10 Minutes with Matt Drew – His views on the economy, success, technology and more

1.Interest rates are at an all-time low. What effect do you believe this will have on a small business?

With interest rates at record lows, there is an opportunity for small businesses to borrow funds to invest in their growth. Whether that be to bring on more staff, spend more on marketing or possibly to access the Small Business Instant Asset Write Off by purchasing new equipment and claiming an immediate tax deduction for assets costing less than $30,000.

2.We have recently seen the introduction of Single Touch Payroll [STP]. How important is it that business owners embrace technology rather than shy away from it?

Like it or not, we are now operating in a digital age, and it is essential that business owners keep up with changes in technology or risk being left behind. In some cases, for example, STP, business owners are left with no choice but to embrace technology to meet their obligations as the Government pushes forward with its plan to move more and more functions into an online environment.

Change can be scary, and it is always tempting to stay in our comfort zones and simply maintain the status quo. However, by embracing technology, we can bring new opportunities to our businesses to help them grow and prosper.

3.How does McPhail & Partners keep up with technology changes?

For us, it really comes down to a combination of connecting with the right business partners and having a team with curious minds. Technology is developing so fast that it’s impossible for a small business to keep on top of everything. We have strong partnerships with our IT and Software providers who keep us abreast of significant developments that can positively impact on our business.

We also encourage our team to investigate ways to improve our internal processes and procedures where they feel we could benefit from new technologies. For example, the team is currently looking at utilising some of the Xero Apps to streamline the expense claim process and integration with our payroll system.

4.What would you say are the most significant risks to business at the moment?

Risks will vary from business to business and from industry to industry. For example, in the retail space, those businesses with physical shopfronts face the challenge of more people buying online rather than in-store. The hospitality industry faces reputational risk as social media can have such a powerful impact, both positively and negatively, on their businesses. Cash flow is always a challenge for small businesses, particularly those in the building and construction industry where significant resources and finance are required up-front.

It is crucial for all businesses to understand the risks specific to their circumstances and put plans in place to minimise the impact these risks can have.

5.What are the biggest pitfalls when selling a business at the moment?

I think for someone selling a small business, the biggest challenge is harnessing their emotions and looking at things objectively. A potential buyer is looking at the purchase as a business decision and will look at the financial performance, market position and perhaps synergies with their existing business.

They don’t see the years of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into developing your business, or all those late nights at the kitchen table doing the BAS returns or paying the accounts. With all that effort that has been put in to build the business, it can be difficult to set realistic expectations of its true market value, which can make the negotiation process extremely stressful and challenging.

6.Small business is the cornerstone of the Australian economy. Do you believe there is enough support for a small business owner; affordable support to help them navigate running and growing a business in today’s times?

There is a lot of support out there for small businesses, but business owners might not be aware of the resources at their disposal. Having a strong relationship with your Accountant and, if relevant, your bookkeeping is essential as we can help to guide and advise you.

Additionally, the Government has some great resources available for free online which can assist with running a small business such as Business Victoria (www.business.vic.gov.au), the Fair Work Ombudsman (www.fairwork.gov.au), the ASIC (www.asic.gov.au) and even the ATO (www.ato.gov.au).

Outside of these Government resources, there are also other organisations that businesses can join, such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.victorianchamber.com.au), to assist. It is also a good idea to join your local council business group where you can network with other local business owners to share ideas and hopefully build your referral network.

7.Five years from now, what can we expect from McPhail & Partners?

As part of our ongoing succession plan, we will see some changes of the next five years as we look to position the business for hopefully another 75 years of success. We will still maintain the values that we pride ourselves on, such as honesty, integrity and professionalism so that we can continue to provide our clients with the level of service they expect.

We are always looking at ways to improve our service offering to meet the needs of our clients, which we will continue to do. This will come from a combination of engaging with new technologies, keeping up to date with legislative changes and also developing new skills and offerings to help clients navigate through their own financial journeys.

8.We live in an App era! There seems to be an App for everything these days even budgeting and rounding up Apps to help save money. What’s your advice about using these Apps? Can they be useful when it comes to budgeting?

There are several great apps out there that can help you track your finances and manage your budget. The challenging part is having the self-dedication to update and review them regularly and to hold yourself accountable for the results.

These Apps do serve a purpose but should be used as part of the bigger picture of managing your overall financial objectives.

9.McPhail & Partners has recently moved offices. ‘They’ say that moving can be one of the most stressful experiences known to man! Having been through the process, what advice would you give to others that are considering relocating?

DON’T DO IT! Just Kidding!

Honestly, it was a stressful process at times, and we certainly learnt some lessons throughout the move. In hindsight, there were some things we did really well, but equally, there are some things we would have done differently if we had to do it again. The key items I would highlight for anyone looking to move would be:

-Have a clear plan of what you want to achieve but be flexible and open to change as the process unfolds

-Set a realistic budget and don’t overextend yourself

-Communication! There are so many moving parts, and there needs to be clear communication between all the stakeholders, so things run smoothly

-Ask for help – you can’t do everything yourself (especially if you are also running your business) so build a team and engage others to help you

-Enjoy it – despite all the stress and long hours involved there is real satisfaction in seeing your vision for the future of your business come to life in front of you


A guide to working with independent contractors for small business owners

Hiring independent contractors may be an effective way to get more work done without onboarding new, full-time resources, but there are a few things small business owners should be aware of before taking the plunge.

If you need to start delegating tasks in your business or don’t have the necessary expertise in-house to complete certain jobs, you may want to hire a contractor.

Here is the rundown on everything small business owners need to know about working with independent contractors.

What is the difference between an employee and a contractor?

Employees, whether part-time, full-time, or casual, are hired to work within someone else’s business.

They’re paid a wage and receive entitlements during the year, such as annual and sick leave.

Their work is performed on site, in most cases, and there are other controls about how, where, and when they do their job.

Independent contractors, on the other hand, differ in a variety of ways.

READ: Employee or contractor? Know your obligations

Although there is no one factor or combination of factors that determine a worker’s status, usually contractors:

  • Are their own boss, working for themselves but selling their services to others
  • Control their working times and work as many hours as are needed to complete a job
  • Work from home or other premises of their choice, or complete work on business premises for a short amount of time
  • Provide their own equipment and tools
  • Create their own processes to complete tasks
  • Accept or refuse work as they see fit
  • Work for many clients at once

Also called ‘sub-contractors’ or ‘subbies’, independent contractors are hired to complete a set task or project based on terms set within a contract.

They’re paid per hour, per day, per task completed, or via another agreed calculation.

Contractors can choose to delegate or subcontract some of their work if they want to, too, unless this has been specifically forbidden in their contract.

Businesses often hire contractors for their specialised skills, when such skills are required for a short, or pre-determined, amount of time.

The rights and responsibilities of businesses hiring contractors

If you decide to hire a contractor for a project, be aware that your rights and responsibilities are different from those when dealing with employees.

Unlike with in-house staff, when you use contractors, you don’t have to pay them sick leave, annual leave, superannuation, or other related benefits.

You don’t have to take tax out of your payments to contractors, either (although contractors may request this in rare cases). Tax matters are up to independent contractors to sort out.

READ: Changes to Taxable Payments Reporting in 2019

Businesses negotiate a set price for the work contractors are to perform and pay them accordingly.

Independent contractors supply an invoice for the work. Businesses must make payment within the agreed-upon timeframe noted in the contract and/or on the invoice.

If unhappy with the work done by a contractor, entrepreneurs should read the contract to understand payment terms and conditions.

Contractors usually bear the responsibility and liability for poor work, but not always.

Try to resolve payment issues amicably, or make use of a mediator. You may need to get legal advice, too.

Don’t just withhold payment if you’re not pleased with a contractor’s work. Doing this can give them the right to terminate the contract because you failed to meet payment obligations. Contractors might then claim damages from you for that breach.

Contractors are not entitled to a minimum wage, but they’re after an acceptable rate for their work. They typically always bear the financial risk for making a profit or loss for each job.

Under the Fair Work Act, contractors are protected from various adverse situations, though.

For example, as a business owner or manager, you can’t terminate a contract because a contractor made a complaint to a regulator about their workplace rights.

Businesses must not threaten to take action against contractors as a means of coercing them not to exercise their workplace rights, either. Nor can they force contractors to join (or exclude themselves from) a trade group or other relevant association.

The Independent Contractors Act also protects self-employed workers in the matter of contracts.

Contractors can ask a court to review contracts they see as harsh or unfair.

If a case goes to court, factors considered include contract terms, bargaining strengths of each party, unfair tactics used against any party, and the comparison of the total remuneration against standard industry rates.

Be aware that if courts deem a contract to be harsh or unfair, they have the power to order contract terms to be changed (e.g. added, removed, or edited), to nullify certain terms of the contract, or to set aside the entire contract so it no longer has any effect.

Since contractors typically work off-site, businesses aren’t usually responsible for keeping contractors safe.

Contractors need to take out their own insurance and legal covers to protect themselves and others, as applicable.

But, if a contractor does have to work at your business site or use your equipment, your firm could be liable if harm comes to the contractor as a result of your dangerous workspace or equipment.

Contractors are usually liable for any defects or other problems with their work, too, although again, this can vary from contract to contract.

The pros and cons of hiring contractors

There are numerous reasons to hire a contractor. Benefits include:

  • Quick access to the additional skills, experience, or technology your business needs, particularly during growth stages or periods of uncertainty
  • Organisational flexibility, since you hire contractors only when you need them
  • Ease of termination, as you can end most contracts with just a few weeks’notice
  • Lower overheads due to the fact you don’t need to pay superannuation, holiday pay, sick leave, and other benefits
  • Reduced legal liability as contractors provide their own insurance

There are also some potential downsides to be considered when hiring contractors rather than employing people in-house. For example:

  • Lack of stability in your business, because contractors come and go
  • Time wasted training contractors how to do tasks to your liking; contractors take knowledge with them once a contract finishes
  • Less team cohesion, since contractors work independently and usually don’t get involved in team discussions or events
  • When you use contractors, you don’t end up adding value to your core business. Over the long term, investing in employees often pays better dividends than spending money on contractors year after year
  • While you will likely get a contractor to sign a non-disclosure agreement, there are risks in giving them access to sensitive information

Utilising contractors in your small or medium business can be a smart tactic in many circumstances. But, always do your research, be careful about which contractors you hire, and get advice from accountants and lawyers to ensure adequate protection before going ahead.

The information provided here is of a general nature for Australia and should not be your only source of information. Please consult an experienced and registered business advisor, as well as a professional legal advisor, as each individual’s circumstances will vary.

Source: MYOB

Reproduced with the permission of MYOB. This article by Kellie Byrnes was originally published at www.myob.com/au/blog/.

 

 

 

 

 


John Peiper from Peiper Signs

Peiper Signs is a long-standing business which has built an excellent reputation. In this article, John shares his secrets to success and longevity.

1. J&J Peiper has been in business since 1981; what’s your secret to business success?

Working hard and trying to do the best possible job for the client that you would want to be done for yourself.

2. J&J Peiper is a family owned business. Many people shy away from working with their family. What is your advice about successfully working with family members?

All of our boys (4) have worked for me and my wife Jennifer, through schooling and beyond at various stages, we have enjoyed their involvement immensely.  They have all moved on to their chosen fields now with Jennifer, I am still working in the business. My advice would be to listen to their ideas and work as a team.

3. What challenges do you face as a small business owner?

The challenges of a small business are trying to juggle the workload when you are really busy. You have to learn to prioritise the jobs which need to be completed first.

4. How has McPhail & Partners helped you over the years?

Wayne Durdin has been tremendously helpful through our journey, offering advice and knowledge freely.

5. Technology has changed dramatically since you first started the business – how do you remain at the forefront of your industry?

When I started in the signage field as a 17-year-old most signage was done with a brush and paint which was time-consuming, but enjoyable. Overtime machines came into play that cut vinyl letters then going to machines that print the total sign.  Signwriters have always picked up whatever was new to aid us in the production of signs.

6. Who inspires you?

My father was most likely my inspiration at the beginning teaching me to work hard and be honest.

7. What marketing activities have you found over the years have worked?

Having your vehicle sign written is a great way to promote your business. Always have business cards printed and ready. Have a web page and online presence.

8. How have customers’ expectations changed over the years?

I don’t think customers have changed over the years as long as you give them value for money and honest personal touch.

9. What advice would you give to someone that wanted to start a business in today’s world?

Network and give people the best advice that you can. Have business cards and signage to promote yourself.  Always remember word of mouth is valued highly.

10. What have been three valuable lessons you have learned since growing the business?

Don’t be money hungry, do the right things, and the money will look after itself. Always keep track of invoices and follow up to make sure all is paid in a reasonable time. Look after your clients, and they will look after you.

For more information about John and his business, click here.


Shining the light on Monika Murti, Accountant at McPhail & Partners

Monika Murti joined our team last year as one of our Accountants. We sit down with Monika this month so that we can learn a few more things about her that may not have been revealed during the interview stage! Thanks, Monika for being so candid in this interview and for all your hard work; it's great to have you in the team!

What three words would you use to describe the culture at McPhails?

Professional, Supportive, Motivated

Monika, you are a working mum who is also studying. What are your tips for juggling all the priorities that you have?

My tip would be to plan, plan and plan for the week. I would do my schedule for the week on Sundays. I wake up an hour earlier than the kids to prep lunches. The night before I organise school uniforms and make sure their homework is done and make dinner for the next night. When kids are in bed, I study.

The world is changing so quickly these days. What advice will you give to your children about career choices in the future?

I would let them choose what they wanted to do and support their choices. I would encourage them to work hard towards their goals and that it's ok to change your career if you decide it’s not for you.

What does a typical day look like for you at work?

I start my day with a morning coffee, check my emails and get started on preparing accounts and returns for clients.

Who inspires you at McPhails and why?

Matthew Drew. His inspiring in-depth knowledge of Accounting principles and tax concepts at such a young age is truly inspiring. Also, he is a very hands-on and supportive leader and injects huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to the team and the business.

What role do you think continuing education plays in the level of success a business can have?

It definitely gives business a competitive advantage and keeps them relevant.

If we were to come to your house for dinner tonight who would cook and what would we eat?

I would cook and I would cook Indian food, lamb and chicken curry with rice and roti.

Cat or dog person?

Dog person

If someone gave you $1,000 what would you do with it?

I want to say I would go on a family holiday to Fiji, but I would probably pay the bills with it.

If you could have a gigantic billboard erected anywhere to get a message out there, what would it say?

Live in the present.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received yourself?

Once you become comfortable in your own skin, you can accept others for who they are.

You’re faced with a mammoth task at work - how would you tackle it?

Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done and schedule the priorities first and then start working my way through the list.

What is one thing the team at McPhails don’t know about you yet?

I love going to craft and food markets.

Thanks, Monika, we're definitely coming for dinner!


Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

1 in 10 Victorian state school students is supported by State Schools’ Relief. Alarming numbers which have been growing over recent times.

Only 5.4% of fortune 1000 companies are led by women. Another alarming fact. However, the good news is that at State Schools’ Relief Sue Karzis leads this major not-for-profit [NFP] organisation.

We sat down with Sue to learn more about her role and the role which SSR plays in our children’s everyday lives. Thanks, Sue.

1. Congratulations on being the first female CEO of State Schools’ Relief. Prior to being appointed did you realise you were making history?

I had absolutely no idea! I am excited to make history though, especially if it encourages other women to put themselves forward for leadership roles.

2. Being the first female CEO since the organisation started in 1930, what challenges have you faced?

The challenges I have faced are the challenges that most CEOs in NFPs face – that is, how to increase fundraising, revenue, improve systems and processes and become sustainable into the future. I have had lots of support from the SSR Board, so I am very lucky.

3. Do you believe that women bring a different perspective to senior roles?

I think that women often approach leadership differently. I think that the traditional notion of power is an antiquated one and leaders of today need to be collaborative and coach staff to achieve a shared strategic vision. For staff to be engaged, they need to buy into what the organisation is trying to achieve. In the case of State Schools’ Relief, our staff understand the huge impact that our work has. Last year alone, we assisted over 56,000 children and young people with school uniforms, shoes and other educational resources. Our mission is to remove the barriers that underprivileged children face so that they can engage with education and realise their full potential.

4. What makes you smile at work?

The feedback about what a difference we make in the lives of children – when I am having a bad day, I often look at it and it puts everything into perspective.

5. What frustrates you at work?

When IT doesn’t work! Other than that, delays in getting things done. Once I have an idea, I really want to see it through, and it can be hard to be patient.

6. The topic of women in the workforce especially the number of senior leaders is very topical, why do you think that is?

I think that as women, we are living in a watershed moment; what is happening with the #MeToo movement reflects a new awareness of women’s rights and is highlighting areas where there is an obvious disparity. To have only 5.4% of Fortune 1000 companies led by women shows that despite best efforts, the glass ceiling still exists, and women are not attaining leadership positions at the rate that they should.

7. What do you believe organisations need to do to improve the number of senior female appointments?

I think that female leaders need to mentor their colleagues and ensure that they are championing them, creating opportunities for them to step into leadership and supporting the sisterhood rather than seeing other women as competition. We need to tackle unconscious bias so that when hiring, we don’t have a preconceived idea about potential candidates, and we need to keep talking about the issue and empowering women of all ages to feel like they are worthy of the top jobs.

8. Which leaders inspire you and why?

The leaders I find most inspiring are humble and inspired by their own experiences to make a difference. Rosie Batty inspires me with her strength and determination and Malala, who has overcome the voice of young women battling discrimination and adversity all over the world.

9. How do you measure success?

Success to me is measured by the impact you are having. Leading an organisation like State Schools’ Relief, I know we are having a huge impact on the lives of those we help.  From an organizational perspective, achieving strategic objectives, such as establishing a social enterprise to retail our school shoes with a view to funding our charity is a true measure of success.

10. What does a typical day look like for you?

Most mornings I try to catch up on emails, I have at least 2-3 meetings most days as well as attending stakeholder events and media opportunities whenever required. In an organisation like SSR, I am fairly hands-on, so I am often involved in operational matters and meeting with staff to solve problems on a daily basis.

11. How would others describe your leadership style?

I have been told I am transparent, hands-off and I trust and empower those around me to make decisions and feel invested. I believe that any leader is only as good as the team that they have around them.

Thank you, Sue. For more information about State School’s Relief please visit their website by clicking here.


Community values & professional services - two key pillars to success for Marriot Support Services

Janine Simpkin, CEO, Marriott Support Services speaks with us today about the organisation she is proud to lead. In this interview, Janine shares how the organisation creates exceptional opportunities and support for people with disabilities, what it takes to lead a business in today's times and how others can get involved in such a wonderful and much needed support service. Thank you, Janine and congratulations on the success of Marriot Support Services, its social enterprises and the fantastic work you, your team and the volunteers conduct.

  1. Where does the funding come from to support Marriott Support Services and what does the organisation do?

We are moving to The National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] which is a new way of providing support for people with a disability, their families and carers. Marriott supports over 100 people with more significant disabilities. We focus on their strengths and help them to reach their potential in whatever space they choose like employment, volunteering, social connection or skills development and learning. Sometimes that is by accessing their community with help and other times by upskilling them in areas where they can learn to be more independent like learning to use public transport. Many of the younger ones in this group will move to less support or employment options as their skills increase. It is all based on individuals and their goals in life.

  1. Can you explain about the two social enterprise businesses which Marriott operates?

We have two social enterprises. The first, Marriott Industries employs about 85 people with disability to work in our warehouses. We pack gifts for Xmas, repack items from overseas and pack sample bags for new mums or events. We pack spices into jars to sell in gourmet shops and complete light assembly jobs; these are a snapshot of some of the work that we do.

Our second social enterprise is the Enviro-Management Services which is classified as a large business that tenders for work in the open market. Enviro integrates people with disability into crews and work is always off-site. We hope to expand this service to training people with disabilities with the skills to work in the open employment market.

Both social enterprises contribute to our bottom line – thus allowing us to be innovative and strategic in the way we deliver services. However, we do rely on financial assistance for the added extras that can change someone’s life forever. Our new Enviro project will not start until this happens.

  1. If an organisation is looking to recruit and support a person with a disability what advice could you offer them?

Look at someone’s strengths. Design a job around the person, what can they achieve – chances are the time you spend doing this will create a loyal employee who will be hard working and dedicated. With the NDIS there is customised employment support which will help the individual learn a new skill or modify an existing one. Everybody, regardless of education, race, socioeconomic situation or abilities have strengths and areas that need some work – a person with a disability is no different. They can learn, adapt and will always work harder if they are doing something that they are naturally good at – as we all do. People with disability have been found to be very loyal employees with less absenteeism.

  1. What types of volunteers can add value to Marriott Support Services and how can someone get involved?

Marriott loves volunteers. Our Community program has volunteers to support art, tennis, dancing, cooking, basketball competition and gym– and so the list goes on. Volunteers also help out with admin – as we run on the “smell of an oily rag” and want to use our resources in more direct support. We have skilled volunteering too like with marketing or IT; almost any skill is great to have in a volunteer and can be short term or long term. We also have corporate volunteers, like from NAB, who come in groups as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.

  1. How would you describe the auditing team at McPhail and Partners?

Very reliable, approachable, pleasant and communicative. Let’s not forget extremely thorough, all of the qualities we admire and need in an auditor.

  1. What makes you smile at work?

My staff and the way they communicate with everybody – regardless of their abilities. Corridor chats with staff and the people we support uncover so many good stories, and we tend to be very open.

  1. What makes you feel frustrated at work?

Compliance to the extreme, however absolutely required in this field. We work with a marginalised and vulnerable group who need extra support and protection.

  1. How would you describe your leadership style?

Open, honest, consultative, and I work to people’s strengths. I believe a CEO should be the face of an organisation and lead by example, especially in this field.

  1. Industries are extremely competitive nowadays, how does Marriott Support Services remain relevant and competitive?

We are honest about what we do well and work to our strengths. We work well with “behaviours of concern”, these may limit someone’s ability to participate in the community, and we have great success in enabling people with behaviours of concern to be able to engage with the community by learning to manage their behaviours. It is life changing for the individual and their families. Another strength is getting people into employment, and that is also life-changing, giving some financial independence, developing skills and peer connections is excellent for the individual, their family and the community.

We use our local community and partner with them to expand opportunities and build social inclusion. For example, we have a small group volunteering in a commercial kitchen in an aged care facility to develop their skills and social connection and maybe a pathway to training and employment. We will do everything we can to help an individual reach their goals. We are also not afraid to say that someone may be better with another organisation that better suits their interests or needs. This will always be with an organisation that we trust and know well. We are “niche” in the support we provide and work closely with our community to develop and grow to meet their needs.

  1. How important is social media to Marriott Support Services?

In the past, we have worked on “word of mouth” and reputation. We recognise that to remain viable and grow in the spaces that we wish to expand we need social media. Social media is a wonderful way for the people we support to connect and grow and to reach new customers. We use stories to inspire people to aim high and to follow a dream and to inform people about what is out there, for example, helping people understanding the NDIS. Social media is an excellent way for us to communicate and we are always looking to improve.

For more information about Marriott Support Services visit their website by clicking here.

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Shining the light on Sargents Cakes with Kim and Paul Sharwood

Husband and wife team, Kim and Paul Sharwood, share their business story with us. Sargents has such a long-standing history and we wanted to know all about it! Thanks to Kim and Paul for opening your doors and sharing your success with us. 

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  1. How old is the business?

Established 1952...so 66 years old!

  1. Where did the name Sargents come from?

Jim Sargent established the business in 1952. Paul’s Dad Barry lived next door to him. Jim only had one daughter who showed no interest in being involved with the business, so he asked Barry’s parents if Barry could begin work at Sargent’s as an apprentice. Barry was like the son he never had. Barry and Jim worked together until Jim retired and Barry bought the business in 1982. He decided to honour Jim by keeping the name Sargent’s Cakes. When Paul and I took over the business in 1997, changing the name wasn’t even a consideration. The name Sargent’s Cakes is synonymous with Reservoir, and the people of Reservoir don’t like change!

  1. Who owns the business now?

Paul and Kim Sharwood.

  1. Congratulations on being a super husband and wife team. How do you do it? What’s the secret to your success because not every husband and wife can work together!

I believe that as a couple, both in business and at home, we have a lot of respect and love for one another. We have been together since we were 14 years old, so we know each other extremely well. As far as the business is concerned, Paul starts very early in the mornings and his focus is on the production and quality control of the goods. I work part-time at the business, and my focus when I am there is on the staff and of course the customers. When problems arise within the business, we always openly discuss our options/solutions, and we make sure we are on the same page. A lot of the time Paul will have the answers to any manufacturing issues, due to his extensive knowledge in that area, (which I don’t have!)

  1. Which social media platform do you use and what is the name so that we can find it?

We have a website (www.sargentscakes.com.au), that is not utilised much since our introduction to Instagram, (sargents_cakes). It is much more time effective to post a cake photo and description on Instagram.

  1. What makes you smile at work?

Paul...” Seeing the shop full of customers, lining up to give us their money!” Kim...” Having a chat with customers who have become like family over the years; banter with my staff; looking at the final result of a beautiful cake that our decorators have completed!”

  1. You must have such a loyal customer following. How do you ensure that your quality and service keeps up to date with customers’ expectations?

We do have a huge local following. Many customers have been coming to us for over 50 years! Great enthusiasm and lots of hard work and time are dedicated to making sure that customers return. They expect a friendly greeting, knowledgeable and reliable information on our goods, a clean and appealing shop, and of course food that tastes amazing! This is achieved through the training and supervision of our staff; making sure that they know what our expectations are of them and for our customers. Our staff are very loyal many have worked for Sargent’s Cakes for over 20 years! The main drawcard for Sargent’s Cakes is that we bake fresh daily you can’t beat an apple pie or jam donut that has just come out of the oven!

  1. In a family business, they say success lies in each other knowing their strengths and weaknesses. What business roles [hats] do each of you do [wear?]. For example, who looks after the HR, who looks after the finances etc.?

Paul is a qualified pastry cook. He is hands on every morning, six days a week, making all the pies and cakes that we sell. I work part-time at the shop and work at home keeping the finances under control, doing the bookwork and answering emails/enquiries. Paul does not do technology, so needless to say all the HR falls into my hands. One of my young decorators has taken over the Instagram page from me, as she is more tech-savvy and more in tune with the lingo!

  1. You’ve been a client of McPhail and Partners for many years. How would you describe what it is that they do?

McPhails have looked after us the whole time we have owned Sargent’s Cakes, and also when Barry had the business. They give us peace of mind that our accounting needs are being managed by qualified accountants who have the knowledge to keep our business out of strife with the Tax Office (!) and running as efficiently as possible. They offer us advice and are always available to help us when we have enquiries.

  1. What motivates you every day?

Running and maintaining a successful business that people love to visit keeps us both motivated every day. Knowing that people are enjoying our food gives us great pleasure. Of course, wanting to provide for our family and to continue to provide us with a lovely lifestyle motivates us as well.

  1. How has retail changed for your business over the years?

Retail has changed for us over the years. We have a younger demographic moving into the area, so the demand for different products has increased. Customer expectations are higher than before, and value for money is extremely important. It is not as busy as the good old days, with competition from other bakeries and the big supermarkets. However, we have learnt to adjust to this. Our prices are very reasonable, and our quality is always high, so we know that Sargent’s Cakes is here to stay!!

Thanks Kim and Paul and congratulations on a wonderful success story.

 


Introducing Stephen Howard, Manager, Business Services

We are extremely pleased to introduce Stephen Howard. Stephen, or Steve as he likes to be known, has been appointed as Manager, Business Services. We sat down with Steve to find out a little more about him, his style and what we can expect working with him. Thanks, Steve and welcome to the team.

  1. What led you to join McPhail & Partners?

After working in various different sized firms over the last 11 years, I was looking for something that was small enough to have the personal connections between staff and the clients that often gets lost in some of the bigger firms; but also, somewhere that had the right potential to be able to grow in the longer term

  1. What qualifications do you have?

I hold a Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) from RMIT University. I’m also a CPA and a registered tax agent

  1. What is your role at McPhail & Partners?

I am a manager in the business services/tax side of the business, so I assist the directors of the firm with managing client’s day-to-day affairs and ensure we’re being proactive and engaged with them regularly and to make sure their accounting needs are always met.

  1. What qualities do you think it takes to be a leader in today’s ever-changing world?

I think leaders today require an open mind and the ability to think outside the square. As technology continues to evolve, the way things were done in the past is no longer efficient or necessarily best practice. Good leaders today need to be able to continue to move with the times and not get stuck doing things in certain ways because that’s what has always been done. It’s also important for leaders to be in touch with those that report to them and allow them to have a voice in relation to how things should be done. A lot of big corporations have seen great ideas come from people well below the top of the food chain

  1. What three words would you use to describe the team at McPhail & Partners?

Friendly, community-minded, professional

  1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?

The great thing about public practice accounting is those typical days don’t really exist. You might have a plan as to what you are going to do and then a client calls with an urgent matter and things get shuffled around. One day you might be working on a cash flow for a client, so they can get finance; the next you might be working on tax returns and the day after that might be dealing with the ATO regarding a client’s affairs. The variety of work keeps things interesting

  1. Who do you admire and why?

I admire any professional sportsperson who is in the public eye while being at the top of their sport. In our world, the continual legislative and technological changes make staying at the top of your game hard. Professional athletes have to be at the top of their game, maintain peak performance, train etc. all while being subject to media scrutiny & social media commentary from people who have never played professionally themselves. The fact that so many of them can stay at the top of their games for so long despite everything they have said about them is quite amazing.

  1. The world is changing so fast, how do you remain up to date at work?

We just need to make as much time as we can to attend seminars to keep ourselves up to date with new legislation and rules etc. The methods of delivery have improved significantly over the years so keeping up to date isn’t as difficult as it seems. Often there are webinars, email newsletters and other forms of communication that can be accessed from anywhere.

  1. What can the team at McPhail & Partners expect from you and why?

My focus is always around exceeding client expectations – M & P can expect a client-focused approach to all engagements I’m a part of.  My view is that as accountants we need to take on more than just a “number cruncher” role; we need to become our clients’ trusted advisor. That might mean simply listening to their goals and concerns and assisting put them into action; it might mean being a broker of sorts and introducing them to other professionals such as lawyers; sometimes it might involve being a counsellor of sorts. By being that trusted advisor allows us to be integrated into the client’s affairs fully and allows servicing opportunities that may not exist otherwise.

 


Banking - Future trends and business tips with Natalie Goold, Franchise Manager, Bendigo Bank

Bendigo Bank is part of the local community. You might even be a customer of theirs. Why is the Bendigo Bank brand so strong and well respected in a time when most banks are failing? We sat down with Natalie Goold, Franchise Manager to learn about the bank, future trends and her leadership style. Thanks, Natalie.

  1. The Bendigo Bank brand has always appeared strong. How does it achieve this?

According to independent research by Roy Morgan, Bendigo Bank was named the third most trusted Australian brand last month [July 2018], ahead of Bunnings, Qantas and the ABC. This is something that we are extremely proud of and reflects not just how we function as a bank, but more so how we treat our customers, our company character and conscience.  Our capabilities continue to evolve to deliver industry-leading solutions and experiences to our customers.  At the core of what we do is our customers, and this has not changed during our 160 years of operation.

  1. The world of financial services changes at rapid rates and shows no sign of slowing down. How do you remain up to date and in touch with client needs?

This is absolutely true, change is happening at a rapid rate, this is exciting for our customers as new technologies make banking more accessible, putting the consumer in control.  It is a challenge that the banking industry faces, we need to ensure we are meeting the changing needs of our customers and innovating constantly to remain relevant.   We actively encourage and monitor feedback from customers through our Customer Help Centre, feedback is monitored for emerging trends and acted upon as required.  As an organisation we also engage with Fin Tech innovators and existing partners, ensuring we are always up to date with best practice and looking for new areas to invest in.

  1. What and who motivates you as a leader?

My team of people motivate me every day!  People that are passionate about getting the best outcome for a customer are really motivational.  I really admire staff who are willing to try new things and go outside of their comfort zone at times.  I have a motto that ‘while you are in your comfort zone you are not growing as a person’.Personally, I am motivated by leaders that are passionate about achieving goals and who can set a vision for our company.

  1. What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

To make the most of compound interest, start investing young!!  A good work ethic and right attitude will open doors you never imagined.

  1. A large number of SME’s fail in the first few years of business. Why is that and how does Bendigo Bank assist [before they fail that is!]?

Starting a new business can be all encompassing, there are so many elements the business owner needs to be across.  Being planned in your approach and researching your market are critical.We provide new customers with access to our online Business Hub, which provides information such as Business Plan templates, updates on financial markets, information on legislative requirements for employees such as Superannuation contributions and loads of information.  We can also support start up SME’s by ensuring they have the strong advisors supporting (such as Accountants, Business Advisors etc.).

  1. How would your colleagues describe you?

That’s difficult to answer…I enjoy achieving and always moving forward.  I care about the best outcome for our customers and our staff.

  1. How would you describe the team at McPhail & Partners?

The team at McPhail & Partners are genuine in helping their clients to achieve their business goals.  It is a family based business that has strong values, work ethic and integrity.

  1. Technology has impacted business in so many ways. How has it helped Bendigo Bank and its clients?

Technology in banking has put the customer more in control of their finances.  Customers have all their banking information at their fingertips, so people are more informed about their financial position.  Payments can now be made and received so quickly by so many different means, this is great for small business and assists with cash flow challenges.

  1. How important is a partnership approach to the relationship you have with your clients and how do you ensure that is consistent throughout all three branches that you oversee?

We view banking relationships with our customers as a partnership, in which we feel that we can add value to the customer and help them achieve their financial goals.  We do this by really knowing our customer and understanding what challenges they face, how they like to manage their banking and being accessible when the customer needs assistance.

We look for ways to reach out to our customers and give suggestions on new products or different ways of structuring their banking that could be more beneficial to them.

Our group of 3 branches (Ringwood, Boronia and Bayswater) work as one team.  We meet on a regular basis as a group to discuss things like; best practice, new products and initiatives, key client relationships etc.  This ensures that we keep challenging ourselves and meeting the changing needs of our customers.

We would love the opportunity to speak with anyone who is interested in banking with Bendigo Bank and invite you to contact me on 03 9870 9244.

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Who is the REAL Chathu De Silva?

Chathu De Silva is our Administration Team Leader; the backbone of our business. You might not get to meet Chathu when you come to the office so we thought we’d ask her some questions to reveal the REAL Chathu – we learned some new things too!

  1. If I could have any job, I’d be - A film director.  The room for creativity in filmmaking always fascinated me. Guiding technical crew and actors to bring a script to life has captivated me since I was a kid.
  2. Best career advice I’ve received - Not to sweat the small things to focus on the bigger picture.
  3. The three qualities that got me where I am today – Hard work, persistence and logical thinking
  4. The kind of work I’d do for free - Personal shopper or stylist
  5. Change I’d like to see in the world - For every child in the world to receive a good quality education
  6. Who I admire and why - Princess Diana- I admire her grace and beauty and her fearlessness to do what she truly believed in.
  7. Last thing I binged watched - Game of Thrones like the rest of the world
  8. Book that left an impression on me - The Road from Elephant Pass - A novel by Nihal De Silva [Book written during the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka]. Being a hopeless romantic myself this book is about a love story of two people who belong to completely different races and liberation organisations - it is definitely memorable
  9. Movie that left an impression on me - Being a parent myself definitely – Will Smith’s “The Pursuit of Happiness”
  10. On my bucket list - Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
  11. Cocktail of choice - Espresso Martini
  12. My perfect day would begin - A morning cuddle from my daughter and a warm cup of coffee
  13. My perfect day would end with - A good book, chocolate and a glass of red wine
  14. What every person should try once in their lifetime – Live in another country
  15. One thing I’m exceptionally good at - Talking
  16. One thing I’m exceptionally bad at - Being patient
  17. Advice I’d give to my younger self - Buy more size 8 shoes
  18. Three words to describe McPhail & Partners - Professional, Caring & Forward thinking

Thanks, Chathu and thanks for all your hard work!

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