If you haven’t been following along on Facebook, this week I’ve indulged in the traditional Australian past time of pretending I am richer than I actually am on a tropical island. I am in Bali. I am staying in a hotel that serves you cold face towels upon arrival and my suite opens out onto the hotel pool. There is a swim-up bar and every night I get new sheets.
I leave my towels on the floor, and someone else picks them up.
Holidaying in Bali is something that makes me feel wonderfully conflicted: who would say no to $6 cocktail? At the same time, I feel gloriously yuppified, privileged, and ridiculous – do I really need house keeping just because I can’t be bothered to make my own bed?
Ethics aside, I want to be totally honest with you – I’m not just here living it up on lychee martinis. Because I’m still getting the hang of this self-employed Melbourne copywriter thing, I’ve chosen to work a bit over here in the interest of maintaining momentum and financial security.
Let me tell you something...I expected the type of humidity that requires 7 showers a day, and I expected the tropical down pour that comes out of nowhere. What I didn’t expect was that I’d pick up a business tip or two from the Balinese, who have a very unique approach to monetary value, marketing and customer service.
No matter your industry, here’s a few things you can learn as a service-based business:
Promote with pride
The Balinese are not shy and they’ll ask for your business when you haven’t indicated any intention of buying from them. Socio-economic factors aside, the Balinese are pros at promoting their wares the old-fashioned way. Taxis, sarongs, hand-made jewellery boxes; all products and services are promoted with a big smile, a loud invitation and no hard feelings should you decline their offer.
They want to be of service. Period.
Always be polite
Even when faced with the rudest of Westerners who take violent offense to their confrontational style of selling, the Balinese maintain a gracious air of calm. You don’t want to buy from them? No problem. There’s a city full of other potential customers to profit from.
How's that for a positive mindset?
Hand out your business card
Every taxi driver I’ve haggled with has tried to up-sell me with private tours, recommended their favourite sites to see, and then handed me their personal business card. One taxi driver I know even has his own Facebook page. This sales technique is seamless, and the conversation flows organically every time: “Where are you from? Where have you been? You must go here. I can take you. Call me anytime."
Talk about money
Businesses undoubtedly exist to make a turnover, but money is still such a touchy subject. At first, my ego had terrible issue with discussing money so openly. But haggling over cost isn’t just an option in Bali, it’s expected. Shop owners aren’t afraid to let you know the cost of an item upfront, which is something I feel a lot of self-employed persons do for fear that they might lose potential customers. Money is your lifeblood – don’t make it the elephant in the room.
Go with the flow
There’s something oddly calming about the chaos of Bali’s roads. Motor cyclists, taxis, bicycles and wary travelers all coexist inside a transport hurricane with no clear rules and no traffic lights. Anything goes, so if you want to cross the road you better make a mad dash for it. Despite this, I’ve yet to see an accident. I see far more road rage travelling down Chapel Street outside of peak hour.
I’m cognisant of the fact that this blog post skims on the surface of Bali’s social, political and cultural circumstances. Of course, you might think these observations entirely counter-intuitive, and that’s ok. Call me out, but in the interest of remaining an agile copywriter and businesswoman, I’ll be taking the island approach back home to my desk.