The great taste of exemplary customer service

The best small business owners are those who know what good service is and are committed to delivering it. For Christian Jackson, owner of the busy Bakers Delight store in Victoria’s seaside town of Torquay, ensuring his customers receive the best personal service possible is paramount.

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The best small business owners are those who know what good service is and are committed to delivering it.

For Christian Jackson, owner of the busy Bakers Delight store in Victoria’s seaside town of Torquay, ensuring his customers receive the best personal service possible is paramount.

“I’ve always placed a huge emphasis on customer service,” says Jackson who opened the franchised high street store more than 15 years ago, and today employs 30 people. “It’s such an important thing for small businesses but in so many there is a real lack of it.

“It’s pretty simple, business. You provide a service or product, the customer comes in and pays for it, and they leave. But it’s the little things that you do in between, like a greeting and personalising the customer service, that make the difference and set you apart.”

Torquay was Jackson’s third Bakers Delight store. He bought his first more than 17 years ago in Geelong after leaving the police force and added a second soon after. When the potential site for a store came up in Torquay, where he and his wife Cherie lived, he jumped at the chance to have a business closer to home.

“We knew the area very well, so we approached the Bakers Delight parent company, put a proposal together and decided to go ahead,” says Jackson. He later sold his first two stores to concentrate on the Torquay operation.

The store’s location in the popular tourist destination means its customers are a blend of visitors and a solid local base that has kept the business “tracking along quite nicely” despite a significant increase in competition over the years.

Staying ahead of the competition

Jackson believes his – and his staff’s – focus on the customer experience is a key factor to the ongoing strength of the business in a very competitive environment.

“We really didn’t have much competition when we first opened but these days we have a lot of new food businesses and two major retailers within 100 and 150 metres doing something similar at a cheaper price,” he says. “But we can give that excellent personal service they can’t.

“Retail’s a tough business, and you’re always going to have competitors, but we just concentrate even more on what we’re doing. You can’t control what’s happening around you, but you can certainly control what’s happening here.

“We’ve had major competitors open, and it’s hit us a little bit, but we’ve always bounced back. We just keep believing in what we’re doing.”

Jackson admits his passion for service means he also has high expectations when he’s in the customer’s seat. Interestingly it was this passion that led to his recent decision to move his business and personal banking to NAB.

With the business operating well, Jackson looked for ways to grow his finances – with the purchase of his first investment property and possibly the opening of another store.

A fortuitous call

Jackson was feeling disappointed with the lack of communication by the bank he was with at the time. “I was looking into expanding my portfolio with a move into an investment property and wanted to speak to my banker about that,” Jackson says. “But communication was non-existent. I hadn’t been planning to move banks, but it had crossed my mind.”

In the midst of this frustrating time, Jackson received a call from NAB Business Banker Brett Headland asking if he’d be interested in a meeting. “He introduced himself and asked if I’d mind if he came to meet me face-to-face for an informal chat,” Jackson says.

“He came down and told me a bit about himself and what they could do as bankers for me. Obviously he knew a bit about my business and had dealt with other franchisees so he understood that. As a local, he knew the area, the site of my store and the demographics.

“I told him what we wanted to do, my five years and ten-year goals with the business and with property investment.”

Headland remained in contact and around four months later Jackson made the decision to move all his business to NAB. “Things like interest rates didn’t even come into play [in the decision],” says Jackson. “It came down to that ease of communication, and the common courtesy.”

Jackson’s now actively searching for the right investment property with a line of credit set up as part of a finance solution using the equity in his business and home.

“Potentially we’re also looking at another store site within the area and Brett’s aware of my plans there and my goals looking to the future.”

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