Tuesday, 29 January 2013

When A Business Gets Stuck



Often I look at businesses and wonder how they are surviving – their windows are covered in A4 computer print outs, they don’t have a logo – or have 4 – no website, no social media, grumpy staff. They do everything that you shouldn’t. In truth the owners have struggled with keeping up with the way business has changed and more to the point they don’t want to change – they are stuck – and what is more they are happy with how there business is - or seem to be anyway!
We spent our Christmas holidays travelling through parts of Tasmania and I was struck by this theme of business struggling to develop and position themselves to attract a newer more sophisticated market.
Take this beachside place we spent 3 nights in. There was still plenty of the beach shacks, but they were fast being replaced by renovated shacks and new modern housing, indicating more money in town and probably transient residents as most of the new houses tended to double as holiday rentals. The original takeaway shop that had everything was promoting themselves as making the best pizza in town, most likely in a last ditch effort to retain market share from the new fancier Italian restaurant that did wood fired pizzas.
The resort that had prime beach frontage was falling into disrepair with echoes of its hay day in the 80s. The pool had fallen apart to the point it was cheaper to deck over it and the bar and lounge area had been taken over by a junk shop.
Tourism is supposedly one of Tasmania’s largest economic drivers, but what I witnessed was an industry, largely stuck in a time warp, people too tired to put in the effort, and as a result being left behind. The multi nationals will develop and create accommodation and other product for the more sophisticated traveller, smaller business need to provide quality product and services to support this or risk not surviving.
I am not talking about all business in Tassie – we managed to find a couple of hidden gems, like a brewery and accommodation place we stumbled over on a random drive one day, quietly becoming successful and not resting on their laurels.
Having worked in the tourism industry and seen the need for operators to evolve on the mainland this is where I see Tasmania – the need for quality product to provide a lifeline to an industry trying to survive in an ultra competitive world wide industry.