22 December 2015

“Don’t forget to give to others this Christmas” by Steve Marsten

Well it’s that time of the year where we are at our busiest doing as much as we can before the holiday break. Fitting in time to do the Christmas shopping, finalise the decorations and preparing to bake heaps of goodies. Christmas is all about giving and in my opinion, thinking less about ourselves and taking time out to think about others.
This year as in past years, the team at Sothertons has chosen to prepare a basket of food and gifts for a family of four - a single mum and her three children. This year has been a more difficult year for the Gladstone region with many people losing their jobs and there seems to be more families than ever struggling with the current sluggish economy.
We are thankful we have jobs and as a result, we always practice giving back. It’s always easy to help another. We can’t always solve other people’s problems, however we can take the time to smile and brighten someone’s day.
It’s a time when doing the things to others, that you would want them to do for you - really makes sense.
Though many think that Christmas is about the presents, the tree, the lights and the good food, I feel it’s actually about the satisfaction you get from people being happy to receive something, especially if with our changing economic times, everyone is asking for help in some form. There are as many reasons to give, as there are ways to give.
And at the end of the day if you can’t afford to give a gift, we should just remember that there are many people who just want you to stop and take the time to listen and be present for them.
Always remember when giving we enhance our sense of aliveness in others while enriching our own.

The team at Sothertons wishes everyone a safe and happy Christmas break. See you in the New Year.

15 December 2015

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” by Tina Zawila

In the last few weeks we have seen several iconic local businesses in Central Queensland announce that they are closing their doors.  Some have been in business for 15, 30+ and 40+ years.  All of them offer our local community a specialist product/service, or simply independent and unique products coupled with good old fashioned customer service that usually goes hand-in-hand with a business owned and operated by a local, employing local people.
There are many reasons why a business simply closes its doors, and it’s not always a “forced” or sad decision, however, in most cases it does arise out of necessity rather than choice. 
Unfortunately, many small businesses now find themselves competing with multi-nationals next door offering low priced products and services, and/or competing with their own suppliers who sell their goods online to the same customers the local business is trying to serve!  This increased level of competition is putting a tremendous strain on small business owners.
If the current trend continues, we will face a future where we will not be able to “go shopping”!  We won’t be able to stroll through a local store, chat with the shop assistant, touch, feel and try on the products, and share the experience with friends. 
So if you were saddened to hear that local businesses are closing their doors, or if you want to preserve your shopping experience, what can you do about it? 
Independent, local businesses need local support.  They need you and I, who live and work in this community to buy from them, to shop here in our own home town.  After all, these same small businesses offer many of us employment!
So the next time you are shopping, give a thought to who you are spending your money with.  Can you buy the same or similar product or service from a local, independent business? 
Sothertons Gladstone is a locally owned and operated business, supporting locally owned and operated small businesses.  If we can support you, please call us on 4972 1300.

08 December 2015

“What happens when the Business Owner respectively dismisses themselves?” by Steve Marsten

At the recent National Sothertons Conference in Adelaide we had the opportunity to listen to a truly inspirational speaker in Donald McGurk, the CEO of Codan.  Codan is a publicly listed Australian company that manufactures mine and gold detectors as well as high frequency radio and satellite communications technology.
This isn’t the easiest space to compete in. They are dealing with third world governments like Angola and Afghanistan and competing with US and Chinese companies, yet here they are forging profitable business in some of the most challenging nations and markets in the world because the technology is world class!
What we learnt from Donald’s presentation was his internal approach to leadership. Codan has had major profit fluctuations in recent years due to the ebb and flow of contracts - something that many of our company clients here in Gladstone will attest to. Hence, he has often had to explain the results to his board and as a result he utilises a technique which is to “respectfully dismiss himself” each week.
Now many of us have been dismissed or changed jobs, at least once in our lives and nowadays it seems to be the norm rather than the unique. The younger generation are told that they will have 5-8 jobs during their lifetime and 1-3 careers- hence they are a little more primed for it.
When we change jobs, often we take time to assess what lead up to the job change? What could I or should I have done differently or approached from a better angle? What will I focus on more in my next role? He focuses on “above the line” thinking – what are the “right” things that should be carried out? What level of intensity should I inject into this or that task?
He sets his values as the leader of his company and then he goes “all out” to stand by those values. Every time he sees someone within his organisation not exuding the right corporate behaviour that aligns with the values of the company – he calls them out! Every time – without fail. That’s what we tend to get lazy at.

If you are the leader in your business, consider setting Company values that are clear to you and then implement them to the letter while respectively dismissing yourself on a regular basis. At Sothertons we enjoy sharing business techniques that can improve our clients approach to business. Call us for a meeting on 07 4972 1300.

01 December 2015

“Activity Breeds Activity” by Tina Zawila

Last week Steve and I travelled to Adelaide for the National Sothertons Biannual Directors Conference. When we jump in the car from the airport, we strike up a conversation with the driver and we ask "how's business in Adelaide?"  The driver was upbeat, positive and replied with pride.  He rattled off all the construction activities happening in the city, mentioning how many cranes are on the city skyline and how the retail economy, in particular, dining and entertainment had shown signs of resurgence.  He said his own business has been growing year on year for the last 3-4 years with no signs of slowing down.

He also told us stories of the excellent service we can expect in Adelaide, including anecdotes of his own "great service stories" from sewing a button on a client's shirt, to delivering Subway to a guest at a hotel!  Again, he spoke with pride about his business and the referrals he received.

It was a pleasant ride to the hotel and it made me excited to be in the city of Adelaide!

Afterwards, when I reflected on the conversation, I was reminded that in business (and in life!) "activity breeds activity".

All of the construction activity on public facilities, hospitals and universities has a very positive flow-on effect on the local economy.  Creating jobs and supporting local business.

Further, our driver's own activity breeds more activity for him via referrals and repeat business.  I have no doubt that his great customer service ethic, friendly demeanour, pride in his city and positive attitude would all guarantee him success.

So if you could use some more activity in your business, ramp up your own efforts.  Get out there and sell yourself, your business and your local economy.  Remember, "If it's going to be, it's up to me!"

At Sothertons Gladstone, we are here to support you in business and in life, call us on 07 4972 1300 if you need some fresh ideas or someone to keep you accountable.