CIAA Report

How “change” can drive the success of a company

Companies and businesses usually start with a specific focus – a vision and a plan.

But things do change! Yvonne Bristow, chief operations officer of FreeSpirit Resort & Holiday Park Management talks us through some recent changes, and how best to manage them.

It is difficult to fight against the forces of change so why not better focus your energy towards your own advantage. Perhaps a good analogy would be to ask this question “How many dinosaurs do you see walking down the street?” The answer should be none – because they could not adapt to the changes that occurred. So to avoid extinction, embrace the changes that continually bombard you and your business.

Some of the changes that every park operator faces daily include: being business savvy and legally compliant, being insightful of analytics and interpreting data, honing good leadership skills, understanding technology and working through the sociology minefield required to understand employees and the changing market demands.

However, one of the biggest changes that our industry faces is compliance. It seems that the expectation from individuals is to place the blame for their own foolishness on another person or entity. Nowadays there have been so many different acts or legislations introduced to “assist” each of us to be directly responsible for our actions that each of us needs the equivalent of a law degree to decipher and be able to practise many of the expectations. Corporate entities especially are faced with these concerns. A director of a large corporate company can now be found personally liable for the careless actions of an employee that he/she may never have met. And the single operator faces exactly the same dilemmas.

Park operators are now being forced to “rewire their skills”. Capability, skill development and deployment are critical to achieving this. So how do you operate a business profitably and ensure that every aspect of compliance and daily operations are being addressed to everyone’s requirements? The answer:

Empower yourself and your employees with knowledge
Business operators must recognise the importance of training employees to keep a company/business profitable. It must be recognised that knowledge is only useful when everyone has it. Keeping intellectual knowledge to just the senior persons in a business simply does not work.

Regardless whether a company has a few or many employees, it can be a daunting task to take on an active training program. However, with enthusiasm and willingness, the process is not as difficult nor as expensive as may be thought. Many successful outcomes can be achieved internally with the appropriate trainers. Many employees who may think they simply could not learn or be trained in anything will be pleasantly surprised and can easily achieve a certificate or diploma. In one instance, a 63 year old employee was actually named Trainee of the Year in NSW. Most importantly, the business will benefit as employees use their knowledge, introduce new procedures and challenge suppliers – one park saved over $3000 in the cost of cleaning supplies in the first year, simply because the head of housekeeping was provided with the knowledge base to make considered decisions.

However, as previously stated, change is inevitable and must be embraced. The future demands are escalating at such a rapid rate, that it may be impossible for a sole operator to cope. Use opportunity when it arises, use the skills and knowledge of other proven operators where you can. It is not absolutely essential to have a nationally accredited qualification but the individual skill sets that can be embraced are invaluable for a financially and socially successful business.

To be successful and remain competitive, businesses must embrace change, knowledge is required and training is essential…

Callie Henderson
Caravan Industry Association of Australia

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