I spent half a day going around Jaipur with a young driver / tour guide Janu and his friend Islam Kahn. I talked to Janu about his business for a very long time, and I was more than impressed. Janu, a kid who grew up in the streets of Jaipur, has guts, spirit and business savvy that would shame many MBAs from the best American universities.

Customer Relationship:
Janu understands that his business is build entirely on referrals. It is most important for him to build a sense of trust. Trust is everything he says to me. If my customers don’t trust me, there are no referrals and there will be no more business.

Empathy with Clients:
The first thing Janu says that really sticks with me is that it’s hard for them to get tourists after they’ve been in Delhi and Agra, as they are tired of the hustle. The empathy and understanding for his potential client’s mindset caught my attention. This is not something you see often from a tour guide.

Trust is the Currency and Not Money:
I’ve spent half a day with Janu and Islam Kahn and I owe them about 400INR for their time and services. When they drop me off at my hostel at the end of the day, he says, “It’s okay, you can pay me later.” Never once does Janu stick out his hand and ask me for money. There is never the hard sell or that slightly savory ending to the day when your guide makes it clear that it is merely a transaction. Janu trusts me enough to know I wouldn’t leave town without paying him. By extending that trust to me, in return, I have more trust in him.

Old Fashioned Testimonials:
When I first get into Janu’s car, he pulls out two notebooks filled with recommendations written by other travelers. I read a few. They are all glowing reviews of Janu as a person and as a guide. These fellow travelers didn’t just write a couple of sentences, instead they wrote pages and pages about him. Testimonials might seem like an old fashioned marketing strategy, but when it is done right, it really can be powerful.

Giving Back and Not Forgetting Your Roots:
Janu is solicited by couple of the local boys when we get to the monkey temple, and he lets two of them take me up instead himself. He says he has grown up the same way as the boys and he has not forgotten. He wants to show the boys that there are other options and something to strive for.

Diversification:
Having earned his client’s trust, Janu is often entrusted to help with some of his client’s import and export businesses. He sources out what his clients are looking for and make additional income from acting as the middle man.

Deliver beyond What Is Expected:
Once Janu gets a good idea of what I am interested in (markets), he drives through the back streets of Jaipur to show me the local markets in addition to the major sights. There is no extra charge for going out of his way or needing to invent a new route for the afternoon. My satisfaction is the main concern.

The Pride & Spirit of the Entrepreneur:
Me: Do you ever get bored telling the same stories over and over again about the same sights?
Janu: No. Because it is my own business. If I get tired, then I take a day off. But I want to work for myself, and so I don’t get tired of telling the same stories.

I’ve been very impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit of many Indians I’ve met here in India. Trust and relationships are what is fundamental in building a business in the 21st century.

In all my years of travel and blogging I’ve never once written a bad review of a hostel or have made recommendations for any particular service. I am making an exception today.

If you are every in Jaipur or Rajasthan and need a guide, driver and you should call Janu:
cell: 0091-9929152946
email: shabbirkhan2u2005@yahoo.com

What have you learned lately from the most unexpected source?

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