Ravi Thakkar is no stranger to setting goals. When he joined Commander 7 years ago, Ravi dreamed of owning a Commander Centre, and today, that dream has become a reality.
As the owner and director of Commander Centre Geelong, not only is Ravi passionate about telecommunications, but he's also passionate about inspiring and helping his customers, clients and staff.
When talking to Ravi, his determination and passion are evident. During our chat, we discussed how he believes it's important not to set limits when creating goals, how he and his team prioritise personalised communication and his advice for others wanting to work their way up in a business—be that in telecommunications or otherwise.
What is your career background?
I started working in the telecommunications space back in 2014 with Telstra, and I moved to Commander in 2016. Initially, I started as a telesales consultant, so I worked over the phone, signing up customers for mobile contracts. From there, I worked my way up to business manager, designing solutions for customers.
Commander Centre Geelong has evolved a lot since I first joined in 2016. Our client base has grown to include many different types of small businesses, including lawyers, chartered accountants and small offices. We have also designed solutions for goldmines, and installed systems for them that were 1km below the ground, which has been one of the most exciting projects of my career so far.
Our team can design small or large-scale communications solutions for businesses.
What do you value most about working with Commander?
Commander as a brand speaks for itself and has its own value. Commander is a specialist in business telecommunications—when I speak to some of my customers, I ask them, "what kind of phones do you have?" and they say, "Commander phones". Now if you were to look at the phones, they are Samsung, Panasonic or Avaya brand phones, but customers still refer to them as Commander phones, and that is the brand's value.
Commander is no longer a telephone company; it's evolved to become a solutions-based company where we ask the customer what the issue is in their business that technology can solve for them. It's like a doctor/patient relationship. You tell us your problem, and we will prescribe you the right medicine, which, in this case, equals the right solution. It's our job to figure out the right technology, integrate it into your business, and create a solution that can solve your business problem.
In recent years, what changes, big or small, have you seen in the telecommunications industry?
Initially—back in 2014, 2015, and 2016—we relied heavily on telephone calls. You did not want to miss out on a phone call, and you did not want your phone line to be dead. These days, phone calls are still important, but it's also about improving productivity. Businesses want to improve their team's productivity and are looking for a telecommunications provider who can help them.
We come across so many business owners who don't know what communication and technology issues their business has, so we ask questions. How often do you check your voicemail? How do you keep track of your voicemails? Maybe they're writing numbers down and sending them to someone else to respond to. We are improving business productivity with systems like voicemail to email, which now makes this a 2-minute task, cutting down the hour and a half it took some of our customers previously.
Other major changes in the industry are the questions that customers now ask. They used to ask, "What is your response time? What is your infrastructure? Do you have a team of technicians in your centre?". Now they want to know what features we have - resolving issues is not the only focus; customers also want to know how we can improve their business. It's about improvements as well as resolution. Previously we matched their needs, and now we are exceeding them by providing them with technology solutions for issues they didn't know they had until we started asking questions and listening to their answers.
I feel it is more exciting now, and it is all about listening to the customer and their needs, even if they can't immediately pinpoint what they are.
What do you think are the strengths of the Geelong Commander Centre?
At Commander Centre Geelong, we are all about building connections with our customers. We deal with regional customers, which are very different to Melbourne customers. In regional Victoria, if they trust you, they'll stick around. So, to build and maintain their trust, we give customers our direct mobile numbers so they can contact us directly if they need to. We offer that personalised service and touch to customers, so they feel special. Our customers value this level of service.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work their way up within a business, as you have?
I would say there are no limits to what you can achieve if you set your mind to it. So, when you're setting goals, never impose limitations. Once you set your goals, work diligently towards achieving them. When I first started working for Commander, I dreamed of owning a Commander Centre myself, and a few years ago, that is what I achieved.
Then someone at one of the other Commander Centres mentioned they had operations in India and they had an outsourcing team. I thought I would love to manage this kind of operation myself. This past week, we opened a call centre with 11 team members, and in the next year, we have plans to expand that team to 30 members.
Don't think of what you can or can't do when setting goals. Just identify the goals, and things will work out.
What is something we don't know about you? What do you like doing in your own time?
I am very interested in reading, listening and watching motivational content. I have a diploma in life and business coaching. I am a neurolinguistic programmer and hypnotherapist and have completed a diploma in human psychology, which helps me motivate my team.
Any new staff that joins the organisation gets one week of training with me. In that one week, I provide training on personality tools so that they can understand themselves better, which helps them understand our customers better. They must understand themselves first before they can start helping others.
I also have kids, two boys. One is four years old, and one is nine. They're at the age where they are growing fast and need time with me. I try to read and watch things with them that they enjoy.
If you want to learn more about how Commander Centre Geelong can help your business, call them today at 1300 003 220. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about Ravi or contact him directly, you can connect with him through LinkedIn.