Australian Newsagency Blog

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The five day training course for newsagents quietly slips away

Mark Fletcher
January 31st, 2014 · 27 Comments

Ten years ago the then federal Minister for Small Business Joe Hockey launched the magazine distributor and newspaper publisher mandated new newsagency training program at the offices of the ANF in Sydney. I was at the launch and supported the introduction of the training.

The goal of the five-day training program was to ensure that all new newsagents had a consistent base level of training in the operation of a newsagency, especially newsagency-specific aspects of the business.

Over time, with course materials not keeping up with real-world changes, tough training requirements from the various lottery businesses and other obligations on new newsagents, the ANF course faded in relevance.

A few months ago, the five day training requirement for new newsagents was dropped. Neither the magazine distributors or newspaper publishers require that such training be undertaken.

While it is good that this barrier to entry has been removed and that training that had become irrelevant was no longer forced on new newsagents, it’s appropriate to take a moment to think about this move and consider what it could mean, if anything. For example, does the removal of the requirement of training mean our channel is not as important as it once was? 

My understanding is that those behind the decision say the training requirement was eliminated because it was not making any difference. If that was the case they could have driven changes to the training since they had exerted control over training course content in the past.

It’s is interesting to think this through. On the one hand we want to be treated the same as other magazine and newspaper retailers but then we could worry when special treatment or attention is removed.

While I doubt we would get a completely honest answer, I’d like to know from magazine publishers and distributors whether they see us as relevant today as they did ten years ago. I think we need to ask this question. If we look at the regulation and monitoring imposed on newsagents via XchangeIT we could say that nothing has changed. But if we consider the elimination of the requirement for consistent basic training for new entrants to the channel I am not so sure.

While many newsagents are angry at the treatment of the channel by some magazine publishers and the two major magazine distributors and may not care about the training, I think we need to consider it a reflection on bigger issues, bigger challenges for us.

What do our businesses look like without magazines? I for one would not like to see this. However, I want fair and equitable supply. Unfair and inequitable supply makes me think about life without magazines – but on my terms. The removal of the training requirement leaves me wondering if the decision about the future of magazines in the channel is being made elsewhere.

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Category: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagent representation

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve // Jan 31, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    When I took over my newsagency 2.5 years ago I was told I had to do the N-gage online course from the ANF as this was required by Network Services. The cost was $1600 and the only person I’ve found who had done it described it as being as boring as bat shit. That being the case I decided I’d wait until Network started pressuring me to do it, apparently they would stop your account if you haven’t done it within 6 months of taking over. 2.5 years later no ones said a word so I saved $1600 and avoided a waist of time.

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  • 2 Mark Fletcher // Jan 31, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    That’s a good win Steve.

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  • 3 Jenny // Jan 31, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    $1600 for an online course on magazine management/ newspapers and whatever else might be different to other retail shops , and paid to an association that is not mandatory to join – what a rip off!

    This training should come from the out going newsagent, and the contract should state this, $1600 from settlement money should be held back until training is completed to a satisfactory standard.

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  • 4 Carol // Jan 31, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    I think most of the training can be achieved during the change over of ownership but I can imagine some sellers may not provide adequate training. I did the course but did not feel like I learnt a lot but learnt very quickly on the job. I still feel very isolated from other newsagents. There is not real networking opportunity to support one another. This is the only site I am aware of. Maybe someone could set up a Newsagents Facebook site.

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  • 5 Jenny // Jan 31, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Carol, join a marketing group and you will find networking and support.

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  • 6 Allan Wickham // Jan 31, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Spot on Jenny. Carol, it wasn’t until I joined newsXpress that I felt I was a part of this industry. I have become part of a network of people that like to share ideas, knowledge and contacts. A lot of these people have become some of my closest friends. I like that we challenge each other and our businesses become much stronger for it. Sure the supplier deals, marketing collateral, expertise and business development I receive from newsXpress is invaluable, the network of peers (now friends) has been the biggest bonus of joining the group. Before joining newsXpress I found our industry to be like the”secret service”, nobody wanted to share any info, let alone want to see you grow. A marketing group isn’t the golden bullet, you will get out of it what you put into it. Can’t speak forthr other groups Carol but I can garantee you would be welcome with open arms at newsXpress.

    Cheers

    Al

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  • 7 Jarryd Moore // Jan 31, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    I know some of us sound like a broken record Carol, but marketing groups are definitely the best opportunity for networking with other newsagents.

    We interact with other newsXpress retailers on a daily basis. Sometimes to get ideas, sometimes to share them. The networking we engage in is both an invaluable business tool and social support network.

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  • 8 Adrian // Jan 31, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    agree 100% with Al and Jarryd. Did the the course 4 1/2 years ago and found it to be not much value once we were instore. perhaps an instore placement would help.Newsagents are not that different to other small business in that you do feel isolated and alone Also a member of newsXpress and have not regretted a day of it .Any problem or opportunity regardless how big or small is able to be discussed with other members usually on a daily basis

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  • 9 Carol // Jan 31, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    I have stated before that I can’t afford to join a marketing group. How much extra do I have to sell just to recoup my monthly fee? Can you assure me that I will be making X amount extra plus? Just paying my Tower subscription is like paying another insurance – rarely use the service but buggered if I don’t pay.

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  • 10 Allan wickham // Jan 31, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    Carol, people need to ask themselves if they can afford “not” to be in a group. I’d never had a holiday until I joined nXp, now I’m going everywhere. Admittedly a lot of our trips are work related but it’s still a break from the shop.

    3 likes

  • 11 Jenny // Jan 31, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Hi Carol, I knew you would say “I can’t afford to join a marketing group” :)
    We have done 26 years in this business and have been thru both good and bad times, but at the moment it’s the best it’s been for the last ten years, still hard work but so much better.
    If Mark sends me your email or phone no I would love to have a chat.

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  • 12 Mark Fletcher // Jan 31, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    Jenny, Carol – I’ll connect you.

    Newsagents get out of a good marketing group what they put in / what they embrace. It’s easy to cover costs and profit.

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  • 13 Gary Carr // Jan 31, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Mark,
    It is a pity, a great editorial quickly degenerates into a nxp promo. It deserved better.

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  • 14 Mark Fletcher // Jan 31, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Gary the comments are unmoderated. Newspower and members if other groups can join in. On the post itself, the demise of the training is something to consider.

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  • 15 Clive // Jan 31, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    I’m a Newspower member and don’t have Tower but still love Mark’s blog. Keep up the good work. I get more outta here than anywhere. Time for a vino.

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  • 16 Jarryd Moore // Feb 1, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    Gary,

    A newsagent responded to the article with her own thoughts on feeling isolated. Some of us responded with our experiences in dealing with the same thing. For you to suggest that somehow the original article is diminished because of that is absolutely absurd.

    Those of us who share our experiences with whichever marketing group do so to help our fellow newsagents. We do not sit behind a keyboard blindly promoting something which we do not genuinely believe will help others in the industry.

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  • 17 Allan wickham // Feb 1, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    Well said Jarryd.

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  • 18 Adrian // Feb 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Sorry Gary no intentions to promote nxp but responding to the article and Carols comments with our own experiences

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  • 19 Carol // Feb 1, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Some of you sound like the Amway fanatic who had me “imprisoned” in her car for a 4 hour trip and played brainwashing Amway tapes because it would be good for me to join. I would just like to have better communications with other Newsagents. Thanks Jarryd.

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  • 20 Mark Fletcher // Feb 1, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    Carol people getting excited is okay. The difference with Amway is the pressure. Newsagents are more today to run their businesses how they want than ever before. We are all responsible for our success or failure.

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  • 21 Glenn // Feb 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Perhaps the fact that so many people talk up the benefits of group membership makes in an option worthy of consideration. Joining a group 8 years ago was the best thing we did. Which group is irrelevant as they all have their up and down sides depending on what is important to you, and it is up to each individual to decide which one fits their needs best at any given time.

    My view is that as time goes on so being part of a group becomes more important for so many reasons, not the least of which is the new friendships and contacts you make in the industry. Group meetings / conferences / buying days are the primary method for networking with fellow newsagents and building those relationships, regardless of your stores geographic location.

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  • 22 Brendan // Feb 1, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Clive, if you are a Newspower member but get more from this blog than any where else I have to ask why are you a Newspower Power member and not a member of a group that gets whats in this blog and so much more. Come to a nXp meeting soon and do a comparison.

    2 likes

  • 23 Brendan // Feb 1, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    As for training, we didn’t get any as a subagent except from the previous owners and they couldn’t agree to operate the same as each other as it was. We ran our own race for years and when we felt we were at the limit of our ability to improve the business joined a group and started learning all over again. I must stress that as a subbie we were always more focused on what is now recognised as the future direction for most newsagents but we now have better tools, support and supplier deals to get to where we need to be. Along the lines of Glenn, the important thing is that a group is almost a necessity now to remain relevant in the market place. As for which group, look at a few, we did and found the one that fitted us like a glove. If this sounds like a nXp promo then it’s only because I am another group member who knows that the benefits are there.

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  • 24 Judy // Feb 1, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    We completed the QNF 3 day course in Brisbane before starting our new business (yes, it’s newsXpress). The QNF course was definitely worth the time and money involved.

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  • 25 allan wickham // Feb 3, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Carol, I must say that your “Amway” reference was very sad to read. You said you wished there was a “real networking opportunity to support one another”. Those of us that have experienced the same feeling posted comments on what we did about it (joining a marketing group).

    I have been through probably more than any other Newsagent in my short (8 and a half years, but who`s counting) time in the industry. I started life as a subagent, had our shopping centre pulled down around us less than 18 months into buying the business, had 3 moves during that time and had a bank from hell who recalled my business loan as soon as the shopping centre bulldozers moved in. I have been to hell and back believe me. I loathe to use the word “hindsight” but I wish I had of been a part of newsXpress way back then. My journey would have been so much easier given the network of support I would have had during those terrible times.
    A marketing group may not be for everyone but if its support any Newsagent seeks then I can only recommend joining a group. I have met plenty of Newsagents from all different groups and can say those that embrace their group are happy, positive and proactive business people. Those same business people fully embrace “supporting” other Newsagents no matter what “banner” they trade under. In short, to gain support you have to expand your Network of contacts, if anybody can do that on their own then more power to them.

    To compare any of us to Amway is quite horrible really, just as well those that commented (myself included) have thick skins and wont take any real offence to your wayward comments.

    Cheers

    Al

    10 likes

  • 26 Jenny // Feb 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Carol, I too was disappointed with your response to such positive comments from other newsagents.
    I found the Amway comment offensive, but then I thought maybe I am being too sensitive and I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way.

    We joined Newspower for 12 months many years ago but it was not for us for various reasons.
    Even though we have only been with newsXpress a bit over a year, we often have said it’s a shame we weren’t aware of them 7 years ago when we moved into our current location, what a much better job we could have done being part of this group back then.

    Those first few years on my own in a new shopping centre (that our town did not want), while my husband was working 7 days picking up paper runs that other newsagents didn’t want, were a real struggle, but I am sure if we had the marketing advice and supplier contacts then that we have now, my life would have been so much easier, with a more successful business we could have afforded extra staff at a time when I needed at home a lot more than I was.

    We are often told how good our shop looks and what great gifts we have, and we have only just started!

    Now maybe I do sound like the Amway lady, but I’m happier now in my business than I have been for a long time, and so are my staff, and that’s all that matters.

    10 likes

  • 27 Mark Fletcher // Feb 10, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    The real issue in play here in the original post is the fading of attention we face from some suppliers.

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