Newsagency marketing group newsXpress, of which I am a Director, in its daily support email to members, included this list of financial support from state and territory governments, which you may find useful:
State government support packages.
Here are links to state / territory government support packages announced to help businesses through the COVID-19 situation. While each state has different rules, some will allow the packages to be used for useful things such as website development and other activities that support the operation of the business. Please click on the appropriate link for your location and read up what you may be able to tap into. The text for each state is from the government websites.
Our advice is that you carefully read the information for your location and that you then apply for every thing you could possibly be eligible for.
We are grateful to our 3,000+ small business retail customers for their support.
Today at Tower Systems it is business as usual with the majority of our retailers open for business as essential services. Farm supply, produce, garden (veggie) centres, fishing and newsagency businesses are all providing healthy, safe and appreciated services to local.
To help them in unique times we have:
All of these things and more help our small business retailer community and right now there world is depending on small business retailers, they are genuinely the backbone of the economy, providing work, produce and other necessary items for sustenance – physically and emotionally.
Thanks to our advanced remote support and training services we are thrilled to be installing new rooftops through this, expanding our customer base as retailers select software made for their type of business. Our experts can train people in our software using smart tools – we have been doing this for years.
2020 is the year of small business. While big businesses are shutting, small business retailers are trading with safety and certainty. They are doing this as a community service first. Not profiting. Not being greedy., many are doing it with the owners themselves running the businesses. This is what small business owners do – they serve their communities in times of need.
Safety is the key. We see small business retailers being careful about customer contact in-store. Many are offering curbside pickup or home delivery – our software works a treat supporting this.
To our customers and our team members, thank you. All of us in small business are helping many people in our communities.
In our own shops we have encountered seniors who refuse to follow social distancing requirements. So, we put this on our social media pages yesterday:
There is no seniors discount with social distancing.
We’re all in this thing together, keen to get out the other side healthy and happy. This is why we are asking all customers to respect social distancing. Our floors are marked to show the required distance and we are limiting how many come into our shops.
We have had several older people say the rules don’t apply to them or that we don’t have to worry about them because they are okay or that they like to shop together with the grandkids. The coronavirus is not aware of age. The rules apply to everyone. The rule is 1 person per 4sqm. The distance from you to the person in front is 1.5m.
We love serving seniors and we want to serve you for years to come. So we can continue, please know and follow the government rules. Thank you. Stay safe. Stay healthy. #SafeShopping #KeepYourDistance #NoSeniorsDistanceForSocialDistancing
Today we are hosting an online user forum for independent small business retailers across Australia and New Zealand to talk business.
This free ranging and open forum is another enamour series of facilitating opportunities for small business retailers to talk to each other. That it is online makes it easier for these retailers to connect without a cost or disruption of travel.
Today’s online forum will include discussion on:
Open to any retailer using our software, the meeting will be recorded and made available to all Tower Systems customers.
We are grateful to all who will participate as it is contributions from everyday retailers that makes meetings like this useful for all.
Small business retailers across Australia have demonstrated the value and commitment of their businesses in local and regional communities through the challenging time of the bushfires this year.
With most small businesses locally owned and staffed, they have been well placed to offer the practical support and comfort to other locals impacted by the bushfires.
We have seen small business retailers through their businesses open to local support groups, be collection points for practical assistance, be refuges and be places through with local stories can be heard in the broader Australian community and, indeed, around the world.
While big businesses that operate in regional Australia do employ locally, it is the small businesses where owners live and engage locally that carry the local stories and the local community. This is small business in action. It is why government support of small business is vital and more efficient in that a dollar into a local business is far more likely to benefit the local community than a dollar into a big business that is owned in the city or offshore.
Tower Systems only sells its POS software to small businesses, local businesses, independent businesses. This is our community and we are grateful to have seen first hand the good work done by this community through the 2019/20 bushfire season which, we add, is not over yet.
We see many glib marketing pitches about shopping local, so many that we tend to ignore them. It is the actions speaking louder than words that really matters as this is small local businesses serving their local communities, staying open, creating work and enabling local communities of have a semblance of normality. Seeing this is what matters most in fire ravaged areas – a semblance of normality as much as is possible and practical.
It is critical for Australians to shop small business first, to shop local first as much as possible in 2020 to facilitate rebuilding of communities across Australia. This has to be our goal and it can only be achieved through grass roots engagement of all Australians.
Spending local in small local businesses can be as beneficial as donating money to a recovery charity.
Insurance is a must-have business overhead. It is critical to have the right level of coverage with a respected insurer.
As retailers, we often look at our overheads. We recently re-negotiated insurance coverage for our 3 retail shops and achieved a 30% cut in insurance costs. We reviewed the needs of each specific retail business and set about discussing these with our insurance broker, the same broker we have used for years.
We went into the discussions armed with facts about the business, accurate stock value data and accurate fixed asset value data.
Here are some of the changes we made to our insurance coverage:
The critical factor for us was that in all our years in retail we have never made a claim on insurance. Then one time our shop was flooded, we claimed against the builder for the landlord for disruption and inventory damage.
The renegotiation process took an hour. Time well spent for the 30% cut in insurance costs saving achieved.
We willingly share with our POS software customers details of our own experiences like this, in more specific detail than at this blog. We are glad to be able to help our customers in this practical way as every dollar shaved from business overheads is worth considerable more than you consider retail margins.
Yes, insurance cover is important. However, pay for what you actually need.
We are grateful to Zip for their bushfire relief fundraising initiative. We support it and have encouraged retailers using our software, which integrates with Zip, to let their customers know of this.
To Australia, with love.
Our hearts are broken with thoughts of the people, animals, and volunteers so severely impacted by the devastating fires. As our country burns, we have to do what we can to support those who need it most.
Every Zip transaction from 9 Jan until 21 Jan will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Zip will donate the difference – with a minimum pledge of $100,000 – to Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery, and WIRES Emergency Fund for Wildlife.
Zip customers directly impacted by the fires who need financial assistance with their accounts can get in touch with us.
We’ll be here for you.
The bushfires across Australia are adding economic challenges to small rural and regional towns that were already challenged economically thanks to a soft economy and, in our view, poor leadership on the practical economics front.
We think it is essential for the federal government to engage urgently, practically and authentically to stimulate local economies and to do so blind to politics. Too often we see politicians endorse handouts to mates or based on the possible ballot box impact. Pork barrelling it is called. Right now, at this moment in time, we need no pork barrelling. What we need is stimulation where it is needed and the politicians should play no role in determining where it is needed.
In this post, as we did in November 2019, we call on federal politicians to engage in practical stimulation of small business retail as this will have an urgent, swift, knock-on benefit for local economies.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, small business retail especially.
Small business retailers are nimble and able to lift local economies faster than big businesses and certainly better than online businesses.
Here are six tips for politicians on steps they can take, decisions they can make to help lift retail, especially small business retail.
This list could be longer. It is offered here as a start, to gets people thinking of practical ways to support shopping small, shopping local.
The current disinterest by politicians in practical support for local small businesses has us on a path of business closures. Urgent action is needed to engage locals in supporting local businesses.
We have reached to our POS software customers with an offer of priority support for any business affected by the devastating bushfires hitting many Australian towns recently.
If your business has been affected by the bushfires.
Many towns in which we have clients with businesses have been hit by the devastating fires over the last week. If your business has been affected and you need our help, when you call or email us please mention that you are fire affected and we will give the call higher priority.
We can help with backup recover, urgent hardware replacement, insurance claims and more.
Traditionally, help desk call traffic is loe=w for the next week. This is why we have more people on annual leave at this time.
We will do our best to help you quickly and efficiently.
Our office is open. We are here not only for our customers but other retailers in need.
An important role for politicians is to nurture confidence in the community as it is confidence that encourages economic engagement, such as spending in local retail shops.
We know from consumer surveys in Australia in 2019 that consumer confidence is challenged. While a survey this month shows an uptick, confidence remains low, and this plays out at registers in shops large and small.
It is unfortunate that politicians of all sides too often prefer to attack rather than lead, they prefer to score points against competitors rather than encouragethe broader community to feel more confident. It is the politicians at the edge who appear to pull the most focus in the media and therefore do the most damage to consumer confidence.
There is plenty to be optimistic about, plenty from which we can build confidence in the community. This ought be the focus of all politicians. It ought be the focus of news outlets, too. They should stop doing the bidding of politicians, running their fringe issue stories, running stories for which there is non evidence of support.
Australian businesses, Australian retailers, small business retailers especially need local shoppers to be more confident. Confidence is key to getting people shopping.
While personal confidence is nurtured by personal success and achievement, community wide confidence can be nurtured through good leadership, the type of leadership politicians ought be delivering. The right words in the right locations could make a significant difference to the performance of retail businesses this Christmas.
No, we are not suggesting politicians say go out and spend up this Christmas or go and shop local. Those statements, which I have heard recently, are not confidence building. In my view, such statements are lazy. They fall flat.
I’d rather politicians talk about the awesome local gift they found, shine a light on a local shipping precinct in theirs electorate, talk up locally made food or celebrate with gratefulness every business related good news story in their electorate.
Politicians need to talk optimistically about the economy, shopping local, the country and the future. They can do this without being political, without supporting fringe issues. and without being clumsy in their pitch.
Community confidence builds over time, layer by layer, story by story. Politicians, for part of their lives, are storytellers. We need them to be good storytellers and tellers of confidence encouraging stories.
While it was RUOK? Day last week, the mental health challenge for businesses owners and, indeed, the whole community is a 365 day a year challenge.
Recent Bureau of Statistics figures reinforce why this is a 365 day a year challenge:
As an employer of many 15-34 year olds, the stat for suicide is horrifying. The broader suicide rate in Australia is horrifying.
We have written a few times here about mental health. Not as an expert, because we are not experts. Rather, our interest is as an employer and as someone who craves for a healthier and happier country.
We share here today a revised version of information we have shared here before on this topic, and in particular about the mental health of newsagents and those in our businesses.
Despite all the ads on TV, despite the work of R U OK?, despite the work of agencies like Beyondblue, despite the stories in the media, mental health, especially mental health within the small business community, and especially the newsagency community, is not talked about.
The challenge is that we cannot always see unhealthiness. If someone is physically unhealthy, we can usually see it, but not mental unhealthiness. For sure there are occasional signs like behavioural outbursts that don’t make sense but you can’e be sure and often you don’t want to ask for fear of making it worse.
In small business retail and in our channel there are challenges that can make things worse: bullying landlords, overbearing suppliers, demanding customers, relentless competitors. These and other factors can make someone see the road ahead through clouded eyes. For some of those on the other side, however, how they handle a situation could be driven by how the small business has dealt with it up to then.
We are all for personal accountability and often say we need to own our own situation – we sign our leases, we sign magazine contracts, we go into business. However, we do these things expecting fairness. Too often there are people on the other side of a commercial relationship who do not act with fairness.
Social media is a factor with mental health as it gives everyone a megaphone and the ability to publish an opinion without thinking it through. In schools social media is a big focus in mental health awareness, especially around bullying.
It is hard to know the mental health of anyone. That person smiling at you or joking with you could be in a dark place in their mind. This is why it is important we talk and ask colleagues how they are doing and why we all need to help when we think help could be what is needed.
In the workplace, we think being open with each other so that everyone has a shared and open experience. If there are business performance issues, rather than keeping them secret, talking about them could help ease tension: a problem shared and all that…
There are wonderful resources from government departments available. For example, The Victorian Government has a page online on this topic, which includes good practical advice:
This website also lists indicators:
And it lists useful resources:
Our approach to mental health as business owners has to be continuous, on-going. It can’t be a one day of the year focus or a stunt. It has to be part of how we run our businesses, everyday.
In our experience, talking is key – offering an environment where people can talk, where they know it is safe to talk, where they are encouraged to talk and where active listening happens. While it is not always perfect and does not always achieve what is hoped for, it is documented as being valuable.
While RUOK? Day today is important for awareness, that awareness and engagement need to be year-long.
The ABC has reported the ATO is clamping down on small businesses using sales suppression software to minimise tax.
Ms Jenkins said the ATO was also cracking down on the use of sales suppression software that disguised the transactions within a company’s records.
“There is some really sophisticated software out there that is helping people avoid paying the right amount of tax.
“But whether it is cashless payments or whether it is the use of platforms or apps, it means there is really a trace of your transactions.
“We use merchant data and other sources of information to identify where things just don’t look right. Then we go and have a chat to them and say, ‘Hey, can you explain?’
In the mid 1990s there was sales suppression scam operating in the newsagency channel. I became aware of it because my newsagency software company lost businesses because we refused to offer such a facility.
There was a software program into which the retailer could enter a code and then an amount of cash they wanted to take out of the business unreported. A second set of records was maintained for the ATO and another records for the business owner.
I know because the software was demonstrated to me several times, by someone who had worked for the software company that created the software. They had approached me. I did some more checking with newsagents and discovered the facility in the software was being used.
The matter was reported to the ATO. At their then Box Hill office in Victoria they assembled a task force including representatives from the ATO, Federal Police, Federal Attorney General office. Victorian State Revenue and Victorian Attorney General office. Several of us with knowledge were brought in for a demonstration of the software. There were several follow up meetings with the ATO in Sydney.
Eventually, my software company stopped losing sales due to us not having the tax avoidance facility in our software.
Any retailer deliberately and systematically underreporting their income to avoid tax deserves what they get from the ATO and from any suppliers they impact through their actions.
Cashless retail is a thing. It is growing in retail, especially small business retail where trading in cash is challenging with banks withdrawing services and some increasing fees for handling cash.
Tower Systems, in its POS software, helps small business retailers transact without cast cost effectively, safely and quickly. We do this in myriad ways including…
Lower cost direct EFTPOS. We have negotiated excellent, competitive, rates for our 3,000+ customers for direct connect broadband EFTPOS, making accessing EFTPOS cheaper as well as faster and safer. This makes using EFTPOS at the counter as fast as cash if not actually faster.
Direct integration with EFTPOS. This means there is no extra keying of sales amounts, no separate terminal. No slower process for handling. Fewer mistakes. Easier end of shift balancing. More certainty for customers and for the business.
Easier access to cashflow finance. Through the EFTPOS arrangement, there is access to cashflow finance that can help the business better managing capital needs with greater certainty given the flow of funds between EFTPOS and the business bank account.
Direct Xero integration. This means less keystrokes, less accounting and bookkeeping fees, less mistakes and greater business certainty thanks to a more robust base off data on which business decisions can be made.
Business process advice. This includes migrating your end of shift from cash and other payment methods to other only, eliminating the float, making services payments easier and more.
Tower Systems can help retail businesses that want to transition to cashless to achieve this. We are not advocating this as we recognise each business owner needs to make the decision that is right for them. Our message is we are here with a plan if you want it.
As retailers ourselves, the questions about whether to go cashless in retail as well as how to go cashless in retail are as real for us as other retailers. Indeed, these are questions we have right now … hence, our preparation of plans and considerations, so we are positioning ourselves for our retail businesses and are happy to share this with other retailers in our small business retail community.
Cashless is growing in use in retail. We think it is useful and appropriate for retailers to learn how to deal with this. We are here to be a sounding board for anyone interested.
This advice is from our vault of business management advice for indie small business retailers. This vault contains advice on many diverse aspects of small business management, often far removed from the POS software we are known for.
Today our advice is about how to deal with employee theft by a minor in a retail business.
If you suspect an employee aged under eighteen of theft from your business you need to be careful as to how you navigate this. It is important to take time to decide the appropriate plan of action before you approach the suspect to even investigate the matter. The wrong approach could have challenging consequences for you, your business and the person you suspect.
Our suggestion is that the moment you have a suspicion, invite the suspect and a parent in for a meeting. Have someone else there as well, as your witness.
If there is agreement that theft occurred and the employee is casual, my suggestion is immediate termination with you paying out what is owed by law. Put it behind you. Never speak of it outside the business. To constantly revisit it, especially outside a major city, can be debilitating.
If there is not agreement, ask they other side what they want to do. It could be that even though they deny it they are happy to walk away from the business. If this is not the case, you could suggest mediation. The Fair Work Obmudsman office could possible play a role here. You could equally suggest that both sides take the matter to the police.
The reality is that once you make a complaint to parents you have to be prepared to follow through, to see the matter to a reasonable end.
My core message today is that handling the suspected theft by someone under eighteen takes care and planning, to ensure that you, your business and the suspect are all dealt with fairly and safely.
In a demonstration of a commitment to customer service and transparency, Tower Systems is leveraging secure, smart and mobile technology to offer anyone a free video of the live and interactive demonstration of the Tower POS software.
This is an offer for any retail business owner, their consultant or their accountant. It is risk free, putting the needs of the customer at the centre.
Thanks to smart online meeting technology, we can bring together retail business partners, their accountant and others for an online, live and interactive demonstration of our POS software. Better still, we offer you a video recording of the demo every question you ask, and our answers.
While we welcome live in-store demonstrations, with work scheduled today and distance, online live demonstrations are more popular. Here at Tower Systems we have invested in technology to deliver a quality online demonstration where there software is shown live, all questions are answered and open discussion is encouraged.
Our demonstrations are 100% customer driven. This is why a video of the demonstration is good as it reflects the personalised nature of what has been covered, the questions that are business specific that have been answered. The approach demonstrates the realness of the approach taken by Tower Systems in serving customers.
If you have ever wanted to recall, for certain, answers given or promises made in a sales situation, we make it easy because, to us, transparency matters.
The demonstration video offer from Tower Systems its another way the company backs itself, its promises and its personal service. It demonstrates a point of difference that small business owners love because … retail is personal … after all.
We offer locally developed and highly tuned software for specialty retail businesses including garden centres, produce / farm supply businesses, jewellers, bike retailers, pet stores, toy shops, gift shops, homewares shops, fishing and outdoor businesses, newsagents and adult shops.
To find out more about our POS software and support for specialty retailers…
Tower Systems is an Australian POS software company serving 3,500+ specialty retailers in Australia and New Zealand.
Through a range of assets, our POS software company helps small business retailers pitch the value of small businesses and local retail businesses in Australia.
These assets are readily available for any to use. Many are unbranded, too, making their use even easier.
We research the content we create and ensure it is accurate as well as easily understood for people in the community. We want them to pick up on the small business value narrative and through this better support small businesses, especially small business retail.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way.