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Jul 30

4 employee wellness ideas that your employees will love but don’t cost a fortune

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by EmploymentHero

The thing is, employee wellbeing and happiness isn’t just about nap rooms, onsite massages, and cafeterias serving healthy food and snacks (though that would be nice!)

Just about everyone is somewhat (if not completely) jealous of the amazing perks and employee wellness ideas that global giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and others offer to keep their employees happy, healthy, and super motivated.

Locally, Monash University was recognised for its employee wellness ideas through its Wellbeing at Monash program which was developed to support staff to adopt healthy work and lifestyle practices. The Monash program takes a holistic approach to health through providing programs on mindfulness and stress, physical activity classes and support around quitting smoking.

The thing is, employee wellbeing and happiness isn’t just about nap rooms, onsite massages, and cafeterias serving healthy food and snacks (though that would be nice!). It’s about doing what you can to show your employees that you care about them and their wellbeing.

 

Low budget employee wellness ideas

Of course, investment in your people’s wellbeing delivers on the bottom line in terms of lower absenteeism, lower injury related insurance claims, and fewer internal squabbles. This in turn translates into happier workplaces with loyal employees, higher productivity and high quality output.

Budget won’t stretch to the high benchmarks set by the tech giants overseas, or Monash University over here? Never fear.  Developing and implementing employee wellness programs is all about figuring out what makes your people happy, and what keeps them healthy. And then get creative and build a work environment based on those ideas.

To help get you started, here are 4 quirky (read: low cost) employee wellness ideas you can adopt to put wellbeing front and centre in your workplace.

 

  1. Ping pong

Ever noticed how every tech startup comes replete with a ping pong table or two? That’s because ping pong is actually a fun and inexpensive way for employees to refresh themselves mentally and physically, and engage with their coworkers. Ping pong gets the brain racing, helps people develop tactical thinking skills, provides aerobic exercise, and brings out everyone’s competitive nature! A quick ping pong match in the middle of the day strengthens relationships within the team and allows team members to switch off for a short time, before returning to the job at hand more focused and alert.

In terms of cost, you can pick up a ping pong table from Kmart for about $100, so it’s not a major expense for all the good it brings. The biggest decision you need to make is where to house it!

 

  1. Green walls

Take a leaf out of Lend Lease’s book – their office in Sydney’s Barangaroo contains a 6-metre-high breathing green wall with more than 5000 plants. Meanwhile atop Macquarie Bank’s offices at Sydney’s Martin Place there’s a rooftop garden incorporating a vegetable garden and free range chickens.

A green wall will help to vastly improve the air quality of your office. This can lead to greater employee productivity and overall health, since cleaner air leads to better concentration, healthier employees and fewer sick days.

To start growing your green wall, speak to plant rental companies in your area or consult with specialist green wall designers to see what’s the most affordable option.

 

  1. Mindfulness and meditation

The use of mindfulness and meditation techniques are on the rise in the corporate world in a bid to combat the increasing problems associated with workplace stress. The theory goes that by being more in tune with their thoughts, mindfulness empowers employees to focus, speak up, and push back against unrealistic work demands.

Companies that offer mindfulness training report enhanced productivity, creativity, innovation, and better problem solving abilities, which are also key traits of highly engaged employees.

Even if you’re not ready to offer a mindfulness program just yet, designating a private space for general “chillaxing” is a great start. You can hold lunch time yoga or meditation sessions, and provide a place for people to take a moment away from their desks in a calm and tranquil setting.

Once you’ve found a suitable Zen space, all you need to do is remove traditional office furniture and replace it with cushions or comfy lounges, and ensure you can filter the light with an appropriate window dressing. Then all you need to do is light some calming, and soothing scented candles, and say “Om!”.

 

  1. Enshrining the lunch break

While you can’t force people to leave the office at lunchtime, research shows that employees who work through their lunch break suffer higher rates of burnout. Taking just 30 minutes away from the office can boost energy levels and help people become more productive during the afternoon.

To encourage your people to get away from their desks and make the most of their lunch break, get creative and promote walking activities around your neighbourhood. Think about setting up teams and offering incentives to the team that logs the most steps within a certain timeframe.  Or perhaps it could be as simple as walking a couple of blocks to try out a new healthy eatery.

If you’ve set up your Zen space, then you can also encourage your people to use it to meditate, doodle, or take a power nap at lunch. In terms of cost, this one comes without a price tag, though you should see its benefits in terms of happier staff and higher levels of productivity.

 

What are you waiting for?

As you can see, incorporating employee wellness ideas into the everyday isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive. And the best thing is, looking after your employees will actually save your company money in the long run through increased productivity and lower turnover.

 

Free eBook

For more ideas, download our Employee Wellness Guide. When you show your employees that you care about their health and wellbeing, they respond by being more engaged with your business and more productive too.

Want to reap the benefits of an employee wellness program?

Employment Hero is Australia’s first all-in-one cloud HRIS offering a comprehensive HR software, payroll system, and employee benefits platform in one easy solution. Trusted by Australian businesses, Employment Hero is about making rostering, onboarding, performance management, time tracking, payroll, and award interpretation a snap. Employment Hero’s HRIS also integrates with Xero, MYOB, KeyPay, and Accountright Live. Stop wasting time with spreadsheets, and request a demo today.

Jul 30

5 Brick and Mortar Stores That Prove Physical Retail Isn’t Dead

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Vend

Have you been following the news about retail recently? If you have, then you may have noticed that the retail news outlets have been filled with doom and gloom lately.

We hear about numerous store closures and buyouts, and there seems to be a general loss of confidence in physical retail.

But here at Vend? Our belief in brick and mortar stores is stronger than ever. Yes, there have been several closures and not-so-great news about physical retail, but, don’t let all the negative news bring you down. Instead, take a look at these 5 retailers that are not only surviving in these turbulent times but are actually growing and thriving.

T.J. Maxx becomes more valuable, plans to open hundreds of stores this year

Off-price retailer T.J. Maxx (TJX), is growing and thriving. According to the Wall Street Journal, “TJX gets almost all its sales from its roughly 3,800 physical locations and plans to open 250 stores this year. Its revenue and profits are climbing, and it envisions expanding to 5,600 stores worldwide over time.”

The sales of TJX have been growing for 33 straight quarters now, and the company’s annual sales are higher than Nordstrom and J.C. Penney combined.

How does TJX do it? Two things: it moves fast, and it empowers its buyers to make decisions themselves. The WSJ reports that TJX has over 1,000 buyers, each controlling millions of dollars and are given the authority to “cut deals on the spot.” That’s in contrast with other department stores, “which can take weeks to review and approve orders.”

Once the deals are done, the company ensures that new products hit the sales floor as soon as possible. There’s even an internal mantra at TJX called “Door to the Floor in 24.” 

The result? TJX always has a fresh assortment of merchandise that keeps buyers on a constant “treasure hunt.” Shoppers know that great items go quickly at T.J. Maxx, so they tend to buy on the spot. 

This treasure hunt experience also keeps people coming back. There’s that feeling excitement in knowing that you can score a great deal whenever you walk into a T.J. Maxx store.

Takeaway

Speed matters in retail. If you fail to adapt or keep up with your customers, you’ll get left behind by your competitors. Evaluate your business and identify things that are slowing you down. Find ways to streamline your operations so you can test things and roll out initiatives more quickly.

You should also consider empowering your employees to trust their judgment and make decisions. Invest in proper staff training and then give workers room to flourish and grow.

Apple experiences strong double-digit growth in store visits and revenue

One of the world’s most valuable companies  bet big on brick and mortar stores, and it paid off incredibly well. According to Quartz not only did the Apple experience “strong double-digit growth in visitors and revenue,” but its stores continue to have the highest sales per square foot in the retail industry. Additionally, a significant chunk of its revenue — two-thirds — continues to come from retail.

Aside from having great products and a well-known brand, part of what makes Apple stores so successful is the experience that people get when they’re in these shops. Apple was one of the first to implement mobile checkout, and the company’s employees were trained to build relationships and add value to customers’ lives, rather than simply selling to them.

Apple continues to innovate. The company recently redesigned its stores to include board rooms and even a town square (for bigger shops) where people can hang out. It also launched “Today at Apple” an educational initiative where people can learn about various topics, including photos, videos, design, coding, and more.

Takeaway

Evaluate your in-store experience. Do you encourage people to stay and engage with employees or is your shop all about getting people to spend money? Are you running any initiatives that add value to your customers’ lives? If not, consider holding events or classes and see how people react.

TheSuperCool expands to brick and mortar retail and widens its merchandise offerings

So far we’ve talked about the success stories of big companies like Apple and TJX. And while there are plenty of great lessons to be learned from the big guys, SMBs also have a lot of valuable pointers to impart.

That’s why for our next success story, we’re putting the spotlight on TheSuperCool, a Melbourne-based emporium that sells unique, everyday items. TheSuperCool started off as a mobile gift emporium. According to its owners, David “Noonie” Nunez and Kate Vandermeer, they would drive around Australia and would use social media to alert their fans to their presence.

Since then, TheSuperCool has hosted 30 pop-ups, opened a brick and mortar location in the South Melbourne, and expanded their brand with TheSuperCool Kid. They’ve also grown their mailing list by a whopping 750% in three years.

How did the company do it? For starters, TheSuperCool’s assortments are thoughtfully curated and are sourced from small business makers that offer organic, fairtrade, and handmade products. The company also collaborates with exclusive products. Because of this, the store’s items are unique, high quality, and are oozing with personality.

TheSuperCool also has a fantastic loyalty program called SuperCool Amigos. The program has perks such as exclusive shopping experiences, personalized styling advice, vouchers, and more.

And to keep in touch with customers, TheSuperCool collects email addresses using the Vend‑Collect Rewards integration. This has helped Noonie and Kate grow their email list by 750% in the three years.

Takeaway

A good way to get people to buy from your shop is to offer items that they can’t find online or in other retail stores. Strive to improve your assortments by incorporating more unique items. And don’t just display or showcase your products; thoughtfully curate them. Get to know your customers and show off your merchandise in such a way that they appeal specifically to them.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of loyalty programs and emails. Set up a rewards initiative and make sure your top customers know how much you value them. You should also make it a point to communicate regularly with your customers. Collect their email addresses and stay on their radar by sending high-value messages.

Kuwaii doubled its business size in one year and continues to grow

Kuwaii is the opposite of fast fashion. It’s a high-end apparel retailer that produces beautiful, timeless clothing and footwear made locally and made to last.

The first Kuwaii location opened 2012 in Brunswick, and the business doubled its size soon after that. Kuwaii opened a second store in 2014, and it doubled its business yet again.

Kristy Barber, the owner and designer at Kuwaii, shares that their community is one of the reasons for the success of her business. “Our studio is based in Brunswick, and the community there is amazing and so supportive of our philosophy. In terms of our creative community, we’re pretty happy to be part of a flourishing one here in Melbourne.”


Kuwaii carries items from hard-to-find artists and creators. And according to Kristy, they “support other brands by hosting sales and events for them, collaborating with artists and makers at least a couple of times a year.”

Additionally, the company creates fashion films, and this enables Kuwaii to tell interesting stories behind its products and company, while collaborating with community members at the same time.

One of the most admirable things about Kristy (and what we believe greatly contributes to the success of Kuwaii) is her strong dedication to her values.

“My business is closely tied into my personal belief system, and Kuwaii is a natural extension of that,” she says. “I personally believe that we can support local industries and don’t have to immediately outsource all of our manufacture overseas. Although we are driven by profit (like any business) money is considered amongst many other factors when we make decisions. And it’s not always the first consideration!”

“Supporting the local community and keeping trades alive here is so important to me. Environmental issues and the impact fashion makes is a big concern. The human cost of fashion can be very, very high, and I don’t want to negatively contribute to that industry. I want to offer customers a beautiful alternative to the world of fast fashion and mass produced items.”

Takeaway

Promoting your values and staying true to your beliefs will attract loyal customers who believe in your philosophy. So stay true to your beliefs and support others who have the same cause. This will help you build a strong, unique brand and you’ll gain a loyal following along the way.

Books@One becomes a “destination bookshop” beloved by locals and travelers alike

You’d think that with the presence of ebooks and Amazon, anyone would be crazy to venture into physical book sales. But, as Books@One proves, running a brick and mortar bookstore can actually be very rewarding.

What’s the secret to the company’s success? Two words: customer experience.

“Here, we don’t just sell you a book. We’re a place to visit and become immersed in, a place where you can participate in community events, find out what’s going on in the area and the world, or just relax and enjoy a coffee and a chat,” says owners Brid Conroy and Neil Paul.

“We’re creating an atmosphere where people engage with books in a communal way again,” they added.

On a more practical level, Brid and Neil make it a point to stay on top their inventory. “We sell both secondhand and new titles, as well as notebooks, cards, t-shirts, and so on, so it’s really important to keep complete track of stock,” they said.

“Running a bookshop requires a fine balance of ensuring we’ve enough stock to meet demand and not buying in (cash flow is crucial) or holding on to too much stock (space is at a premium in our cozy and quirky shop!).”

Books@One achieves that balance with the help of Vend. According to Brid and Neil, they use Vend’s retail analytics software and reports to get a real-time view of their inventory, so they always know what they have at any given time.

Takeaway

Take your in-store experience to the next level. Find ways to get shoppers to linger in your store and promote a sense of community.

While you’re at it, make sure you’re running a tight ship with stock control. Arm yourself with a system that gives you a real-time view of your inventory, and use tools that make it easy to purchase, add, and edit products.

In closing

The reports of physical retail’s death are highly exaggerated. Consumers will continue to flock to brick and mortar stores, but to get them to do that, you need to give them a compelling reason to do so. That reason could be sense of community, a cause that they believe in, unique and amazing products, or all of the above.

Find what works for your store. Determine what makes you unique, and then make sure that your story comes to life in your location(s).

Jul 30

6 Retail Books You Need to Read

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Vend

Helpful and informative retail books abound everywhere you look these days.

This kind of educational wealth is, of course, wonderful — but it can be tricky to know what to pick out of the pile first. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 6 retail-centric books you need to add to your list.

Check them out below, along with quick blurbs from the authors on what they want readers to learn.


Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg with Roy H. Williams

What Bryan wants readers to learn: “I want retailers to have hope that by stealing a page from the Amazon playbook that they can build a strong brand, develop loyal customers and experience incredible growth.

The unifying principles of the four pillars of Amazon success can help any business from someone who hauls junk to jewelers develop an operational model for success.”


The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age by Melissa Gonzalez

What Melissa wants readers to learn: “I hope my readers will see that retail isn’t dead. People will always be consumers, but how brands and retailers engage with customers has and is evolving.

Pop-up stores provide an opportunity not only to have a pointed focus on a key message and curated offering but also to learn more about what your customers think and what they’re saying and sharing. Every touchpoint in a brick and mortar environment is an opportunity to learn and an important piece of a customer’s overall journey.”


Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

What Nicole wants readers to learn: “After reading Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Business, I want retailers to feel prepared and excited to move forward in helping their stores thrive.

This book was created to help merchants become more informed about the business of retail, but more so it was written to help retailers feel confident with the tools and resources they need to produce actionable results for their stores. Each chapter concludes with specific action steps that help retailers take these strides and offers merchants realistic insights specific to independent retailers — something many retail books don’t narrow in on.”


Retail Survival of the Fittest: 7 Ways to Future-Proof Your Retail Store by Francesca Nicasio

What Francesca wants readers to learn: “Think of Retail Survival of the Fittest as a guide that’ll help you understand how to thrive in the new age of retail. It will teach you how to adapt to the contemporary retail playing field by shedding light on tools and strategies you can use to keep up with customers, increase profits, and be a better retailer overall.

It’ll also introduce you to other retailers and give you a peek into what they’re doing to succeed in this modern landscape. And by the time you get to the end, my hope is that you’ll have a better idea of how you can take your store to the next level.”


The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business by Bob Phibbs

What Bob wants readers to learn: “Retail is tough right now, and though I wrote the book a few years ago, it’s still timely. Why? Because retail has always been about people — the ones who serve the customer, as well as the customer himself. My book provides very practical things to do to improve your retail business.

Most retailers are used to making decisions on emotion, but this book helps you to be more realistic. It was written to encourage retailers of any size to try new things and to give you hope and strategies for how to not only attract more customers but to sell your merchandise for full price.”


Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer by Jim Roddy

What Jim wants readers to learn: “My book implores hiring managers to care about character instead of solely focusing on the candidate’s experience. I’m not just talking about honesty — that’s a given. Especially for customer-facing positions in retail, you need to hold out for employees who are enthusiastic, respectful, kind, and hard-working.

I know being more selective on who you hire will test the manager’s patience (another key character trait!) during a short-term staff shortage, but the organizations who hold out for high-character candidates are much better off in the long run.”

Jul 30

6 Tools Businesses Need to Get Their Finances in Shape

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Neto

You need to keep track of transactions for the tax office, lenders, but most importantly for yourself, as a business owner.

1. Accounting software

With accessibility of cloud-based systems like Xero that are linked to bank accounts, it’s easier than ever to keep track of all your financial transactions.

You need to keep track of transactions for the tax office, lenders, but most importantly for yourself, as a business owner. A reliable and well set up system will provide you with information to ensure:

  • You pay everyone the right amounts, including staff, suppliers, business owners, lenders, tax office etc.
  • You know where you are making and losing money e.g. which products/services are most/least profitable, where you are going over/under budget on expenses, when costs are rising and margins being squeezed and it’s time to review pricing.
  • You get paid by your customers on time, by reporting who owes what and for how long. You can also send out statements/reminders easily to slow payers.

2. A Budget

This is without a doubt the most important tool in any business. If you go ahead and get on with business without a budget you are flying blind!

A budget is your financial roadmap that keeps you on track every month. It sets out how much you plan to sell, what your sales will cost and what will be your expenses and profit at the end.

Once you’ve developed a budget it needs to be entered into your accounting system, so that you can report monthly on actual versus budget. Better still if you use Float it links dynamically to your accounting system saving you lots of time and hassle. By doing this monthly you can see where things are on/off track and fix them quickly to avoid further unnecessary losses.

Check out this blog to understand the difference between a budget and a forecast.

3. A Cash Flow Forecast

If a budget is the most important tool, a cash flow forecast is definitely the next.

Achieving your sales and profit target is great, however if you don’t handle the cash side properly your business is at risk of failure due to lack of cash.

A cashflow forecast sets out in black and white when you expect the cash to come in and go out of your business. By forecasting, you are pre-armed with knowledge that you can act upon.

For example, if things don’t go exactly according to plan and cash looks tight for the future, there are several paths you can take to free up cash:

  1. Ramp up your sales efforts
  2. Inject cash into the business from loans, shareholders, or sale of assets
  3. Speed up payments from customers
  4. Speed up finishing jobs so they can be invoiced
  5. Or sell off slow-moving or obsolete stock

On the outgoings side you can:

  1. Reduce expenses
  2. Slow up payment to suppliers
  3. Arrange to pay off tax debts
  4. Delay payments to shareholders

4. Monthly Financial Management Checklist

The easiest way to ensure your financial management stays on track is to follow a simple checklist. This could include:

  • Monthly reports such as profit and loss report, balance sheet and a Cashflow Forecast
  • Outstanding customer amounts
  • Outstanding supplier amounts
  • Job management
  • Stock management
  • Detailed sales report by customer, product, and division
  • Reconciliation and payment of suppliers, taxes, superannuation
  • Reconciliation and follow up of customer amounts owed
  • Reconciliation of bank accounts and credit cards etc
  • Monthly accounting entries for non-cash transactions such as depreciation of assets and amortization of large amounts due such as yearly insurance (break it down into monthly amounts)
  • Tax returns such as GST/VAT and staff payroll taxes due
  • Reconciliation of Work in Progress and stock on hand
  • Reconciliation of intercompany loans/accounts and suspense accounts
  • Foreign exchange transactions – accounting for losses/gains

5. A Spreadsheet System

A spreadsheet is a great tool for calculating things like:

  • Pricing – you can gather up all your direct costs then add on a margin to work out price. Conversely if you need to adhere to a price you can deduct a margin and work out how much you have available for cost of the item.
  • Markup – once you know your cost you can add on a markup to achieve your desired margin.
  • Breakeven – this is a very important number to understand. It’s the sales you need to make to cover your running expenses after direct costs of the product/service.

As well as anything else really that you want to work out to ensure you’re on the right track.

6. A Logical Brain!

Businesses run on ‘gut feel’ can sometimes succeed, however those run with good logical thought processes are much more likely to prosper.

Selling things you love is great, but if you’re not charging the right price and running things efficiently and cost-effectively, you will really struggle to make a good enough profit for all your efforts. It’s so easy to decide on a price by simply trying to match competitors.

If you aren’t absolutely sure what price you should charge your customers, you could risk not charging enough and eventually go out of business due to lack of profit. Taking some time to do some proper analysis before you get started can save you lots of headaches and agony down the track. It may seem like a boring and unnecessary step when you just want to get on with the exciting stuff of selling and making things, but it will save you lots of money if you pause to ensure you’re on the right track at the beginning.

If you’re not a natural left brain logical thinker (many entrepreneurs are right brain creative) do yourself a favour and find someone who can guide you and keep you on the right track. They could be a great resource and ‘sounding board’ for your fantastic ideas to ensure they are profitable!

This is a guest post by CFO On Call, for more information visit CFOonCall.com.au.

Jul 30

9 ways to squeeze more profit out of every business day

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by http://www.geoop.com

It’s the Holy Grail of business: increasing the number of profitable hours in a day.

Short of asking staff to do more overtime or take shorter breaks, how do owners and managers coax more revenue-raising activities out of every employee and every subcontractor on every shift? And how do they become more effective at making decisions that will boost business efficiency every week?

There are no miracle solutions here. But with careful planning, it’s possible to boost the daily and weekly billable hours of any business. Here are nine suggestions:

Plan your day carefully and avoid interruptions

It’s easier said than done, but answering non-urgent phone calls, constantly monitoring email and surfing the internet are terrific ways to burn up time that could be spent more productively. One method is to designate periods of the day to admin or non-urgent issues – perhaps the first and last 30 minutes of the day. There are a number of good “to-do” apps for desktops and mobiles, such as Evernote and Trello, but even using a basic Google Calendar can be a valuable way to control your time.

Have faster, more effective staff communications

Andrew Griffiths, author of The Big Book of Small Business, says a company only runs efficiently and effectively when there is clear communication with staff. “From my experience, there are two main types of managers: those who don’t communicate at all, and those that bombard staff with memos, meetings and hundreds of other forms of communication. Somewhere in the middle is clearly the best approach.” The number and frequency of face-to-face meetings will depend on the nature of the business, but it’s important to not just rely on communication via text or email. Managers need to schedule regular one-on-one and group meetings to ensure issues don’t escalate and allow team members to discuss matters themselves. Google Calendar or other cloud-based software, such as GeoOp, can help schedule jobs and meetings.

Employ someone to do specialist work

Owners of small businesses, in particular, need to master many disciplines. There’s not only the technical side of the company – what the business does – but staff management, administration, accounting and legal. It is rare to find someone who wouldn’t benefit from handing one or two of these tasks to others. Griffiths, for instance, admits that he loathes doing book work, so he outsources his admin tasks (along with clear instructions) to people who do it better and faster. “I think more small business owners should give away the day-to-day tasks that drive them crazy and instead spend their time making money and doing what they love,” he says. He suggests using a virtual assistant to save time and money in the long run. Regardless, you can should always use time-saving technology …

Use the right technology

Mobile workforce management software, such as GeoOp, has made it much easier for managers to monitor the time workers spend on the job. It’s also allowed them to know how long it takes workers to get to the next job or back to the office. Built-in GPS allows managers to see where employees are at all times, and what routes they take to get there. Employees are not likely to be concerned that this information is being monitored as long as the results are used to improve overall business productivity and efficiency. Other cloud-based technology is available to help save time on accounting work (Xero or QuickBooks, for example), sending documents (Dropbox) or getting around (Navman).

Sack your least profitable customers

It may sound crazy to drop customers to increase revenue, but not if those clients are stopping you from doing work that could be more profitable. “Some customers aren’t worth having,” Griffiths says. “If they cost you more in energy, time and satisfaction than they bring in, say goodbye – in the nicest possible way, of course.”

Be flexible with staff hours

The concept of working “9 to 5” went out with the Dolly Parton movie of the same name. This is mainly because day-time hours don’t tend to suit customers, who prefer professional services to be available when they’re at home, not in the office. Many modern mobile businesses allow staff to work flexible shifts, which often suits employees and customers, and means jobs can be booked over extended periods of the day.

Ask your employees for ideas

Often the best ideas to make a business more efficient come from those on the front line – the staff. It could be a work practice that takes longer than it should, or a supplier that consistently delivers goods to the wrong place. It’s always worth tapping into the knowledge of those people who know what you do best. You might even come up with a prize for the best staff idea …

Incentives

Getting staff to work harder is not always about offering them more money. In fact, some experts believe that money stops being a motivating factor as soon as it hits an employee’s wallet. But a recent study by Genesis Associates in the UK found that 85 per cent of workers said they felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive is offered. The number one motivator? Money (40 per cent). Other popular incentives were free holidays and extra time off work.

Be prepared

One of the things often overlooked in business is maintaining a current and agreed contingency plan if things go wrong. What happens in a power blackout? What do you do when a service technician has an accident? A lot of time and energy can be wasted trying to deal with a serious (or non-serious) business issue, or trying to find the one person who can make a decision, when a considered plan might allow a speedy resolution.

Jul 30

Empower your ecommerce customers with a branded mobile app

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Neto

Over the past five years, mobile devices have begun to dominate the consumer landscape around the world.

In Australia, 71% of consumers are now using mobile devices for online transactions because it’s fast, easy, and convenient. So it’s increasingly important for retailers to build an omni-channel strategy that gives customers a seamless experience across all sales channels—including mobile.

One of the best ways to create that seamless experience is with a mobile app. While responsive design enhances a website’s usability on a small screen, only a native app can take advantage of a phone or tablet’s full feature set. That’s probably why apps now account for 89% of the time people spend viewing media on mobile devices, and why 53% of smartphone and tablet owners will shop on company-specific apps downloaded from an app store.

A brand-specific shopping app can give your customers the sort of experience they’ve come to expect from your brand, while providing you with the customer information you need to tailor your marketing promotions. It can be an all-round sales, marketing, and loyalty platform to empower your ecommerce customers. And by giving your customers a unique place to shop, you’ll help them avoid the distractions they’d get in a marketplace app, and earn their full attention.

But if you want your branded ecommerce app to boost your bottom line, you’ll need to make sure your customers know where to find it, what it can do, and why it’s a great way to shop. Here is our four-step process to get you started.

1. Help customers find your app


A branded mobile app is an investment in a new sales channel for your business, just like your ecommerce platform or your bricks-and-mortar store. And like any other channel, you need to help your customers find it, with a mobile app launch strategy that lays out how you will reach your target users. Don’t leave your customers in the dark!

Feature your new app prominently on your webpage, with links to the app stores. (But don’t let it dominate the page—your products should always be your main focus!) As you’re looking for mobile users, make sure that anyone accessing your web store from a mobile device is presented with an option to install the app instead. And don’t forget to announce your new app to your social media fans and followers, and your email list subscribers.

Some customers will look for your app directly in the store as well, so give consideration to your app name (or title), keywords, and description. Don’t be cryptic—the words you write here can make all the difference in encouraging your customers to install the app.

2. Entice customers to download and use your app


You don’t really get a lot of time (or space!) to persuade customers that they want your app, so use it wisely! Only 2% of app store users open the full app description before they decide to download or navigate away, so make the most of the text above-the-fold—those first three or so lines—to really sell the key features of your app. 

Describe the main purpose of your app—to browse, search, and shop for your best or newest items—but also add a compelling reason, such as access to pre-release items or special in-app discounts. Support your text with high-quality images that demonstrate the app’s functionality. Mobile users also check customer ratings and reviews before downloading apps, so you’ll want to encourage your customers to leave reviews on the app store. Many businesses do this by prompting within the app, or by sending email requests to leave a review.

As soon as someone downloads your app, even if they never use it, you’ve increased your brand awareness. Because every time they scroll through their apps, they’re going to see your name and your app logo, right there on their screen.

3. Give customers a great experience through your app


Customers expect more from a mobile app than just a bundled up website. The mobile app is your opportunity as a retailer to make the best possible use of your customers’ small-screen real estate and simplify your navigation. 

To avoid overwhelming your customers, don’t list every single item in your mobile store—no one wants to scroll through thousands of items! Instead, focus your app on a particular subset of your products, such as your newest items, top sellers, or clearance rack. 

You can also

  • offer fast, convenient, and secure checkout through a third-party processor, such as PayPal
  • make it easy for your customers to share content outside of the app, with social media applications like Facebook and Twitter
  • integrate with your sales and inventory platforms so customers can see your stock on hand at nearby stores
  • deliver tailored promotions and information using push notifications.

4. Encourage customers to keep coming back



If apps aren’t “useful, usable, and best-in-class”, modern shoppers will delete or ignore them. To stay relevant, ensure you’re always providing up-to-date product information—something that’s easy if your app is part of your omni-channel sales platform. Use push notifications to let your mobile shoppers know when a new product line has been added to the store, offer discounts for repeat shoppers (and their friends!), and maintain the conversation with after-sales care for your valued customers.

At this point, you’ve probably realised that a branded mobile app could be a very effective way to reach more customers and boost the bottom line for your ecommerce store. Now all you need to do is create and distribute your app.

“But, wait! How do I build an app?”



There’s the catch! Developing a mobile app from scratch can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you’re handling in-app payments and personal information, which need to meet compliance requirements.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. If you’re with Neto, you’ll soon be able to create an elegant mobile application with just a click of a button, on Neto’s ecommerce site. Neto’s Mobile App gives you the benefits of a native iOS or Android app as an add-on to your omni-channel retail management platform. With a beautiful interface built for shopping, it will match your website perfectly, and all your business details and product information are sourced from your ecommerce store.

With the Neto Mobile App, you’ll be able to take advantage of an additional sales channel that creates a seamless online shopping experience for your customers—at a fraction of the price of a custom app build. What are you waiting for?

Neto is the only Australian retail management platform that provides a complete solution for ecommerce, point of sale, inventory, and fulfilment. Our integrated back-end technology enables exceptional and consistent customer experiences via any channel, be it in-store, online or through a marketplace. We automate repetitive tasks and integrate with multiple sales channels to manage orders and shipments. And very soon, we’ll be launching our mobile app, giving retailers another simple-to-set-up sales channel. Check out our free guide to learn how you, too, can sell everywhere.

Jul 30

Goal: Successful supply chain management

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Unleashed

Have you ever sat back and wondered how giant companies such as Apple, Walmart and Ikea became so successful both in their reach and their inventory turnover?

Well, it turns out they are model companies when it comes to supply chain management, which essentially governs the whole process from purchasing stock to ensuring it is delivered, shelved and in the customers’ waiting hands. Would you like to find out how they do it?

Ordering

The supply chain starts with ordering, which is where the management side of it should start. This involves selecting appropriate and reliable suppliers for the product you require. A well-functioning supply chain requires each step to happen as planned with no delays, as any delay will impact greatly on subsequent steps which could eventually result in the inability to meet the customer’s demand (the scenario we try to avoid with effective inventory management). To ensure reliability, it essential to have a good relationship with your suppliers. It is imperative to relay to them and understand their ability to fulfil your orders in full, on time and every time. Walmart has been known to foster these relationships over years and have invested in the relationship by committing to place large orders and on a long-term basis which in turn allows the supplier to offer products at exceptionally low prices.

Shipping and Logistics

The shipping component of the supply chain needs to be extremely punctual and reliable as delays or lost-in-transit products can impact greatly on the company and its relationship with its customers. In addition, a great help is securing low shipping costs, which usually come at the cost of time. If the company can place orders with a significant lead time, then they have the luxury of selecting cargo carriers who are perhaps slow but cost-effective. When a company operates on the backfoot due to a lack of forecasting, they are at in increased risk of paying large expedited shipping costs, eroding the profit margin.

Walmart uses a method known as ‘cross-docking’, which relies on incoming goods from a supplier being timed perfectly with outgoing goods to the store. The distribution centre essentially acts as a loading dock where transport trucks can offload and reload more goods simultaneously. By operating this method, the inventory storage costs associated with stock are drastically minimized, meaning they can then pass on lower prices to the customer.

Warehousing

Walmart’s warehouse may look quite different to what you would expect given their size and global reach. They have effectively minimized the amount of stock needed to be held with notions such as cross-docking, however when stock is required to be stored, it is managed in accordance with VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) agreements. This means the supplier must take responsibility for their product that Walmart sells to customers. In operating with this method, Walmart was able to successfully implement a near 100% customer order fulfilment rate.

Communications, Relationships & Automation

Embracing the age of technology and utilizing any software available to you is key to being at the forefront of supply chain management. In the first instance, this can be adopting an effective inventory management system such as Unleashed, which can enable you to have access to real-time and reliable data on sales and inventory so that the task of forecasting is smooth and efficient. Following on from this, having a system than can integrate ordering with your suppliers, shipping and logistics, and sales in one, easy platform will make the entire supply chain that much more efficient. Walmart has led private retailers on the journey to automation and accepting technology as their friend. They ensure that even their suppliers can access the same network, enabling sales data to be shared freely and transparently, which is certainly a world first.


Walmart also incorporates RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to take the place of barcodes on products as they enable tracking and scanning of product movement in the supply chain from a distance. They have also encouraged their suppliers to adopt the same technology, which further enhances business collaboration and efficiency. The result? They observed a 16% decrease in out-of-stock situations which is quite remarkable.

Analyses and Continuous Supply Chain Improvement

The final point to consider in supply chain management is having opportunities for staff and customer feedback. Incorporating this feedback with internal audits and making changes and adjustments accordingly will be extremely beneficial in creating an efficient supply chain.


Jul 30

How to ensure your jobs are profitable

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by SimPro

If you’re in business, making decent money is important. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t always work out the way you’d planned...

This is a guest post from Tony Fraser-Jones, Director at Profitable Tradie.

If you’re in business, making decent money is important. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t always work out the way you’d planned; you may find that your profits are low, or your cash flow is slow.  

This can really take its toll on the overall health of your trade business, be it plumbing or electrical. Cash flow problems are one of the primary culprits of business failure.

However, most business owners and managers don’t know where or how to get started on improving their profits and cash flow. Here, we share our top tips for managing job profitability – and, in turn, improving your business’ overall profits and cash flow.

What you measure you can manage

To improve your job profitability, you must start by measuring it. Because what you measure you can manage – and you can improve what you measure.  

Up your understanding

Your gross profit measure will tell you if your jobs are as profitable as they should and need to be. Gross profit reveals two crucial elements of job profitability: first, do the jobs we price have enough fat in them from the get go? If not, your jobs are unlikely to generate enough profit to cover your fixed costs and leave you with a healthy profit at the end of the month or year.  

Second, gross profit highlights the productivity of your team. Are your guys getting through the work within the hours allowed? Is there too much down-time? Is there too much rework or disorganisation around scheduling and client requirements (code word for builders who aren’t well organised)?  

How to calculate and manage your gross profit

Gross profit is calculated using the following formula: Sales less Cost of Goods Sold, where the Cost of Goods Sold are the direct costs of doing the job.

The trick is to be clear on what is included and is not included in the Cost of Goods Sold.

Wages, materials, subcontractors and equipment hire are in. Some people get tripped up when it comes to wages; remember, only ‘on the tools’ wages are included. Any office or management salaries such as an estimator or operations manager are included in your overhead costs.   

If, as the business owner, you’re on the tools (or even part-time), you include that portion of your wages in your Costs of Goods Sold. Otherwise, your Cost of Goods Sold will be understated and your gross profit overstated.

Gross profit can measure the profit on each individual job, as well as the profitability across your business over a given time period, usually a month and a year.  

Manage, then improve

Once you’re up to speed with measuring your job profitability (or gross profit), the next step is to improve it. Gross profit is the engine room of your business; increased gross profit will give you more cash and the ability to reinvest in your business and improve your overall net profit.  

Pricing your jobs for a target gross profit margin is a great start to improving your job profitability. Make sure you have a target gross profit margin rather than simply adding a markup to your quotes or charge-up invoices.  

You’ll also want to look into your team’s productivity. Using tools such as quality assurance checklists, structured ordering process, key performance indicators, team incentives and performance reviews will improve your gross profit. 

Jul 30

Inventory Management: Five Key Tips for Distributors

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by Unleashed

Due to the nature of the distribution model where distributors profit by selling inventory to their customers, failing to manage inventory well can be a major liability for distributors.

Distributors entire business revolves around inventory. Due to the nature of the distribution model where distributors profit by selling inventory to their customers, failing to manage inventory well can be a major liability for distributors. From tasks including inventory receiving, replenishment, inventory stocking, compliance labelling, processing customer service requests, inventory tracking, reporting, shipping and more – there is a need for these inventory management tasks to be systemized to create efficiency, in turn decreasing your costs. Let’s discuss some of the key ways to make your inventory management practices the best asset in your business.

Engage with your people

While automated systems for inventory management are a key component, you still need skilled staff in your distribution business to help identify opportunities, threats, weakness and advantages. Keep your staff and colleagues engaged to continuously improve systems and collaborate to pinpoint problems and provide solutions.

Create sound systems and processes as a distributor

Develop quality inventory management processes to make them mistake-proof, preventing errors before they happen. Adopt a good inventory management system that allows distribution efforts to be automated making human error less common.

Create efficiency when ordering inventory needs

Reduce lead times by establishing a continuous flow of materials and equipment, such that products are pulled through the correct supply chain at the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity. This can be done with the aid of a sound inventory system that pulls data from previous records to create accurate forecasting measures benefiting your distribution practices.

Standardize processes where necessary

Get organized by documenting best practices and ensuring they are followed carefully. This creates efficiency and helps with training new personnel, as well as creating checks and balances in process, minimizing room for error. This can be hugely beneficial as errors in the distribution business can be costly.

Implement, review and revise

It is good business practice to review processes once implemented and improve continuously. This should be done periodically; no matter how good a process appears to be, there is always room to improve it. This is especially the case when introducing new technology.

Jul 30

Let’s make it clear – Good mobile staff communication is vital

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Post by GeoOp

Many small business owners don’t give a second thought about the need for clear communication.

Messages can often be passed across a desk or delivered face-to-face on the other side of the office.

“Most offices don’t need a well thought out ‘communications strategy’,” says small business advisor Dr Greg Chapman. “Lazy communications are probably quite adequate for people who work in the office because you see them all day, every day.”

But businesses with mobile workers need to approach staff communication very differently, Chapman says. “You need to have a much better policy or process for keeping field workers informed.”

Businesses with mobile workers need to approach staff communication very differently, Chapman says. “You need to have a much better policy or process for keeping field workers informed.”

Mobile workforce management software, such as GeoOp, has been a game-changer for businesses that rely on communicating with subcontractors or employees who work remotely. Scheduling jobs is simple, as is providing all customer information while workers are on the road. Reassigning or rescheduling jobs is easy. Quoting and invoicing can be done at the job in real time, with no help from office-based staff.

Businesses using field service management tools often find there’s little need for field workers to travel back to base to speak to bosses or colleagues. During the working day, managers and workers can communicate accurately and immediately “in-app”, with all relevant information available at both ends. It’s possible for mobile workers to spend all day in their truck or service vehicle without needing to actually speak with anyone other than customers, suppliers and the person serving their lunch.

Regular meetings

Chapman, whose website is empowersolutions.com.au, suggests a good start for clear business communication is regular staff meetings in the office. “Maybe once a month or once a fortnight, for half a day or something,” he says.

“I think it’s good to make sure you bring in the field staff periodically so they catch up on the comings and goings in the office – the latest policy changes, updates, personnel changes.”

On the job

Once the work begins, clear two-way communication remains crucial. This is not so much a problem in an office, where supervisors have an easier task of spotting and discussing issues with staff or seeing if something hasn’t been understood. In the field, problems snowball easily.

“You need to let the field staff get on with their jobs,” Chapman says. “They’re the face of your business with your customers. But poor communication can produce unintended results which may not be corrected until some damage has been done.”

Regular catch-ups are important to head off potential issues. “You need to have regular communication,”

He says regular catch-ups are important to head off potential issues. “You need to have regular communication,” he says. “It needs to be at a predetermined time each week and possibly each day, depending on the type of business. Maybe at lunch time, the beginning of the day or the end of the day.” These daily meetings set job expectations and routines, and establish what is working well and what isn’t.

Customer focus

Because workers are at the business front line, they provide managers with valuable information about what customers are thinking, and may head off potential problems. “If there’s an issue, [customers] speak directly to the field employee,” Chapman says. “If they’re not happy with the field employee, they will go back to the office and complain. Of course, they may not just complain to the office – they might complain to colleagues and family about the service they received. That can cause reputation damage.”

Chapman says it’s vital that small businesses keep in close contact with their customers, even if jobs can be scheduled remotely. “It’s really important to get that feedback going. Customers know if they’re unhappy that someone will see their response. They can be proactive and call the office but it’s better if they automatically get a survey or even someone who calls up and says, ‘Well, Fred was at your house today. Was everything done to your satisfaction?’”

Team harmony

What can be just as important is establishing a good relationship between mobile workers, their colleagues on the road and the staff back in the office. Electronic communications may well deliver the facts accurately but not the more “human” reasons why things change or go wrong, and last-minute schedule variations can easily create friction. “If you don’t have that sort of rapport with someone, getting those messages can be difficult,” Chapman says. “It’s important that connections are made.”

Mobile workforce management software has done a great job making businesses and employees more efficient, but it can’t be used in isolation. “Workers need to have human conversations as well, otherwise it just becomes so impersonal,” Chapman says. “Field employees feel very detached, like they’re working for a machine rather than a person.”