The Small Business Survival Series: Ep 4 Flair - Alltel

The Small Business Survival SeriesEpisode 4 – Flair

In this episode, Trent Brinsley shares his expertise as Alltel’s General Manager, and highlights the importance of being customer-focused in building the foundation of your business.

Transcript

Interviewer:

Hello and thanks for joining us for our final podcast in the Alltel Australia Small Business Series. I’m Melanie Slade and I’m joined by Alltel’s General Manager, Trent Brinsley, who designed this series to help businesses not only survive, but thrive. So Trent, we’ve talked all about establishing a small businesses. And when you start, people can often be operating out of a home office, out of their back shed. How do you give customers the impression you’re more established and bigger than you actually are?

Trent:

Let me start off by saying that that is the most economical way to start out. I think that you don’t need that burden of paying rent. We started at home in our lounge room and now we’ve got over thirty staff. So it’s absolutely the right way to start, but people don’t need to know that from the outside.

There are a lot of tools that can give you the impression of being a bigger business. Specifically, when you’re trying to target a national audience. You know, a 1300 or 1800 number can be forwarded onto your home office number or your mobile phone.

I think what’s important is that you need to think of the day when you do get an office or you have a couple of office, or when you want to grow.You need to plan for growth at a later stage.

Doing business from your mobile phone is not the greatest way of doing things. I always say, protect your privacy. When you’ve given out your personal mobile number, you can never disconnect from that.

Again, it comes to foundations, putting in the right tools in your business—the right website, the right phone number. Think of the structure now that will enable you to grow at a later stage.

Interviewer:

And I suppose it also comes down to that thing of being available. I mean, when you’re starting, you don’t want to give up customers if they’re filing in ten past five in the afternoon.

Trent:

And you shouldn’t have to. Most of our business early on was done after five o’clock. I mean that doesn’t continue forever, but you shouldn’t knock back customers just because you’re in the car or on the way home.

There are so many tools that make customers accessible and if you miss that call, they’ll just go to the next person on Google or they’ll ring up your competitor. So you wanna make the most of every opportunity…Read more >>

Interviewer:

Does that help you grow in time?

Trent:

It does. Because with a mobile phone, you can’t pass that to somebody else. You’ve got to set it up so you can put on two, three, and four people.

Again, it comes down to planning. Businesses today need to think about what they will look like with four staff or five staff. It’s very easy and very economical to set the structure up now, so you can grow and take on the additional costs.

Interviewer:

And that brings us to our next topic, which is goal setting. You hear a lot of talk about this, but how do you actually go about sitting down, writing down some goals, and making these really stick?

Trent:

I think that is an important topic. I remember when I started, it’s very hard to set goals for the next five years. It’s very hard to set goals for two years. So I think you need to look at a shorter approach.

I have monthly goals, six-monthly goals, and yearly goals. For me, personally, it’s around customers and service levels. I think if you—and I’ve said this before—if you start a business based on financial figures alone, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

My father’s always been a good mentor to me, and he’s always said, ‘When you worry about your service levels, the dollars will come’.

Interviewer:

Are your goals now different to what they were when you started?

Trent:

The basics remain the same. It’s all around customer service. I look at Richard Branson and their whole business. They can start up multiple businesses, and it’s all around the level of service they can give.

Interviewer:

And you have a saying that goes, ‘Know what you do best…’

Trent:

‘… Let someone else do the rest.’ When I first started, you have to be a lawyer, an HR person, and a payroll company— you’ve got to learn all these things yourself.

I know where I work best and we are in a fortunate position where we can subcontract out the rest. The things we’re not good at, we pay somebody to do for us.

Interviewer:

But it’s not always easy, as you’ve experienced, to find the right people. Are there any tips to getting the right people around you?

Trent:

I’ve always been a big believer of having a coach or a mentor, or somebody you might know that has a business themselves.

Brainstorm, bounce ideas from them. They keep you accountable, and I think you need to be accountable to somebody. If you’re left to your own devices, you don’t strive for better things.

Interviewer:

Once you’ve moved beyond the initial stages of establishing your business, you’re moving into staffing. That could be quite daunting. Is that a conversation for another day?

Trent:

It is a conversation for another day. Look, if somebody had told me that 40% of running a business is all about HR, I wouldn’t have done it probably. And when I say this, when you start out, getting the right staff early on is the most crucial thing to make your business get to that small to medium size.

I think the first people you put on are absolutely key to taking that next step in business.

Interviewer:

We have certainly covered a lot of ground in our first series. Hopefully, we’ve provided you with some helpful tips for your small business. Trent, there’s still a lot of knowledge you wanna share. Tell us about these topics.

Trent:

Based around setting up structure so you can expand later on, again—getting back to the tools that are available for people starting out to get those foundation and ensuring that you have processes in place to test and measure, and grow to the next level.

Interviewer:

I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation. But if there’s something that you want us to cover in Series 2, get in touch via the Alltel Australia Facebook page. Go to alltel.com.au or call 1 300 255 835.

Stay tuned for Series 2.

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