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Kipp’s one-on-one with Donna Benton

Founder of The Entertainer speaks to Kipp about her brainchild as she gears up for the 2013 edition of the two-for-one voucher books.

November 7, 2012 4:38 by

At the time when you thought of the idea – were you living in Dubai?

Yes, I was called out for a job which didn’t really work out so I thought of the concept during that period.

How many books are sold in the UAE?

In the UAE, we’re roughly selling 125,000 and it’s getting more popular all over the GCC.

What was it like during the recession?

The recession was actually, believe it or not, one of our biggest years. Our model is made for people to save money so we actually sold more during that time.

You said during an interview that what you really wanted is to avoid having a ‘tacky’ book. Do you think you’ve succeeded?

Yes, absolutely! For me, a tacky voucher book would be one with conditions like “20 percent off coupons, only available on weekends or only after 6 o’clock on Thursdays”. Where our book is ‘so not tacky’ is that everyone who uses The Entertainer knows it’s a two-for-one deal, seven days a week, lunch or dinner.

How do you build a healthy relationship with your clients – the outlets featured in your book?

Well, obviously you have to produce results! We’re also very customer service focused though, we’re always in contact with our merchants because, really, they’re our foundation. We really promote them whenever we can, especially when times were tough during the recession. We know best when they need business and when they’re doing fine.

You have to strive to produce but it’s also about the personality that just comes through. We know we have a great concept and we know it works so it’s really just about building good relationships with the people involved with us.

You’ve said that books will remain as the core. How long will that stay for?

Indefinitely, our books are our core and the digital strategy will come on top of it. We are adopting digital strategies but for now, that’s a secret.

How important is social media to you?

Social media is very important; it’s very viral and huge nowadays. It doesn’t necessarily ‘make or break us’ but it’s a great tool for communicating with our customers. We can find out from them whether they’ve used their vouchers, what outlets they liked best or which outlets they’d like to see.

Before Abraaj Capital approached you – was attracting an investor something on your mind?

To be honest, it’s not like I started out with the concept with the intention of getting a private equity to buy a share of my company. We have had people prior to Abraaj come to us but for me it was important that we had the right business partner and someone who would complement our company.

What kind of office environment do you promote?

Well, we’re a lifestyle company so we’re extremely free and vibrant. We have a great team, great staff and I think everyone has a lot of passion and they just enjoy coming to work. I have a completely open-door policy, I believe it has to come from the top and I wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do. Of course, work is work but in general we’re a young and energised company.

 

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