The Commonwealth Bank of Australia provides business and hospitality clients with insights needed to find a niche in a competitive field.
Running a small business can be difficult. From what décor to use to what coffee to serve, café owners face tough choices that can ultimately make or break their venue.
To make some of these decisions easier, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank) has a dedicated team that specialises in the retail and hospitality environment. This includes commissioning original research on topics such as retailer resilience and pricing strategies, connecting clients to industry experts, and keeping staff up to date on the fast-moving world of retail.
“Hospitality is a strong contributor to the economy and plays an important part in the day-to-day life of all Australians,” says Jerry Macey, National Retail Lead at CommBank.
“CommBank has long been a proud supporter of the hospitality industry. Given our market leading position in merchant solutions, extensive branch network, and 24/7 call centre support, there’s a strong fit between our offering and the needs of café owners.”
Prior to joining CommBank in 2005, Jerry was General Manager of a health insurer in the United Kingdom. He says this role prepared him to understand and assist CommBank’s hospitality and retail clients.
“We weren’t the biggest, so we knew we needed to differentiate to stand out. We chose excellence in customer service as our differentiator and won coveted awards for it. Both differentiation and customer service have been part of my DNA since then. They are also key capabilities for winning in retail, and influence the way I look at retail businesses,” Jerry says.
While not identical, Jerry says that hospitality and the wider retail industry share more similarities than differences.
“Both need to intimately understand their customers, differentiate their offering to best appeal to them, and be agile enough to change with their customers’ desires,” he says.
“There are some challenges that are unique, or more acutely felt by those in the hospitality industry. For cafés and other food service venues, quality control and waste management are a more urgent challenge. Regulations are complex and subject to greater scrutiny. Staff training requirements and qualifications are generally more onerous than retail.”
From a payments point of view, Jerry says the hospitality sector has to cater for common customer practices such as tipping and splitting bills, which are not prevalent in retail. CommBank provides a number of tools to help cafés address these needs and turn data into insight.
CommBiz, the institution’s online business banking platform, is a one-stop shop with real-time reporting capability and easy transfer into accounting packages for further analysis.
CommBank’s Everyday Settlement program ensures eftpos and credit card sales are settled the day they’re made.
“We put funds into your account on the day you receive them – even on public holidays. You can reconcile your takings more easily and put your money to work straight away,” Jerry says.
“Everyday Settlement makes cash management simpler and, most importantly, when they join CommBank, our customers find out just how passionately our hospitality team cares about the industry and helping them succeed.”
While CommBank’s Everyday Settlement assists its clients in the present, its Daily IQ service prepares them for the future.
“Not only will cafés discover the ease with which day-to-day transactions occur with a CommBank merchant terminal, they’ll be introduced to the insights of Daily IQ,” Jerry says.
“Daily IQ is provided free to CommBank customers and helps them optimise cashflow, enhance performance, and identify opportunities for growth.”
Daily IQ draws on merchant data to give personalised insights into a business’ performance against the industry and the purchasing behaviours of customers. This includes comparing the spend of new and existing customers, average spend, age breakdown, location, and changes in spending behaviour.
“This can enable them to not only create targeted marketing campaigns but also see, in the moment, whether the campaign is having the required result. Knowing the suburb where customers live can even help determine whether and where to open a new venue,” Jerry says.
“Daily IQ’s merchant insights can also help the business to make informed decisions when managing resources by identifying high and low trading times. Businesses can then create campaigns to increase business during the quieter periods.”
Jerry says the costs of staying relevant to customers, such as refurbishments and lease negotiations, need careful management to protect capital, which small businesses may struggle to do internally.
“Venues need to stay on top of their expenses to underpin profit margins, as a highly competitive industry means stiff price competition. Small venues are no exception and having the right reporting systems in place are important,” he says.
“For sole traders and small chains, it may not be viable to employ staff for administration purposes, so this burden can increase as they grow until they reach a scale that allows them to invest. Resources such as CommBank’s Daily IQ can support smaller businesses with financial insights as they grow through this phase and beyond.”
CommBank’s retail team predicts that within the next few years, café growth is likely to slow as the industry moves towards saturation, which will force venues to optimise their spending practices.
“We have a strong coffee and brunch culture in Australia. Small and specialised operators are expected to remain popular as consumers generally associate quality, ambience, and experience with smaller independent venues,” Jerry says.
“With a growing number of specialty cafés, the industry is facing a high level of competition.”
Despite some level of saturation, Jerry says tourism, changing café practices, and sense of community will maintain the overall relevance of cafés.
“Cafés are becoming popular places for consumers to spend leisure time and also as a substitute workplace, such as for meetings,” he says. “Cafés are also increasingly offering additional services such as a bar in the evenings, where liquor licences are available and appropriate.”
To succeed in a booming but overcrowded marketplace, Jerry says cafés will need to “understand and cater to specific characteristics of consumer demand”.
“Operators finding ways to deeply understand their customer and provide them with a differentiated offering is key,” Jerry says.
This article appears in FULL in the April 2019 edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe HERE.
For more information, visit commbank.com.au/businessinsights