Overcoming the Challenges of Restaurant Design in Melbourne

Opening your own restaurant is exciting and planning what it will look like and where everything will go can be a lot of fun, not to mention hard work. Although the quality of the food is the most important part of any restaurant, the ambience and interior design play a large part in creating an atmosphere that your customers will want to return to again and again. Restaurant design in Melbourne requires a bit of extra thought and creativity, as you will be competing for business against some of the best eateries in the country.

You will probably want your restaurant to express your individuality and have an ambience that is all its own, but no matter how unique your concept, you may experience some common design problems that can affect even the best thought-out restaurant designs. Here are a few of the common challenges in restaurant design, and how to overcome them.

The bad table

Every restaurant has at least one table that is hard to seat. Generally, customers don’t enjoy sitting in high traffic or noisy areas, such as near the entrance to the kitchen, the front door and the toilets. To give your customers a more enjoyable experience and make the most of every table, you can try being creative with screens and dividers to help increase privacy. Tall plants can also help provide a screening effect, without taking away from the general ambience.

How to maximise seating without overcrowding

More tables mean more business on a busy night, but you want to maximise your seating capacity without making your customers feel like they are being crowded or are sitting on top of each other. Getting the balance right can be tricky but it is possible. Booth seating can let you fit a lot of tables close together, but still give customers a sense of separation, and large communal tables can be sociable and interesting in a more casual style of restaurant.

A small kitchen

If you don’t have much space you may find you are working with a very small kitchen, and this can be extremely difficult during busy periods. If extensively renovating to extend the kitchen is not feasible for you, it might be a good idea to turn some attention to the menu and keep it as simple as possible, so you reduce the need for space. Make sure you have enough extractor fans to keep smoke out of the dining room, and ensure that customers aren’t affected by too much noise.

Changing trends

When you first design your restaurant, it is a good idea to leave options to upgrade and make changes according to trends. Flexibility is an important element of restaurant design in Melbourne, and keeping a modern fresh look can help you attract new business and maintain an up-to-date image.

Designing the perfect restaurant involves overcoming a number of challenges but the rewards can be tremendous.

When you are in charge of designing your own restaurant, whether you’re working on your own or with some expert assistance from a designer, you can create the exact ambience you want, and enjoy seeing your vision come to life. Hopefully your customers will love it just as much as you and return again and again.

Are Faux Fur Blankets Eco-Friendly?

Faux fur has long been the friend of anyone who baulks at the thought of wearing the real thing, but still wants to enjoy the feeling of luxury that accompanies wearing fur, or using it in soft furnishings. Faux fur blankets make great throws, and are ideal for kids and babies as they look good, and feel as soft as real fur. The reasons for choosing faux fur over the real thing include cost and ethics, and more recently environmental concerns.

There is a lot of debate around whether or not faux fur is really more eco-friendly than using real fur, with some people arguing that faux fur uses environmentally unfriendly manufacturing processes, and relies on petrochemicals. A recent study from environmental research and consultancy organisation CE Delft shows that there is less environmental impact from producing faux fur than from mink farming, and the process of making real fur garments and blankets.

The study looked at the environmental impact not only of the products themselves, but also the impact over their whole lifecycle from manufacture to final disposal. It compared a faux fur coat with a mink coat, and a mink fur trim with a faux fur trim, and the results revealed that there is a significantly higher overall environmental impact from the mink fur than the faux fur.


This study revealed that the production processes for making faux fur have a much lower environmental impact than keeping and feeding the mink required to make one mink coat. Although the production processes for faux fur do create CO2 emissions, they are still below the quantity created by farming mink and producing real fur products.


With both types of fur, maintenance is required to maintain its condition. The study compared the maintenance needed for one fur coat with that required for one faux fur coat. It found that with cleaning and cold storage the maintenance for the real fur was more environmentally damaging than that of the faux fur.

Faux fur is relatively straightforward to maintain and only requires washing yearly, which can be done in a machine on a delicate cycle or by hand for longer-haired faux fur. The cleaning process for real fur wasn’t shown to be significantly more environmentally damaging than fake fur, but cold storage for a few months each year increased the carbon footprint dramatically.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the production of real fur is a significant contributor to local environmental pollution in a number of countries, including China and the US. The main problems include waste from mink farms polluting soil and waterways, and the release of ammonia into the air. The processing of fur also produces hazardous waste, which is not always disposed of in an ethical and environmentally aware manner.

The advantages of faux fur are numerous, and it is no wonder that more people are turning to this great, versatile material for clothing, trim and soft furnishings. Faux fur is particularly suited to use in stylish and cosy blankets and faux fur blankets are a great gift idea for a new baby or to use to keep warm in the winter. With faux fur, you can be secure in the knowledge that your products are completely cruelty free and know that you are making the environmentally friendly choice.

How to Take Care of Your Leather Lounge

Leather is a popular material for lounges as it is durable, looks great and it is easier to clean than many other lounge fabrics. A good quality leather lounge is an investment and it can last for a lifetime, as long as you take care of it properly. Regular cleaning and conditioning with the right products keeps your lounge looking its best, protects it from damage and helps ensure you will be enjoying your furniture for years to come.


We recommend you have your leather lounge professionally cleaned on a regular basis, and do some basic maintenance yourself every three to four months. Many chemicals that are marketed as leather cleaners can be harmful to your lounge though, so it is important that you find the right cleaner for your particular type of leather.

Devine LeatherCare are experts in the cleaning, maintenance and repair of leather. If you aren’t sure what type of leather your lounge is, one of their professionals can come and have a look for you. They can clean and condition your leather lounge, and can offer you a chemical-free leather cleaner that you can use at home yourself between professional cleanings.

Nubuck and suede can be particularly difficult to clean, as they are highly susceptible to water damage. Devine LeatherCare specialise in cleaning suede and nubuck and have a dry cleaning process which, combined with their re-colouring service, can restore your lounge to as close to its original condition as possible.

They can also help with stubborn or hard-to-remove stains, and get your lounge looking next to new. Unlike non-specialist leather cleaners, Devine LeatherCare don’t use chemicals or pressure machinery that can damage your leather.

The final step of cleaning is conditioning, and they can recommend a high quality conditioner and apply it for you as part of their cleaning service.

Ongoing care

As well as cleaning and conditioning your leather lounge suite, there are a number of other things you can do to help it stay looking its best. Protection against cracks and water damage can be aided by applying a sealant, and the experts at Devine are happy to recommend one and apply it for you.

Small cracks and tears can affect the appearance of your lounge and can lead to more widespread damage. At Devine LeatherCare, they can repair minor damage so that it doesn’t lead to a bigger problem, and can get your lounge looking great again. They only use the highest quality products when repairing your lounge, and stand behind their expert craftsmanship.

Fading and discolouration can also be a problem for leather lounges that are situated in sunny areas of your home, and Devine offer a re-tinting service to help restore colour and get rid of that worn look.

Re-tinting can be a challenging job, as it involves matching the original colour of your lounge exactly, so it is a task that is best left to the professionals.

To make sure you get the most out of your leather lounge, it is a good idea to seek professional advice and cleaning from a leather-cleaning specialist. Professional cleaning on a regular basis can help preserve your lounge’s colour and appearance, as well as protect it for the future.

For further information on Devine LeatherCare and what services they have to offer, visit their website at devineleathercare.com.au.

Five Signs You Should Get a Pest Inspection Report

Finding the perfect property can often be a stressful and frustrating experience. If you have been looking for a while and you have finally found your new home or investment, it can be tempting to skip the non-essentials in a bid to settle on your property quickly, but this can lead to you making a serious mistake. While pest inspection reports aren’t a legal requirement, they are a good idea. Getting a pest report can help you ensure your prospective home is free of pests, or warn you of a potential problem. Pests such as borers and termites can cause significant damage to a structure, and they can be expensive to eradicate.

Although you should always consider a pest report as a matter of course, here are five signs that the property you are interested in might have a termite problem:

  1. Swarming. This is often the first indicator that makes homeowners realise that they have an infestation on their property. During the spring, some members of a colony fly off to establish new colonies, and if you are inspecting a property around this time you may see flying insects or the dead bodies of termites that have tried to escape on window ledges or around the property.
  2. Hollowed out wooden surfaces. This is particularly evident in wooden homes, but if you tap any wooden areas of a termite-infested property, the wood may make a hollow sound. This can be a key indicator that there are termites inside, and may warrant further investigation.
  3. Visible evidence of termites. If you pull back rotting or dead wood around the property and see bugs inside, this could mean that there are termites in the house.
  4. Mud tunnels on the walls. Termites build tubes across exposed areas to transport moisture. These tubes look like pencil sized mud tunnels and if you see them on the walls of a property you are looking at, it is a sign that there could be a serious termite problem, which is worth investigating.
  5. Signs of dirt in the wood. If wooden structures sound hollow you can tell whether the culprit is termites or water damage by checking for dirt. Termites bring pieces of dirt up into wood when they move around so if there is dirt present in the wood, this is a clear sign there could be termite activity.

Termite infestations can cause a number of different problems, but the main one is structural damage from consuming the inside of wood. Although termites are generally fairly slow eaters, they work constantly, which means that if they are not eradicated, over time they can cause a high level of damage.

If caught in the early stages, it is possible to remove the termites and reduce the chances of long-term damage to the property. A pre-purchase pest inspection report will reveal the extent of the termite damage, and you can get an idea of how costly it will be to eradicate the termites and repair the damage.

No matter how perfect a property might seem, always make sure you have all the information available before you commit to a purchase. Pest damage can be expensive to fix and can cause ongoing structural issues to a property.

Although arranging pest inspection reports may seem like an onerous task at the time, being aware of any termite problems before you purchase may save considerable amounts of money and stress in the future.

Robe: A Secret Food and Wine Gem Hidden in South Australia

Positioned on the Limestone Coast, in the south-eastern corner of South Australia, the small seaside town of Robe is one of the state’s hidden gems. While many who visit are attracted by the glorious beaches, fascinating heritage and laid-back lifestyle, there has been a surge in culinary tourism in recent years. Television shows such as MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules reflect a burgeoning interest worldwide in all things food and wine, and for wine connoisseurs (or even amateur wine lovers like most of us), this is an exciting area to get to know.

An emerging wine region

Think wine regions in Australia, and the names that usually spring to mind are the Hunter Valley, Margaret River and the Barossa Valley. However, there’s a number of emerging wine regions around the country that are well worth consideration. The Limestone Coast’s Robe and Mt Benson wine regions are just two of them. With a rich terra rossa soil and a cool climate, these regions are now producing a number of fine varieties, including Shiraz, Viognier, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Where to start

If you’re looking to discover the local wine regions, your first stop should be the Visitor Information Centre on Mundy Terrace in Robe. Here you can find information on local wineries and a map to cellar doors. If you’re after further details on specific wineries before visiting, scour the sites, Robe.com.au and www.mtbensonwineregion.com.au.

The wineries

The following are just a few options for your wine tasting pleasure.

  • Karatta Wines – Karatta’s 12 Mile Winery was the first winery in the Robe region, so is a great place to start. They also have a cellar door right in town on Robe Penola Road.
  • Governor Robe Wines – The cellar door in Attic House in the centre of town offers tastings with platters of delicious local cheese, always a great way to sample a drop.
  • Cape Jaffa – A biodynamic winery (it doesn’t use artificial fertilisers or pesticides), Cape Jaffa is best known for its Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Pinot Gris and Unwooded Chardonnay.
  • Ralph Fowler Wines – Discover hand-crafted premium wines at the family-owned Ralph Fowler vineyard. And should you pay a visit, be sure to have a look at Frog Island Winery, located on the same property.
  • Wehl’s Mount Benson Vineyards – Wehl’s is the oldest Mt Benson vineyard, and it is known for its tasty Sauvignon Blanc. They hold an annual “Event on the Estate”, where you can enjoy wines and live music in a picturesque setting.

A bite to match

When it comes to food, there are a number of great cafes and restaurants in Robe. Vic Street Pizzeria, Wild Mulberry Café and Robe Providore are just a few popular options. Families are well-catered for, as are those looking for a romantic night out. For a special occasion, be sure to book a table at Sails Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant that serves up a rotating menu of stunning culinary bites (thanks to renowned chef Adam Brook).

A festival affair

Of course, anyone who’s really keen on food and wine should make a date to visit Robe in January. The Cape Jaffa Seafood and Wine Festival is an annual event that showcases local produce and the new and exciting Robe and Mt Benson wines. This is also a great time to sample the local seafood, with crayfish a speciality that shouldn’t be missed.

And of course, while in Robe, you’ll need a place to stay! Check out the Robe Harbourview Motel, the only motel in Robe with uninterrupted views overlooking the marina and Guichen Bay.

Going Green in the Bathroom

The surge of interest in environmental issues in recent years has meant more and more people are looking for extra ways to go ‘green’ around the house. While most households are adept at paper and bottle recycling, and have turned to energy-efficient light bulbs, there are still plenty of both minor and major choices you can make that can make a difference. Transforming an entire home is a big task so to get started, try looking at it room by room. The following are terrific ways to go green in the bathroom.

Watch the water

It’s obvious but also worth remembering that minimising the amount of water that goes down the drain is not only good for the environment, it will help lower your water bill. Choose a double-flush toilet, and always flush with care. Install a water-saving showerhead, and shorten showers. Never leave a tap running while you clean your teeth or shave. If you do need to use water in the sink, put in a plug and run a small amount. Another simple step is to place a small bucket under the faucet as you shower. Collected water can then be used in the garden.

Switch to green cleaners

While many of us have grown up with chemical-based cleaners, it’s clear these are not always the best option. Switch to eco-friendly alternatives, or even better, make your own. Diluted vinegar or lemon juice is a good choice for sinks and toilets. Pour it into a spray bottle, spray on the area then let sit for a short while before removing with a damp cloth. Vinegar mixed with water is also effective for mirrors. For baths, try baking soda mixed with water. And for mould, vinegar, clove oil and lime are tried and true alternatives to harsh chemical abrasives.

Off the plan

If you’re building or renovating, you’re in a great position to create a beautiful eco-friendly bathroom. There’s a range of environmentally friendly alternatives available to select from as you create your bathroom. That means doing your research so you understand the best options in terms of building materials, lighting, heating, flooring, fixtures and cabinetry. Start by having a look at the Federal Government’s Your Home guide to building or renovating properties that are comfortable, healthy, environmentally friendly and less expensive to run.

Look for leaks

According to Sydney Water, a leaking toilet can waste more than 16,000 litres of water a year. That figure should be enough to spur everyone in to action when they spot or suspect a leak, whether it’s the toilet, or in the shower or kitchen. What appears to be a minor leak can have a huge impact, both on the environment and your water bill.

Change the washer on a leaking tab immediately and call a plumber or specialist for any toilet, bath or shower leaks. Sealing a shower correctly is particularly important in order to stop leaking showers from happening. Good specialists in bathroom leaks will be able to seal your shower stall, particularly the gaps between the floor and the walls, without having to remove tiles. Addressing the problem quickly is going to help minimise any damage, wasted water and increased water bills.

And a few other options

  • Use bamboo or organic cotton towels.
  • Never use disposables such as paper towels to clean.
  • Turn off the light as soon as you leave the bathroom.
  • Switch to natural skin care products so there are even less chemicals going down the drain when you wash.
  • Use recycled toilet paper.

Just remember, by making a few minor changes and staying alert to leaks and other wastage, you can help your household stay green, and save you money in the process. Consider also that in some instances (building, repairs), it can take an investment now, to ensure savings further down the track.

Mr Bankes: Quality Design for the Retail and Hospitality Sectors

We live in an image-saturated society. In this day and age, good visual communication is integral in any industry, be it to get a point across, create the right atmosphere or illustrate a particular aspect of your business. Mr Bankes is a designer who understands how to make the perfect impression, every time.

So who is Mr Bankes?

Mr Banks is Michael Bankes, a curious, creative and down-to-earth design professional who has been making his mark in and around Melbourne – and far beyond – for more than twenty years. While his talents are wide-ranging, his speciality is the design of interior environments within the retail and hospitality sectors.

The Mr Bankes ethos

There are plenty of designers around, but finding the right one for the job is not always easy. Good designers are a dime a dozen. Great designers are a valuable find. It requires not only talent, expertise and experience, but an innate understanding of what a client needs.

Mr Bankes draws inspiration from everything around him, from the mundane to the magnificent. It might be a trip to the markets, or a visit to a friend’s farm. With a head full of opportunity, the trick then is to tailor this boundless energy into the right result for each specific project.

Brand awareness for best results

Effective design solutions in retail and hospitality environments generally entail a seamless integration of both architectural and graphic elements. Mr Bankes is a specialist in this creation of brand identity.

Need an example? At one point in his career, Mr Bankes was the designer du jour for the surf industry. He not only kept a range of clients happy (including Jetty Surf, Billabong, Strapper Surf, GenX, Planet Surf, Winkipop, Blunt and City Beach), he ensured that each developed their own very unique design identities.

Eco-friendly for fabulous design

In addition to creativity and quality, Mr Bankes values the environment and ensures his designs respond to environmental needs. His designs are created with a focus and awareness of sustainable and eco solutions, while using eco-friendly materials wherever possible.

What to expect

The Mr Bankes studio is based in Melbourne, however Mr Bankes can service clients all over Australia. Whether you have a firm idea of what you need, or only an inkling of what you want, Mr Bankes can help you create the best result for your business. That means working closely with you through every stage of development: from concept to creation.

Mr Bankes will also manage the actual building if required, including all paperwork for required permits. Mr Bankes avoids costly overheads, and strives to deliver the best results at the best price possible.

And the nitty gritty

Michael Banks began practicing design more than 20 years ago. He is a member of the Australian Retail Design Institute, has a 20 year citation with the Design Institute of Australia and is a Registered Building Practitioner. He knows his craft, is passionate about quality design and is a long-time supporter of traditional values – that means quality design that’s contemporary, relevant, and will stand the test of time.


Mr Bankes has more than one thousand projects to his name – and counting. The following is a small selection of his esteemed clients:

  • L’Oreal
  • Koko Black
  • Virgin
  • Honda
  • King Furniture
  • Bakers Delight
  • Raffaelle Cuica
  • DuPont
  • Nissan
  • Parenthood
  • Mazda
  • Edge clothing
  • Muffin Break
  • Sanity
  • Liz Davenport

If your hotel, café or store is in need of a visual boost, Mr Bankes (www.mrbankes.com.au) may just be your man.

The Benefits of Boxing Training

Boxing used to be the sole domain of rugged and sometimes less than salubrious types. Things have certainly changed. Developed as a fitness activity using boxing techniques (but without the physical contact), boxing training is a very popular activity that attracts both men and women, and those from all levels of fitness and skill. There are plenty of reasons why boxing fitness has been growing in popularity over the last decade. The following are just a few.

No expertise required

Boxing training is about technique first and foremost, with brute strength not a prerequisite. That’s great news for those of us who are less than burly, and it’s also why it’s been attracting huge hordes of female followers in recent years (not to say there aren’t plenty of women who are very strong!). What’s more, it can be tailored to suit all skill levels, so as you develop more skills, your training can be adapted to remain fun and challenging. Classes can cater to everyone from absolute novices, to Olympic champions.

It’s a great workout

Boxing fitness is arguably one of the best workouts around. It burns calories, develops and tones muscles, increases agility, and builds stamina. It’s the ideal combination of cardiovascular and muscle training. In short, it’s a great workout that can help you increase overall fitness, lose weight and build strength, which is important for everyone. If you’re looking for a solid routine that will see significant results, it’s a great choice.

Safety first

Some people may be put off with the idea that boxing training can lead to injury. The good news is that it’s about building techniques and improving fitness, without any body-to-body contact. In general, you will be partnered with a fellow class member. One of you will ‘spar’ or push a combination of tailored punches at the other, which are blocked by padded gloves or mats. It’s been designed to ensure it’s very safe, and there’s generally no more chance of injury with boxing fitness than there is with any other type of fitness training.

A confidence booster

While this type of training is not specifically a self-defence class, it will teach you how to throw a punch. While we’re not advocating trying boxing of any sort outside of the fitness class anytime soon, it’s perhaps one reason why many people find boxing training is a good confidence booster too.

It’s fun

Boxing fitness is not, as some may perceive, a solely serious workout. It’s also a lot of fun. Enjoying your workout is one of the best ways to achieve success. It’s incredibly difficult to maintain focus and motivation if you’re not doing something you love. That’s why the best fitness activities for any individual are those that you enjoy.

It’s officially good for you

The Australian government’s guidelines for health and fitness recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily, and some regular vigorous activity for extra health and fitness. It’s often this extra high-intensity activity that people find hard to fit into their hectic schedules. Boxing training is a great option if you’re looking for an activity that will have results, and is enjoyable. It’s also a fantastic way to relieve stress after a busy or hectic day at work!

Robe Accommodation, and a Food and Wine Affair

Nestled in the southeast corner of South Australia along the Limestone Coast, Robe is a small town rich in maritime history, and surrounded by wonderful natural delights. It’s a great place to spend a relaxing few days – or longer – exploring the beautiful beach, nearby national parks, and interesting historical landmarks. Take your pick from a wonderful array of Robe accommodation, and while here, you can also take advantage of the location to savour some excellent food and wine.

Seafood a speciality

Fishing is part and parcel of life in Robe, and every visitor should make the most of the location and sample the fresh and delicious seafood on offer, the including local speciality – crayfish. You can try it at any of the great restaurants and cafes around town. Or if you’re in the mood for a barbecue, stock up on the latest catch at Seafood Temptations on Denton Drive, and cook alfresco on one of the public barbecues situated around town. Then settle yourself on the water’s edge and enjoy a fantastic meal with a view.

A fine drop or two

The nearby Robe and Mount Benson wine regions have a growing reputation for crisp whites, and robust, spicy reds. Enjoy a day of wine tasting, ensuring your first stop is the Visitor Information Centre on Mundy Terrace in Robe. They can provide you with information, and maps on cellar doors. Also check the Mt Benson wine region site for information on where to head – and what to taste!

Follow your nose

The Limestone Real Food Trail is a journey through the restaurants, farmers’ markets, and fresh food producers of the Limestone Coast region. Here’s a guide to this wonderful food and wine region, and information on where to stop, and what to sample. For a gourmet foodie holiday, in relaxed and beautiful surrounds, it doesn’t get much better than a short break in Robe.

Eating out

There are also lots of options to eat out during your stay. If you’re not in the mood for cooking, you’re well catered-for around Robe with a mix of cafes, restaurants and takeaways. Here are just a few popular options:

  • Vic Street Pizzeria at 6 Victoria Street is a great choice for families or anyone seeking a relaxed and friendly environment. Enjoy a casual lunch or head here after a day at the beach for tasty pizza treats.
  • Wild Mulberry Café (Cnr Victoria and Robe Street) is a popular destination for breakfast and lunch, with an eclectic modern Australian and international menu and fantastic coffee. A perfect way to start the day!
  • Robe Providore (4 Victoria Street) is another great brunch spot with outdoor seating and friendly staff, ensuring it’s a good family option.
  • Robe Seafood and Takeaway (21 Victoria Street) is the place to head for cheap and cheerful takeaway.
  • Sails Restaurant (21 Victoria Street) is a fine-dining highlight. Chef Adam Brook serves up a seasonal menu of culinary delights, paired with regional wines. It’s a perfect holiday treat. It’s open for dinner (and lunch in summer). Be sure to book ahead.

And where to stay

Visitors to Robe are well catered-for in terms of accommodation with a mix of motels, hotels, guesthouses, cottages and apartments. Robe accommodation is available to suit all budgets, ranging from the cheap and cheerful, to the luxuriously lavish. History lovers may like staying in a heritage cottage. Those looking to enjoy seaside walks might enjoy a cottage or motel close to the water (www.robeharbourview.com.au). And there’s a selection of motels and holiday homes perfect for families, couples and groups of friends.

Tips on growing your business – from marketing to magnetic name badges

Establishing any business is of course a big deal, but getting past that first hurdle is just the beginning. If you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll need to do your research, make some plans, and follow through with them. Here are just a few points to keep in mind when growing your business.

Create (and recreate) a business plan

Every business owner needs to create and implement a business plan. This should outline what you want to achieve with your business, what services and/or products you will offer, it should set realistic goals, and outline how you hope to achieve your goals. If you‘re unsure just how to write a business plan, you should look for professional resources to guide you. The Australian Government’s business.gov.au website is worth visiting, providing varied information and tips on establishing and developing businesses of all sizes. Another tip? As your business grows, your business plan should also adapt. Make a point to assess and modify your business plan regularly.

Establish a marketing plan

Marketing and social media strategies are vital for any business, regardless of your budget. Your business is going to have a hard time growing if people don’t know who you are, or how to find you. A marketing plan might entail using a combination of advertising, listings, a website, and social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to help spread information about your company and services. Social media is an increasingly popular and highly effective tool that can be used both to attract new customers and help keep your customers coming back. Even better, it can be very cost-effective.

Give time to staff relations

The Queensland Government’s Business and Industry portal has some useful tips on managing staff. Essentially, staff that feel informed, appreciated and part of a team are more likely to give you their all. There are some simple ways to help staff work together as best they can. Keep staff informed via meetings or regular email bulletins or newsletters, implement team-building exercises and training programs, consider mentoring opportunities, and even try something like magnetic name badges, which are not only great for customer-staff relations, they can also help staff feel part of the team. Any business owner should also of course be aware of employer and employee legal rights and obligations.

Focus on customer relationships

Building good customer relationships is vital for business growth. Making a sale (whether it’s a product or service) is just the beginning. Being able to provide fantastic customer service every step of the way – from an initial inquiry following through to the completed transaction – is part and parcel of good customer service. Follow through means everything from providing information and returning calls promptly, to answering queries satisfactorily.

Many businesses that deal with customers face-to-face find something as simple as magnetic name badges are a great first step in setting up a relationship with a customer. Magnetic name badges can break down that initial barrier, and help your staff to create an instant rapport with customers. They are also easy to design, and being magnetic, are simple for staff to wear comfortably.

And how else can you keep customers coming back? Mailing lists and social media accounts can be highly effective in helping to keep customers informed of new products, sales and special offers.

Of course, seeking professional assistance if you aren’t an expert on every aspect of business (and who is) is always recommended. Look to government business sites such as NSW Business, and professionals in any areas you aren’t an expert in, such as accountants, consultants and the like, for help.

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