People and Paper in the Digital Age

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-By Aleisha Parr

In this digital age – where with a few clicks of a mouse anyone can enjoy instant access to their mail, their money and their news – many industries rooted in old technologies and traditions are succumbing to the changing times, only to be replaced by the latest trend. Such has been the case throughout all of time, as we have evolved into a media-hungry people with astoundingly short attention spans.

Print media is one such industry, perhaps that most affected by this shift, with many of its supporters and critics alike resorting to labelling it a ‘dead’ industry.

“Everyone seems a bit hesitant with newsagencies, although we are seeing excellent growth,” explains Freddy Hollow. “People are worried about print and its decline. I certainly don’t think it is dead but I do think it needs to change, evolve, and adapt to new technologies.”

Mr Hollow is Marketing Coordinator for The Lucky Charm Newsagents, a popular Australian franchise specialising in the sale of newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, ink cartridges, stationery, gifts and lotto tickets.

What began as a labour of love for husband and wife team, Mike and Helen Kentros, who had each been in the industry for over 26 years, The Lucky Charm grew through careful development and strategic activities, keeping a close ear to the ground for what Australians were seeking out.

Ten years ago, Mike Kentros, noticing the sudden increase in the popularity of franchise models, began to take inspiration from the variety of retail models available. Recounts Mr Hollow, ” Mike was thinking, ‘We’ve got a really great system here that we’ve used for ourselves, how can we grow and help other people do that as well?'”

In the past eleven years that the company has been spreading throughout Australia, its cheerful logo and friendly atmosphere have helped made The Lucky Charm a household name. However, as owners of a rapidly expanding franchise, the Kentros’ must be responsible not only for their own corporate success but also for the success of each of the company’s franchisees -an established thirty-four stores with three to four new stores expected by the time of this publication.

“We have seen excellent growth with a 3 per cent increase of comparable sales for 2011, even against a tough retail market and with some of our QLD stores being affected by flooding and shopping centre redevelopments. The sales figures coming through for January this year have been fantastic and emerging markets like ink cartridges are very strong for us.”

“From a newsagency point of view, you need to be aware of the changing role of print media and if you’re used to selling newspapers as your main thing, and used to having a sort of clothesline focus on where print media is, then you’re going to have trouble down the line,” explains Mr Hollow. “It meant we needed to have a look at the global trends and adapt to them. So from our point of view, we needed to add other elements into the news agency mix, other areas of revenue.”

The company has been doing just that, using the past year to redevelop its marketing plan and introduce not only a whole new plan of attack but also an entirely new arm of the business. “What we’re trying to do,” says Mr Hollow, “is incorporate other elements and bring in other factors to build a model that will stand the test of time and also change with the way the retail model of business is done on a global scale as well. We’re trying to educate not only our own retailers but the industry as a whole that the old news agency model isn’t going to be viable in the future.”

The first of these new elements includes the introduction of a new Loyalty Card, which was launched in September of 2011. This free, scan-able card is designed to be used by customers at any The Lucky Charm location, at point of purchase. Unlike many current loyalty cards, which run on a system of redeemable points for products, The Lucky Charm Rewards Card rewards customers with entries into large semi-annual drawings each worth ten thousand dollars towards the customer’s house payments. The entries are tallied based on purchase amounts, with less than ten dollars earning one entry, ten to twenty earning three entries, and so on up to the maximum of fifty entries rewarded for purchases over one hundred dollars.

“All of the other loyalty cards out there use redeemable points, which we don’t think is very quantifiable,” explains Mr Hollow. “How many points do you need to win a toaster? How many points do you need to get more points to try and get a flight to somewhere? We find that’s not really rewarding to our customers and a lot of our customers are understanding of our system.”

Customers can log into The Lucky Charm’s new upgraded website, www.theluckycharm.com.au, to see how many entries they have accumulated. Shares Mr Hollow, “It’s really exciting for us to see them following how many entries they have and how many chances they have to win the ten thousand dollars! It’s easy for the customers to follow.”

In addition to the ten thousand dollar grand prize awards, The Lucky Charm also runs monthly exclusive promotions with Hallmark cards and ACP magazines, giving away such exciting prizes as iPads, coffee machines, Nintendo 3Ds’ and KitchenAid appliances.

“We also offer discount prices on magazines, ink cartridges and greeting cards. It’s about rewarding our customers for their loyalty and support of our small businesses.”

“Hallmark Cards and ACP magazines have been working with Mike and Helen from the very start and they are the main supporters of our loyalty program,” says Mr Hollow with pride. “They are featured on the back of our Rewards Cards, and they have been really key in helping our growth.”

The introduction of this program has caused an instant reaction amongst customers, with over sixty thousand customers carrying a Rewards Card already, and numerous happy prize winners already featured on the company’s website.

“TLC Rewards is an excellent tool with which we can change customers’ spending habits and compete against not only other newsagents but against the majors like Coles and Woolies where a number of our products can also be purchased.”

The second area in which The Lucky Charm Newsagents has been able to seek success for its franchisees has centred on the development of an entirely new business within the original newsagent arm of the company. This initiative, launching this month in its first stage, will introduce a Business 2 Business aspect for The Lucky Charm franchisees via a stationery and office supplies sales website made possible by a new agreement with Corporate Express. Franchise owners are provided with catalogues advertising a selection of over ten thousand stationery items, backed by the sales website which offers over fifty thousand items. Sales generated through this new channel represent the beginning of a whole new customer market, “providing stores an avenue to generate business outside their four walls.”

“It is essentially a whole new entity to the normal retail space,” enthuses Mr Hollow. “You’ve gone from serving general retail customers to suddenly becoming a business to business supplier. And, it costs nothing for our members to be able to do this, so it’s a whole brand new revenue stream we are giving them.”

This move is daring for the newsagent company, the first of its kind within the industry. Through it, the introduction of its unique Rewards Card, and a host of other as yet undisclosed plans for advancement, The Lucky Charm Newsagents endeavours to bring the industry forward into the digital age to continue providing a sense of connectivity for its clients and its corporate “family” alike.

“Our family approach echoes outward,” says Mr Hollow, “and it’s all about relationships. We may not be the biggest group at the moment, but we are growing and gaining a lot of support and a lot of that is through the relationships that we’re building and because we are a family and not a big corporate machine. We’re just good people who want to work hard and improve, and I guess that rubs off on everyone else as well.”

“Our vision for 2012,” he concludes, is to “remain true to our core values of strength, structure, support and family, and to continue to implement strategies to improve the sales and profitability of our members.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 3:53 PM AEDT