LEARNING CURVE | Pool maestro puts knowledge into practice
With extensive experience in the pool building industry, Timothy Chifamba has a strong belief that there are no shortcuts on the road to success.
The 49-year-old owner of Poolmaster PE is passionate about giving his customers good service and being there for them for any follow-up needs.
Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?
I’ve always worked with pools. I left Zimbabwe for SA in 2008 in search of greener pastures.
I worked in Jeffreys Bay for six years at a pool company and after that I moved to Port Elizabeth to have a go at starting my own business.
What is your core service?
Construction and installation of new pools, repairs, renovations and pool plumbing.
What makes your business unique?
Good service and I always follow up with my clients on how they are doing after I do job for them.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
Learn and gather as much knowledge as possible from others, put your knowledge into practice, and always keep learning.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?
I had the challenge of introducing myself to potential clients and trying to build trust with my target audience.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
Ensure you have the relevant industry knowledge and the skill set to implement the knowledge.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
Getting paid on time and finding new business.
What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?
The best advice I have received on success is to respect people.
How do you measure or define success in your business?
Great referrals equal more work and new clients.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
Being trustworthy and honest, and to know that there are no shortcuts.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Facebook, Gumtree and word-of-mouth.
What is your company’s vision?
To expand my business and be able to support more people by providing them with employment.
What is your target market?
Anyone who wants a pool and anyone who has a pool.
What have some of your highlights been in running your business?
Being able to build good client relationships, being referred by clients and being proud of past projects.
How important are social media and an online presence for your business?
Facebook is very important for exposure though it has not provided me with enough new inquiries.
How many people do you employ?
I subcontract staff depending on the size and nature of the job.
Do you have any plans for expanding the business and how would you go about this?
I would like to grow and employ permanent staff. Hopefully, I will reach this goal by doing what I do well.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
I didn’t start with any capital.
I usually charge 30-40% deposit upfront on a job, so I used that money to get what I needed for my first job.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?
There are no shortcuts!
What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like Port Elizabeth?
PE’s geographic size is an advantage in that word-of-mouth referrals mean a lot, but that can also be a challenge in that it’s hard to convince people to try someone new.
What in your view are the key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Positivity and people skills.
What in your view are the key traits of a successful employer?
Trust and respect works both ways.
What do you wish people knew about your industry?
Good referrals are key and you are only as good as your last job.
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