CENTRAL Highlands businesses have found "strength and resolve” amid the uncertainty of the region's recent mining downturn, with many fine-tuning their operations to ensure success.
Central Queensland Regional Manager for OzIndustry, and a judge in the upcoming Central Highlands Business Excellence Awards (CHBEA), Deborah Mead, said she believed the downturn had forced businesses to look closely at how they operated.
Ms Mead said she believes business people have worked hard to develop better practices and become more productive.
"It is a time of reflection, and that is how people survive, by operating more efficiently. They get value from that.”
She said the awards were a great experience and were an effective marketing tool when afterwards businesses could announce themselves as award-winning.
With a gala dinner, awards winners announcements, the chance to network and the bringing together of a vibrant local businesses community, the Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) awards night is the culmination of a 10-month program that includes a workshop series for local businesspeople.
Ms Mead said it was crucial that businesses found time to "work on their business rather than in their business” and the workshops and awards process provided an ideal opportunity to analyse their processes.
"For owner-operated businesses, there's always something that can distract you and you get pulled in several directions.
"When you look from above, you can identify areas of improvement and also areas of success, and celebrate that.”
Ms Mead said she believed there was now growing confidence in the region.
"I certainly think there's been a bit of a turn. We've seen more positivity from the businesses we've gone to visit.”
She said networking was a great tool for businesses and understanding what was available to businesses at state and federal government levels.
"Business to business relations can help them to grow as well as learning from each other about the opportunities that are available to sell your business or your product.”
Ms Mead said businesses should strive to work collaboratively and learn how to work with their competitors to tender for more business and vie for bigger projects together.
"It's about looking at the bigger picture. You've got that bigger capability if you work together.”
A popular category on the CHDC awards night is the People's Choice Award which CHDC Business Development Officer, Ranee Parsons, said was a chance for businesses who excelled at customer service to be recognised by clients and customers.
Ms Parsons said customer service was the driver of all great business.
"Across the full CHBEA program, we teach businesses to build capacity and grow their market, and a huge part of that is building a marketing plan that includes customer service at the forefront. Rewarding those businesses who do customer service well helps breed businesses who also place importance on their customers, setting a benchmark for excellence.”
She said the CHDC couldn't solely judge good customer service, and for the award to be meaningful the judging needed to come from the people of the Central Highlands who used the businesses daily.
"It builds transparency and authenticity. Our residents know who the businesses who care about their customers are and we know that the customers are the best judges for this category.
"Involving the community brings together the public and the businesses in a really positive way. It builds consumer trust and opens platforms for recognition, drives business and consumer confidence and ultimately means stronger local businesses.”
Everyone is encouraged to vote in the online poll for the People's Choice Award on the CHDC website. for Customer Service/Customer Relations finalists at http://chdc.com.au/events-central-highlands-business-excellence-awards/2017-peoples-choice-award/
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