Redefining customer service delivery in hospitality industry

 

Ekiyo Apresai

</em> <em>Ekiyo Apresai</em>

Ekiyo Apresai, the Managing Director/CEO of Splash 155 Limited, a restaurant and hospitality hotspot in Lagos, has carved a niche for himself in the field of entrepreneurship. He has demonstrated utmost dedication to duty and repositioned the firm to the present position it enjoys in the industry today. The wonders of his Midas touch have made Splash 155 to grow from a humble beginning at the Lagos Bar Beach to become a reference point in the hospitality industry in Nigeria. Ekiyo spoke on the Focus a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo and Abiodun Fawumi.

 

What influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
My entrepreneurial journey started way back in 1997 when I arrived in Lagos. What was in vogue at the time was travelling abroad in search of greener pastures, but my story was a little different because I reasoned that it takes so much money to even travel abroad, so why not use the same money and start a business in Nigeria. I’ve always desired to work for myself so; I rented a kiosk by the Lagos Bar Beach and started a restaurant and bar. We were at No 155 by the seaside and that was what gave the business its name, Splash 155. From the Bar Beach, we moved to Kuramo beach and that was where the business took a different dimension. But, when the Beach started overflowing its banks and the attendant issues we had with Lagos State, I moved the business to its current location along the Lekki-Epe Expressway. I can’t remember where I got the inspiration from, but I realized that my passion for the hospitality industry grew in leaps and bounds that I can’t imagine myself doing something else.

What has been the most challenging experience in running Splash 155?
The initial challenge was that you cannot operate a good hospitality firm in an insecure environment. You’ll agree with me that because of the security situation in the country a lot of people will be afraid to go out especially in the night. Security was our biggest challenge in this industry at the time, but the situation has improved significantly especially in Lagos as a result of the dynamic leadership by successive Governors of the state. Apart from security, access to finance was a big issue. We were able to overcome the challenge of funding by reinvesting all we made back into the business. I knew what I was doing but the challenge of finance really stunted our growth at the time, but we thank God for what He has done as it was only by His Grace that we were able to pull through.

What are the unique factors that stand your organization out of the competition?
First of all, I want to use this medium to thank God for His Grace which has enabled us come this far. The virtues of diligence, patience and consistency in our offerings are part of the factors that stand us out. However, Splash 155 Limited has in almost two decades of its existence distinguished itself as a market leader within the Lagos metropolis. The environment where we operate is unique and the quality of our service delivery is second to none; in fact we have carved a niche in the hospitality industry. We understand that it is important to recognise the customer because they are the one that pay your bills. Customer satisfaction is something we don’t toy with because if the customers are happy, then we are happy and our customers can testify to the quality of service we deliver. It is relatively simple to stand out because we had a clear understanding of the industry coupled with our passion.

What are your focus/projections in the next couple of years?
We intend to be the leading player in the industry, through the provision of innovative, high quality, and affordable services in our market niche, with a view to achieving the benchmark for all hospitality firms in Nigeria. In terms of business, the next frontier is in the hospitality business and in the next five years, we’ll build Splash 155 into an entertainment city and I’m looking forward to lay a solid imprint in the hospitality industry. I want to grow Splash 155 Limited to become a household name in the country, redefine customer service delivery as well as carve a niche for ourselves in the hospitality industry. The future of this business is very bright because people are more concerned about the quality of service.

What does success mean to you?
Success is relative. It’s all about mindset, target and expectation. You cannot be successful if your presumed success is not getting to your closest community. Relatively, your success should manifest in the life of the second person. In leadership, you cannot be a successful leader if your followers are not feeling the impact of your leadership.

What are the critical factors for business success in Nigeria?
The factor that militates against business success especially in Nigeria is basically the lack of infrastructures. The hospitality industry is a sub sector of the economy, so whatever challenges the economy experiences will definitely affect the industry. Always, there’s need for continuous improvement for you to succeed. One step at a time, with good concept and idea, people will invest in you. God blesses every little beginning, so you must have a vision, with perseverance, patience and integrity, success is a sure deal. It has a lot to do with the final outcome of the protégée. You must aspire or be inspired by someone. Sometimes, I have some young people come to me and I always tell them that you must have certain core values to be able to succeed in life. These values include integrity, quality assurance and hard work Etc.

What can government do differently to help the industry?
The average cost of doing business in Nigeria is very high and the reasons are not far-fetched; from generating your own power, water, security and the issue of multiple taxation as well as the fact that people have not started seeing Nigeria as a tourist destination. Imagine if we have a bit of the tourism market as against the market we are serving, the industry would’ve experienced a boom. I think the government should create an enabling environment for business to thrive, so that people will be encouraged to invest locally. There are different incentives that can be given in terms of tax holiday to investors.

Advice to young Nigerians:
People should not wait till they have millions of Naira before they start a business. Start with the little you have and with consistency, perseverance and hard work success is guaranteed.

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