Deniliquin Chamber of Commerce president Chris Heikkinen says 2012 was a tough year for business, and is urging local business owners to be proactive in making 2013 better.By Tyla Harrington
Deniliquin Business Chamber president Chris Heikkinen is urging businesses to ‘‘fight for their business and their customers’’ in 2013.
His call to arms comes after what he described as a ‘‘tough year’’ for businesses in 2012.
Mr Heikkinen, who is Deniliquin’s Harvey Norman franchisee, said legislation and changes in customer shopping habits have played a part in the strains on the business sector.
‘‘Added costs and pressures on business, such as the new Industrial Relations laws, not to mention the increased costs for electricity, puts ongoing strains on businesses,’’ he said.
‘‘And this is not something that is felt only by those operating a business in Deniliquin.
‘‘It is imperative operating businesses in Deniliquin look outside of town to see how other businesses are managing.
‘‘Businesses need to look outside the square and embrace new and innovative selling and marketing techniques.
‘‘In short, they need to fight for their business and their customers. This is certainly not a time for being complacent or apathetic.’’
The number of empty shops in the Deniliquin CBD has long been a concern for the local business industry, and again Mr Heikkinen said it was not an issue confined to Deniliquin.
He said it showed the breadth of the ‘‘tough economic times’’ Deniliquin and district businesses must endure.
While Mr Heikkinen admits the 2013 year will present some difficult times for businesses, he said there were a lot of ‘‘great resources’’ that businesses could utilise to help bring customers to the town.
‘‘We are not isolated here in Deni; rather we probably see more benefits in that we have a ready-made clientele who don’t have to travel too far for retail options, or services.
‘‘We are fortunate in Deni to have some great resources such as a brand new medical centre, a serviceable hospital and emergency department, a golf course, several clubs and pubs offering a myriad of dining and entertainment options, a large number of schools, government and social services, a thriving rice mill, a soon to be opened abattoirs, a number of award winning events such as the Ute Muster, the RSL Fishing Classic and the Deni Matchmakers Festival, plus, of course, a swag of retail outlets.
‘‘Let’s not forget we also offer a great fishing and boating venue with the Edward River, and some very proactive local sporting clubs. In all, we are fortunate in that most things are available in town.
‘‘What is essential though now, more than ever, is business owners have to be more proactive and imaginative when co-ordinating and undertaking daily business.
‘‘Businesses can’t afford to be lazy and to sit back and wait for customers to walk through the door.’’
Mr Heikkinen said with the rise of internet shopping, businesses ‘‘have to think up new and different ways to attract customers’’.
He said that was something the Deniliquin Business Chamber would target this year.
‘‘Chamber is continually coming up with new and workable marketing options for businesses to undertake to try to attract customers.
‘‘Now, more than ever, these type of activities need to be considered if businesses are to beat their competition and survive.’’
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