19 December 2017

Over 160 reasons to celebrate

By Tina Zawila and Steve Marsten

On 1st April 1977, two accountants joined in partnership to become Fagg and Cathcart here in Gladstone, and that was the beginning of the firm we now call Sothertons.  40 years later, after a few name changes and a few retired partners, Steve Marsten and Tina Zawila lead a team of nine dedicated professionals.

So how do you celebrate 40 years, when you are accountants and business advisors?  Of course, you throw a party, but you also set some serious goals.

Our team are used to monthly, quarterly and annual goals and targets, but in our 40th year, we knew we needed to step it up a notch.

So with a “40 theme” in mind, we came up with the following goals for 2017:

  •          Identify and implement 40 Office Improvements.  These could be changes to our physical space, systems or processes to improve productivity and efficiency, or just to make us more comfortable in the office.

  •          Undertake 40 Professional or Personal Development activities.   PD is vital to enable us to provide our clients with excellent advice.  However, our own physical and mental well-being is just as important and so we recognised these achievements and activities too.

  •          Help 40 new clients.  We knew we had the capacity to help more people, so we attended networking events, offered obligation-free initial consultations, and provided advice and support to as many people in our community as we could.

  •          Finally, we wanted to give back to the community that has supported our business, so we set out to do 40 Good Deeds.  We have raised money and/or goods for charities, donated blood, taken on volunteer positions, and even put the neighbour’s bins out when they forgot!

As we enter the last working week of2017 we are proud to say we not only achieved, but exceeded the 160 target, and we have had a lot of fun along the way.   Now we look forward to 2018 and to new challenges. 

We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2018. 

If we can help you achieve your goals, please call us on 4972 1300.

12 December 2017

Why Culture is important to your business

By Steve Marsten

Recently I was involved in a discussion about company values and their importance. The discussion began as a result of a report on Uber by US Attorney General Eric Holder. Uber of course has been a great success however clearly they have had some cultural issues within their business which is why the investigation took place.

As someone who uses taxis and cabs in capital cities a lot, I have been noticed that Taxi’s in particularly have lifted their game. Yes there are more taxi drivers who smile, who look more professional, who engage and who are now recognizing that the hygiene of their car makes a big difference to the customer experience.  Unfortunately it highlighted what many have always known – if you stand still you are going backwards.
 If a competitor offers an improved service – instead of whinging – 
lift your service. Better still – better the competitors service!

Long gone are the old style values of honesty, passion, collaboration, innovation …..zzzzzz. They’re all good and well but they are expected now! We want real values nowadays. The values that express the unique and driving ambition behind the company. Values that embody the spirit of the community and strategic direction. Values that truly connect people with their customers as well as each other. Values that connect everyone to one single minded purpose.

The culture of a business is a serious thing. It must come from the leaders within your business. What you adopt and act out  is what permeates your staff and gets exposed to your customer base. The larger the business grows the more frayed good culture becomes and the less focus is placed on it. Determine crosschecks from time to time is important to making sure things stay on track.

At Sothertons we have invested resources in making sure our culture is reviewed and acted on regularly. We stay in touch with our team daily. 

For more information on improving your culture and getting an edge on your competitors call us on 4972 1300. 

05 December 2017

The Amazon Effect

By Tina Zawila

If you haven't heard this expression yet, you will soon become familiar. However, I'm certain you are already familiar with the US business Amazon which celebrates it's 20th birthday this year.

Whilst Amazon has had a presence in Australia for some time via its technology subsidiary Amazon Web Services, there are plans to open local retail operations here in the near future.  In fact Amazon Prime (the company’s fulfillment arm which delivers the goods to customers) could be up and running by mid-2018.

So what does this mean for our economy?  Investment bank UBS estimates “the Amazon effect” will potentially strip 0.25% from the Australian Consumer Price Index.  Citi Research predicts that Amazon could capture about $200m worth of the Australian retail market, with JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman, Myer, Super Retail Group and footwear seller RCG most exposed.

In the US, Amazon Prime membership costs US$99 a year, which entitles you to free shipping in two days.  The more you buy, the better the deal.  Interestingly, AusPost recently launched Shipster, a membership program offering free shipping on eligible purchases for spends over $25 at participating online stores.

Australia’s ecommerce industry is about to be turned on its head.  Amazon has always played by different retail rules - rather than being focused on short-term profits, it focuses purely on achieving market leadership and cash flow.  The Amazon model in the US allows it to make US$1.2m in revenue per employee.  In Australia, that figure is currently around $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue per employee.  That is a major cost disadvantage for the average Australian retailer.

When the UBS, CommBank Retail Insights 2017, Euromonitor report states that “70% of consumers say they’re likely to buy from Amazon platform”, it’s time for Australian retailers to pay attention and prepare a strategy to deal with the disruption of their industry.

At Sothertons Gladstone we help business owners plan for the future and develop strategies to ensure business sustainability and growth.  Call us today on 4972 1300.