APAL’s newest program Future Business will build on the success of Future Orchards and provide an offering for people working ‘on’ the business as opposed to ‘in’ it.
Future Business is a program designed to provide the Australian apple and pear industry support through the provision of products and services that enable the commercial aspects of a business.
The program was launched at the recent Industry Forum by Manager, Future Business Richelle Zealley who said the objective is to improve commercial performance of the industry to deliver greater profitability and best practice.
“The Future Orchards program has witnessed a significant uplift in on-orchard practices and a general improvement in the industry’s technical competence,” Richelle said.
“There has never been the same effort or attention applied to the commercial or business side of the industry. Future Business aims to address this imbalance and help participants understand where their focus and effort should be applied.”
There are five key areas to guide the direction of the program and assist in strengthening a business’ structure, these are:
- Business Management: ensuring businesses have a strong framework for success, understanding global standing, marketplace position, future growth (or sale opportunity) and risk.
- Pooled Resources: an opportunity to maximise advantage and minimise risk, in particular to explore areas for collaboration and potential cost savings.
- Compliance & Care: maintaining standards and quality control.
- Systems & Reporting: access to operational and financial data that is useable and accessible by decision makers.
- Financial Management: looking at ratios, equity and debt – helping to share a business’ story to acquire more assets or even prepare for a sale.c
“Future Business is a long-term, evolving program designed to grow with the industry,” Richelle said.
“Initially we will go on a journey to ensure businesses are set up for commercial success. Not everything will resonate or be of use to every business but there will be some elements that will be useful to all along the way.”
Attendees were provided a snapshot of key priorities for Year 1 of the program which create the framework and highlight key areas where cost savings can potentially be made and include: Business analysis, services and pooled resources.
The two Future Business focused sessions also connected the Year 1 priorities with opportunities for industry to review current business systems and participate in a Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF) feasibility study.
What’s your focus?
This session encouraged participants to think about their core business and how new technology, such as cloud-based accounting, could reduce touch points and time. The information supported the services of business management; understanding core business; and the importance of sound financial management. It also offers an opportunity to pool resources and review business systems and software.
Working together to manage risk
Participants were introduced to the concept of creating a DMF as an effective, alternate risk financing strategy to replace traditional insurances. Justin Niven from KJ Risk Group shared information about the concept and was joined by two of his clients, a representative from McDonalds and one from Virgin Pilots, who are both members of a DMF.
A DMF is set up to benefit it’s members, they utilise a company limited by guarantee with a Board of Directors, with a majority of industry representation. The fund is therefore owned and run by members for the sole benefit of members’.
“There are many benefits in working as an aligned industry and is why we’re looking at aggregated buying opportunities such as this,” Richelle said.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the DMF, a recording of Justin’s presentation will be available soon. There will also be plenty of information, including an expression of interest to participate in a feasibility study to follow.