DMF Projects is a company based in Sasolburg, in the Free State Province, that provides mechanical engineering, electrical, maintenance and supply services to state-owned entities and government departments. The company completed the Seriti Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme and is now poised to expand into the private sector.
DMF Projects was established in 2016 and is a 100% black-owned company, owned and managed by Francis Ditaole. The company specialises in construction and electrical work, as well as facilities management, including the provision of mechanical engineering, electrical, maintenance and supply services. Until now, DMF Projects has sourced work mainly from public sector, doing small-scale projects for entities such as power utility Eskom, across different parts of the Free State Province. The scope of work usually entails doing maintenance checks and system upgrades. The company employs the same team of four or five workers on a contract or temporary basis, as and when required to carry out the work. The company is yet to secure a long-term contract that would ensure significant revenue growth and allow the company to expand its client base. Its envisioned that entry into the private sector space will expose it to these opportunities. As part of its core values, DMF Projects designs solutions that will ultimately improve productivity, increase efficiency and support its clients’ strategic sales plans.
Despite being in business since 2016, DMF Projects has been unable to grow at a significant rate and has yet to secure a major contract that would ensure its long-term sustainability. Ditaole also acknowledged that he lacked the requisite skills and knowledge to drive the business forward operationally. One of his biggest challenges was related to market access, as the company lacked the marketing know-how to develop an effective marketing and sales strategy to attract and retain new customers. This is when he realised that he needed help to deal with the challenges and bottlenecks in this area. It became clear that expert guidance to successfully engage with potential clients was required. One of his main concerns was his inability to effectively deal with sales objections from potential clients. From an operational perspective, DMF Projects also needed help to secure better contracts. One of the main hurdles the company faced was a lack of compliance with minimum construction industry regulations and guidelines. Furthermore, the business required the skills and resources to effectively manage finances, with money from the company’s banking account at times being used for personal purposes. At the same time, maintaining a healthy cashflow proved difficult, since available funds would often be spent on stock and supplies.
In 2020, DMF Projects applied and was selected to join the Seriti ESD Programme, which was designed to identify Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the specified local communities in which Seriti Coal operates. Seriti contracted Zevoli Growth Partners to develop and implement the programme on its behalf, in line with Seriti’s commitment to support local SMMEs in acquiring essential business skills needed to expand their operating capacity. A recruitment and awareness campaign attracted more than 500 applications from SMMEs. The programme, a capacity and capability building and mentorship initiative ran between February and July 2021. The structured mentorship and training programme is aimed at helping SMMEs improve their operational efficiency, expand market share, grow strategically and align to a level of sustainability.
After signing up for the programme, several areas within the company were identified that needed attention. DMF Projects was determined to develop a strong focus on market access and attract new customers, with a lot of work required to address challenges and open up bottlenecks in this area. Essentially, the company required a significant amount of guidance and assistance in terms of engaging potential clients to secure better contracts. It also emerged that DMF Projects would require assistance with compliance to the minimum standards required by the construction sector. Furthermore, the company needed an urgent intervention in financial management. The Seriti ESD Programme provided one-on-one mentorship and digital marketing master classes, as well as financial and project management tools. The master classes focused heavily on acquiring and retaining customers and understanding the market, while finding ways to close those gaps in terms of industry compliance and building a marketing and sales strategy. In addition, the company received a corporate identity revamp, including a new logo and website.
Since completing the programme, DMF Projects has adopted a new approach to marketing and securing new business. The company is confident that it is now positioned to secure long-term contracts in the private sector. DMF Projects’ revenue grew 2.5-fold and its staff compliment increased by 67% over the ESD programme period. Its new project management system has helped it to put proper work teams in place, ensuring that the right people are selected for the right projects, enabling work to be delivered on time. The system also allows the company to set goals, timeframes and targets to successfully complete contracts.
In addition, the company’s new financial system allows it to create professional quotations and invoices, as well as a means to manage its finances and cash flow effectively, drawing a dividing line between personal and business funds and the purposes for which these monies are used. From a personal perspective, Ditaole believes that he has gained the necessary skills to drive the business forward, including meaningful insight into how to approach clients to secure new business and to effectively manage the company on a daily basis.