There is big problem that is holding down majority Ugandans both rich and poor – the thinking that to become rich or richer, one must operate a business in Kampala.
However, that is not the case. A visit to Migyera will change your perspective about your business location. It is all about quality services and great customer service. Migyera Service petrol station has set high standards of service that have become customer-magnetic. You will find how customer service and ambulance free toilet can turn you into a billionaire.
The petrol station located in Nakasongola district as you go to northern Uganda, started with one pump in 2006, but given the owner’s business astuteness, the business has grown and today the station has transformed into a modern petrol station, with a large supermarket whose sales outcompete many big-brand supermarkets in Kampala. Near the petrol station, there is a restaurant and guesthouse.
Reliable sources say the owner has also expanded and opened up another outlet on Kinoni-Masaka road using the same business model. The booming business has attracted several big players in the petroleum industry, one of the big players is said to have approached the owner of station and offered him $1m for a buy-out, which the owner reportedly turned down.
How it all started
While on the trip from northern Uganda, the founder stopped by the trading centre to refuel his car. The petrol stations at the time had run out of fuel. He also noticed there was no nice place where one could eat a snack. That is how he got the idea of starting a fuelling station. One thing led to the other, and today he boasts of a thriving business.
Strategies in action
Unlike other supermarkets and businesses in Uganda whose owners employ workers from one ethnic group, the owner of Kobil petrol station, Nakasongola noticed that people who ply the route and stop over come from different ethnic groups in Uganda. He thus recruited staff from major ethnic tribes to ease communication. Just like other nationals, Ugandans feel at home when they are served by someone who speaks their mother tongue, given the diverse tribes in the country. At this station, you get Lugbara, Lango, Luganda, Runyankore, Dinka, Ateso and Runyoro-Rutooro.
There is no such clean place along the route as Migyera Kobil station. The place is maintained 24/7. The growing clientele forced the owner to put up a modern toilet facility estimated at Ugx 200m.
Unlike other providers who charge for toilet, here it is free of charge. Perhaps it is the only place outside Kampala and major towns with flushing water. As such, the place has turned out to be a preferred stopover along the route. On average, each passenger spends more than Ugx 20,000. The place is also stopover for tourists.
To ensure proper sanitation, the place has its own standby boreholes and a truck to ferry in water in times of scarcity.
Security is also at its best as the owner is said to work closely with the police, under the community policing scheme.
They say, employees are a company’s number one asset, and the owner understands this well. The place boasts of well-trained staff which has seen the business grow steadily. The speed and accuracy with which employees serve is excellent. Fast meals like chips and chapatti are served in real time.
There is also consistency; no matter the time you visit the place, you are served. Plus the toilets are always clean, security is tight and the place is well lit. During our visit of the place, we discovered existence of two standby generators in case of power problems.
Corporate social responsibility
Engaging the community is considered to be critical for business success. From the profits a business makes, giving part of it back to the community is great as the community appreciates the brand and helps protect the business.
Being a Muganda operating in Buruuli, the owner had to find ways to give back to community so that locals can own and appreciate the business. The petrol station is said to be a major sponsor of Buruuli football league. Migyera is also said to be Muslim stronghold.
This magazine learnt that the owner contributes to Muslim activities in the area. He is actively involved in church activities, as well.
All employees are given free accommodation next to business. The owner built nice houses to house staff for free. This is said to increase staff retention.
Free drinks/eats for bus drivers
Who are your key customer contacts? The kind of customers who given their power of influence can bring you more customers.
As strategy, the company is said to offer free drinks and eats to bus drivers when they stop over at the station. Driving from as far as Juba or northern Uganda, the drivers get very cold and thus need a drink to warm up.
As they stop for a free drink, the passengers are also forced to have something. Buses are said to spend more than an hour at this point.
It’s no surprise that passengers are told that from or to northern Uganda, the only stopover is at two points -- Migyera Service Station and Pakwach. However, the latter stopover is not as developed and services don’t match those of the former. For example, in Pakwach, passengers are charged for toilets and the general hygiene is very poor. Those who know, prefer to have a stopover at Migyera.
Hope you get some lessons for your business success.
About the author
Moses Kaketo is the Editor and General Manager for Summit Business Review Magazine, holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Uganda Management Institute, A professional diploma in marketing (CIM) and bachelors degree in Education. He sees business in everything. He loves writing business news, reviews and analyses.