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VIEWS FROM THE BEACH with Peter White

Views from the Beach this September

The face of retail has changed significantly over the last five years, resulting in difficult times for many retailers. As a result of the GFC, retailers have had to reassess their business model and in many cases make significant changes. It seems that shops are always on sale and rarely does one pay the full retail price without some sort of incentive or discount. Consumers have always had choice, but with online shopping the world is, literally, their oyster. This month we look at how Takapuna Beach has performed over the last year and also at some initiatives to be introduced to help our retail sector. Hope to see you here soon.
– Pete


Takapuna Beach businesses outperform its CBD neighbours in economic indicators
It is exciting to see that the many new destination and quality businesses that have established themselves in Takapuna have lifted its profile as a shopping destination. To gain an overview of spending and transaction volumes across the region, Auckland Council collects data sourced from electronic card transactions made via the Paymark network in each town centre within the Auckland Council boundaries. It is most pleasing to note that Takapuna Beach has consistently outperformed its Auckland neighbours, Heart of the City, Newmarket and Ponsonby, over the last year.
Overall, it was a good year for the Auckland region with spending up 3.3%, however Takapuna Beach benefited by nearly twice the regional average, with an increase spend of $11.62 million up 6.3% from $183.3 million to $194.92 million. Spending increased in the CBD by 3.8% and in Ponsonby by 1.4%, but fell by 0.90% in Newmarket.
There was a corresponding increase in the number of transactions across the region, up 3.7% on average, but up 5.5% in Takapuna Beach (from 3.6million to 3.8million), up 2% in the CBD, 0.6% in Ponsonby and down by 0.5% in Newmarket. Newmarket however experienced the highest average transaction spend of $69.79, followed by Takapuna Beach at $51.31 (up from $50.90 last year), Ponsonby at $48.61 and the CBD $48.45
In Takapuna, the hospitality sector was the biggest mover with an increase in spending of 4.7% (at an average spend of $24.45) and accounting for approximately 25% of sales. The largest amount of sales (30%) were made in core retail with an average transaction value of $81.92 (up 1.8%) and the highest average spend was made in other store types ($270.80, up 3.4%) which accounted for 17.5% of sales.
The data has enabled us to gain a better understanding of the typical Takapuna shoppers who are predominately female (61.4%) between the ages of 40-64. It is also pleasing to see a 12% increase of shoppers coming from across the bridge who returned to the CBD with $23.5 million dollars less in
their pockets.

Takapuna Beach aspires to be the “Customer Service Capital” of the world

The Takapuna Beach Business Association has set its members a lofty and audacious goal to become the Customer Service Capital of the world, however with good reason and all the best intentions.
One would have to agree, that in general, Kiwis do not provide marvellous customer service. It is our belief, however, that by doing so businesses will only become better. Little things like acknowledging customers when they enter a shop; thanking them when they leave, knowing the names of our regulars, smiling (both when people enter our business and also when we answer the phone), apologising for making people wait, giving customers more than they expect or something they cannot receive elsewhere or going the extra mile to assist - in general, treating people like we would like to be treated ourselves. In addition, each of these is a reason why a customer may choose to shop in person rather than online.
Better still, providing great customer service comes at little or no cost, but has the potential to turn a business around, and more importantly provides a happier environment in which people can shop.
The TBBA are working closely with David Forman (a Takapuna-based company that has established itself as Australasia’s leading independent provider of effective sales, leadership and personal effectiveness) to set up a programme to support our members, and we will be implementing a number of incentives for business owners and their staff to provide the very best of service and also for customers to recognise and promote such.
We are also looking to work with NZIE, another Takapuna-based company, who through their hospitality course are running a Customer service module. With luck, the very best of these graduates will be working in Takapuna Beach, enhancing our reputation of providing some of Auckland’s best cafes, bars and restaurants.

Existing Takapuna business reap the rewards of providing exceptional customer service
Whilst discussing with various people the idea of Takapuna Beach aspiring to become the Customer Service Capital of the world, Scott Donovan, owner of Life For Men, was frequently mentioned as an existing retailer that provides exceptional service. One well-known Takapuna businessperson explained that a number of men who worked in their office all shopped at Life For Men. Scott, who knows the name of the majority of his customers, was aware of what purchases other men in that office had made over a period of time and as a consequence was able to ensure that they all didn’t turn up to work wearing the same clothes.
I was also told of an instance where Peter Pearless (Manager of Les Mills Takapuna) was made aware of a member who had cut his hand (prior to a workout) and had blood on his shirt. Whilst working out Pete had the shirt washed, pressed and back to the member, enabling him to attend an important business meeting feeling confident in his appearance.
A further example involved Lesley Lane of Frank Casey Takapuna. A gentleman had told me that he had rung the store by cellphone and was surprised that Lesley had called him by name when she answered the phone and was then able to quote his suit sizes and advice that his hire suit would be ready for him to collect at his convenience. He had previously hired a suit from the store and her strong database and a telephone system, that had number recognition, had enabled her to provide a level of service better than that which was anticipated.

Local Body Elections
Last month, I spoke of my excitement that such people of the calibre of Dave Donaldson and Allison Roe were standing for the Local Board. It is pleasing to see that further quality candidates have put their names forward to represent the Devonport-Takapuna region.
There are not many organisations on the North Shore who have not benefited from the benevolence of Aidan Bennett, founder and Managing Director of Benefitz. A Takapuna resident Aidan is passionate about his community, a prolific sponsor, vice president of the North Harbour Club Charitable Trust (an organisation that has donated nearly $1.5 million to the youth of the North Shore) and member of the Stellar Trust Advisory Board. Aidan is also the publisher of this highly popular Channel magazine that unashamedly highlights the positive things happening on the Shore.
Longtime Takapuna retailer and former TBBA Chairman Mike Sheehy is another to throw his hat in the ring. Mike certainly has a feel for public opinion through his daily interactions with customers at Home Fabrics and as a former Takapuna Community Board member.
Devonport resident and Cycle Action Auckland member, Tracey Talbot, is also standing for the Local Board. An Opus Parks and Recreation Project Manager, Tracey works in Takapuna and is passionate about providing quality parks and recreation experiences for our community.
Our Local Board is the best performing Board in Auckland and with people such as these prepared to provide their time, experience, knowledge and passion to our community, the upcoming election will prove to be a most interesting and closely-fought affair.

by Peter White

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