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I’ve always been connected to the business. I started working here as a schoolboy, part-time after class finished and on the weekends. Then I went on to study business at Swinburne, with a major in accounting. After that, I worked at a professional firm for a while — but I’d still come to Pavers Plus every Saturday to keep the accounts in order. When GST came in in 2000, I helped implement the necessary changes.
I’ve always known accounting was a stepping stone to being in a business myself, so in 2006 I came back into Pavers Plus full-time. I began co-managing the business with my brother, until he stepped back in 2016 and I took over.
Working in an independent family business gives me the ability to drive the culture and extend the family atmosphere to employees and customers. There is a sense that coming to work each day is more than just a job. It’s a genuine work/life balance.
Australian yards have gone from a patch of grass and a hills-hoist to custom-designed outdoor living spaces, all in the space of a few decades. I think a lot of it has to do with TV shows like The Block, social media, and exhibitions like the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. Back in the day, you didn’t know what people had out back in their gardens. Now, people are more exposed to landscape design and all the options available to them.
It used to be that we’d just resell locally manufactured products. That’s where the demand was, but there’s been a big shift. Homeowners started wanting bigger format, nicer materials in their gardens — so we began directly importing quarried stone materials.
Business accelerated after that, growing rapidly from about 2010 to 2015. Now, we’ve got customers who regularly order $20,000+ worth of stone at a time in a single transaction.
Showrooms are often set up as four or five bathrooms or filled with racks of tiles and customers are expected to visualise the products in their own home. We wanted to do something different, so we engaged an architect that was also a client of ours.
When you walk into our showroom, it feels like a home. That’s purposeful. We did that so our products could be displayed in a way that makes sense. It gives the customer a sense of the versatility of our products. For example, a floor tile can be used on a feature wall and quarried stone can be processed into a garden sculpture. We encourage our customers to use our custom design services to tailor the product to their needs, rather than selling generic products.
There are a few, but the biggest is the visibility of transactions. I’m able to view a list of live transactions on both the terminal and the dashboard, and can easily see transactions from days or weeks prior. When we were with our old provider, we couldn’t see that day’s transactions anywhere. We had to wait until close of business before we could print out the transaction history for the day.
Zeller has also made it easier to process high-value transactions. We’d sometimes have to spend 5 to 10 minutes on the phone with our old provider to increase the transaction limit. Zeller takes on that risk, and lets us process large transactions quickly and securely.
Good software should be simple and go unnoticed. Zeller does this beautifully.
Refunds are also very easy, all you have to do is punch in a password. It’s about 15 to 30 minutes faster than our old process, which required us to set up credits and go back and forth with the accounts team. Zeller has removed the complexity.
I’m really interested in technology and design. When I go into a store, I notice the EFTPOS machine. But the big banks don’t seem to want to innovate, you can’t even SMS a customer their receipt — the terminals are in the dark ages.
I first saw Zeller Terminal in Officeworks. It had slick design elements, and the box said, “If you process over $250K of card transactions annually, you may be eligible for a custom rate.” The Sales team was able to negotiate a deal that beat our previous rate — and even AMEX is included in the flat rate. Our previous provider had a complicated fee structure, but Zeller makes it so easy.
I also wanted the flexibility to have multiple terminals without paying additional fees. Before switching to Zeller, we only had one terminal. It was pretty limiting for staff. With Zeller, you can have multiple terminals on the counter without needing to pay extra — so we can serve three customers at the same time, or pick one up and roam around the store. We’re saving about $50 a month on terminal rental fees alone.
Our industry got lucky. I feel grateful for the position we’re in, I know there’s a lot of businesses that are hurting — especially in hospitality.
Luckily, we’re still able to operate the business without customers coming into the store. Zeller’s MOTO phone payment feature is intuitive and simple. The staff has had zero issues adapting to this feature. All we needed was a quick training session, where we processed a single transaction — so, 30 seconds.
Even when we’re not in lockdown, we process a lot of transactions over the phone — from repeat customers, landscape designers, or customers who have already visited the showroom and picked out what they want.
We are always looking for opportunities and ways to expand our business. Our plans are to expand our offering at our Ringwood store to focus on Outdoor garden accessories such as fire-pits, designer pots and lighting. Beyond that we are looking at expanding into more locations in the south-east of Melbourne.