With more than 14 per cent growth, which resulted in the largest member rebate in the history of the group, it’s no wonder the theme of the 22nd RapidClean conference was the ‘rise of rapid’. Held at Lasseters Hotel Casino in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, from 23 to 24 September the conference brought together 36 members and 21 preferred suppliers. The dry but beautiful dessert of the Australian outback was the backdrop for a fun-filled, productive and well-earned trip away to celebrate the Group’s ongoing growth. INCLEAN’s managing editor, Kim Taranto, reports.
The conference kicked off with nine holes of golf followed by dinner at the oases of the desert; Alice Springs Golf Club. Next was a walking tour exploring the spectacular views of Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm along the West MacDonnell Ranges; rich in Aboriginal history. With a ‘welcome to country’ performance by Kumalie Riley and the Arrernte women, attendees were given a fascinating insight into the ancient culture during their four-day visit to Alice Springs.
However, with play comes work and attendees spent two conference days in member/supplier meetings, listened to marketing and business advice from a guest speaker and received a Group update from RapidClean’s general manager, Bruce Lees.
The Group celebrated another successful year with 14.6 per cent growth, which is remarkable in an economy that grew less than 3 per cent. Bruce congratulated the Group on its success and credited this reason for titling his presentation ‘the rise of Rapid’.
“Our organisation over the last year has moved forward in leaps and bounds. There is still a long way to go to reach out goals but we have proven ourselves capable of competing with and beating large multi-national competitors in business,” he stated. “While we are smaller than some of our competitors, with hard work and perseverance we came out on top. None of our major competitors had the same growth that Rapid achieved last year. In fact most of them lost revenue.”
What is so incredible about last year’s results is the broad base of success – out of 48 members, there were 34 who achieved double digit growth and several with single digit growth. Out of 26 suppliers, 16 had double digit growth and 6 with single digit growth. In turn, Bruce was able to hand out the largest rebate return to members in the history of RapidClean.
“I’m not easily impressed but in this case I’d like everyone to recognise and congratulate themselves for the remarkable collective effort that was. I know it did not come easy and everyone worked hard to make it happen,” he shared.
Bruce went on to list a number of focuses for the coming year to encourage continued growth, which included: secure further leads with national accounts program; improve national marketing through members directing a higher number of sales to preferred suppliers; encourage suppliers to bring more opportunities to the group and individual members; utilise international partners, skills, contacts and opportunities; by head office generating more leads for members; and by members bringing more leads to the national accounts manager, Rob Musilli, to benefit other members.
“Together if we can achieve all of these things in the next 12 months then we will have taken another leap forward in the ongoing development of RapidClean,” Bruce added. “Last year saw the group grow from $1.1 to $1.94 million in national account sales and a projected growth will see it exceed $2.5 million this financial year but the goal is to aim even higher and to spread the benefits more evenly among members.” To achieve that the decision was made to employ another national account manager to be based in Sydney.
With more than 75 per cent of the existing national accounts business deriving from the BSC sector this area will continue to be a priority focus for RapidClean. But for the first time the Group has diversified having recently secured two government tenders to supply cleaning equipment in Queensland and a broad range of products to hospitals in Victoria. “This shows what can be achieved when we work together. With a collective effort there are no barriers,” Bruce remarked.
Bruce outlined the significant benefits for preferred suppliers to engage with Rapid in the pursuit of national accounts. Unlike some of its competitors, the Group will honour any business opportunity that they create for members. If they provide a lead or help the Group secure business, there is a promise to not replace the supplier’s product with another brand, even when it’s difficult.
A primary driver of leads and therefore growth for the group is the RapidClean website and the traffic continues to grow with more than 1000 visitors per week. In addition to its current content the site is being updated with access to ISSA-TV and videos from suppliers with rapid-specific how-to demonstrations of products. Another effective move this year was to add Google AdWords to its marketing, which saw a significant increase in traffic. “The objective is to convert website visitors into customers and that is why the group has invested in a new website, which has been online since August and proven to be successful,” Bruce said.
Among other changes, the biggest driver of quality leads on the website has been the addition of a quote page that gives the customer an opportunity to request a quote on listed products and alone has generated more leads than the previous website did in a year. “All preferred suppliers have the opportunity to have their brand-specific product catalogue hosted on the site,” Bruce explained. “With more than 1000 visitors per month clicking through to members’ contact details, I believe our website is our most important form of marketing, which why we will continue to invest in this area.”
“Our national strength local service is a powerful statement, it separates us from our competitors and is reinforced when our customers see the RapidClean brand,” Bruce concluded, encouraging all members to increase brand awareness. “I believe the most important part is the result not the process – for continued growth focus on the results and you’ll find a way to achieve it.” As Yoda said in Star Wars, do or do not, there is no try.
As always the Group was generous in its contribution to charity, fundraising more than $10,000 for the Cancer Council with proceeds from the Sharon Lees memorial pink ribbon afternoon tea and the gala dinner auction. Conference attendees also received an insight into the hard yards of small business owner Tom Potter who established multi-million dollar hospitality company Eagle Boys Pizza. One piece of business advice Tom shared was to “stand out like a zebra among horses”.
The conference came to a close with the night of nights – RapidClean’s gala dinner at which the annual awards were given out. The stand outs were the recipients of the two most prestigious awards: RapidClean Member of the Year won by RapidClean Griffith and accepted by Brendan Cappello; and Supplier of the Year was won by E.D. Oates and accepted by Lucas Paris. But with another successful year behind them, all RapidClean members and suppliers deserved to celebrate – and celebrate they did!