Hengky Setiawan: The Mobile Recharge King

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DETERMINED and ambitious would be a fair description of Hengky Setiawan, president director of PT Setia Utama Telesindo (Telesindo Shop). His company is the authorized dealer of recharge cards for Telkomsel, Flexi and Excelcomindo Pratama (XL).

Hengky is indeed a major player in the business as Telesindo has about 500 dealers, 3,000 employees and 36,000 resellers. Hengky’s success did not come easily. His parents taught as a child that hard work was necessary to get ahead. “My father always said I had to work had to achieve my dreams,” said Hengky.

Hengky recalled working as a painter at a neighbor’s house when he was a primary school student and using the money he earned to buy pastel (pasty). “My mother used to scold me because my shirt always got dirty when I painted my neighbor’s house,” he said with a laugh.

He also did other manual work, such as running errands. When he was in high school he worked as a bookstore attendant in Pasar Pagi, Mangga Dua, North Jakarta. While growing up he developed skills in sales when studying at Tarumanegara University, Jakarta. During those years, bought a secondhand Nokia mobile phone for Rp 5 million to resell.

“I was not too serious about selling in the beginning, but offered it to a couple of friends, one of whom was interested.

He bought it for Rp 6.5 million. So I used the Rp 1.5 million profit as capital for a secondhand cell phone business,” recalled Hengky. He looked for more secondhand mobile phones and sold them at a handsome profit, thus increasing his capital.

In the middle 1990s, Indonesia entered the Global System for Mobile (GSM) era. The pioneer was Satelindo, but in 1995, PT Telekomunikasi Seluler Indonesia (Telkomsel) was established. Although he was already working in cooperation with Satelindo, he submitted a request to Telkomsel to become an authorized outlet, which differed from an authorized dealer.

While he was a dealer for Satelindo and Telkomsel, his previously smooth business went bankrupt and he had to start all over again. He decided to discontinue his relationship with Satelindo. Not long after, in 1997, XL entered the GSM industry and included Hengky on its list of recharge card dealers. Hengky said previously there was a vast difference in selling recharge cards than today.

In the early 2000s, when there was a boom in the cell phone business, there was great demand for recharge cards and cell phone numbers. “I made Rp a 400,000 profit from the sale of each cell phone number, especially on Telkomsel numbers as they were in high demand.

Today, as an authorized dealer my profit margin is only about 1 percent. The reason is there are now a large number of operators in the market, which means that end users get the real benefits. Fortunately, I have a network spread throughout Indonesia. It is due to this wide-ranging network that Telesindo can survive,” he explained.

These days Telkomsel is the market leader in Indonesia with about 65 million clients in total. Hengky draws on the plus points of each operator he represents. “We work in synergy. Telkomsel gives us its products and we quickly circulate or distribute the products. So although Telkomsel is the market leader, if the distributor did not act quickly the outcome would not be the maximum,” he said.

Indeed, Telesindo seems to be the favorite of Telkomsel as demonstrated by the various awards it has presented to Telesindo. For example, for three consecutive years Telesindo has won Telkomsel’s Best Multi-Regional award. The latest award it won was the Platinum Class 2008 as the authorized Flexi dealer , which was presented on Jan. 16. “My work philosophy is to be number one. I always want to be the champion,” he stressed.

All 500 branches of Telesindo are owned by Hengky and are not franchised. Therefore, the management of 3,000 employees is not an easy matter. “I always treat my employees as partners and we always attend to their particular needs, including giving them routine motivation classes, training and bonuses. In fact, the company would be nothing without them,” said Hengky.

Apart from his dedicated and professional employees, Hengky said that the key to his success also lies in the loyalty of the resellers. He provides them with various rewards, such as trips to Bali, abroad and expensive electronics. Hengky said relations with them have been highly satisfactory.

The key, according to Hengky, is the achievement of sales targets, rewards for them and a harmonious relationship like in a big family but in a professional context. He said other keys to his success were his ability to stay focused and his commitment and flexibility in following market trends. Commitment is important, he said, because you can gain trust from any party, including banks.

So, whatever the risk or outcome, you have to stick by your commitment even though you may initially lose money. “My own experience proves this, because I have seen many dealerships fall apart because they feared losing money,” said Hengky.

To achieve his ambition to be the No. 1 dealer in Indonesia, Hengky has a number of items in his business plan. His first target this year is to double the number of resellers to 72,000. Second is to prepare to franchise Telesindo in the near future. “So far, 31 shops have applied for a franchise. The plan is to start franchising in early in March 2009,” revealed Hengky. (Iwan Suci Jatmiko)

The Jakarta Post, February 02, 2009

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