Friday, March 7, 2008

Cairo

Egypt is legendary for great hospitality, so I always look forward to my visits here. This week is no exception, as I arrived very early (1am) on Wednesday for a quick 36-hour stopover on my round-the-world trip. I was met at the airport and quickly whisked off to a 5-star hotel (InterContinental CityStars) to get some sleep before we started our work.
(The recently-renovated CT sign high above the streets of Heliopolis, Egypt)

Computer Troubleshooters Egypt saw strong growth early last year, followed by a great deal of management turnover shortly afterwards. In any other country either event would generally cause some problems, and both together would be a recipe for disaster. Certainly it's not made things easy for CT-Egypt or the franchise owners in the country. But the team at CT-Egypt is very talented, and I'm impressed with the progress they are making, and by their plans for the future.

My goal for our time together was to review their progress and offer my advice to help them get back on a path for growth. What I found is that they've embarked on several different strategies to promote the Computer Troubleshooters brand in Egypt and to drive business to their franchisees, but that perhaps because they have so many good ideas there was some confusion over exactly what CT-Egypt as the Franchisor should be doing for their franchisees. So we worked on structuring the value offering for the local market, which due to the cultural and economic differences is in many ways uniquely Egyptian.

Computer Troubleshooters is in a great position to dominate the IT services market in Egypt, and to accomplish that they're developing a plan similar to the ones we use in other countries, including elements such as:

  • Service Plans (our traditional CAP and VIP plans, possibly with remote management tools incorporated, although Managed Services plans per se don't seem applicable to the local market at this time).
  • Business Management Tools (our own TOPS application, customized for the Egyptian market).
  • National Promotion, primarily through a shared marketing fund (all franchisees contribute to the fund, and unlike other countries CT-Egypt also contributes to the fund in a matching contribution). National Promotion is also done through a uniquely Egyptian and uniquely effective National Clients program, which I'll discuss below.
  • A central 0800 call center with direct call transfer to the nearest franchisee (for national advertising).
  • Training, Coaching, and Support (including central technical training classes every Saturday, another uniquely Egyptian benefit).

On top of those items, CT-Egypt is also developing some very impressive new programs, including a Services Catalog and their National Clients program.

(myself with some of the CT-Egypt team: Mr Ahmed Taha El Saadany (Financial Director), Mr Mostafa Selim (Managing Director), and Mr Islam Mahmoud (Director, Hospitality Division))

Because there is a strong attitude among many potential customers of "I'll fix it myself", Ct-Egypt has developed a Service Catalog with specific targeted IT solutions (similar to the Enhanced Vendor program in the US). CT-Egypt will produce a high quality, full-color catalog of the solutions which CT's can review with customers and potential customers to help make sales, and CT-Egypt will also make available training and support for each solution to help franchisees get up to speed on each one.

The National Clients program in Egypt is very well developed, despite the long lead time often needed to develop these sorts of nationwide partnerships. Mr Mostafa Selim (Managing Director, CT-Egypt) works with Mantrac, a company which sells thousands of PC's each month mostly through Egyptian schools. CT provides support for all those PC's, which leads to work for both CT-Egypt and the franchise owners.

And an entirely new division, organized and designed by Mr Islam Mahmoud, targets hospitality businesses, especially hotels. Through this new division Computer Troubleshooters offers wireless and wired internet access, video-on-demand, Voice-over-IP phone services, and more to hotels and their clientele. They have already completed the contract for a major install at a resort by the Red Sea (see my last post about publicity).

Overall I think the future of Computer Troubleshooters is very bright. Mr Ahmed Shaheen, owner of CT-Egypt has assembled a top-notch mangement team which includes a good mix of IT visionaries (like Mostafa Selim), managers (Islam Mahmoud), engineers, technicians, and sofware developers, and most importantly the group is kept well organized by Nancy Samy and by Financial Director Mr Ahmed Taha El Saadany. The key now will be to harness all of this talent in a way that yields great profits and success for the Computer Troubleshooters franchise owners and for CT-Egypt, and in that regard I'm very certain they're on the right track.

(Most of the CT-Egypt team)

Regretfully all good things must come to an end, and so it was for my latest visit to Cairo. On Thursday I headed off to the airport and on to my next destination: India!

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