Entrepreneurship is a very interesting and exciting journey but it comes with its share of stress. No matter how much you enjoy your job as an entrepreneur, you will surely meet with stressful situations that will try to break you. This is why learning to manage stress as an entrepreneur is important.
Previously, we spoke with Adeayo Smith on how he gains customers trust while building a forex trading brand. This week, we spoke with Opeyemi Salami of Hopsylicious Treats on how she manages stress in her catering brand.
Work Role: HR/Admin.
Current Phone: iPhone 7.
Best work quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi.
First thing you do in the morning: Prayer.
Best outfit to wear: Top and Jeans.
Favourite owambe outfit: English wear.
Language you speak when angry: Yoruba. 😁
Please tell us about yourself and your brand.
My name is Opeyemi Salami. I am a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Lagos. Presently, I lead the HR Admin at a restaurant in Victoria Island, Lagos. There, we specialise in pastry, bakery, and continental food.
My brand name is Hopsylicious Treats. We deliver freshly made local food, sauce and stew in different sizes of bowls. We deliver across homes in Lagos especially. Local soups like edikangikong, afang, seafood okro and finger foods that you can enjoy while at home and work are our speciality.
What inspired you to start Hopsylicious Treats? How long has it been in existence?
It started as a dream. There is a need for affordable and well-cooked meals and it gave rise to the idea of a food outlet that delivers straight to customers. I love cooking but I didn’t take it seriously until I went for service and started trying new recipes.
I discovered that most people don’t buy the idea of local meals, we prefer foreign food that is less stressful to prepare. I just started the business of making local meals in different bowl sizes. It is always freshly prepared and delivered to the customer’s doorstep. The business is 2 years old now.
Our focus today is on stress management and I know running a catering brand can be pretty stressful. How do you handle stress while managing your business?
A catering business is extremely stressful. As delicious, colourful and attractive a meal could be, it is not easy to make. Putting the recipes together and bringing out a sumptuous meal is not easy.
In handling stress, the first thing I do is take lots of breaks. In terms of taking orders, I never take on more than I can handle. I take all my orders in bits so I don’t stress myself.
I also try not to accept orders that I cannot deliver. I try to avoid orders that I cannot take. I work on my calculations of the number of people I have booked for on a particular day. I also make sure that everyone that orders for a particular day is satisfied. I don’t want any complaints from my customers.
There are some situations you cannot reverse, however. Customers have their own opinions regarding your food and you can’t change their reaction to it. All I do is listen to them and take note of their complaints. You have to know how to manage yourself in this business.
That’s what I do.
True, not taking up more orders than you can handle is so important. Please tell us about a time when you were particularly stressed while carrying out a customer’s order and how you managed it.
I remember one scenario. It was a friend’s party and the client ordered peppered snails. It was for 20 guests so we did 2 snails per person since it was a small birthday party, not a big event.
We agreed on the snails I will be providing and finalised plans. I had prepared everything and was ready to deliver the order when he called. He said he had more guests coming and I needed to prepare more peppered snails. I didn’t know what to do and was wondering how I was going to meet up.
It was either I reject his order or find a way to do it for him. He even told me to take my time. It was very stressful at a point but I had to just manage to sort out the order. The market wasn’t far from my house so I rushed over then went back home and made the extra snails for him.
At the end of the day, my customer was satisfied with the delivery. It was challenging and stressful.
Wow. Well done, that must have been really stressful for you. Are there times you have had to turn down a job because you had a lot on your plate at that time and you couldn’t take on that job?
I have cancelled orders many times. At those times, I was chasing my career in terms of practising what I learnt in school. Sometimes, I also turn down orders because I am working on a project at work and I can’t focus on cooking at those times.
I eventually realised that I couldn’t keep turning down orders and I compensated all those I turned down with a chilled bottle of drink. I got some a bottle of wine to appreciate them and let them know I just wasn’t available at that time. I used that as a way of keeping my clients loyal to me so they don’t leave me for another person.
Retaining customer loyalty should never be played with. What are the work ethics that guide your business?
The first is safety. I’m a very safety-conscious person. We use the kitchen a lot so I’m always conscious of my activities in terms of cooking, using a knife and so on.
Commitment is another major work ethic. I’m very committed to my business. Giving my 100 per cent to this business is important to me. Without it, you vanmit survive in the business world.
Tolerance is another. Learning how to tolerate my customers. I get a lot of clap backs from clients and I have to tolerate it all and answer them calmly. When clients order a particular food and it doesn’t meet their expectations, or they order a low package and expect to have what is in a higher package, I have to tolerate them and patiently respond to them.
Effective communication when taking orders is also an important work ethic. It is very key for me. I need to listen to them properly and know what exactly they want. I’m very specific about my orders. For example, when it comes to cooking egusi soup, some people prefer zuza leaf and some prefer ugwu, so I have to be sure of what each person wants.
That’s so right. Communication is everything. How do you handle difficult customers?
There are many difficult customers. You can tolerate some but you cannot handle some of them. Most of the time, the fault is from them but the won’t admit it. When they make late payments, they use that as leverage to withhold my pay and make complaints.
First of all, I listen to them. As they are stating their complaints, I don’t say a word. I put myself in their shoes and calmly listen to them properly so I know how to address the issue.
Secondly, I don’t take things personal. I never take what they say personal, I listen to them, act on their complaints and make sure to compensate them or make them smile. I might even eventually end up giving them a discount on the food so that everyone can be happy.
Nice. How do you get customers to trust you?
I’m always transparent with them. I’m an open book so once I’m dealing with a client, I try to build a rapport with them. This helps me make them keep coming back and even refer me to their friends.
I’m also always very consistent. When I’m doing my adverts, I use exactly what I will deliver to them so what they see is what they get.
I also try to always be available to them for feedback on the food especially. I love feedback. Each time my staff or I deliver food to a customer, I always make sure my card is on top of the order, asking for their feedback. My phone number and email address are written there for them.
Even If I can’t compensate everybody, I try to reach out to them personally to make them happy.
What are the major lessons you have learnt so far regarding managing stress as an entrepreneur?
One major thing I’ve learnt in handling physical, emotional, or any other type of stress, is that I have to accept what I cannot change. If there is an issue I cannot change, I look for ways to make it die down.
I also accept unpleasant situations and respond to them immediately. I accept it, move on and never give any excuses.
Another major lesson I’ve learnt from managing stress is that it makes you more productive. When I am managing stress in all forms, I always make a habit to be productive in it. Stress can either make you productive or torture you and stop you from moving to the next level.
I believe you’ve sewn clothes with fashion designers before. What’s your opinion of the industry?
I’ve met with designers a lot. I’m impressed with it. Lots of designs and colours abound in the industry. There are also many other designers coming up. It will go a long way if designers can come together to create a platform to learn from each other.
What was your worst experience with a fashion designer?
I’ve had many bad experiences. It’s either they don’t get the styles well or they use the wrong zip for the cloth. The inner construction of the clothes is always very rough too.
Late last year, I had two weddings to attend, one at the end of October ad the other at the beginning of November. I gave one tailor both aso-ebi’s and she messed them up. I ended up not attending either. It is what it is.
I think fashion designers need to learn to take only orders that they can handle. If you can’t do something, let the customer know instead of doing a bad job. This will help the reputation of many fashion designers in Nigeria.
True. What is the top advice you have for other entrepreneurs on stress management?
First of all, try to relax. There’s this saying that goes, “Problem no dey finish”, so you need to relax. In doing business, many different stressful situations will come up but you have to try to relax.
Take care of yourself and be well. Eat properly and exercise regularly. Also, take a break. The demands of entrepreneurship are a lot so you need to take a break. I know a tailor that broke down and ended up in the hospital last December because of the number of orders he had.
Slow down too. Slow down on whatever you are doing. I believe every entrepreneur has a passion for their business but we all need to slow down and take a break. Take a vacation and just chill and relax.
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you too. I really appreciate this opportunity.