The Australian Spirit

Janine Allis, Retail Zoo

Australians have a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit and the dream of owning your own business is alive and well.

I was pondering why it is so strong in Australia in comparison to the rest of the world and my theory is this: Australia is populated by dozens of different nationalities from all over the world and all of these nationalities have one common dream and that is to have a better life.

From those who have recently immigrated to those of us whose ancestors made the journey, one thing is certain, they all have courage and a sense of adventure to leave their home country and what they know to start a new life.

This is exactly the attitude and drive that you need to make your own business a success.

Australia truly does lift the bar when it comes to retailing. Ten years ago many Australian retailers would head over to the USA to see what retail was doing in those markets to get new ideas.

The trend has now reversed and the focus and the standards have now moved to Australia and Asia. Australia has more stores per capita than any other country in the world, so there is no surprise that with competition this tough, the quality of retail with its fitout and ideas is getting better and better, but we still have challenges.

Every day you pick up the newspaper and watch the news and you see the doom and gloom of where retail is at present.

There are a number of reasons for the decline, some are within our control and others are not, but the key thing to remember is that you need to focus on what you can do, because the success and failure of your businesses will always be dependent on you.

Let’s look at some of the changes that have affected retail sales. To start with, ‘Retail’ is such a broad word and it covers such a variety of sectors, from fashion to food.

Food seems to be maintaining its growth and is not as affected as the fashion sector. You just need to see the ‘For Lease’ signs and the massive ‘on sale’ signs to know that bricks and mortar retail is struggling.

Competition has never been more fierce. Not only are we competing with our fellow Australian companies, we are also up against our overseas competitors (all of my friends now buy underwear from Victoria’s Secret online) and it has been estimated that over 10 per cent of Australian sales have gone online and a massive proportion of this is overseas.

The other factor affecting the viability of retail in Australia is labour rates; the Government introduced penalty rates on weekends, which affects many businesses. Now, in some cases, it is simply not viable to open on the weekends, which in turn means that there are less jobs for the people who can work on the weekends. Rentals have always been high, but with more and more shops closing, the sting has gone out in this area; however we still have some of the most expensive leasing deals in the world.

That is all the doom and gloom, so what is the good news? The good news is that we in Australia are still not being burdened with the financial woes of Europe and the USA. We have a high disposable income and our customers have money in their wallets, you just need to give them a reason to open their wallets and spend it in your store.

Do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) on your business and see where you can improve and what you can do to increase sales.

Review your team, as the success and failure of your business will be about the people you have in your business. Do not reduce your marketing spend, increase it - but be smart about how you spend your dollars.

Review how you feel about your business; does your attitude need to change? Are you playing the BLAME GAME and not looking at yourself in the mirror to see what the problem is with your business?

Your retail business can be a success – but this depends on you.

Janine Allis is Managing Director of Retail Zoo, holding company of Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill and Boost Juice and the Founder of Boost Juice Bars.

Boost is now in more countries than any other juice bar in the world.

For more information contact Retail Zoo franchising sales:

Phone: 03 9508 4400
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