front of him; so he is sure of the intent to buy. He however wants to increase your level of trust and spend; so he cuts a small piece, dips it in pepper and hands you to eat. He offers value ahead so that he earns your trust.

Summary – Once the customer has approached you, give value ahead to earn his trust and increase the spend value.

2. Lessons from the Corn seller – You stop on the expression way to buy corn in Lagos, opposite Lagos Business School. They run to your car. “Madam, buy pear- all for 1000”. They do not even offer you 100 Naira or 200 Naira pear. They offer you 1000 worth of pear in a bowl. 8 out of 10 people who stop there, buy the bowl of pear.

Summary – Offer the customer bulk buy. Many will take it. You will make more sales. Stop trying to sell one, offer two.

3. Lessons from the cane seller – An Igbo man will import a container load of cane. Yes, you heard me. Cane used in flogging and correction. Someone imports a container load of it. He opens his shop everyday and sells cane in huge quantities. He believes in his heart that there is a market. Schools and parents buy from him. He has done the business for 18 years.

Summary – The scarcity mindset will kill you. You think that if you sell one thing you cannot make it. You decide to venture into all sorts. You do not niche and be known for something. The woman who sells only bitterleaf soup and cow head in Apapa has higher daily revenues than an eatery in Lekki. I did the research.

4. Lessons from the Igbo fabric seller – As soon as you arrive his shop, he insists that you sit down, then he sends someone to buy you malt. He understands that the longer you sit, your eyes will feed on more fabrics and you will end up buying 10 instead of 3.

Summary – If you run a physical store, you can increase the amount a customer spends by getting the customer to sit down. It works!

5. Lessons from the Market Grinder – As a child, my mother will buy tomatoes, take them home, wash them, put into a plastic bucket with a cover and ask us to go to the local grinding machine to grind it. I came to Lagos and realized that even though people had blenders at home, they believe that the tomatoes grinded by the public grinder has a finer and smoother feel. They call it ‘Obe’. The local market grinder who wants to capture them from the point where they buy the tomatoes in the market provides 2 major things – enough water to wash the tomatoes and giant size nylon to pack the grinded paste. They position themselves in the market near people who sell tomatoes.

Summary – Have you ever thought about a business that can provide you a steady stream of customers? What business can you take a position next to and get your customers from?

6. Lessons from the Local barbers shop – My husband loves his barber. If the young man travels, Mr Eze will only go somewhere else to shave his beard. His hair will wait for the guy to return. What did the guy do right? He carefully studied what other barbing salons were doing wrong and he developed strategies to fix those things.

Other salons leave hair lying on the floor, he has a dedicated boy cleaning every 10 minutes. Other salons have barbers dressed with sagging pants, tattoos and all sorts; he insists his barbers must dress decently to be good models for younger boys. Other salons just barb and use that white brush to dust the customer. He barbs and uses hot water with a sparkling clean white towel to clean you up, still charging regular fees. Other salons have barbers shouting, watching football and talking anyhow. His barbers are trained to keep quiet and only speak to customers decently while cool music plays in the background. Other barbers do not buy toys for kids. He has the cutest toy cars that even my 2 year old wouldn’t cry when barbing.

Summary – Find out what your competitors are doing wrong. Correct it and gain loyal customers.

All the strategies listed here may not apply to your business; but where they can apply or be slightly modified to apply, please do.

Can we please share more lessons from local businesses.

I love you!
Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze