24 October 2018

A Positive Outlook for Local Businesses

By Joe Smith 
I was recently involved in the judging process for the 2018 Best in Business Awards.  Over a couple of days around 50 local business owners and managers were interviewed and asked about their businesses covering several areas as part of the judging processes.

I have to say that after this process I see a bright future for businesses in Gladstone as some of the stories the businesses owners had to tell were very inspiring!  Most business owners would agree that recently business conditions have been very challenging.  However, in these challenging conditions there are lots of businesses who growing and employing more staff which is a great thing for our local economy. 

These businesses have been adapting to the environment in many different ways and have been coming up with some great ideas on how they can run a better business.  Whether it being diversifying their business and offering new products or services, or by changing their business operations so that they can work more efficiently and win more work, these business owners are making changes that have worked for them and made them more successful and sustainable.

There were also some young and new to business people interviewed who have taken their ideas and knowledge and turned it into fast growing businesses.  And in some cases they have gone from only employing themselves to employing over 10 locals in just over one year!

While this is all very exciting, we need to ensure as a business community we offer the support required to these businesses whether it be offering the best professional advice available or possibly acting as a mentor to someone new to business so that we can help work with them through the ups and downs as well as the sometimes crazy growth periods that a new business can go through.

If you are new to business or have an existing business and would like our assistance please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

16 October 2018

Are you playing with real money?

By Tina Zawila

I came across the term “Financial Abstraction” recently which refers to the theory that our relationship with money changes depending on whether we are dealing with cash (notes and coins) or digital currency – credit cards, debit cards, pay pal, or any other electronic payment method.

Did you know that according to a recent study by Dunn and Bradstreet people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards? 

Think about the last time you carried cash in your wallet, did you pay more attention to how you spent that cash compared to when you tap and go with your debit or credit card?  I know that I am more conscious of where and how I hand over cash to pay for even small purchases, compared to when I am using my card. 

When we pay for something electronically, we do not have the physical transaction and loss of something tangible from our possession, therefore, our mind is tricked into thinking it was harmless, even though we are still spending our cash even if we can’t see it.  The pain of spending is minimised when we transact digitally.

Research indicates that our financial habits are changing as we move towards virtual transactions where money is more of an idea and less of a physical reality. An interesting statistic is that it is estimated that there are trillions of dollars in the global economy every day, yet only 4% of money is in coins and currency, the rest is all digital. 

Electronic payments are referred to as “frictionless” – making it easy for you to (mindlessly) spend the money you can’t see.

Now I’m not saying we all need to cut up our cards, close our pay pal accounts, or cancel Apple Pay, but I am saying that maybe we need to pay a bit more attention to those impulse, non-essential purchases to avoid the traps of personal debt.

Maybe you could experiment and withdraw your “play” money in cash at the start of the week and limit your spending to the cash in your wallet?  I wonder if you would spend less than the week before when you were tapping your card?  Could you save an extra 12-18% on those discretionary expenses and re-direct these savings to something you really want?

If you need advice with managing your money or personal budgeting, call the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300, we have tips and tools to help you achieve your financial goals.

11 October 2018

Never burn the bridge with your departing customer

By Steve Marsten
It continues to amaze me how some people in business get so upset when they receive news that their customer or client is changing suppliers. No matter how long a business relationship has lasted, there are always issues that crop up that will demand its termination. While some issues may be resolved amicably, others may not. Regardless of how each of your business relationships turn out, there is no reason to burn your bridges with your vendor or supply partner.
Your ex-customer is still valuable to you. Besides paying for your product or services, customers also play a very important role in word of mouth referrals. So while you may not be monetising a customer who no longer does business with you, they may still play a critical role in influencing opinions of new prospects who are looking to buy from you. By treating your ex-customers with honour and respect, you are likely to retain their goodwill which goes a long way in bringing new customers to your business.
The other important thing is ex-customers can always return. There are several reasons why a customer chooses to end a relationship. A customer or client may no longer have a need for your product or service. Other times, they may be lured by cheaper quotes from your competitors. None of these indicate a permanent departure and it is always a chance for them to come back. By keeping your door open to these ex-customers and not burning bridges, you keep the option of their return open.
So how do you not burn your bridges with a customer? A lot of times, businesses fail to realise that the bridge is being burnt through the process of business termination.
Always try and make your termination process as simple as your sign up process is. For instance, if you have a sales person drive down to your customer’s office to complete formalities during the sign up process, make sure you have an employee do the same for termination as well. Many businesses bend over backwards during customer onboarding but fail to do this during termination. This leaves the customer frustrated and unlikely to return.
Differences over issues like pricing are generally resolved amicably. But what happens when larger issues crop up? Many times, customers may breach the terms of your contract even without realizing it. In such cases, do not be quick to engage lawyers. Instead, try to resolve these differences amicably.  
There are times when you may be required to fire a client either because they are difficult to work with, or they want you to do something unethical. While the instinctual reaction is to call them out on their actions, a better way to do this is by terminating the contract without directly blaming anyone. The best way to fire a client without burning bridges however is by explicitly keeping the door open by ending your email with something non-committal as ‘hope we cross paths again in future’. This provides an opportunity for the client to come back to you in future should your pending differences be resolved by then. For more information on dealing with upset customers or suppliers call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300.

02 October 2018

How Can You Help Boost Our Economy?

By Joe Smith
I have recently taken on the role of President of the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of our key goals this year is to help boost or stimulate the local economy.  And while the Chamber will come up with our strategies there are also things that you can do as business owners and consumers to help our economy.

The first obvious thing that you can do is Buy Local whether it is for goods and services relating to your business or for personal use.  If you currently source goods or services from outside Gladstone then please, where possible, consider giving one of our local businesses the opportunity to quote or tender on these for you.  And then if you receive a competitive quote and do purchase from a local supplier you have kept money in our local economy which the flow on benefits when compounded are huge in terms of jobs and spending in other local businesses.

If your business is showing some signs of improvement then you may consider taking on an additional employee or apprentice to help service the increase in demand.  And with the government incentives that are available, for employing an individual who has been out of work for a minimum of 4 weeks as well as incentives for taking on an apprentice, the cost of employing someone may be significantly offset over the term of the funding available.  In addition to this you could also use a local group training organisation to hire an apprentice and assist another local organisation!

One additional thing to consider is the impact of cash flow on local businesses.  If we could get all local businesses, large internationals through to small sole traders, to agree and adhere to paying invoices to other local businesses within their credit terms, the flow on effect could be substantial.  And further to this the interest that could be saved on overdrafts and credit cards could be substantial and again these savings will go back into the local community.  And finally the stress levels and not staying awake at night worrying about cash flow could be an added bonus!

If you would like more information on dealing with any of the issues above please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au