A side benefit of the benchmark work we have been doing with our newsagent users over the last two months has been deeper interaction with several on real business challenges.  We are privileged to gain an insight into unique challenges, the result of which we see in the benchmark data.  Our queries have lead to several deep business discussions which go to the heart of the role of the business owner.

While it may seem odd to some reading this that a business owner would doubt their role, in the newsagency channel it is not surprising.  Many newsagent suppliers have strict controls in place which deny newsagents the opportunity to properly manage their businesses.  It is only natural therefore that over the years newsagents pull back from managing and let business happen around them.

One reason we started the benchmark project was to awaken newsagents and have them take a more proactive role in managing their businesses.  I am seeing this working – based on conversations and meetings over the last couple of days.

In a couple of cases, the benchmark data has been a real shock – to the point of it not being believed.  Once the data (bad news) is proven and accepted we can set about working on the business and making it stronger.

We get a thrill out of this pro-bono business building work.  It drives our own use of the software while working with our customers, making a win win.

I wouldn’t enjoy this work if we were a regular software company making programs and shipping them out and interacting with our customers on a technology basis only.