By Fu'ad Lawal
Lagos is famous for many things – for the round-the-clock hustle, whether white collar or redeye, for its crazy traffic and bustling night life, among other things. One thing that it is arguably most famous for is its flag – the bright yellow metal flag, sitting on four tyres, snaking through traffic and not forgetting to scratch any vehicle in its path: the Danfo buses.
They are furious, not necessarily fast, but furious, every single time. You see the road to your destination, they see Fury Road.
They have only one mood – rage. Road rage. But if you look past their almost non-existent customer care, there are a few business lessons you can learn connecting buses in Lagos.
A conversation about Danfo happened with Goodman and this happened.
If you want to be heard, you’d have to make noise. A lot of it.
Danfo conductors understand this. It’s why the conductors with their husky voices still manage to create a cadence for the routes they are screaming. Sometimes you can’t even make out the words the conductor is saying but you know the route. They even get so persistent and annoying that if you were thinking about changing your mind, you’d be bullied into entering the bus, psychologically of course. You surrender.
Persistence is key in keeping your hustle relevant. Stay rubbing it in people’s face, but politely please. You’ll be better off remembered for rubbing it in people’s faces than not being remembered at all.
Branding is not overrated.
A lot of the time, better dressed drivers and conductors get addressed more politely by passengers than their singlet-wearing or bare-chested colleagues. It’s for one reason – packaging. Facts only.
“The difference between kpekere and plantain chips is packaging.” That’s a legit contemporary proverb. I mean, looking at where BRT buses are now, there’s only one reason we aren’t calling them Molue yet – packaging. And branding, too.
Your client’s perception of you is very important. You visit five bars. Four tell you they are bartenders. One says he’s a mixiologist. Tell me, who are you going to remember tomorrow?
There’s always a new way to get to the next bus stop.
Whether they have to climb culverts, or take the BRT lane, or pass secret streets even Google Maps can’t find, Danfo drivers are willing to get to their destinations by any means necessary (do not try this in the presence of LASTMA). They are never satisfied with sitting in one spot in traffic. Never.
That’s being open to new innovative ways of doing stuff. Deep down, we love the driver that’ll get to our bus stops the quickest.
Same with the people we hire. We hate it when our tailor says, “there was no light, that’s why I didn’t sew the cloth you dropped for two weeks for the wedding you have tomorrow.”
Dear tailor, ever heard of generators?
The Danfo Team hate it, but they pay their dues, every day.
At every bus stop, there’s an angry looking man waiting to collect a “tax” from bus. The drivers pay it grudgingly, every single time. It saves time time, and maybe the losses that come with a revolt, like a missing side mirror, or shattered windscreen, or a black eye.
You need to understand that sacrifices will be made. Never forget.
Look outside on your way back home. You’ll see a conductor hanging to the bus. Whether the driver is going fast or slow, whether it’s a smooth road or it has Super Mario type of ditches, he holds on tightly. That’s because his dinner, and even more, his life depends on it.
Hold on tight to your hustle.
Originally published on Fu’ad Lawal’s medium page