2007 ball was spectacular. They had models all dressed up as in Mozart's time. The decoration and the extras were all very special. So I confess that was a letdown as I was hoping they could top 2007's.
But it was a great night out. Victoria did very well on the awards. As the tables were by state, I was on a Victorian table so I could hear everyone cheering their friends along. Then they went crashing past me to meet the happy winners. You could see it when I congratulated the winner Tracey, she was crying for joy.
On a personal note since one of my competitors left the conference early, I did not have to avoid him at the ball. It made it much easier for me as I could just freely mingle.
The music was brilliant. I saw that GG personnel are not just good with technology but they are also stars on the dance floor. I thanked them for their efforts this year as they have been in technology, the best so now are way ahead of any other magazine distributor.
I also had a ball meeting my clients. Some who I never seen although I talk to them regularly on the phone and email. I got many good ideas from them. Although to some I did go too far talking shop, it was not that I was trying to sell stuff but just that I am really keen on some of the new technologies we are doing now. Some item just promise to be really special in such diverse fields like basic newsagency functions, security cameras now fully integrated not just single dimensional like some, bill pay integration and Eftpos. Yesterday my programmers told me that Eftpos speed is now faster still. It is coming in about three seconds. That is as fast as a cashdraw. I confess I am really enjoying doing this stuff. Our new version of the software is going to be just beautiful at a level no-one has ever seen before.
It was also good to meet many industry suppliers. Typically you need to make an appointment and go on a time, to meet them. It can be slow. Here you can meet them one after another it is just much faster and better. The conversation often went like this “I was looking in my diary last year and here you can see that .... Well it is now a year later and ......” To be fair, none of these problems can be resolved at the conference but at least, we can meet people that can help make the decisions.
Also it was a great night at the bar later. Shame it closed at 2:00am. Because we all could have kept on going.
Although Bill Express did not go to the conference, it is a hot topic for discussion here. I was annoyed that they did not come and I thought that they should have sent someone just to be there. That this did not happen saids plenty.
From what I heard the three most likely scenarios are.
Bill Express continues.
Say the amount owing is not as large as some have said and the creditors give them a chance to work it out. For us in this scenario, it will be back to normal.
Bill Express is taken over
In this scenario although the company is gone, the assets of the company still function. Why not? This company was producing six million dollars a year, if it seems like it can keep it up then it is worth a lot. The assets are still there for example in many newsagencies now, Bill Express (except for Optus) is doing well. Here another organization would run Bill Express. Furthermore if say the ANZ took over Bill Express, then it might be better for newsagents.
Another possibility here is the creditors put in an administrator to run the company.
In this scenario Bill Express for us, would keep going the way they are now.
Bill Express disappears
This scenario is certainly possible. Although I doubt quickly. Creditors rarely move quickly for example MFS which was associated with VANA is now been given some more time. The other possibility here is that Bill Express imploded something that just does not seem to be happening. From what I can see most of the people are still there and there software development seems to be continuing as usual. These are hardly signs of company about to go.
I do expect soon like a week, we will know the answer to what is happening. But my gut feeling is that Bill Express terminals, in the short-term will continue to work as they are now and probably for quite awhile after that.
At the moment, all we can do is stay tuned for more details.
As much of Xchangeit is here at the conference, it been a good chance for me to meet them again. In their talk they claim that from all the sales data they are getting only 3% is accurate. A horrifying figure if you think about it. So in a room full of fifty (50) newsagents that means only one is giving them accurate sales data. Later in the talk, I was pleased to discover that in that room, one had already been checked and confirmed as having good sales data. It was one of my users.
Still to overcome this problem they want to start reassessing the quality of the sales data. But before they can do this we have problems to work out. So we are going to meet again. For example the M category of magazines. These are magazines that are due for return but are not on the return form. These M were once on the specifications but later dropped. We disagree with the decision to drop them. GG accept M class magazines but Network do not. It is needed and should be there. Another example is that sometimes sales data comes late though no fault of the newsagent which resulting in them getting a bad score on timelessness. If people are going to be rewarded for accurate sales data, these issues need to be addressed.
These in the overall scheme are small issues although they do need to be worked out. Xchangeit now clearly have a few exciting projects. These they stressed are purely voluntary. If you do not want to send sales data, you do not have too. If you want to run a DOS system, you can still run with it. But you may not be allowed to grow with the other projects like the online returns. Certainly no one is planning to dump people and leave on their own. As one said “Why should otherwise happy business owners be forced to change against their wills at their own cost”?
However to do these projects, they are releasing soon a new version of the software. So the immediate problem is that it needs windows 2000 as a minimum. There are still some people with windows 98. Soon Xchangeit will not run on these machines. The next problem is our software will need to be changed to handle the new sales data formats.
A new version 37F is being released.
It is the version that we intend to run with the HWT FTP requirements. Could you please update to this version when asked by HWT.
Any problems with doing this please let us know.
We also expect that our DOS clients in South Australia would soon have to change to this version too.
Corie and Tammy Schwarzl are the former Supanews franchisees from Tuggerah in NSW who are now in dispute with Supanews in the NSW Supreme Court.
Recently (on 8 May 2008) they went to mediation it failed, so now
it will continue in the NSW Supreme Court
They contacted me today to tell me of its progress. Hearing this I can feel the apprehension, fear, stress and confusion that they are feeling now.
Also they asked me to display their blog site to cover what looks like an important case in the industry taking place now between them and Supanews.
Please click here.
For those who do not know much about Supanews please click here.
On a blog entry here on newspaper circulation here using the latest ABC circulation figures, I was challenged on some points by one of the newspaper companies. I agree that to most of my clients, newspapers sales is most important. Customers may buy cards, toys, lotto etc in their shop but the big draw card that brings them in the shop is newspapers. Its importance is beyond just sales.
The figures I quoted were for circulation, the ABC circulation figures for the March quarter 2008 and for the readership the Roy Morgan figures.
Attached here is a spreadsheet with my calculations included.
Also this article here has similar conclusions to mine.
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I have just returned from an ANF meeting in Newcastle tonight. The main topic of discussion was BillExpress/DialTime. A few of the major points that I took away from the meeting were:
) The $495 per month that Newsagents are paying now, has been sold off as a debt to a finance company. This means, that no matter what happens with BillExpress, the Newsagents will still have to pay the $495 per month to the finance company for the remainder of their contract period.
) It was suggested that BillExpress/DialTime owe up to $80 million to Optus alone.
) The ANF have been negotiating with alternative suppliers of phone credit, and will be making an announcement soon on other options for Newsagents.
) There are up to 9 different contracts out there that people have signed with BillExpress/DialTime
A lot of Newsagents agreed to install a new advertising screen from BillExpress over the last couple of years, with the promise of increased revenue from signing up other local businesses to advertise on the screen. When this new screen was installed, the BillExpress contract was extended by BillExpress by 12 or 24 months. Quite often, the Newsagent was unaware of this, and are only finding out when they make inquiries about canceling the service at the end of their contract. At this point, they are being informed that they have up to 24 months more on their contract than they expected.
) The general consensus from the agents at the meeting, after hearing all of this, was that they are stuck with the $495 p/m no matter what happens, and they want to look to the future, and make sure that they have an uninterrupted system for selling phone credit.
There is also a NANA meeting on Thursday that was mentioned tonight. I will contact NANA tomorrow to find out more, and if it is worth me attending as well.
I’ll keep you all informed as I find out more.
Senior Newsagency Support
The same trend that I reported in the previous Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures is occurring this quarter. The main one that interests us is newspapers and it is the same. The national newspapers, like the Australian, increased in circulation, but overall we can see a continuing fall in newspaper circulation.
Overall the results show an overall loss of about 1.5% in newspaper circulation for the same quarter of 2007. Which is a bit worse then last quarter, but we had the election then which would have inflated the circulation figures slightly.
As I reported then magazines are down again, particularly woman magazines which took a hammering. Women are just not buying magazines like before.
However readership in magazines and newspapers is up. Probably many readers are now online as they are not buying it in the shop. That is good news for advertiser.
Well everyone was confused over the last few days about the Fairfax (Age) new pricing structure.
Yesterday we talked to the good people at Fairfax at length and discovered that they were not sure of what was happening. It took much discussion and many telephone calls to clear it up. Now it appears that Fairfax finally know why so many people have been ringing. They are about to issue a statement to clear up the problems.
Our documentation on how to handle it is correct. You need to change the prices of the Melbourne Age which is going up.
There is *no* change yet to the delivery fees.
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