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07 november 2016

Cooperation is the foundation to success

KENYA – Most successful entrepreneurs realise, that doing business is a matter of cooperation. Why would you only try by yourself to conquer a market or sell your products? Wilco Koek is working at the Persoonlijke Verkoop (Personal Sales) of Royal Floral Holland. He knows like no-one else the value of cooperation and he talks about the synergy of support in the world of flowers and plants.

Joep Derksen

Royal FloraHolland supports companies that are or want to become active in and with Kenya. Many enterprises succeed, thanks to their innovative way of thinking. Herewith supported by Royal Flora Holland on a regular basis. Koek: 'The department Personal Sales has proven over the years that growers can realise higher margins, consistent to our strategy towards 2020. We are proud about that!' The Personal Sales was founded six years ago for flowers; this service has been available for plants some time longer already. Koek: 'In conversations with growers, it became obvious that there was also need for other services, besides direct sales. Things like promotion and feedback of purchasers on for instance trends in the market. At the time I started at Panocal. Together we went through pathways, at which we made clear choices with regard to assortment and target group. We mapped Panocals market and determined its strategy. But we also set up the direct sales, developed a new cover and introduced new forms of promotion.'

Do you or your colleagues visit Kenya often? To do what? 'Once or twice per year the Personal Seller travels to Kenya to meet his breeders. Besides that, the account manager of FHS visit breeders on a regular basis. Visits are also coordinated and during visits account managers cooperate together, in order to let the breeder be informed and advised as best as possible as well.'

What pitfalls do you encounter in Kenya? 'In the early years, distance was a challenge. But as the means of communication grew and improved, communication itself improved greatly as well. Before, obtaining information could last hours, if not days. Also, due to the less satisfactory communication possibilities of the time, it happened that both parties 'lost each other' with regard to the targets we had agreed upon.'

Did you or did other enterprises fall into such a pitfall and how did you solve this? 'Through close cooperation with the account managers of FHS we are well informed about the goings on of the nursery. They are in daily contact with the nurseries and know like no-one else what is going on with regard to production, the weather and possible challenges the nurseries are up against. Besides that, the seller gets in touch with the export and marketing departments of the farms on an almost daily basis. Since last year we have been holding weekly Marketing meetings at FHS. Because of this, targets are always clear and we can operate with maximum output for the interests of the breeder.' He proceeds: 'Paul Wekesa of Panocal visits the Netherlands at least four times per year. Then we visit purchasers and other departments within the auction together. This helps a breeder enormously to build up and maintain a good relationship.'

Koek: 'Last year we worked with breeder Bahati Premium Roses in the same way. Starting from the realisation of the farm to the introduction on the clock. They choose to sell their high quality products through the clock. We introduced a marketing plan together, based on their wishes, and could therefore successfully introduce Bahati in the market. Currently we cooperate with the mZurrie Groep on a next project and we also see that other breeders are following as well. This is another fine example on how we can help breeders achieving higher margins.'

What tips do you have for entrepreneurs who want to do business in or with Kenya? Make up clear targets together. Continue managing the expectations. Make sure of the commitment of the companies you do business with. We see an enormous need of support in digital direct sales, especially with regard to sales opportunities within Europe. Through the digital platform FloraMondo of Royal FloraHolland we offer traders/exporters the possibility to be active within that market. International breeders often miss the feeling with the market, or they do not have any network. Precisely that is our strength at Personal Sales, because we as Personal Sellers offer exporters and traders the right 'match for demand and supply', are able to reply to questions sooner and are in the possession of up to date information.'

Joep Derksen