One of the many lessons Cape Town entrepreneur Caron Burns and her husband have learnt in their nine years of business is how to take the gap in times of crisis.
The duo owns WCM Hygiene Cleaning Services, which supplies cleaning products to businesses and households. Their clientele includes restaurants, B&Bs, retail stores, engineering companies and schools. While many small business are struggling to stay afloat in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and national lockdown, business is booming for WCM Hygiene Services. “Hygiene has been identified as one of the essential services during the lockdown period. With hygiene being critical to flatten the curve of the coronavirus, our hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and toilet paper have been in high demand. We’ve been fortunate to retain our four staff members and have had to hire additional staff to assist with demand. It is great that we’ve been able to create job opportunities for others during this time,” says Caron, who is the sales manager and administrator in WCM.
Caron and Winslow started their business in 2011, selling three products door-to-door, namely pine clean, green hygiene and all-purpose cleaner. In 2012, the husband and wife team registered their company, expanded their product offering and grew their operation organically.
“Once we were registered, we approached local doctors’ surgeries and started marketing the business, cold calling companies. It was difficult as we were new in the Industry. Our clients started referring us to other companies due to the quality of our products. When Cape Town experienced its water crisis in 2018, customers started noticing our company and sales increased. We were also invited to be a vendor at the Cape Town Water Wise Expo 2018,” says Caron.
Their big break into the hygiene industry came when they reached out to decision makers such as buyers in big companies and presented their products and services. “We believe in building relationships, offering good service and doing follow ups. This set us apart from the rest of our competition. Our quality products and professional branding also spoke volumes,” says Caron.
Seizing the gap
Meeting with customers in person, enabled them to identify the gaps in the market. They were quick to take the gap. “As we got into the industry, we picked up that all clients had the same complaint. Our bigger competitors all had the same things in common. They did not listen to client needs, their turnaround time was longer than promised, and their customer relationship was lacking. These factors are of utmost importance to us, and we took the gap,” says Caron.