Earlier today, Telecel Zimbabwe hosted members of the media at an unveiling of its new franchise stores. Telecel has introduced 10 of these stores across Zimbabwe and this is part of the mobile operator’s multi-channel customer experience strategy to increase its footprint in the market.
Besides the store in Harare (located at Lintas House along Kwame Nkrumah) Telecel has placed the stores in Rusape, Zvishavane, Chiredzi, Norton, Mutare, Gwanda, Bulawayo, Gutu and Gokwe. These stores are going to be followed up by 75 kiosks that are supposed to offer subscribers easier access to the Telecel services while giving the entrepreneurs a less expensive entry into the Telecel franchise.
Each store offers the full range of services that a subscriber would get from the main Telecel branches, with support being provided for everything from SIM card replacement to Telecash queries.
The franchising opportunity is extended to community partners that can provide Telecel brand value and meet prerequisites for business. The same requirements will be used for entrepreneurs that want to sign up for the kiosk opportunity. for the operator this is also supposed to be a way to get the entrepreneurial community involved in its growth plans. According to Telecel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Nkosinathi Ncube,
These franchise shops are Telecel’s way of including locals in our business ecosystem which will empower local entrepreneurs in these tough economic times. During a franchise business partnership, Telecel takes care of set-up costs which are usually a barrier for most people wanting to go into business.
This is hardly a new strategy, with its competitor, Econet, also employing the same strategy. For Telecel, this market entry route was tried over 5 years ago, but Telecel had to retreat because of limited uptake from a market that was only getting to appreciate the dynamics of a dollarised economy.
Now, things are a lot different and Telecel is in a more aggressive mode, especially regarding customer care and satisfaction. A drop in its subscribers numbers, added to declining revenues because of lowered tariffs and increased taxes have made the local telecoms space extremely challenging to operate in.