Invest to be your best: How a focus on key purchasing decisions can transform your business

nice office desk

Are you one of those business owners who does everything they can to avoid spending money? Being over cautious could do you more harm than good.

They’re two very different small businesses in two different industries, but both recognise the need to invest in capital goods and services if they are to stay ahead of their competition.

Founded by managing director Saxon Mitchell in 2002, Venue Management Services (VMS) manages local and state government arts and events venues, with contracts in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Mitchell says the venue management industry is highly competitive, which means his business continually upgrades its equipment and systems.

“We are the change in venue management. It typically hasn’t been done before the way we’re doing it, which is in a holistic way,” he says.

“By holistic I mean we’re responsible for programming the venue, putting content into it, buying shows and arranging the events as well as taking bookings, maintenance, catering and cleaning.”

Daniel Marsh bought 30-year-old Rosebud Mowers & Chainsaws a year ago and is revamping what he says was an already very solid business. Marsh says the sales, service and repairs business is looking to leverage its excellent local reputation.

“Our business is in a state of transformation at the moment as we look to increase our online presence. We have customers all over Australia and we are coming up with ways to further increase our national sales,” he says.

Daniel Marsh Rosebud Mowers

Daniel Marsh, owner of Rosebud Mowers

Rosebud Mowers & Chainsaws has made substantial investments in the past year in office software, furniture and marketing materials to meet its growth objectives, while VMS has upgraded software systems and has ambitious marketing plans to stay ahead of the game.

Both business owners have an eye to maximising tax time savings when it comes to end of financial year purchases.

Streamline your setup with the right tech

In keeping up with the rapid pace of technological developments today, you’re going to need to reassess your hardware, software and systems each year.

For Rosebud Mowers & Chainsaws, optimising its backend systems has become even more important, as it broadens from traditional bricks and mortar to a multichannel approach.

“We have just upgraded our accounting systems, operating software and purchased new computers and printers. This is to ensure that we are at the forefront of technology with our integrated systems,” Marsh says.

In the case of VMS, better real-time data management has driven its purchasing choices, with the company recently spending $13,000 to upgrade its point-of-sale systems.

“I can, right this very minute, log on to our Sydney venue, which has a retail café component to it, and see how many focaccias, Cokes, and whatever else they’ve sold today. So it’s real-time data that makes reporting easier,” Mitchell says.

Install reliable equipment and machinery for smooth daily operations

Catering is a substantial part of the work that VMS does, and keeping venue kitchens up to date is a priority.

“In terms of two of the venues, we’ve had to outfit the kitchen with loose wares and flatwares and Kitchen Aides and all that sort of stuff – there’s going to be a fairly massive investment in that side of things,” Mitchell says.

Marsh says fortunately when he purchased Rosebud Mowers & Chainsaws there was no call to buy new workshop equipment or machinery.

Invest in the whole work space, not just part of it, to lift the working environment

However, while the workshop was kitted out with the very best machinery in the trade, Marsh says the office, retail space, kitchen and storage areas did require a little love. A trip to Officeworks modernised the look of the business’s retail space and improved conditions in the office.

#1 Did you know?
The father of evolutionary biology, Charles Darwin, is also credited with inventing one of the very first versions of the office chair. Darwin is reported to have put wheels on his chair so he could get around his office faster.

“Our office and kitchen spaces have functioning furniture now (most purchased from Officeworks), and given the high standard of their products, we will not need to upgrade at this point,” he says.

After leasing an office in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD for many years, Mitchell recently opted to work from either the venues that VMS manage or from his home office. He says the capital outlay on office furniture and equipment for these workspaces has been worth the investment, as he is in closer contact with frontline staff.

Refresh your marketing and branding image

Both Rosebud Mowers & Chainsaws and VMS are online-savvy and attuned to modern marketing methods.

Marsh’s business faces the relatively unique challenge of a suburb name-change. This will involve a substantial outlay on new physical marketing materials as well as ensuring all relevant updates are made online.

“With the town changing name soon from Rosebud West to Capel Sound, we will be taking the opportunity to refresh the brand slightly to ensure brand consistency across all assets,” he says.

Mitchell says VMS will launch a video marketing campaign very soon as a way of helping clients better understand his company’s services. He hopes to squeeze in the video production before the end of the tax year.

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“I don’t do a heap of tax planning in that regard. Having said that, I’ll look at the company results and see if I want to bring some spending forward, probably in May.”

Similarly, Marsh says judicious investment in things like software, office equipment and marketing materials are year-round priorities, but tax time sharpens his focus.

“As with any other business, end of financial year is extremely important in purchasing decisions. Likewise, when the government announced EOFY savings for small businesses in 2015, we made considered purchasing decisions as well as promoting that to our own customers, given we sell the items our customers need for their own tax savings.”

#2 Did you know?
There is a great deal of debate about who invented the paperclip, but one of the people often cited as its inventor is the 19th century political philosopher Herbert Spencer, who came up with the ‘binding pin’, a precursor to the modern paperclip.

Dont stick your head in the sand

 When cash flow is every SME’s number one concern, apportioning budget to purchases like the ones these two businesses have invested in can be a little daunting.

Taking the time on an annual basis to carefully review where your business is at and what lies ahead will make it easy to see where the improvements need to be made.

Key questions to making important purchasing decisions:

  • Review and assess your technology needs – what needs better streamlining?
  • Is your equipment and machinery reliable and up to date or is it causing daily headaches and delays?
  • Take a look at the entire work space – how could you change it to make working there even better?
  • Review your branding image – is it still a true reflection of where your business is at today?
  • Examine your own behaviour – am I holding my business back by being anxious about cash flow?

Written by Engel Schmidl

For more tips and inspiration about how to grow your business visit Officeworks’ Work Wise hub.

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