Customer service, merchandising and trading hours were significant talking points at a roundtable discussion between Milton-Ulladulla business owners last week.
Twenty of the area's leading business owners held robust discussions on ways to improve profits for retail businesses and the consumer experience in the district.
On Thursday, May 2, Milton Ulladulla Business Chamber hosted its first dinner meeting of the year, Does Retail Thrive or Survive, at the Dunn Lewis Centre.
Business owners gathered to discuss what the chamber and other organisations can do to promote and better the retail environment. Mayor Amanda Findley gave some background on the relative success of attracting visitors to the Shoalhaven - the most visited destination after Sydney in NSW - to which the chamber agreed.
But, it was conceded that even though there are locals and tourists alike, businesses were struggling to stay profitable with some high profile retail shops closing in recent times.
Chamber spokesperson Matt Dell said the group acknowledged the difficulties of running a small business and the various external challenges retailers face such as the growth of online shopping.
However, the discussion focussed on issues at a local level and what's within a business owner's control.
One owner said he had noticed an upward trend of sales and customers after adjusting his opening hours on the weekend. However, it took many months before customers took advantage of the weekend hours.
Top 10 factors identified by the Milton Ulladulla Business Chamber which small businesses can improve:
- Customer service - no consistent friendly or helpful attitude.
- Staff recruitment and a lack of leadership.
- Adjust opening hours to suit weekend shoppers.
- No relationship or unwilling to negotiate with the landlord.
- Presentation and product - No merchandising and displays lack appeal.
- Lack of a proper business plan.
- Lack of business expertise or owner has an employee mindset.
- Cash Flow and financial management.
- Understanding of pricing and profit margins.
- Align offerings to suit target market.
The Milton Ulladulla Business Chamber provides a voice for locals and also as a means of networking and providing peer support and advice to members and visitors
For details on future events subscribe to its email newsletter at the website www.muchamber.com.au or follow its Facebook page.