Being a small business owner is an exhilarating journey filled with both triumphs and challenges. Tania Paul, the proud owner of Yarraman Caravan Park & Cabins, knows this all too well on her path to achieving small business success.
In 2017, Tania, her partner Marc and their daughter made the leap from Brisbane to the serene South Burnett countryside, embarking on a journey of renewal, revival, and rebuilding. However, their plans encountered a slight setback when the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. Undeterred, Tania and Marc persevered, making significant changes in the business, such as employing new staff, integrating digital technology, and harnessing customer feedback. Their unwavering commitment enabled them to thrive during a recession, leading to positive changes that ultimately increased customer satisfaction.
Embracing change – a catalyst for growth and small business success
Embracing change can be daunting, yet Tania firmly believes in its potential for growth. With firsthand experience at Yarraman Caravan Park & Cabins, she has witnessed remarkable success by wholeheartedly embracing new opportunities. Tania emphasises the importance of thorough research, open communication, and teamwork in effectively implementing changes and driving positive outcomes.
“We do love change, weird maybe? Sometimes I change too much too quickly (tech) but it all works out in the end…thank goodness!”
One major change we made was installing more cabins and employing more staff, including an Office Manager/Receptionist. We researched and we knew it would all work but it was a major change for everyone on the Team and what really helped us was clear communication. Talking about the processes and how they can be improved.
While it was a big change, it has been an amazing opportunity for business growth and improved our mental health.”
Mastering time management and staying motivated
Leveraging tools, open communication and effective time management are essential for small business owners like Tania. To maintain momentum and achieve her goals, she relies on a range of tools to ensure her priorities are met even in a dynamic business environment.
- Sharepoint – for email, tasks and calendar
- Excel – for some fabulous trackers
- Trello – for social media planning (& the Social Superhero Calendar)
- Mailerlite – for email marketing automation
- Newbook – online booking system
- WordPress – for our content management system (website)
- Yoast Plugin – for search engine optimisation
- LastPass – password management platform
- Notebook – for keeping track of learnings, planning and ideas
Now, given the frequent changes in priorities within a caravan park (guest changes, maintenance issues, etc), staying reactive can be challenging. To combat this, Tania spends dedicated days working “on” the business away from the main reception office. This deliberate separation allows her to stay motivated and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Staying organised is also really important and helps us stay motivated: We have 3 virtual forms of clipboards in our business:
- The Day Book for everything relating to guests/calls
- The Maintenance Book for logging all maintenance issues
- The Stock Book for staff requesting stock.
Driving results through support programs and peer advice
There are many challenges and triumphs associated with running a business, as well all know.
“But in saying that I have been able to grow my business during a recession and global pandemic with the guidance, help and support of all those around me! Embracing change and recognising that success isn’t achieved alone were crucial first steps for me and my business.”
A strong network is crucial for growing a business in challenging times and the Fast Track program has been fabulous in helping me achieve this! As small business owners, we have all the great ideas but implementing them is really challenging for me. The program and Tourism Tribe’s Digital Academy, however, forced me (with gentle guidance 🥰) to create an actual lead magnet that sits on my website and generates leads for me…even while I sleep.
It also forced me to fix my workflows and automation in Mailerlite which I had been planning to do for months but never got around to fixing. But, now I have a sales funnel in place to generate leads and nurture potential customers.
Harnessing customer feedback for meaningful improvements
Understanding customer-centricity is the driving force of Tania’s business.
The park had 6 cabins when we bought the business, but we immediately added 6 more. Then we paused and listened to feedback from customers before installing the next 6. This feedback was invaluable because it gave us a better idea of what changes to make.
For us, it was important to understand that we are still in the “development stage” as relatively new owners – so we are always asking guests for ideas and preferences.
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Listening to this feedback resulted in lots of raving reviews as well as an increase in our occupancy rate and length of stay.
Another big change was updating our amenities block. They were made up of individual bathrooms, but they were very old. So. when we installed new amenities we made sure we kept the design as individual bathrooms as we often got positive feedback about that design.
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Next was the camp kitchen. Our customers love the idea of pizza ovens so we are including them in our future plans. Firepits on site are another improvement. Individual firepits were not permitted by previous owners, we have changed that after hearing feedback from guests. We also noticed how many guests travelled with pets, so we have made changes to the park to make us more pet friendly, which has made a big difference to our business!!!
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Advice for small business owners
Tania acknowledges the challenges faced by many small business owners – including achieving a harmonious work-life balance, establishing effective boundaries, navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape, fostering a culture of innovation, adaptability, and cultivating a robust support system.
“Now, if I was to offer one piece of advice to my fellow small business owners, it would be to proactively create boundaries and prioritise personal time to ensure their well-being and the longevity of your business.
Secondly, realise quickly that you need to embrace change and that this journey in business in not done alone!!
Lastly, do not be afraid to talk to your customers – at the end of the day, they are your business. They already like your product/service/experience because they are there or showing interest. So, find out why they like it and how you can improve it.”