Intro: Not only a play on words to reference the logo’s green frog, RapidClean’s general manager Bruce Lees titled his annual speech ‘the great leap forward’ because of the impressive goals that the buying group has achieved, and the challenges in focus for the next 12 months. The drive to create a platform to ensure members’ businesses thrive was the underlying agenda of the 21st RapidClean Conference held 16 and 17 October at Sea World Resort on the Gold Coast (Qld). INCLEAN’s editor Kim Taranto was invited to cover the event.
With more than 140 members and suppliers in attendance, this year’s conference was the largest yet and RapidClean chairman Greg Wild made mention of the support in his official opening. “The preferred suppliers are an integral part of the success of our group,” he stated. “They provide us a framework of support which allows us to conduct our businesses in a positive environment. Their sponsorship also allows us to host such an enjoyable event every year, and tells us that they place high value on the relationship with the Rapid Group.”
After the RapidClean AGM new members were voted onto the board with the retirement of Lindsey Burgoyne and Robert Cappello, and the welcoming of Adam Cameron and Graeme Magee. Greg also signed on to continue his position on the board and reflected on the group’s growth over the last year. “We’ve enjoyed growth this year which has entailed some positive outcomes – the group has successfully reached and exceeded 14 of the supplier long term incentives with the total purchases in excess of $25 million,” announced Greg. “Everything our members purchase through our preferred suppliers is valuable in earning rebates and is what helps make our group so successful.”
Bruce took to the podium and reminded the room full of senior decision makers in the cleaning supply industry to not underestimate the importance of what they do. “It is vital to the wellbeing of the community. The Australian cleaning industry employs thousands of people and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and none of that cleaning can happen without the products you supply,” he reflected. “So I ask you to be proud of what you do – it’s more important than you think.”
He went on to summarise the Group’s growth over the past five years announcing that the turnover has tripled in this time. “I’ve called my presentation ‘the great leap forward’ because it is reflective of what we need to do to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead,” Bruce shared. “We’ve built a solid foundation that puts us in a great position to take a leap of faith that will lift the Group to the next level. If we can combine our current strengths in marketing and take advantage of the interconnectivity that technology makes possible then the future is very bright.
“Positivity and commitment is needed to overcome big challenges to succeed and the obstacles we face as a Group are imposing,” he continued. “We trade in an extremely competitive marketplace dealing with multi-nationals, backyard suppliers and everyone in between. So we need to work harder to ensure our business model continues to be successful.”
Bruce reflected on the Group’s achievements of the last five years, which have included adding 22 RapidClean members, releasing 15 specials catalogues, maintaining the same quantity of preferred suppliers, hiring a marketing specialist, upgrading the website to maximise traffic and leads, building a fully functional intranet, expanding the RapidClean product range, building a national account business exceeding $2 million in sales, and the most important two – increasing purchases from preferred suppliers more than 130 percent and increasing rebate returns to members by more than 900 percent. “These are the numbers that measure our group’s success and it is just the beginning,” Bruce stated.
With so many goals achieved over the last half decade, Bruce tailored his speech to motivate members on continuous improvement against the threat of multi-national organisations. “Our advantage over this type of competitor is our flexibility, product knowledge and customer service. Our weakness is lack of synchronicity, national online purchasing, pricing and national reporting,” he claimed. “We must continue to improve in these areas of weakness or this competitor will continue to erode our members’ business.
To combat this threat last year RapidClean purchased a new accounting system and this year significant funds have been allocated to producing a centralised online ordering system for national accounts. “We’re driven to embrace the technology that closes the gap between us and the multi-nationals and further distance ourselves from localised businesses,” noted Bruce. “It’s time to invest and move our Group forward.”
With the increase in website traffic for online ordering and the sales to national accounts surpassing $2 million earlier his year, the Group has enjoyed great success and the next step is to secure more national accounts with the purchase of quality assurance to make the group more attractive. “Securing accounts at a national level benefits as many members as possible, so it is a strategic goal to increase this over the next 12 months,” said Bruce.
For the full article see the November/December issue of INCLEAN.
For all more RapidClean photos visit INCLEAN’s photo album here