Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Increasing unemployment

Mark Fletcher
November 29th, 2008 · 9 Comments

A newsagent in country Victoria has let a casual employee go last week following the replacement of their computer software.  The different approach to magazine returns and stock management in the business resulted in sufficient efficiencies to eliminate the role altogether.

While this sounds like an ad for Tower Systems, the software company I own, I have been thinking more about the focus of the newsagent to achieve genuine benefits from investments like in  software. Too often, I see newsagents do something which saves time only to not use the saved time to their personal or financial advantage.  There is no point pursuing efficiency if you are not going to make it count for your business.

This country Victorian newsagent is now a couple of hundred dollars a week better off because they wanted what the sales pitch said could be achieved.  They did this themselves.  Sure they were trained, but the achievement is theirs and kudos to them for that.  They have done more than many newsagents who don’t make computer systems and other infrastructure investments in their businesses pay off what they promise.

I can arrange contact details or anyone who wants to verify the story about the time saved by the switch and the decision to let the employee go.

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Category: newsagent software

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 philip // Nov 29, 2008 at 9:54 PM

    What about the human element?

    The person “let go” is now unemployed… without income, just before Christmas. Really, the technology enabled a person to lose their job at the altar of business efficiency.

    Behind every statistic is a human heart.

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  • 2 Andy // Nov 29, 2008 at 11:15 PM

    Have to say I agree with Philip, you are cheering the fact that this guy is now unemployed through no fault of his own – and being in the country employment opportunities are not easy to come by as it is. I hope the guy manages to have a good Christmas

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  • 3 Vaughan // Nov 30, 2008 at 5:19 AM

    Phillip / Andy;
    Based on your comments i would assume you don’t own a business.
    Maybe you should be directing your comments to the publishers who supply newsagents at a margin that has not changed for decades?
    Unfortunately, when looking at reducing costs, employees are one of the first to bear the brunt. Business owners don’t have the luxury of making a wrong decision just because it is Christmas.

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  • 4 Shayne // Nov 30, 2008 at 6:26 AM

    Many small businesses are doing it tough – something has to give. Phillip, didn’t you see the news recently where the big banks (who are certainly not doing it tough) announced thousands of job losses to cut costs?

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  • 5 Mark // Nov 30, 2008 at 7:43 AM

    Philip,

    You are right to remind us that there is another side to this. Knowing the people involved I am sure they would have considered this. In this case, the saving to the business is vital in the business providing an income, as opposed to no income, to the newsagent.

    Small businesses need to find ways to cut costs. I know of newsagents working 80 hours a week for a take home of $500. If these people cold increase that to $700 a week by working smarter and letting a casual employee go then I’d say good on them.

    Part of the problem here is processed newsagents are forced to adhere to which are labour intensive. The other part is the fixed low margin for parts of the newsagent product mix – some items return today barely 10% more than what they returned ten years ago. In real terms, in these cases, newsagents have fallen behind while rent, wages etc have increased every year.

    This is the human element.

    Mark

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  • 6 anon // Nov 30, 2008 at 9:22 AM

    Sorry Phillip/Andy

    we are working out proverbial butts off to survive – casual employees will dump you as quick as a telstra share if they find something easier and better suited to their needs. It is a precarious relationship between employers and casuals. Our casuals are fantastic and we treat them as such but there is a unspoken understanding that either one of us could end the relationship tomorrow
    God speed

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  • 7 steve // Nov 30, 2008 at 3:24 PM

    As a store owner I look at efficiency as a means to direct saved energy into additional income generating opportunities.That is perhaps how this should have been viewed and handled…make savings through technology, redeploy staff in new areas, grow your business and continually develop your relationships with customers, staff and the community. It is these relationships that keep you in business.

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  • 8 Mark // Nov 30, 2008 at 3:48 PM

    Steve, I know the business and in this instance the decision was the right one. Yes, there re sometimes opportunities for redeployment, but not always. Mark

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  • 9 jack // Dec 1, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    Anon,
    you are spot on
    Just when you thought your casual employment pool was stable and functioning well, one of the casuals decides that KFC is offering more hours.
    In one case only to have that particular casual return asking for her job back!

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