Five good reasons to network in the New Year

Five good reasons to network in the New Year

The Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute sprouts networking as one of its key member benefits; we offer this broadly through our national and local chapter events, and more intimately at our member-only gatherings. What we have realised over the years, however, is that the value of business-to-business networking is not something that is always recognised. In this article, we’ve put together five good reasons for you to get clear about networking in 2020.

#1 Getting to Know your Reps
The number of products available in the kitchen and bathroom industry is abundant and ever-increasing. Having good relationships with your reps will help you keep ahead of this influx, and ensure you’re offering your clients the best products for their needs. Productive business-to-business relationships depend on strong two-way communication, and face-to-face liaison generally offers the most open and honest way to connect. Industry events allow you to meet new connections in an informal, social environment, and are an excellent way to build positive and fruitful relationships with product suppliers.

#2 Problem Solving and Trouble Shooting
If you’re not sure about a particular product application, or a product isn’t working out as planned, a designer who has ‘been there, done that’ could help get you on track in no time. Likewise, reps know their products and, in many cases, may have come across your dilemma previously – a ‘real-time’ conversation with your rep could save time, money and whole heap of hassle.

#3 Friendships & Mentoring
If you’ve ever attended a KBDi Symposium or Awards Gala, you’ll have noticed the comradery that exists between members, at both intra and inter-state levels. These genuine friendships make for fun times, but there’s a tangible business benefit, too: an ‘informal mentoring’ often takes place between friends in the same industry, and can be of immeasurable value for a designer taking on a new project outside of their ‘normal’ scope, or dealing with a difficult client and wondering how others would handle an issue. A friendship can peel away the ‘fear of competition’ and offer great opportunities for asking for (or offering) advice.

#4 New Work & Job Sharing
Building a network of industry peers can create a range of opportunities, from employment offers to design collaborations to work referrals – and plenty in between. Do you have a too-full calendar and new clients lining up impatiently? Imagine how easy it would be to say ‘no’ to a potential new client if you could refer him or her to another designer you personally know. On the flip side, if you could do with an extra job or two on your books, your design peers could be looking for someone to help!

#5 Positive Influence
You become who you associate with: we all know negative people can be a drain, but if you surround yourself with the right people, their attitudes and habits can be contagious! Modelling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance, and face-to-face association is the best way to achieve this.

Of course, there are many more reasons to make business-to-business networking start working for you. If you’re already an advocate, what would you add to this list?

And if you have a ‘top tip’ for productive networking, we’d love to hear it so comment below.

Avoiding Christmas party HR disasters

Avoiding Christmas party HR disasters

A message from our Industry Partner, Employsure

‘Tis the season to be jolly and as workplaces around Australia wind down for another year, employers and HR managers are turning their minds to one of the most fraught events on the professional working calendar: the Christmas Party.

Over the next few weeks Australian workplaces will take a moment to indulge in some festive revelry. In most cases the Christmas Party is a harmless get-together amongst colleagues. In other cases, however, they can turn into a horror story littered with alcohol-fuelled incidents that leave everyone red-faced.

There’s the story of one project coordinator at an engineering firm who, in a drunken Christmas Party spree, threw a colleague into a swimming pool before punching a senior manager who’d asked him to leave. He was sacked by his employer, a decision that was upheld when the employee instigated an Unfair Dismissal claim.

However, there’s also the story of a team leader at major asset maintenance company who swore at a Director, forcibly kissed a female colleague and made several unwanted sexual advances towards another. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was sacked. Yet he claimed to be unfairly dismissed, and the Fair Work Commission agreed with him because his company had not followed procedural fairness in his dismissal. This dismissal was overturned.

While no-one likes a Grinch, the Christmas Party presents a HR headache for employers who want to celebrate with staff and reward their hard work. It’s a difficult task: how do you pull off a great event without enabling unruly staff behaviour that could potentially have long term consequences for the business, professional relationships and individual careers?

Here’s some tips on how to organise a safe, fun Christmas Party without becoming Scrooge.

Have A Policy, And Remind Employees About Your Expectations

Your duty of care to employees extends to work-related events, and this includes the Christmas Party. At the very least you should have a policy that clearly outlines employees’ obligations and expected standards of conduct at work related events. In the lead up to the party make sure staff are reminded of standards of acceptable behaviour and their obligations to comply with Company policies, particularly those relating to matters such as bullying and harassment, drugs and alcohol in the workplace and health and safety.

The policies should be made available to all staff prior to the event. Staff should also be made aware of the start/finish times of the party and that any activities carried out after these times are not an extension of the Christmas party.

Cater For Everybody

While it’s easy to picture the staff Christmas Party as a boozy affair, a heavy drinking session isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Others may not drink at all, and perhaps some employees don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s important to think of all the different ways to celebrate the occasion and offer a variety food, drink and entertainment options so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.

Don’t Enable Binge Drinking

It’s perhaps no coincidence that some of the biggest Christmas Party horror stories come from events where employers had offered an open bar. It’s a recipe for over-indulgence and invites trouble.

Offering drink tokens, smaller bar tabs or even asking staff to contribute to the cost of their own drinks (yes, it’s ok to make them pay) are ways to encourage people to take more responsibility with their consumption.

Give People Transport Options

The time and location of the party is important and can often dictate how much people drink and how late they stay out. If you’re hosting an evening party certain taxi companies offer discounts and booking vouchers for company events, while a day-time Christmas Party means public transport will still be a viable option for people needing to get home after the event.

Designate Some ‘Sober Staff’

Many companies have designated ‘Sober Staff’ at the Christmas Party, someone (usually from the senior ranks) who can monitor staff conduct and quickly enact a strategy to quell boozy behaviour by calling a taxi for a drunk employee or directing them to leave where necessary. For the designated Sober Staff it means swapping the booze for some Orange Juice, but it can save a stack of HR headaches and gives the company a front-line defence against any employee who starts to overstep the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

Know What To Do In The Event Of An Incident

Sometimes even the best laid plans are no match for the potent mix of boisterous staff and free-flowing alcohol. Incidents do happen, and some of them are serious. And while it can seem like instant sacking is warranted, as we’ve seen from the cases above, dismissal isn’t always an open-and-shut case. Get advice on preparing appropriate policies, how to investigate any incidents, and the disciplinary process that applies to your situation.

KBDi has partnered with Employsure to help take the headache out of workplace relations. Contact our office today (phone 1300 253 223) to find out how your KBDi Membership will help you with HR solutions.

Stress – inflicted on us by others or self-imposed?

Stress – inflicted on us by others or self-imposed?

In this article, Ron Redman (Redman Training & Development) shares some timely perspectives on reacting to stressful situations.

As we approach the end of 2019, I’m sure many would reflect on ‘what a year it has been!’.

For Debra and I, 2019 has presented an array of feelings, experiences and life lessons, along with unforgettably joyful moments.

Our business, Redman Training & Development – still in its infancy – has provided us with wonderful challenges and at the same time, fulfilment. We are grateful to all the workshop participants, industry groups such as KBDi and our individual coaching clients for the trust they have placed in us. 

We have also been faced with stress through various situations: workshop equipment not working as expected, rooms and resources unavailable, flight delays … and I could go on.

With regard to the last mentioned challenge, my flight to Sydney this week was delayed through a technical problem. In that moment of announcement, I had a choice of how I would respond or behave. (Refer our article on choice published in KBDi earlier this year). 

My choice was to either get angry, or accept the situation as out of my control, then place trust in the fault being rectified as quickly as possible. Personally, I would much prefer any problem with an aircraft being attended to prior to take-off rather than at 10,000 metres up. 

Being a bit of a ‘people person’, I found it interesting to observe how some other passengers in the lounge responded to the news. I must say the majority responded well with little sign of stress.

There were some, however, who were noticeably agitated and stressed. Now, I am not going to negatively judge their behaviour. I had no idea of their personal circumstances and in that moment their situation may well have held very concerning issues. These people were stressed, and their day and interactions would be effected accordingly.

On a positive note, what I did observe was quite a number of passengers using the time productively: connecting with others, possibly people they had never met now thrown in to a commonly shared experience. Others like me used the time to make some overdue phone calls, catch up with some tasks. It’s amazing how much can be achieved in an airport lounge.

Reflecting back on this experience, my choice to trust and not let the situation place me under stress resulted in a very productive day. The plans I had were rescheduled or dealt with over the phone.

I have arrived at an understanding that the level of stress we experience is self-imposed. Research from many neurological sources tells us that a certain level of stress, called Eu-stress, is a normal part of life and can positively motivate us to take an action, however, if we allow our stress levels to get out of control we become de-motivated resulting in not achieving our desired goals and outcomes.

We appeal to all not to let stress impact on your opportunity this year to have valuable connection time with family and friends this holiday period.

There is valuable support available through many well publicised sources. You only need to have the courage to ask for it.

Our wish to all who read this, all of our friends and contacts within the Australian Kitchen, Bathroom and Furniture industry is for a joyous stress-free holiday period.

We look forward to being of service in 2020. 

Debra & Ron Redman

Redman Training & Development

Ph: +61411720954

Looking for leaks in your cash flow

Looking for leaks in your cash flow

When finances start to dry up, our first instinct is usually to look for ways to increase our fees and income. What is often overlooked, however, is how cash flow can be significantly improved by stopping leaks and spills in your everyday accounts.

When you’re trying to run a business, time and money are your most valuable assets. In this feature, we’re looking at three ways you can spend a little time to save a lot of money, and keep your business above water.

#1 Tracking Transactions

Studying your bank statements isn’t a particularly fun or creative task, but it’s something all small business owners should get in the habit of doing. Taking ten minutes to check your transactions at the end of each month can uncover all kinds of leakages, including:

  • Online subscriptions – how many times have you tested a new app or program with a ‘free trial’ lure. If you’ve handed over your credit card details in order to get the download, and haven’t cancelled the account when you discovered you wouldn’t really need said app or program, a new sneaky debit could be an expensive long-term leak.
  • Increased service fees – monthly payments for insurances and other services are super convenient and can help your cash flow. They can, however, make us a bit lax when it comes to comparing prices at renewal time. When you’re keeping a check on your monthly debits, you may be surprised at the increase in premiums and fees between one year and another. When you see an increase, take action right away and investigate your options (more about that below).
  • ATM and bank fees – withdrawing cash from random ATMs will typically incur a sneaky fee; a couple of bucks seems insignificant, but these ‘drips’ can certainly add up. The same goes for monthly bank fees – can these be negotiated with your bank? Will another bank offer a ‘no-fee’ account? What kind of interest rate are you paying on your credit card? Could you do better with another type of card, or perhaps another lending institution? 

#2 Comparing Cover

We all gripe about paying insurance, but not having cover when you need it could cause a lot more pain down the track. Finding the best value insurance is essential: allow yourself ten minutes per week for the next four weeks to price check your business insurances (PI & PL, Vehicle, Office or Home & Contents and – while you’re at it – health insurance). Ask how much you’ll save by paying annually rather than monthly. Compare the savings you make to your hourly rate, and you’ll see it’s time well spent.

Note: when you’re looking at PI & PL, don’t forget our tailor-made group policy. This cover is designed for designers (so you know it’s a good fit), and with the benefits of a group buying power, it’s a hard-to-beat price. Learn more here.


#3 Managing your Mobile

The cost of calls is less of an issue than the drain of data in most mobile plans. Depending on your out-of-office (and away from wi-fi) usage, you may be well over-covered with an unlimited plan or way under-covered with consistent data add-ons. Check out the data usage for your most-used apps and services: web browsing is light on (around 60MB per hour), as is Facebook (80MB per hour for scrolling, 160MB per hour for cat videos). Instagram, on the other hand, is one of the most data-intensive apps you’re likely to use on a daily basis, sucking up around 720MB per hour. Ask your service provider to talk through your data usage, and see if you can negotiate a better deal. (And think carefully about where you’re using Insta!)

If you have some other small-business-savers, we’d love to hear from you – comment below.

Feeling a little flat about your career?

Feeling a little flat about your career?

Although you may love your line of work, few people can get through a long-term career without bouts of boredom creeping in at one stage or another. Whether you’re a devoted designer, a busy-as builder or a motivated manufacturer, we’ve put together five ways you can bust your boredom without leaving your bread-and-butter industry.

#1 Up the Ante
Consider taking your game to the next level with a new qualification or accreditation. Are there particular areas of study that have always been on your wish list? Is there a course you could enrol in in 2020 that will add another feather to your cap? Could a KBDi Accreditation give you an edge (and some added post-nominals)? (Like to learn more about KBDi Accreditation? Email us today.)

#2 Share your stories
If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you may have plenty of stories to share that will inspire, inform or just entertain your clients or peers. Start a business blog if you haven’t already, or share your stories with Selina and we’ll take them to town.

#3 Take to the stage
If you’d rather talk than type, consider finding opportunities to speak to consumer groups or industry peers. Some of our Members are building incredible public profiles by taking advantage of the speaking opportunities that come their way, or seeking out special occasions to share their stories. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us and we’ll give you some tips.

#4 Mentor the next generation
While you may take for granted the long list of skills you’ve acquired throughout your career, a newbie to the industry may love the opportunity to tap into your knowledge and experience. If you don’t have staff or a team to mentor, but feel you’ve got something to share with up-and-coming peers, check out our mentoring program and let us know if you’d like to consider being part of our talented team.

#5 Get involved in the industry
If you love the field you work in and have high hopes for your industry, consider taking up a voluntary role in a relevant committee. KBDi counts on our local chapter committees to be the conduit between industry (Members) and us. If you’d like to express an interest in joining your local crew, or have aspirations to be a part of the KBDi Board, drop us a line and we’ll let you know how our committees and governance work.

And if you already have some ‘boredom buster’ ideas, we’d love you to share them below.

Fuelling your inspiration

Fuelling your inspiration

A message from our Training Partner, Redman Training & Development

Fuel provides the ability to propel a car forward like inspiration can propel a person to achieve success.

Filling my car with fuel recently, my mind began wandering about various topics. I thought of a friend who has been dealing with major health concerns. Her resolve to not give in – to find ways to return to good health and in the process inspire others to look at life with optimism rather than pessimism, love instead of hate, forgiveness over revenge, joy in place of anger, gratitude rather than expectations – is certainly inspiring. My thoughts took me to realising how I can often be inspired by people or events.

Attending the KBDi Symposium in Melbourne this year, participating in the various presentations and tours, I couldn’t help but be inspired by what I observed and what I was informed about in various forms and topics of professional advice or opinion. I was also inspired by people who are excelling in their chosen field or specialisation of developed skills.

Allowing myself to listen to others who have this specialised experience in their fields opened my mind to possibilities not yet considered or, being totally honest, believed could be considered.

I was being inspired.

I realised I was especially inspired by those presenters who spoke with passion and clarity. Their enthusiasm was infectious in good ways. Enthusiasm can certainly be inspiring.

Other inspirations I had were through observing KBDi members interact. They came together with other members and partners with warm greetings, welcoming smiles, even excitement at the opportunity to reconnect. Some were meeting members who had become friends over years of participating at these events, others meeting for the first time. Interestingly, there was no sign of being competitors, being guarded and elusive. What I observed was an atmosphere of greeting and respect. Of community.

This experience was inspirational and in its own way inspires me to participate and find the next level of professionalism to bring to our industry.

Education through attending Industry Forums, KBDi Chapter Events, Exhibitions such as the AWISA Exhibition in Sydney 2020, the EuroCucina Exhibition in Milan Italy in 2020 as well as Professional & Personal Development Workshops all have the potential to provide inspiration.

There are times when we deny ourselves inspiration by naively believing we “know it all”. We have “been there, done that”. “What could that experience provide me”?

There are times when we believe we are just too busy. Yet denying fresh inspiration carries the risk of getting stale, out of date, no longer appealing to our potential customers.

Alternatively, it has been my experience to welcome fresh ideas, alternative options, and expand my education. These opportunities often give me a fresh perspective providing the inspiration to search even further, gather more resources and expand successfully on the outcome. Inspiration has often fuelled my inspiration.

Filling my car with fuel propelled me to my next destination.

Inspiration may well be propelling you to your next outstanding achievement.