Car Trouble? Kuwait's Roadz App Is Here To Help With Roadside Assistance Services
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
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This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Founded in 2019 by Sager Hamad Al Sager and Khaled Alamhouj, Roadz International offers automotive services. Available on iOS and Android devices, the startup offers an on-demand app to provide roadside assistance and services such as towing, tire spare change, locked cars, jumpstarting the battery and fuel delivery, as well as urgent mechanical service in case of emergencies. With a click of a button, a client can locate his address on the app and request any of the available services.
As someone who faced multiple issues with requesting roadside assistance, co-founder and Managing Director Al Sager says seeing how it was a common issue that people faced in the automobile sector sparked the idea. Along with close friends who agreed to be the primary market study, Al Sager and Alamhouji conducted surveys regarding common struggles and summarized the core problems the venture would eventually focused to solve. It stemmed from three main issues: having a market with irregular prices, the hassle of searching for help and finding the closest towing service to your location, and the communication hurdles that comes with the process as it involved negotiating with companies, giving directions and explaining car troubles. With those in mind, their aim was to develop a platform for a seamless user experience journey, create a premier customer service process, grow a customer base, brand awareness and educate the market on the unfamiliar concept in Kuwait. They introduced the platform on a subscription basis that is applicable for one year, wherein customers are able to request services across Kuwait anytime.
Al Sager notes that setting goals are essential to make the right decisions. He recalls their early hurdles such as dealing with a local company whilst developing the app, “[They] did not complete the project for two whole years, and we kept trying to finish however, it did not work. We lost a huge amount of money and time, but we took a decision that we will move out from that company.” Once they made that decision, they searched for freelance developers and companies for two months until they found one that completed the project. He also advises to plan a framework to properly communicate with your customers, “What are the channels to deal with satisfied and unsatisfied customers? Set policies and procedures on answering their inquiries and directing them. This will give the customers a clear image of your business the customer will understand you better.”
On customer feedback, Al Sager comments that they’ve received both positive and negative responses on their business. From the customers not understanding the concept, to assuring them on the business’ guarantee of services, as well as general inquiries on how the app works, Al Sager and his team seem to be taking the experience with hard-earned lessons. For those unfamiliar with the business proposition, the team did a campaign on showcasing the startup’s offerings and distinct customer service. “You must be adaptive and react fast to change policies or procedures, if required,” says Al Sager. They noticed how customer feedback was slowing down the system, and so, they decided to invest in a seamless system to enhance its performance and user experience. “Organizing the tasks between employees and partners, and working as a team helped to us to reach our goals with less issues, since the authorities and responsibilities are distributed based on staff and partners skills.”
As business grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, Al Sager advises fellow entrepreneurs to find multiple sales channels. He also points out the importance of decreasing fixed costs, getting rid of fixed assets that aren’t generating income, and investing with more cost-effective marketing. “Keeping your name out into the market during the pandemic reminds the customer that you are there.” This also aligns with Al Sager’s future plans for the business: they plan to not only stop at roadside assistance services, but they’re also aiming to “grow vertically, and diversify the products and services based on the market’s requirement, with new features that will be launched to cater the market’s needs.”
‘TREP TALK ME: Sager Hamad Al Sager, co-founder and Managing Director, Roadz
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
“Based on our experience, there are multiple challenges when you start up a business in Kuwait, such as legality and government process and the requirements for establishing the business. However, we see a change in the process as [the country] is enhancing the procedures and terms and conditions, especially for small businesses. Another point that every entrepreneur should expect is market reaction, in terms of your customer or competitor. This could be crucial to the business, since it a small market, so expect to have a reaction and a plan regarding existing and new competitors. The tip here is to keep your plan on the track and not get disappointed or distracted towards the competitors or customers. Before launching the business, the entrepreneurs should have a plan A, B, and C of how to react and have this kind of expectation. Word of mouth in Kuwait has its positive and negative way, where reputation can rapidly spread, whether it’s good or bad feedback. We have seen in the market -especially in the beginning- that small businesses fail due to reputation management, and failing to plan for a crisis. Taking into consideration the customer feedback and learning to act on it is the rule of thumb.”
What are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Currently, the online business is booming in Kuwait specially the services, there are a lot of opportunities, but specializing in a sector is one of the keys of success. To establish a business, you have to identify your business: is it luxury or entertainment, or is it fulfilling a need, or solving a problem? Then put the pieces all together and come up with a proper business plan. After launching your business, be committed and constant in the business. There would definitely be hiccups that will happen to any business, but look at them as an opportunity rather than a problem and don’t feel disappointed specially in the startup. Your role is to face those kinds of challenges, evaluate and come up with the solutions of how to improve your business. Kuwait is supporting entrepreneurs to establish their business through the Kuwait National Fund, which is a great opportunity. They are offering a fund for SMEs of up to 80% of the capital. Also, KNF is guiding entrepreneurs on doing a business plan and market study, take it! You don’t get an opportunity like this in every country for the entrepreneurs.”