Spare or strike?
We came into possession of the tenpin bowling complex in Werribee when one of tenants but couldn’t make a go of the business. But when we opted to move we found ourselves asset rich but cash poor so we worked with our bank, with which we’d been trading for the last 48 years, and worked a deal where we were funded for land, construction and fitout with a $10 million backing.
In the meantime, we had to sell our existing premises and a couple of properties to reduce our debt. It was a very stressful transaction but we got through it and are now able to sustain the debt comfortably.
I have learned that I am only as good as the people I surround myself with. So I sought out the leaders in their fields and employed their services.
I would’ve changed the financial part of the transaction. I’ve always had a level understanding about the way the deals were being structured, but I should have written everything down and minuted every meeting. Several times along the way, things changed dramatically - whether due to misunderstandings or just tougher constraints being implemented.
Fixed overheads can be a real killer in business. Whether you have 1 or 100 customers some costs don’t change. Therefore it’s crucial to embrace changes in technology to reduce costs. LED lighting can greatly reduce costs in the operation of business, so while they have short term costs they have long term savings.
The biggest advantage we have is that we were born and bred in Wyndham and have been a part of the community for 50 years. We have been actively involved with our community and have a very countrified attitude to business. We know all our customers by name and what’s happening in their lives. We aren’t ghostly figure heads, but we are there to say ‘hi’ all the time.
I recently read an analogy where customer service could be likened to a traffic light. Think about this; you are running late to work. Before you approach the first stop light it turns yellow, then red. For the rest of your ride, not only is every light red, but they turn red as you drive up. Our Green Light Team makes WYNCITY Bowl and Entertainment a great place to work. Everyone comes to work ready to go and focused. We all help each other. We don’t let the rides get dusty or the bowling lanes go unpolished. If it’s a great place to work it will be a great place to visit!
What I've learned...
I am only as good as the people I surround myself with. So I sought out the leaders in their fields and employed their services. The better they were, the better I was and the better my team was. I trained myself and others in the areas and skills that we were deficient in.
I’m a creative thinker and covering accounting, finance and that terrible thing called realistic planning has been a real struggle. But I committed myself to learning how to do it, and I’m proud to say I can hold my own in discussions nowadays. You need to always be upskilling – success doesn’t mean only doing what you like; it also means doing what you need.
I also learned to speak only when I had something intelligent to offer. In my heyday, I would shoot from the hip without a second thought – not caring who I offended or who I belittled. With age, I’ve learned that not many people can tolerate blabber mouths, so I choose my responses wisely. It earns you respect, and if you don’t know the answer – just admit it.
In a family business you need to have a succession plan. I had three major health setbacks in six months which saw me hospitalised for a week each time. My mother passed away while the new site was in construction and the stress of going on with the family business while mourning saw me get very sick. You’re always busy so you need to remember to look after your health.